Have your witnesses sign beforehand

A handy little tip I’ve learned over years is to ensure that you do as much as possible before the wedding ceremony.

One thing that people often forget to do is get the marriage license before the rehearsal. When you think about, it only really matters if you have it on your wedding day. Right? Not really.

I don’t think anyone should leave things to the last minute. Especially your marriage license. You never know what will happen. And imagine the stress if something happened that prevented you from getting to the registrar to get it on time.

The reasons why you need it before your wedding ceremony is so you can get your witnesses to fill it in. If you’ve been married before, you’ll know what I mean. If you’ve never seen a marriage license before, there is a section for each of your witnesses. You need two of them. Each witness must fill in their full name and address as well as sign.

To make things nice and efficient on the day, I always get the witnesses to write their names and details after the rehearsal. This means that on the day, all they’re having to do is sign; as opposed to writing their names, addresses and then signing – this just takes too long.

Once you’ve done this, give the marriage license to your marriage celebrant and they can keep them and bring them on the day.

The things you need to consider for your wedding ceremony

If you’ve just got engaged, odds are you’re wondering what happens next? Any search on the net will list off a whole host of things you need to consider, organise and do.

I’m not a wedding planner, but what I have is a lot of experience when it comes to your wedding ceremony.

The first step is that you need to pick a date and find a venue for both your ceremony and reception. Some places offer a service for both.

Once you know the date you’re going to be getting married, the next step is to find a marriage celebrant. The celebrant will tell you if they are available for the date. If they are available, you need to ensure that you secure their services for that date.

Keep in mind that if you’re considering a registry office wedding, a marriage celebrant can still help you. This might be more suitable for you as they can personalise your wedding more than what you would experience if you did it at the department of internal affairs.

About a couple of months before your wedding, you need to speak to the ceremony venue to confirm a date for the rehearsal. You want to do a rehearsal because it ensures that everything runs smoothly on the day.

Prior to getting married, you will need to get your marriage license from the department of internal affairs. It’s valid for 3 months. It’s useful if you have this prior to the wedding rehearsal. This will mean that during the rehearsal, you can get the witnesses to fill in their details so on the day all they’ll need to do is sign. It also means that you can give it to the marriage celebrant, and he can take it and ensure that its brought to the ceremony on the big day.

Alternative to a Registry Office Wedding

I have a mate in America who I have known since I was a teenager. He was an exchange student at my school. Since his time in New Zealand, he and I have kept in touch. Despite the distance, I consider him a very good friend. So much so that he was one of my groomsman (I had 6).

After returning to the US from NZ, he started the long arduous process of becoming a doctor. As you could imagine, everything fell second fiddle to his studies. It’s only been within the last few years or so that he has met a girl and eventually got engaged.

Throughout this time, I was eagerly anticipating the wedding. However, after chatting with him last year, the whole processing of organising a significant wedding was going to be too much. So much so that he and his fiancé made the decision that they were going to elope at a registry office. I was disappointed, mainly because I wanted to be part of their big day. But I can respect their decision.

Like my mate, perhaps the thought of a grand wedding is too overwhelming to bare. Perhaps it’s too expensive. Whatever your reason, you can have a nice wedding without all the bells and whistles (and costs too).

For me personally, the thought of getting married in a registry office, doesn’t sound that appealing. It just feels really impersonal – kind of like a conveyor belt; one couple goes, and then next are in line behind them waiting for their turn. Maybe you feel the same.

If you’re in Auckland and you’re wanting a small wedding that’s an alternative to a registry office wedding, then I can help you. If you want something at your favourite location, your church, heck even your lounge, you can have it.

Contact me to see what I can do to help personalise the process of getting married.


A visible and constant symbol

One of the areas that often gets overlooked when planning your wedding is the part where you present your rings. I guess this is because in many ways it’s very generic. You put a ring on your spouse’s finger and they do the same.

But in fact the ring is very important. Your wedding day is just one day. 10 years down the track you’ll have the photos to remember the day, but that little platinum circle that you will put on each other’s finger will stay with you the rest of your life. So it raises the obvious question, why not make a big deal of this within your ceremony?

Mr response is, you should. You should make a huge deal of this because the importance warrants the attention. When planning your ceremony, ask your marriage celebrant for advice on what you can do to bring more of a focus on this.

In many of the weddings I’ve taken over the years, I tend to get each couple to declare a second collection of vows, this time about the ring. It generally goes along the lines of:

I give you this ring as a visible and constant symbol of my love for you, may you wear it and think of me and know that I will always love you.

I think the above declaration adds a lot more flavour to this section of your ceremony. What’s your thought?

Reading the message

Over the course of my time as a marriage celebrant, one of the key things that I see in pretty much every wedding is a reading of some sorts. It could be a poem, a reading from the Bible or simply a word of encouragement. The long and the short is you can have any reading you want.

My encouragement for anyone getting married is to consider including a reading in your service.

There are 2 key benefits of a reading:

Firstly, it provides a way to include another family member or friend in the service.

