How does a ceremony run?
Here’s a run-down of the flow of a wedding ceremony. Remember, not all weddings look like this, and there’s only two parts that are legally required: Vows, and signing the paperwork.
Take ideas from this and we’ll work together to incorporate the ideas you like and any others you may wish to include - as long as it’s not illegal, I’m up for anything!
And similarly, anything you don’t want, we won’t do.
Except the vows and the paperwork, otherwise you didn’t get married.
All the rest is entirely up to you as to how it’s done.
The Short Version / TLDR
Prelude - guests are arriving & mingling.
Seating - guests take their seats. Any pre-ceremony announcements are made here; your I Do crew take their place at the front, or I will check in with you where you’re waiting to ensure we’re ready to begin. I’ll ask guests to stand for the procession.
Procession - Wedding party make their entrance (i.e. flower girl, ring bearer, attendants etc). Then you make your entrance, and take your place at the front.
Welcome - the music stops, you take a moment to settle yourselves (fix the train, have a hug, wipe the tears). I’ll welcome everyone, introduce myself and thank them all for being there.
Giving Away - if you want to include ‘giving away’ or similar words, this is where it fits.
Reading/Poem/Song - a great spot to incorporate guests into your ceremony with a reading or similar.
Unity Ceremony/Ritual - a good spot to include a sand ceremony, light a unity candle or other similar ritual
Your Love Story - based on information you provide, I’ll share your story, key moments, what you love about one another, what love and being married means to you both.
Vows & Declaration of Intent - Your promises to one another - the heart of your ceremony.
Ring Exchange - you place rings on each other's fingers; with or without some words to go with it.
Declaration of Marriage - I declare you to be married!
The Kiss - you kiss one another!
Signing the Register - the two of you, along with your two witnesses and myself step aside to complete the legal paperwork.
Closing Remarks - we come back together, I say some lovely things and introduce you both as you desire
Recessional - you head back up the aisle, NZ’s newest married couple! Then it's time to party!
The Detailed Version
Things such as inviting guests to sit if they haven’t used the chairs, turn off their phones, letting people know about unplugged ceremonies, instructions on posting to social media, confetti, etc.
I’ll also ask your guests to stand for your entrance, assuming they were seated to begin with. Don’t worry, I’ll get them to sit back down again too!
In my intro, I will introduce myself, welcome your guests to your wedding celebration. Using your own words and information, I do a special thanks for the family and friends who have joined us. This helps to create an intimate air, right from the beginning.
Any special rituals or traditions that honour family fit nicely here, such as a flower presentation for parents, or a candle lighting or sand ceremony. If your guests are being asked to do anything during the ceremony, such as a ring warming, this is also the place to introduce it, and get it started.
If you would like to include any remembrances, this is a good place to include them. A moment of silence, lighting of a memorial candle, a toast, or a mention of those that are no longer with us are all lovely ways to acknowledge lost loved ones.
An optional part of the ceremony, however there are so many ways to do this, if you want to. Some will walk up the aisle on their own, some with their soon to be spouse, others with both parents, their Mum, their Dad, their child or another significant person in their life.
It is entirely up to you and I will craft the words to match no matter how you want to do it.
NB. It’s increasingly common to not say anything at all - and that’s absolutely ok! If you want some ideas or to talk it through, just let me know.
If you’re wanting to do so, this is a great place to have a reading, poem, song or meaningful verse – this could be free flow, chosen, or a number of guests/family could be included in offering words of wisdom / advice / well wishes. Alternatively, I will usually incorporate a quote or some words in the ceremony.
If you’re wanting to include a unity ceremony in your ceremony, this is a great time to do it! Whether it’s lighting a unity candle, sand ceremony, handfasting ceremony, tree planting ceremony, jumping the broom or similar, we’ll incorporate this perfectly.
Your Love Story
I’ll write an original narrative that talks about your love story! How you met, how you fell in love, and all of the beautiful adventures that brought you to your wedding day. I end with what you love about each other, and your hopes and dreams for the future. I’ll only include things you’re ok with sharing. It's funny, touching, personal, and very different with every wedding.
This is a great place to include a reading too. It works especially well if you can find a piece that really speaks to you and your partner. Adding some personal comments, about what the piece means to you, is a nice way to really personalise it. There are literally thousands of different readings out there! Some come from scenes from movies, from songs, from books (children's or adults!), from the bible or Google!
