Types of Wedding Ceremonies

Your wedding ** brings together family and friends to witness your formal choice of one another as life partners. At the same time, the two of you are jointly experiencing one of the most important event of your lives, so it is important your ceremony is infused with your personalities and style. You may also want to have people who are important to you participating in the ceremony or to include particular family or cultural traditions.
** Whether or not the ceremony creates a legal marriage or is a non-legal ceremony, such as a commitment ceremony, it can still be a wedding!
The first step to creating your unique ceremony brings together the elements that will combine to create a particular atmosphere on the day
  • where you will hold your ceremony
  • what ceremony style and package you choose (that is how many guests, bridal party and overall style)
  • what cultural, family, or other traditions you wish to include.

There are endless possibilities .......

On the very broad level the venue, the number of guests, and what you choose to wear combine to set the tone of the ceremony - but not necessarily. It is perfectly possible to have a large number of guests and a very casual feel to the ceremony, or to elope in a formal ceremony with a traditional feel.

The tone of the ceremony is created as much by words and choreography of the ceremony, the way the ceremony is delivered, and the general attitude of everyone present as by how many people are present and what the bridal party is wearing. Most Australian civil ceremonies are either casual or semi-formal. Where all the guests are seated and the ceremony is highly structured you start to cross over into a formal wedding.

But in all ceremonies the earlier parts of the ceremony bring together everyone present as a supporting community. Then the focus shifts to you as to make your vows. The words I say to you and those you say to each other will create a private space that will nurture your love for each other and help you begin your married life with strong and beautiful memories.

Your choices, wishes, ideas and vision all inform the design of your wedding ceremony and the level of formality. I have a comprehensive knowledge of all things wedding including cultural traditions and customs, so I can guarantee that what I offer you is never something grabbed off the internet and poorly understood.

Within whichever wedding ceremony package  or non-legal wedding ceremony package you choose there are many possibilities.

Types and styles of weddings I perform

You may choose to have a traditional wedding, or you may choose to have a particular type of wedding or to incorporate elements from other types of weddings in your ceremony. As a couple you are joining your lives and that means combining your individual histories, what you are bringing into your marriage. So you may wish to incorporate into your wedding family or cultural traditions to ensure that your wedding is a celebration of who you are as well as a celebration of all you mean to each other. It is up to you. My job is to make your wishes a reality by creating for you a ceremony that speaks to your hearts and to the hearts of everyone present.

Weddings in particular types of venues


Backyard Weddings

A backyard wedding can be a casual setting for a casual wedding, or it can be as elegant and sophisticated as you wish - it all depends on the backyard and your vision for your ceremony. For a couple who want a simple no-fuss wedding the backyard or deck can be the ideal solution.

Chapel Weddings  

If your vision for your wedding is a traditional ceremony, but you do not wish to marry in a church, you might choose to hold your ceremony in one of the non-denominational or secular wedding chapels available in south-east Queensland. While a few chapels are purpose-built, the majority are small deconsecrated churches with traditional 19th century architecture, wooden pews, a central aisle and an altar on a raised dais.  A chapel wedding will include a formal processional and a formal recessional and may also include formal seating of the parents just before the wedding starts. As an indoor venue a chapel wedding affords opportunities to include rituals such as the Unity Candle, and is particular appropriate if you wish to have a Military Wedding or include some religious content in the ceremony. 
more information about Chapel Weddings...

Restaurant Weddings

The trend towards smaller, more intimate, weddings opens up a world of possibilities. Many restaurants have private rooms or are willing to allow you to book the whole restaurant for your function and many have courtyards or other spaces that are suitable for the ceremony.  The type of cuisine and atmosphere of the restaurant can provide a ready-made theme.

Weddings in Parks and Botanical Gardens

Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan and surrounding shires have a multiplicity of parks, many of which have designated areas for ceremonies that can (and should) be booked to ensure that you have the right to use them on the day. While you can ask someone to move from a rotunda, for example, parks and botanical gardens are still public places, so you cannot stop passersby from coming close and staying for the whole ceremony, nor from taking photographs. Use of designated sites comes with conditions, which might include restrictions on furniture and decorations, and use of rose petals, confetti etc.  A wedding in a park allows more flexibility in size of guest list or bridal party that most venues.

