your celebrant must say in your wedding ceremony is
laid down in the Marriage Act. And it is far less
than most people think!
In fact there is only ONE thing that your
celebrant must say.
The Marriage Act doesn't call it that, in fact
it doesn't name it at all, it just makes it clear
that the celebrant must say the following words
(Monitum means warning, by the way) before you make
I am duly authorised by law to
solemnise marriages according to law.
Before you are joined together in marriage
in my presence and in the presence of these
witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and
binding nature of the relationship into which
you are now about to enter.
Marriage, according to law in Australia, is
the union of two people, to the exclusion of all
others, voluntarily entered into for life.
The first two sentences are a warning. The last one
the legal definition of marriage in Australia.
I don't just launch into the above. I always
introduce it by explaining that, in order for your
marriage to be legal, I must declare that ... and I
insert my name after the first I. Not a fan of
starting the ceremony with My Name Is...
we are legally required to identify ourselves.
Something I do twice. Once informally when I'm doing
the housekeeping announcements before the ceremony
starts, and as part of the Monitum.
about the vows?
Do you have to repeat the legal vows
after your celebrant? No. Nope. Not at all.
In fact, as long as at some point before the vows
your celebrant introduces themselves as the
celebrant, job done. So you can read your vows,
including the legal words, or have someone else lead
you through them. Or more than one someones! At a
recent wedding, on my suggestion, we had the
couple's teenage godsons do that. The boys were just
a tad too young to be the witnesses. It created a
magic moment. And they did it perfectly. Holding the
really fancy vows folders I had made for the couple.
the shocking secret ...
Although it is customary for
the celebrant to do almost all the speaking of the
ceremony, that is tradition, a holdover from when
the celebrant was always a member of the clergy and
the "authority" marrying them in the eyes of the
As a civil celebrant, I am what I like to
think of as the operational arm of the Marriage Act.
But, technically, because it is the words you each
say to the other, in front of witnesses, that create
I ask everyone here to
witness that I [Full Name] take you [Full Name]
to be my lawful wedded [your choice of:
My job is to make sure the paperwork is done, make
sure you say the proper words, and there are two
witnesses present. And to submit everything to
Births, Deaths, and Marriages to register you
As long as I do all of the
above, and I say the Monitum
I don't have to say
can other people play in your
Anyone you choose can speak the various parts of
your wedding ceremony
- Welcome everyone
- Do a reading
- Tell your relationship/love story
- Ask the "I do" question
- Lead you through your vows (Repeat after me)
about the Pronouncement
Unlike many other countries (and religious
ceremonies) the pronouncement in a civil marriage
ceremony Australia doesn't seal the deal. You are
legally married once you say your vows. So the
pronouncement is tradition only. It is an
acknowledgement that you are married, rather than
the words the created the legal marriage.
So no-one in Australia has any power vested in them
by the government to create your marriage! Which
means that whether pronounced married, or not, you
are legally married.
So, at the end of a legal marriage ceremony I often
ask the guests to join with me in pronouncing the
Or, you can declare yourselves married. Or have
someone else do it. In that case I always
suggest that the actual words the person uses are "I
acknowledge and declare that ...."
Doing it all yourself
Of course you can. You can welcome
everyone. Personally, I love it when the marrying
couple welcomes everyone themselves and then they
You can tell your own love story. You can ask one
another the I Do questions. You can read your legal
vows, recite them from memory, or repeat them after
one another (that last one might seem a bit creepy
to the guests, so, though legal, you might want to
skip that option). For your personal promises there
are no rules.
Does this mean
less work for your celebrant?
doesn't! For the simple reason that I still do all
the paperwork, collect information from you, and
write the ceremony. And then, on top of that there
- Convincing everyone involved that it is
perfectly legal - which often means lengthy
- Incorporating the perspectives of potentially
- Coaching all the people involved
Thanks for reading!