Your Wedding Vows: Legal, Personal, Private? What's the Difference?

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (12/09/2020)
Categories: | Vows | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Legals |
< previous     |    contents     |   next >
Groom reading personal
                        vowsVows are important. They are the centrepiece and a major high point in your marriage ceremony. In Australia, they are also the words that create your marriage - at least the legal vows are. So there are rules that must be followed in order to make sure your marriage is legal.

The legal vows

To be legally married in Australia each of you must make it absolutely clear to everyone present that you are are willingly entering into this marriage. Which means making a statement out loud, using the words dictated by the Marriage Act, and including  your names, to make sure there is no confusion about who is marrying whom!

The Marriage Act says each of must say:
I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband, or spouse)
  • You may substitute I ask everyone here for I call upon the persons here present 
  • You may say you instead of thee
  •  You may say partner-in-marriage instead of wife, husband, or spouse

Personal Vows

Personal promises add a great deal to the ceremony. And I definitely encourage couples to make personal promises.There is only one rule that applies - nothing you say can put conditions on your commitment to marriage or in any way qualify or contradict the legal vows. Other than that you can promise anything you like (though I would encourage you to focus on the big things) and structure them any way you like. So you can
  • Add your personal promises after your legal vows and say them individually
  • Make your personal promises by speaking in unison
  • Make your personal promises as a Question and Answer session between you
  • Format your personal promises as a question that your celebrant asks, to which you answer "I do"

Private Vows

While everyone present must hear you say the legal vows, there is no such requirement for personal promises. So if you feel shy about pouring your heart out in front of other people, or just maybe want to include x-rated promises, you can keep them private if you wish. There are many ways to do this
  • Your celebrant can announce to the guests that you are going to exchange vows for one another's ears only, ask your wedding party to move away, and turn off any microphones, allowing you to very quietly say or read your promises to one another. Your photographer will be able to capture all the emotions
  • You can share your personal promises, privately, during your First Look photo session before the ceremony
  • You can write your vows, seal them an envelope and exchange them during the ceremony to be opened and read privately after the ceremony while you are having photographs taken.
  • You could even text them to one another. Pro-tip: If you're going to do this as part of the ceremony create the text as a note and save so that all you have to do is copy and paste it when ready to send it.

Help is at hand

There is no shame, or harm, in getting professional help to write your vows. And I'd love use my sixteen years of experience and expertise as a marriage celebrant to do that for you. 

Jenny xxx Let's talk
                    soon about how you can have the best ceremony ever
< previous    |    contents     |    next     |    get in touch >