Weddings in particular circumstances


Bedside Weddings

In cases of serious illness a bedside wedding may be the only option. The ceremony may be held at home, in hospital or in a hospice. My personal commitment to you is that the ceremony will be a sensitive but joyful celebration of your love.

Surprise Weddings
A surprise wedding is a family-oriented alternative to an elopement. You minimise the stress of the wedding but have your family and friends present at the ceremony. Generally the wedding is held in conjunction with another celebration - your child's naming, a housewarming, or some other festive occasion or family gathering. The Australian Marriage Act requires that both parties must give real consent to the marriage both in the process leading up to the ceremony and in the ceremony itself. While it is legal to surprise your guests it is not legally possible to surprise either the bride or the groom.
more information about Surprise Weddings ..

Urgent Weddings

Where there is a genuine need to marry very quickly because of ill-health or imminent military deployment, for example, it is possible to obtain special permission to do so with less than the mandatory month's notice. In these circumstances I can assist you to obtain the necessary permission and, at short notice, create and conduct a simple and sensitive ceremony. The ceremony can be held in a hospital, or at home, or any venue of your choice.

Visa Weddings

Where either the bride or groom is a foreign national entering Australia on a Prospective Marriage Visa (Fiance Visa) the wedding is required to take place within 9 months of the granting of the visa.  Such weddings may be conducted in very simple English or with the assistance of an Interpreter, if required. As celebrant I can provide the required letter and other documentation regarding the arrangements for the wedding that authorities require as part of the visa application process. There is an affordable extra charge for this service.
more information about my services for your Fiance Visa Application ...

Weddings with a family orientation


Child-inclusive Weddings

Whether you are a couple with children, a couple whose marriage will form a blended family, or proud grandparents who want to include the grandchildren in their ceremony, a child-inclusive wedding will enhance the joyfulness of the day.  Including children in your ceremony can greatly enhance the meaning of your ceremony and strengthen relationships with the children. Of course, there are some little tricks that will help make the children comfortable. The most important consideration, however, is to ensure that the way you include the children is age-appropriate.
more information about Child-Friendly Weddings ...

Pet-inclusive Weddings

Your pets are an important part of your family. Including them in your ceremony can add an element of fun and playfulness to your ceremony. Dogs can play a significant role in your ceremony. I will work with you to ensure that that role is appropriate for your dog's personality and attention span.
more information about including Pets in your Wedding Ceremony ...

Visa Weddings

Where one of  the couple is a foreign national entering Australia on a Prospective Marriage Visa (Fiance Visa) the wedding is required to take place before the date on which the visa expires.  Such weddings may be conducted in very simple English or with the assistance of an Interpreter, if required. I can assist you with providing the documentation the Department of Home Affairs requires as part of the visa application process. There is a modest extra charge for this service.
more information about my services for Your Fiance Visa Application ...

Weddings that reflect your cultural heritage


Bilingual Weddings

You may choose to celebrate your marriage using one or more languages other than English. This can be something as simple as a reading in the language of the bride or groom's heritage, the bride and groom speaking from the heart to their parents, or a fully bilingual ceremony in which the various parts of the ceremony are repeated in the second language, or translated. If both the bride and groom speak English, but some of the guests do not, a translator can be used. Where the bride, the groom or one or both of the official witnesses do not speak English, the law requires that an official interpreter be used at the ceremony.

Celtic Weddings

Celtic weddings incorporate pre-Christian elements. A Celtic wedding can be specific to your heritage, incorporating Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or Cornish customs. Common inclusions are handfasting, the four elements of air, water, earth, and fire, and jumping the broom.

Cultural Weddings

As long as the minimal legal requirements are observed your wedding can reflect the traditions of a particular culture. For some couples this may be the only option open where a legal religious wedding in a particular tradition is not available to them in Brisbane. For others incorporating traditions from their heritage can add immensely to the ceremony. This might be something as simple as sharing wine in the Chinese tradition, tying the bride and groom's garments together and taking the seven steps in the Hindu tradition, or being crowned in the Orthodox tradition, or the ceremony can follow closely the traditions of wedding ceremonies in your culture.

