Ceremonies

What Type of Wedding Ceremony Style is right for you ?

In essence, your wedding should reflect who you both are. By that I mean, if you are humorous, then have a light-hearted wedding.

If you are spiritual, then incorporate some of your beliefs in the ceremony, if you are alternate, then have some alternate rituals in your ceremony. If there is a cultural background, this can also be incorporated in the ceremony beautifully.

The Ceremony can and should be a combination of both the bride and groom’s input and what is important to them. The guests should leave saying with the feeling that they have been to a ceremony that was designed by and for you, that reflected your personalities and who you both are. Each wedding can be as unique as each couple.

In Australia we are very lucky because as far as Wedding Ceremony Styles, anything goes! Unless you choose to be married in a religious ceremony that follows time-honoured religious protocol conducted in a Church officiated by a Religious Minister, wedding ceremonies can be as creative as you like. The range of options is vast.

Wedding table setting for the bridal party - Ceremonies Image1
The Sand Wedding Ceremony Image showing the glass vessel almost full of different coloured sands

The Unity Sand Ceremony 

The Unity Sand Ceremony Wedding Ritual is beautiful and meaningful unifying ceremony.  It symbolises through the pouring of layers of various coloured sands the unifying of two lives coming together that can never be separated.

The Unity Sand Ceremony can be written to recognise not just the joining of the couple, it is also a delightful way to signify the blending of a family.

It is the perfect ceremony to include children, as the symbolism is of the two becoming one, or the unit becoming a family.  During these blended family weddings, the children of the couple are also invited to add their own layer of coloured sand to the container, turning the vase into a symbol of two families coming together as one.

Some couples also choose to involve other close family members such as their parents and grandparents for the same reason. The fact that there’s nearly no limit to the number of colours that can be used makes wedding sand ceremonies a unique and easy way for couples to broaden their celebration to be about more than just them.

At the end, you will have a beautiful, lasting reminder of your day and the symbolism of unity. The sealed vase becomes a colourful keepsake that serves as a powerful reminder of the couple’s wedding day.

The Rose Ceremony

The Rose Giving Ceremony is a beautiful and simple modern ritual incorporating one of the most significant symbols of love, the rose.  Usually a red rose (symbolising love and passion) or white rose (symbolising purity, honesty and longevity in a relationship) is used in honour of the wedding day, although any colour rose is more than acceptable. Sometimes the red rose is the gift and the white rose has the rings tied to them.

This ceremony can be a simple and meaningful exchange of a single rose between the bride and groom as their first gift to each other as husband and wife.

In variations it can also symbolise the merging of the couple and/or their families.  For example,

When the couple leave the ceremony, they have in their possession two roses, usually red.  As they exit, they will stop and offer a rose and a kiss to their mothers or significant mother figures.  In doing this, they are expressing their gratitude for preparing them for marriage and for receiving their partners into their families.

Rose and ring wedding ceremony image showing a vase with white and red roses
wedding ring warming ceremony image of ring warming on a cord going towards the bride
wedding ring warming ceremony image of rings on a plate before ceremony
wedding ring warming ceremony image of message to guests to bless the rings before being seated rings

The Ring Warming or Blessing Ceremony 

This is a beautiful way to involve some significant people like parents or grandparents or children from a previous relationship or in fact everyone who is attending the ceremony!

A Ring warming is when you give your loved ones the opportunity to hold your wedding bands and bless them with a wish or a prayer for your marriage. By the time the rings make it onto your fingers they are saturated with the best wishes and love of your friends and family!

There are several and many variations of this. Some people will have just the immediate parents and grandparents bless the rings as part of the ceremony.  Others will have the rings passed around the entire guests during the ceremony in various ways like in a little bowl or tied to something or even on a ribbon that is placed from one end of the aisle to the other. 

If you have a Ring Blessing or Warming, you will probably want to put someone in charge of your rings so they keep and eye on them at all times. Depending on the type of ceremony you’re having you have a few options. The most common option is to pass the rings around through out the ceremony and have your ring chaperone(s) keep an eye on things to make sure the rings are moving along and will be ready when it is time.

 If you have a larger guest list you may want to have everyone “warm” your rings as they arrive. At the entrance of the wedding and each person takes the time to hold and bless the rings prior to taking their seat. This will enable every guest to take a moment to bring their own beliefs, wishes, hopes and love to the couple via the rings in a private but meaningful way.

If you have children from your previous relationships, I have seen the rings passed through the children and warmed before being given to the parents and placed onto the fingers. This is a beautiful way of incorporating the children into the ceremony and symbolizes their welcoming of the new stepparent.