Vows / Declaration of Intent
Your vows can be written by you, or I can provide you with some options for inspiration. The law says that you must include the following statement (or words to this effect) in your ceremony/vows:
I, [full name], take you [full name] to be my wife/husband/partner.
This doesn’t mean that I can’t ask you both a question around your commitment to one another, in order to say “I do” during your ceremony - most people want to do that! But, you must make the statement as well.
There’s some tips here on where to start with writing your vows - let me know if you don’t have the password. Here’s some example vows to get you on your way…
Today, I (full name) take you (full name) to be my husband/wife and partner in life. You are my true love and my soulmate. I love being with you, and I miss you whenever we are apart. I love how you always know what I am thinking, how you make me laugh and the way you care for me. I have been looking forward to this day of sharing my commitment to you with our families and friends, and I am looking forward to the rest of our life together filled with many more happy days.
I (full name) take you (full name) to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband, my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our friendship and love for you today, tomorrow and forever. I will trust you and honour you; I will laugh with you and cry with you; I will love you faithfully, through the best and the worst, through the difficult and the easy. What may come I will always be there. As I have given you my hand to hold, I give you my life to keep.
(Name), since I have found you I have found a new life, because of you I laugh, I smile, I dare to dream. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you and being there for you in all life has in store for us. I (full name) take you (full name) to be my wife/husband/partner.
I, (name) take you, (name) my best friend and soulmate, to be my husband/wife/partner. I will love you more each day than the day before. I will trust and respect you, laugh with you and laugh at you, and smile because you make my life complete. I will cry with you and try to have the patience that love demands. I will live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home.
Or a Dr Seuss option?
I will love you one hundred percent, I will love you without a cent, I will love you sick or healthy, I will love you poor or wealthy, I will love you everyday, and always by your side I’ll stay. I will love you good or bad, I will never make you sad, and whilst we each have our own flaws, if you’ll be mine then I’m all yours.
The exchanging of rings can be simply done at the end of your vows, with no additional wording required. Again, you don’t have to exchange rings during the ceremony if that’s not your jam.
If you’d like to add some words around this part, here’s some ideas:
Your wedding rings are the outward and visible sign of the inward and invisible bond which already unites your two hearts in love.
Name, please take the ring, place it on Name’s finger and repeat after me:
“Name, with this ring I give you my heart. I promise from this day forward you will not walk alone. May my arms be your shelter and my heart be your home.”
“Name, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you. Let it be a reminder that I am always by your side, and that I will always be your partner.”
Take this ring as my gift to you. Wear it and think of me, and know that I love you.
This ring is a token of my love. I offer you all that I have, all that I am, and all that I will be.
Declaration of Marriage
This is the part where we pronounce you to be married! I’ll say something along the lines of:
Name and Name, you have each expressed your love to one another through the commitment and promises of the vows you have made, and the rings you have exchanged.
It is now my absolute honour to pronounce you husband and wife/ wife and wife/ husbands together/ partners for life/ married…
But I’ll tailor it to what you want to be referred to, and the style of your ceremony.
There’s lots of different ways to say this. Some options are below, but as always, I’ll ask you what your preference is!
“You may now kiss”
“You may seal your marriage vows with a kiss”
“I invite you to start your marriage with a kiss,” or,
“Get your smooch on!”
Signing the Register
This is the part where we’ll sign the ‘register’, or more accurately the “Copy of Particulars”.
This requires your signatures, your two witnesses names, addresses and signatures and myself to sign and fill in some details. There are two copies to be completed, and this will typically take 2 songs. Once we've done this you're legally wed!
Often, there’ll be a number of photographs taken here too.
I encourage you, once you have both signed, to return to the ‘altar’ together, have your flowers back in your hands and hold hands! We’re nearly there!
Here, I’ll recap on your ceremony, perhaps include a quote or short reading and bring your ceremony to a close. Then I'll present you to your friends and family with something like:
I am honoured to introduce to you all Mr & Mrs / Mrs & Mrs / Mr & Mr / the newlyweds / New Zealand's newest married couple / [Name and Name]!
(I’ll check with you as to how you want this worded!)
After this, you walk back up the aisle, and it’s party time!