Fusion Weddings

As the world grows smaller, fusion or multicultural wedding ceremonies are becoming more popular. A fusion wedding is a wedding that includes elements from multiple cultures in a sensitive and mindful fashion that avoids appropriating rituals that have no meaning to those attending the ceremony. As your celebrant I will work with you to find the commonality in various cultural customs, traditions, rituals and ceremony elements and draw those common elements together to create a holistic ceremony in a way is respectful and meaningful, and enjoyable for everyone.


Handfasting is a Celtic tradition going back to pre-Christian Pagan times. It involves the binding together of the couple's hands. This evolved from the handshake into the joining of all four hands crossed in the centre to create a sign of infinity. It can be used as an Engagement or Betrothal ceremony signalling intention, or incorporated as a ritual in any marriage ceremony before the vows to signify the couple's agreement to marry, or the whole ceremony can be based on modern interpretation of the ritual. A handfasting can also be used as part of a commitment ceremony or a renewal of vows. It adds a a spiritual aspect to the ceremony outside of specific religious tradition. In a Celtic wedding the colours of the ribbon or cords have individual significance.
more information about Handfasting ...

Inter-Cultural or Multi-Cultural Weddings

Where a couple comes from two different cultural or religious backgrounds both can be celebrated and incorporated. With careful planning the traditions and customs of both cultures can be seamlessly integrated to create a meaningful and thrilling experience forging a powerful bond that will resonate ever after in the lives of the couple and their families.
In other words, I ensure that we work through the ways your different wedding traditions might interact with one another, emphasising the concept of unity. I've performed numbers of ceremonies celebrating various combinations of Australian, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, American, French, German, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African, Jewish, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Maori, Pacific Islander, Hindu, and Muslim heritage, to name just a few. The ceremony can be entirely secular, it can reflect your spiritual beliefs, or it can include elements of the religious traditions of either or both families.

Weddings in the Irish Tradition

A wedding in the Irish tradition incorporates Irish customs and symbols. Common symbols are the shamrock, the celtic cross, the Tara brooch, Claddagh rings. The ceremony might include Irish music played by fiddlers and/or pipers, traditionally worded Irish blessings, special coins, an oathing stone, and the Celtic loving cup.

Weddings in the Jewish Tradition

Where one or both of you is Jewish but you prefer a civil ceremony, your ceremony can honour and incorporate Jewish traditions, using the Hebrew language in relevant parts if you wish.  I can accommodate your needs and ensure that the ceremony takes into account the customs of the particular Jewish tradition from which you come.

Weddings in the Scottish Tradition (also known as Tartan Weddings)

Celebrating your Scottish heritage in your wedding can be both romantic and soul-stirring, a feast for the eyes (the tartan) and the ears (the skirl of the bagpipes).  Wonderful traditions that celebrate your heritage include a piper leading the bride in and the newly married couple out, touches of tartan and heather and thistles in bouquets,  age-old rituals such as the sashing of the bride, the use of a quaich, handfasting, jumping the besom, and suitable readings in Scots dialect or from Scottish authors.  I wear either a sash in my McDonald clan tartan or the more generic Flower of Scotland tartan with an elegant black outfit. You can go all the way with the kilt and sash, and a ceremony that is traditional in all aspects, or incorporate selected elements of the traditional Scottish wedding in the ceremony
more information about Bluebonnet Tartan Weddings ...

Non-Religious (Secular) Weddings

Most of the weddings (about 2/3) solemnised in Australia every year do not include any religious references or spiritual inclusions.

Humanist Weddings

In the very deepest sense all weddings are humanist expressions of the intentions of two people to enter a covenantal relationship based on mutual respect and mutual love. A Humanist wedding is non-religious. It celebrates human values and natural human spirituality based on a human sense of integrity without reference to any supreme being, but it is not anti-religion. Australia is one of a very small number of countries in which you can have a legal Humanist wedding. In most countries the only way to have a fully secular wedding is to be married in the Registry Office, Town Hall, or Courthouse. But this means a stock-standard ceremony. A Humanist wedding ceremony, as performed by Jennifer Cram, has meaningful secular or non-religious content with a very personal focus, which makes the ceremony relaxed and comfortable and allows for light-hearted moments as well as solemn and serious ones. Because it is an inclusive ceremony, emphasising those things that are common to humanity, whatever the beliefs of your guests might be no-one present will feel excluded.
more information about what differentiates a Humanist Celebrant

