The Cer­e­mony

Clear the aisle and have your vows at the ready – it’s time to make it of­fi­cial.

New Zealand Weddings Planner - - Editor’s Letter - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY CAROLYN HASLETT

Al­though it’s the most for­mal part of your day – when an of­fi­ciant pub­licly unites you as hus­band and wife – to­day’s cer­e­monies need not fol­low strict pro­to­col. Some cou­ples in­clude cul­tural tra­di­tions in the ser­vice and may choose a cel­e­brant of a sim­i­lar back­ground who can iden­tify with their needs, while oth­ers seek out favourite song lyrics, lit­er­ary pas­sages, prayers, po­ems or read­ings that they feel sum up their love.


If a re­li­gious cer­e­mony is on the cards, bear in mind that your of­fi­ciant may re­quire you to par­tic­i­pate in a pre-mar­riage course.

Cou­ples who have strong fam­ily ties or want to marry in a re­laxed set­ting may opt for a cer­e­mony at a pri­vate home – just con­sider the cost in­volved in prep­ping it for the oc­ca­sion.

To tie the knot in a unique spot, such as a mu­seum or sports ground, look into the venue’s wed­ding poli­cies and spe­cial re­quire­ments such as a bad-weather plan and li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance. If you plan to elope abroad, re­search the mar­riage li­cence re­quire­ments and costs, as they vary be­tween coun­tries.

De­pend­ing on whether you’re hav­ing a full mass or a shorter cus­tomised vow ex­change, the pro­gramme will typ­i­cally last be­tween 20 and 45 min­utes.


Far from a one- cel­e­brant-fits-all sce­nario, mod­ern cou­ples are hir­ing in­de­pen­dent of­fi­ciants with whom they feel a con­nec­tion, and who have much greater in­put into their cer­e­mony than ever be­fore. There are sev­eral ways to find a cer­ti­fied pro­fes­sional who can add flair to your cer­e­mony. See our cel­e­brants di­rec­tory on page 164, view the op­tions at newzealandwed­ di­rec­tory, or ask friends for re­fer­rals.

You may have the op­tion to in­ter­view your cel­e­brant face-to-face be­fore you book them, but this can be a time- con­sum­ing process. You can tell a lot about a per­son by their phone man­ner and web­site, so use these tools to nar­row down your se­lec­tion to your top two cel­e­brants, then ar­range to meet only them. A good cel­e­brant should put you at ease al­most im­me­di­ately.

If you want a close friend or fam­ily mem­ber to be your of­fi­ciant, they need to be cer­ti­fied in or­der for your nup­tials to be le­gal. See the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs ( for de­tails.


Just as the very best venues and pho­tog­ra­phers are snapped up quickly, so too are good cel­e­brants. The ear­lier you start look­ing, the sooner you’ll find one who fits your style, sched­ule and bud­get. The ma­jor­ity of cel­e­brants are booked at least six months in ad­vance, and the most pop­u­lar can be se­cured up to a year ahead for peak wed­ding sea­son.


It’s not ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary to meet with your cel­e­brant un­til two or three months be­fore your wed­ding. They should of­fer ex­am­ples of vows, but don’t limit your­self to these – feel free to write your own or re­cite some­thing from a book that ap­peals to you.

Most cer­e­monies can be de­signed in one meet­ing and fol­lowed up with phone calls and emails. And while a full re­hearsal pro­vides a chance for the wed­ding party to prac­tice the pro­ces­sion and or­der of ser­vice, dis­cuss this with your cel­e­brant as it may not be essen­tial. A short gath­er­ing might be enough to brief you on the pro­ceed­ings.


Your cel­e­brant leads the tran­si­tion be­tween the vows, read­ings and other com­po­nents of the cer­e­mony. They also thank im­por­tant peo­ple, ac­knowl­edge ab­sent friends or fam­ily mem­bers and ask your par­ents to give you away. Above all, be true to what you and your fi­ancé want. Don’t feel con­fined to tra­di­tion if that’s not your thing – when it comes to putting your cer­e­mony to­gether, the sky’s the limit. W

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