The Benefits of Staying Low-Tech for Your Wedding Ceremony

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant ©
Categories: | Wedding Legals| Wedding Planning |
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Hands holding a silver iPAD.
Is going paperless, or nearly paperless, for your wedding ceremony a good idea?

In recent years, the use of tablets and smartphones in weddings has grown exponentially. Almost everyone, from schoolkids to seniors, has at least one for personal use, and they are ubiquitous in the workplace.

So, logical progression, celebrants have started using these digital devices to read the ceremony and sign necessary paperwork, and couples may well read their vows, and their speeches, from their phones.

This trend is promoted as eco-friendly, practical, and efficient as it removes the need for printing copies of the ceremony and paperwork.

Using devices for signing marriage certificates and reading the ceremony can offer several  benefits. However, there are also some drawbacks. These drawbacks, in my view, not only far outweigh the assumed or perceived benefits environmental benefits, they include a significant emotional element.

Pen vs Device: The Tangible Joy of Signing your Marriage Certificate


The way you sign your marriage certificates has a significant impact on the emotional and sensual pleasure of the experience! The silkiness of good paper under your hands, the smooth flow of ink on paper that creates a sense of intimacy of of permanence, adds an extra layer of significance and tradition to the act of signing, and can create a subtle feeling of tangible joy and sensous pleasure that can't be duplicated by a stylus on a device screen.

Signing on a device is pretty mundane. It is how we confirm deliveries. It is impersonal. As signing on paper becomes a rarer experience, one not often experienced in normal daily life, doing so becomes more significant.

From a practical point of view, the Marriage Act requires that each marrying couple is handed the Presentation Certificate at the conclusion of their marriage ceremony. This means that has to be a paper certificate. If you must sign one piece of paper, why complicate the signing by using two different methods?

Digital signatures are horrible!


When signing with a stylus, the resulting signature may not resemble our usual handwriting. This is due to the different feel and texture of the stylus on a screen compared to a pen on paper. Additionally, the angle and pressure at which the stylus is held may affect the appearance of the signature.

If you are going to sign on a device you really need to practice your signature using the same type of device and the same type of stylus, and each of you may need different adjustments to settings such as pen pressure.

Reason for the order of signing


If you pay close attention at one of my weddings, you will notice that I get the couple and their witnesses to sign in a particular order.

Signing three times, on paper, gives you a chance to deal with the impact of slightly shaking hands (nervous excitement), so that when it comes to signing for the third time, you've settled down and your signature looks confident and "normal". Which is why I get you to sign the copy I have to keep first (the Register), then the copy that goes into Births, Deaths, and Marriages, and lastly, the Presentation Certificate, the one you keep for the rest of your lives.

It's a smooth operation. Throw a digital device into the mix and it becomes a more bumpy ride.

Risk Management


From the celebrant's point of view, going paperless for a wedding ceremony can be a great eco-friendly option, but there are some risks to consider.

One of the biggest concerns is the possibility of the electronic device failing or running out of battery, preventing access to the ceremony script and certificates. But issues of security, the possibility of the device being hacked, or the document being corrupted also pose a level of risk that is concerning.

Most celebrants who use devices have an alternative in case of connectivity issues - a printed copy of the ceremony script and certificates!

A matter of gravitas - how real will it feel


At a wedding we do things differently for the simple reason that it is a day, and an experience, that we set apart from our normal every day lives. You dress up. You wear clothes that send a very strong signal. Everyone acts with greater formality. There is both excitement and solemnity.

We are so used to seeing people with heads buried in their phones, ignoring others, even in social Groom
                      wearing a blue jacket on which is pinned a floral
                      boutonnier, is looking at the screen of a silver
                      smartphonesituations, that seeing someone reading from a device during your wedding will send a mixed message at best. A visual jolt, in a way.  And, While signing marriage documents on a device may seem like a convenient and efficient way of signing, that also lacks a certain amount of gravitas.

The act of signing the marriage certificates is legally required and culturally and emotionally significant. So much so that many marrying couples believe that they aren't married until the certificates are signed[1].

Unlike virtually all other legal documents, such as a will, where the witnesses are witnessing the signature, the marriage certificates include the signature of the person solemnising the marriage, and all parties - the marrying couple, their witnesses, and the celebrant, are attesting that the marriage took place, not witnessing the couple's signatures. That alone makes this signing a unique experience, a recognition that the marriage is both official and permanent. Signing with a pen on paper adds a certain level of formality and significance to the act which signing on a device may lack.

[1] Not true. You are married by your saying of the legal vows. The signing of the marriage certificates documents that the marriage has taken place.

How it looks in photos


It's a common sight at events these days - the celebrant reading from their phone or tablet, or a couple signing their marriage certificate on a tablet. But let's be real, it doesn't always look great in photos. The glare on the screen, awkward positioning, and the absence of a physical document to hold can detract from the overall visual appeal of the event. Add to that the challenges your photographer may face when trying to capture a good shot due to limitations on where they can stand or the angles they can take.

Thanks for reading!

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                        Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
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