Registry Office Style Weddings

A Registry Office Style Wedding may appeal to couples who want the simplicity of a Registry Office wedding, but would rather have the ceremony at at time of their choose, at a place of their choosing, and be able to have some choice as to what is included in the ceremony.  I offer a lovely alternative to the stock-standard Registry Office Ceremony in Warm and Wonderful Weekday/Weekend Weddings at a cost very comparable with the Registry Office.

Weddings that reflect your spiritual or ethical beliefs

In Australia you are free to express your spiritual beliefs in your civil ceremony (except at the Registry Office!). As your celebrant I am happy to work with you to include just the right amount of religion - but I will not impose this on you!  Your ceremony can be spiritual in nature, evoking a sense of the sacred without resorting to religion or you may include religious references, prayers, readings and music in your civil ceremony if you choose to do so. Where you yourselves are not religious but someone important to you is, this can be accomplished in a number of ways that are not intrusively obvious to guests who are not religious but which lend an air of familiarity to the ceremony for those who are. This is also a way to acknowledge dual religious heritages within a secular (non-religious) ceremony.

Buddhist Weddings

There is no specific Buddhist wedding liturgy. Wedding customs differ from country to country and the type of Buddhism practised. The conscious intention brought to the ceremony by the bride and groom is of primary importance and can be enhanced by the choice of rituals. The vows can express Buddhist principles and the Five Precepts, which offer a framework for a successful marriage. The Four Blessings can also be included in the ceremony.

Green (Earth-Friendly) Eco Weddings

An earth-friendly or eco-friendly wedding is all about the choices you make to ensure that start your married life without damaging the environment or contributing to global warming.  Making socially conscious choices  can save you money too.  You could choose a local ceremony site, such as a park or garden, that is complete in itself, thus minimising carbon emissions and have the ceremony and the reception at the same place or in easy walking distance from each other. You also can express your commitment to the environment in the wording of the ceremony, by choosing recycled rings (perhaps purchased as estate items or passed on down your family), and by skipping the ceremony program.
more information about Eco-Friendly Weddings ...on my Not Really a Blog

Interfaith Weddings

An interfaith wedding blends the couple's two religious traditions in a sensitive and respectful manner. In all other aspects an interfaith wedding is similar to an Inter-Cultural Wedding

Spiritual Weddings

A spiritual wedding is rich in symbolism and tradition, evoking a sacred or divine feeling within the context of the marriage ceremony. Because spirituality is based on individual experience what it means is highly personal to you. Your spiritual ceremony may therefore express a universal understanding,  incorporate your personal earth-centred spiritual beliefs or be a non-denomational ceremony with non-specific references to the divine. Inspiring and beautiful readings that are universal and not necessarily connected with any particular religion can be included.earth-friendly or eco-friendly wedding is all about the choices you make to ensure that start your married life without damaging the environment

Theme Weddings

Theme weddings add originality and excitement to your wedding and are a hot trend at the moment. While all weddings are, in a sense thematic because the theme is the wedding, adding a unique subject matter will tie it together. A theme wedding can add flair, originality, fun and excitement to your special day, and will actively involve your guests in creating the atmosphere. You can use a theme to link to your romantic history as a couple.  Your venue may suggest the theme, for example a wine theme for a wedding held in a vineyard, or you may draw inspiration from your wedding date, a historical period, personal interests, hobbies, favourite movies or TV series (Star Wars and Harry Potter are hot themes at the moment), novels, even a storybook fantasy, a particular culture or your honeymoon destination, anything that you feel will edpress your interests and values and stamp your wedding with your combined personality as a new couple.  5 good reasons to have a theme wedding

Hawaiian Weddings

With its sub-tropical climate Brisbane is the perfect place to have a Hawaiian style wedding - on the beach or beside a swimming pool in which frangipani or orchids are floating.  Leis, flowers for the women, fragrant and green leaves for the men and a sand ceremony (an Hawaiian innovation) are features of a Hawaiian wedding, as is casual (and colourful) clothing.

