How long should the ceremony take?
Updated: Jan 27
This question is often asked by couples – some people know exactly what they want when they first engage a celebrant. Others have no idea what is expected.
Every wedding is different and couples often have set ideas about what they want. For instance, a couple getting married on a beach with just two witnesses will probably only want a short ceremony. This can be done in a matter of minutes, provided all the legal elements are covered.
There are five points that have to be covered to make a wedding legal:
1. The celebrant must introduce himself/herself and state that they are authorised to conduct marriages within Australia.
2. The full name of the bride and groom must be read out at some point during the ceremony.
3. The Monitum (legal statement advising the couple of what they are entering into) must be read out with the correct wording.
4. The vows must be read out and be legally worded.
5. The two witnesses must be over the age of 18 and able to understand English.
Couples who want a short wedding are seeking a no fuss ceremony, that means they don’t want any rituals or family or friends to contribute by way of readings or singing during the ceremony.
The benefit of a short ceremony is that you can hold the guests attention and jump straight into the celebrations at the reception. Many people opt for somewhere in between, generally speaking that is 20-30minute ceremonies. This timeframe allows for the legalities, the couples story and the signing of the marriage certificate and any optional extras as mentioned above. Allow 5-10mins for the signing – this includes set up, manoeuvring the bride and her gown to sit down and of course the bride and groom and 2 witness to sign one by one.
When writing ceremonies for my clients I always start with a couples story. This is often the most engaging aspect of the ceremony (apart from the vows and the kiss!) and hooks the guests into feeling invested in the union being witnessed. I outline how they met to when they arrived at marriage and any funny, quirky parts in between. Remember that not all your guests will know your journey intimately and sharing your story will create a more intimate connection between you and your guests.
A wedding with more guests is usually longer and can last anywhere up to 45minutes. Couples often have friends or family members who they want to do readings or sing, or a special piece of music played while they sign the register. If this sounds like you be sure to creative and diverse in your ceremony additions so as not to bore your guests.
However long it may take, the content can be tailored so that the ceremony is heartfelt and memorable for the couples, witnesses and guests alike.
Make sure you tell your celebrant your wishes early so an appropriate ceremony can be prepared for you. Do not be afraid to make changes or offer feedback on the written ceremony, it is perfectly normal to make several edits before signing off on the final draft.
A celebrant is there to serve you and holding back your opinion to avoid hurting their feelings will not serve you come ceremony time.