It's a very privileged position to bring a reading at a ceremony, and if there was one person you desperately wanted to include in the bridal party, but couldn’t, why not consider giving them the role of bringing the reading at the ceremony. They will feel honoured and appreciate that you have a role for them to play.

Secondly, many marriage celebrants today like to provide a brief word or message of encouragement for the bride and groom. A nice way to transition into this is from a reading. Thus, the marriage celebrant uses the theme of the reading as the basis for his/her message of encouragement. So if the reading centres on ‘love,’ the celebrant might consider bringing a short 3-5 minute message explaining what love in the context of a marriage is and how the couple might display love to each other.

As you see, a reading’s not just another thing to throw into your ceremony. It's, in fact, very important and has numerous benefits. It provides you with a way to include someone you couldn’t fit into the bridal party, and it helps provide the celebrant a theme to use in their encouragement message.

Therefore, as you're in the planning stages of your wedding, start thinking about what reading you want, who will bring it and how the celebrant can use it in the service.


The Congratulations Line

Imagine the moment when you exit back down the aisle. The ceremony’s done. You’ve both said your vows, declared your love for each other and the marriage celebrant has pronounced you husband and wife. What happens now? You’re done, right?

Well, not quite. You see, there is one last thing you need to be aware of; something that is often easily overlooked. You’re done, but your guests, you know the ones who love and care about you, the ones who have dressed up and made the effort to attend your big day, they want to congratulate the two of you immediately after the ceremony.

So what should you do? Simple. Just ensure you’re standing somewhere where guests can form a line to hug, kiss and high five you. It’s important that you make allowances for this, because although most people will be coming to the reception following the service, there will be some whose only encounter with you on your day will be at this very moment.

So when you’re at your wedding rehearsal, ensure your marriage celebrant gives you guidance on where an appropriate place is to stand for this.

It might take an extra ten minutes and a hundred or so hugs, but I’ll tell you what, it’s totally worth it.


A time to honour

Getting married is a very special occasion for the bride and groom. It’s also an incredibly special time for the families involved; especially the parents and guardians of the couple getting married. Therefore, it goes without saying that within your ceremony you should take a few moments to honour the commitment, dedication, time and effort they made to get you where you are today.

A very simple way to bring your parents into the ceremony is to have a declaration section where you provide them an opportunity to publicly approve the marriage you’re entering into that day. How this happens is that near the beginning or mid-way through the service the marriage celebrant asks the parents to stand and declare their support. In some instances the marriage celebrant usually asks “do you promise to love and support X and Y in getting married and starting a new family together?” To which the parents reply “Yes, we do.”

This is not the make or break of your wedding ceremony, but just something to consider as you try to honour those who have raised, supported and made you into the person you are today.

I think it’s a nice touch, and any way to publicly thank those closest to you shouldn’t be passed up.

 Something to think about.

Two Days Out

Being prepared is the vital ingredient to any good wedding. I am sure this news is nothing new to you. If you're planning your wedding, odds are you're a little overwhelmed by the share volume of work required for everything to run smoothly on the day. Therefore, a helpful piece of advice I can offer as a marriage celebrant is to ensure you have your wedding rehearsal two days out from the big day.

Here's why:

Firstly, it alleviates any stress and allows you to iron out any creases two days beforehand, rather than the night before which could be incredibly stressful when it should be a moment to savour.

Secondly, it frees up the night before to have some quality time with the members of the bridal party. If your wedding’s on a Saturday have your rehearsal on a Thursday. This gives you the Friday night to enjoy the company of your friends and get up to some pre wedding shenanigans.

If you haven't already done so, contact your marriage celebrant and the wedding venue and ensure your rehearsal is booked in for two nights before hand. Honestly, you'll thank me for this.

Down the Aisle

Probably the most anticipated moment of any wedding is the time that the bride walks down the Aisle. As she places one foot in front of each other and proceeds to make her way to the front, all eyes are on her. No one can look away. It’s her moment and she has every right to take her time. What makes gives the moment substance is a good song.

When planning your wedding, you will need to consider what song you walk into. There are three things you want to consider:

1 – A song that is romantic

Whether it’s the lyrics or the melody, you want to ensure you choose a song that accurately reflects the romance of the day. Therefore, choose something that puts everyone in the mood and reminds them of the occasion.

2 – Unique to you

As this is your big day, it goes without saying that the very moment that you walk down the aisle, should be to a song that just shouts “you.” Make it special and make it unique to you. Think of a song that means something to you.

3 – Length – make it go the distance.

As you don’t want to rush things, make sure that your song gives you sufficient time to make it to the front. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway down the isle and your song finishes. Pick a song that around and longer than 2.5 minutes.

Your marriage celebrant will coordinate everything, but the choice of song you walk into is purely your decision. If you’re struggling for ideas, find something that ticks these three boxes. This will make your decision incredibly easy and make your day uniquely you.

In my upcoming blogs I will provide you with a list of some popular songs to start your ceremony. In the mean time start thinking about a romantic song that’s just for you and is not too short.