Mediaeval Weddings / Medieval Weddings

A Mediaeval Wedding is a theme wedding that revolves around a particular historical period. While sourcing appropriate clothing is relatively easy, finding a suitable location can be more difficult. You may have to resort to using decorations and props to create a mediaeval ambience. Careful choice of music  and musicians is important. The ceremony will be formal, using language reminiscent of the time. While Australian law requires a certain form of words to be included in the vows, those words are not out of place in a Mediaeval Wedding.

Military Weddings

A military wedding simply involves military participation in a traditional and very formal marriage ceremony. The distinguishing mark of a military wedding is that the groom and members of the wedding party who are serving members of the armed forces (Officers or NCO rank) wear their uniforms and the bride and groom exit under an arch of swords or sabres. The type of uniform depends on the time of day and the formality of the wedding. If a serving member, the bride may also wear her uniform but most opt for the traditional wedding gown. Boutonnieres are never worn with uniforms, but decorations are.

True-Blue Aussie Weddings

Koalas or kangaroos at your wedding, didgeridoo music or bush ballads, bush poetry, an outdoor setting surrounded by gum trees or rainforest, and a laid-back ceremony.  Any or all of these ingredients can make for a very memorable occasion.

Vintage Weddings

Vintage largely means the wedding will have the look and feel of the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and maybe the 1960s, with the most popular being the 1950s, probably because of the very flattering fashion silhouette of the time, the full skirted, small-waisted silhouette introduced by Christian Dior in 1947. Known as the “New Look” it signaled the end of post-war austerity by its lavish use of fabric. As with furniture, theme weddings from older periods in history are identified by the era – so we have Edwardian, Victorian, Elizabethan, and Mediaeval themed weddings, for example. While, strictly speaking, a 1920s themed wedding could be called Vintage, it is more commonly referred to as a Roaring Twenties themed wedding. In order to decide what aspects of the period you want to feature in your wedding it is necessary to understand how weddings were done in the period.
more information about Vintage Weddings ...

Unstructured Weddings

For those who would prefer a much more relaxed and informal ceremony, I offer an unstructured ceremony conducted round a table at home, a picnic table in a park, or in your favourite cafè, restaurant, pub, or bar, over coffee, high tea, a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or a glass of your preferred tipple, or just in a very relaxed manner sitting doing nothing in particular. NB I don't expect to join in the meal - my focus is on you!. The ceremony will include the minimal words the two of you must say in order to create your marriage and the passage from the Marriage Act that I, as your celebrant, must recite. The rest is whatever you decide - anything from a free-flowing conversation, spontaneous promises and 'let's see how it goes on the day', to formal promises you write yourselves (with my help) combined with conversation, or, indeed, whatever you feel is the best way to express your love and commitment. And at the end of the day you'll be just as married as you would be after a traditional big white wedding, but with far less stress.

Non-Legal Weddings

Just because you cannot, or do not wish to be legally married you do not have to forgo having the wedding of your dreams. If are a couple who is already legally married, perhaps having married overseas or in a small ceremony, and you now want to celebrate your marriage with the wedding of your dreams you can, and I'll be honoured to work with you to achieve your vision of the ceremony.

Commitment Ceremonies

Couples of the same sex can legally marry in Australia. But anyone who is already married, cannot. This includes couples who are married to one another, or still legally married to another person. Wedding is a term commonly used for a formal commitment ceremony for a couple that wishes to make a formal public commitment to one another without legally marrying. While not a legal ceremony it is a heartfelt and moving expression of loving commitment that can express who you are by your choice of any of the types and styles of ceremony described above.
more information about Commitment Ceremonies ...

Reaffirmation (Renewal of Vows)

Legally married or formally committed couples can reaffirm their vows on significant anniversaries or other occasions. Couples who have eloped or who have had a very small ceremony frequently reaffirm their vows as part of the larger celebration soon after the wedding. The ceremony follows the structure of a wedding but is less formal and is focussed on celebrating the success of the relationship.  Under Australian law couples already married  may not have a repeat ceremony, so the vows are reaffirmed not merely repeated.
more information about Renewal of Vows Ceremonies ...