This is also a beautiful ceremony for a renewal of vows as well. One beautiful ceremony I performed for 60th wedding anniversary was such an occasion.  All the female grandchildren were lined up beside the ‘bride’  and likewise the male grandchildren on the ‘grooms’ side. At  appropriate time, the rings were passed from the youngest to the oldest and then to their grandmother to give to her husband and vice versa. This was a beautiful gesture and symbol of love and showed the legacy of the grandparents with all their grandchildren.  I believe the rings were also purchased by the combined effort of the children and grandchildren which just added to the ceremony. Very touching indeed.

The Renewal of Vows

Renewal of Vows is a beautiful ceremony to reaffirm your vows of love and commitment to each other that can be done by you and your loved one anytime. Often it is done in the presence of family and friends but can also be done privately.

The ceremony is not a legal one (as you are already married) but can be just as special.

Sometimes these reaffirmations are conducted around significant anniversaries or other special dates to the couple.  It may be that you simply want to reaffirm your love for each other after a difficult patch or separation you have gone through.

Often a couple may renew their vows in the presence of certain special people who were unable to attend their wedding or even perhaps the wedding itself did not live up to your expectations for some reason. Whatever the reason, a renewing of vows is a beautiful way to reconnect and reaffirm your love and commitment together.

renewal of wedding vows image showing 2 hands on flowers with wedding rings on fingers
The Celtic Hand Binding Ceremony Image showing the couple with rope around their joined hands
tying the knot ceremony image showing rope binding the joined hands of the bride and groom

Tying the Knot 

Celtic Hand Fasting Ceremony or Hand Binding Ceremony is a ceremony that was practiced by the Celts among other people during the Middle Ages. It is very symbolic and may the origin of the saying “tying the knot”

The most important part of the hand fasting ceremony is the binding together of hands.  There are several ways it can be done but traditionally the couple face each other and hold right hands and left hands together, so that their clasped hands cross. 

This creates a figure eight, the sign of infinity, when seen from the top down.  The celebrant or some other honoured individual – often a child, a stepchild, parent/s or a chief attendant ties the cord around one person’s left wrist and the other person’s right wrist.

In the infinity position, this is easy to do as they are next to each other and continue figure eights around the two closest arms. 

The traditional numbers of knots are three, six (being the number of love), and nine.  The knots themselves should never be untied. Put your cord somewhere safe, where it won’t be disturbed or lost.

The cord should be at least six feet long in order to go several times around the couples wrists. It is good to practice with string first to get the right length, depending on the number of knots. 

It should be thick enough to be tied easily and loosely so you can easily slip out of the knots when needed.  The choice of chord, ribbon or silks used is entirely up to the couple as are the colours.

The Blessing or Wishing Stone Ceremony

Wishing Stone Ceremony Wedding Ritual (or Blessing Stones as they are sometimes called) is a wonderful way to include everyone in the wedding by way of offering blessings and good wishes to the newly weds. Other tokens can also be used like crystals, shells, coloured glass pebbles or beautiful beads. It is entirely up to the couple what they want to use.

When the guests arrive at the ceremony, they either bring with them from home or are given a Blessing Stone or Token along with a note card with words printed on it such as:   My wish for you is,…….. or May you be blessed with………, or May God bless you with……….., to name a few, together with a pen or pencil.

During the ceremony the celebrant will explain the significance of the Blessing Stone/token and how to share their wishes for the newly married couple. They will be given a time to really put all their blessing down on paper and to also hold the stone in their hands to transfer their blessings as well.

Another variation of carrying out the Wishing or Blessing Stone Ritual, is during the ceremony, the stone is passed among the friends and family in order for them to hold onto it and to pass on the best wishes, love and good vibes. The stone is then passed back to the bride and groom and they then hold on to the stone whilst they say their vows.

wishing stone wedding ceremony image2 showing 2 love hearts placed on a bed of pebbles
wishing stone ceremony image of different coloured pebbles with yellow and white flowers

You can either hold on to the stone together or one by one, depending on what type of vows you will do and how big the stone is, of course! Saying your vows whilst holding on to a stone is like you are literally casting your vows into stone.

A stone is very symbolic in itself. It’s part of the earth, ancient in age and a strong symbol of life. You often here people say ‘you are my rock,’ and maybe this is where that expression comes from. A rock or stone is a sign of strength and endurance, so you can see why it would be so symbolic being used in a wedding ceremony where a couple are pledging strength and endurance to each other.

Steeped in Scottish roots, the Wishing Stone Ceremony Wedding Ritual, came from a time before wedding rings could be forged from metal, when couples entering marriage wanted to have a deeply symbolic way to show their commitment to each other. 

wedding ceremony image of the bride and groom doing white dove release

White Dove or Butterfly Release

Throughout the world white doves are recognised as symbols of love, peace and harmony, so what could be more special than releasing white doves as part of your wedding celebration?

A White Dove Release on your wedding day symbolises that doves choose one partner for life and make this commitment until death.  The white dove has been used throughout history as a symbol of Love, Peace, Purity, Faithfulness and Prosperity.  It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured.

