Clear the aisle and have your vows at the ready – it’s time to make it official.
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.
WHERE SHOULD YOU DO IT?
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.
WHO SHOULD CONDUCT IT?
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 newzealandweddings.co.nz/ 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 (dia.govt.nz) for details.
BOOK ’ EM
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.
MEET AND GREET
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