Can I sing my vows?

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (26/06/2020)
Categories: |  Wedding Ceremony |
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Sign reading Wilder ThoughtsPared down weddings mean that couples are more relaxed about being in the limelight. It also means that they are looking at unique and unusual ways to put their on stamp on the ceremony, particularly on the vows, as the central focus of the ceremony in the absence of large numbers of guests and other factors. So I wasn't surprised when I was asked whether a couple could sing their vows. But ask a dozen celebrants that question and you are likely to get a dozen different variations on either Yes or No.

Here is my take on this Wilder Thought question:

Vows consist of two totally separate and different parts

In Australia, to be married, saying I Do is not enough. You are each required to make a statement, out loud, that creates the contract of marriage between you. This statement goes
I ask everyone here (or I call upon the persons here present) to witness that I [Full Name] take you [Full Name] to be my lawful wedded [insert your chosen term from one of the approved terms]
* The approved terms are husband, wife, spouse, or partner in marriage.

Anything else you add are personal promises. You don't have to make promises, but if you choose to do so nothing in those promises should put conditions on the marriage.

What does the Marriage Act say?

The Marriage Act, 1961 in Section 45, paragraph (2) reads:
Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words [the legal statement written in my previous paragraph above]
You will note the use of the word says.

What does says mean?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word say  like this:
To utter, speak; to express in words, declare; to make known, tell
Put that in the context of the Marriage Act, and what we are being told is that, for a marriage to be legal, the mandated words must be uttered/vocalised by each of you in the presence, and hearing, of your celebrant and your witnesses. It says nothing about how loud, how soft, how fast, how slow, how high, how low, etc

So can you sing your legal vows?

As long as each of you gives a solo performance of those legal words, and you don't add any Fa-La-La insertions or repeats of words or phrases, it's a YES.

What about your personal promises?

There are no rules. So you can
  • Speak your personal promises
  • Sing your personal promises
  • Whisper them into one another's ear
  • Hand them to one another without sharing them with anyone
  • Convey them by means of charades
  • Show them to one another on flash cards
  • Express them in interpretative dance
  • And any other wild thought you can think of.

And you don't have to do any one of the above individually, one after the other, as you must for the legal vows. So, if you wish to express your vows in unison, in a duet, or as a conversation or question and answer session, go for it.

I'll be delighted!

Thanks for reading.

Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                        have the best ceremony ever
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