Undeniably, one of the most (if not the most!) important parts of any wedding is the ceremony. But with wedding blogs, books and magazines mostly focusing on the pretty stuff (flowers! cakes! dresses!!) it is often the bit that leaves couples the most confused. So today I thought I would briefly cover a few of your options and help you to with some vow ideas if you plan to write your own. I’ve concentrated on English marriage laws in this post so be sure to check your own country’s requirements as they may vary.
Unfortunately, English marriage laws are some of the strictest in the world. Here, you can only be legally married in an approved location and the ceremony must be performed by an authorised celebrant (usually, but not always, a minister of religion) or by an authorised registrar. So your dreams of a beautiful beach or backyard ceremony being performed by your best friend who bought his marriage license on the internet would not be legally binding. Sad face.
But, you can still do it! You’ll just have to make sure you do the legal bit as well by popping to your local registry office to sign the papers. Most couples do this on the same day, but you could do it the day before or after and have another mini-celebration! Also, if you’re having a destination wedding make sure you check where you stand legally. Ceremonies that take place in another country are not always legally binding back home!
If you’re planning to write your own wedding ceremony, you’ll need to check with your local government to see if there are any legal requirements that must be included. Other than that what else happens is completely up to you, especially if you’re having a non-religious ceremony. If you are getting married in a religious setting the rules about what you can and can’t do are often a bit stricter. Just make sure you speak to your officiant if you want to do anything non-traditional.
When you chat to your celebrant before the day, they will most likely go through what you can expect from the ceremony. They’ll also describe the various aspects and explain their significance to you. They may also suggest that you do a rehearsal the day before so you’re all prepped and there are no unexpected surprises!
Whatever kind of ceremony you’re having it’s nice if it follows a basic structure. This way it will be easier for your guests to follow along. A wedding ceremony usually goes as follows:
Processional (the bit where you walk in)
A note about love/ marriage (often referred to as the “definition of marriage”)
The declaration of intent (the “I Do!” bit!)
Pronouncement (aka the kiss!)
The signing of the register