Generally, the release is done when the ceremony is complete, and everyone is gathered after the couple have been introduced as Mr and Mrs. There may be a poem, small reading or blessing is read out and the couple then open the container with the doves together and release their ‘love’ to the world and let the doves spread the love (symbolically).

The releasing of White Doves has been a tradition since the 5th Egyptian Dynasty (4.5 thousand years ago) and is an expression of love and inspiration in many cultures.

White doves have been illustrated in art, and recorded in literature for thousands of years. An old world custom in Europe and in the South Seas was to release doves at weddings to symbolise blessings, peace, love and prosperity for a married couple. White dove releases were also used at funerals as a freeing of the spirit and at special events as representations of love and joy!  White doves play a key role in life’s celebrations because of the beauty and symbolism associated with them.

The Butterfly Release

Butterflies are just as spectacular as the doves but are silent. In fact they may be mores so as often they will stay close to the place they were released and have been know to land on the bride and groom or guests. It is a lovely experience for everyone and offers an opportunity for all the guests to make silent wishes and watch ‘their wishes take flight’.  

In their silence, butterflies are meant to keep and carry all your wishes and blessings to the winds of the world thus enabling them to come true. Butterfly releases are best done morning or early afternoon not close to the evening for the health and safety of the butterflies.

renewal of wedding vows image showing 2 hands on flowers with wedding rings on fingers
lighting the wedding candle ceremony image of 2 candles lit next to wedding rings
lighting the marriage candle

The Candle Ceremony

 

This is an especially lovely tradition with the lighting of the unity candle.

There are many variations on the process of the lighting of the Unity candle but in essence the couple have their own candle and together light a larger central candle which is to symbolize their marriage together.

This gesture can symbolise the extinguishing of individual life and the beginning of a life union together. Some however still keep their individual light burning and set them to the side of the central candle to ensure their own individuality and what they bring to the marriage.

In this case you are symbolising that even in marriage you retain your individuality while at the same time offering your energy, warmth, passion, a guiding light – whatever meaning you choose to put to the flame to the creation of a larger union.

In the case where one or more of your parents has died, you may invite the surviving parent to light a candle to symbolise the spirit of the departed parent.

This can be done when you have already taken your places, just before the start of the ceremony, or it can be done as the usher is escorting this parent to his or her to their seat.  Lighting a candle for the departed ones can be lovely and a very moving symbol.  It ensures that in one form or another, the spirits of all of your parents are present.

You may also do this if a parent is unable, for any other reason, not to be present at your ceremony. Some words may be said like “We light this candle in our midst in celebration of this marriage, in memory of the life and spirit of _____,”

Same Sex Marriages

In Recent times, the Australian government has made changes to the Marriage Act enabling couples of the same sex to legally marry. This has been a long time in the making but a welcome change to the law for many.

The laws regarding celebrants have changed as well since marriage equality was passed in December 2017. As Celebrants, we must now read a new monitum – the statement explaining the nature of marriage. Rather than the “union of a man and a woman”, the statement is now the “union of two people”. Further, couples may now refer to each other as spouse, rather than “husband” or “wife” during the ceremony if they prefer. The official paperwork also changed.

It’s important to remember that while the legislation regarding same-sex marriage has changed, churches and other religious organisations do not have to perform a same-sex church wedding if they don’t want to. Canonical, or church, law may change in the future, but for now it’s very much on a case by case basis.

Same-sex couples may be married in very few churches if they choose by a celebrant or a Minister. However, Ministers will not be compelled to marry a same-sex couple if it goes against their personal understanding or belief of marriage.

Many major denominations do not anticipate any changes to canonical law allowing same-sex church weddings. Some ministers have been critical of the church’s conservative stance.

As a result of the changes, there will also now be two types of celebrants. Religious celebrants may refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony if it’s against their religious beliefs. Celebrants had 90 days from December 9 to declare themselves a religious marriage celebrant. Anyone who becomes a celebrant after December 9 will automatically be a civil celebrant and will not be able to refuse to marry a same-sex couple.

Whatever you choose for your wedding, the most important aspect is that you will be surrounded by family and friends who love and support you. Making this public, and legally binding, declaration of your love and commitment is a moment that will always remain significant, whether you are in a church or not. 

Each wedding ceremony is unique no matter who the couple are and we believe the ceremony should be and expression of who you both are as individuals and as a couple. We look forward to supporting all couples in creating the Ceremony of their choice.

It is our policy to do our best to support all couples in their journey leading up to and on their wedding day.

We wish you every joy on your wedding day.

same-sex marriage legalised in Australia image of two men wearing rings
same-sex marriage legalised in Australia image of two women in their wedding gowns

What does your Ceremony Look Like?

 

Whatever your Ceremony preference, we have you covered.

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