I just got engaged.... what do I do now? This is a common question asked by many a couple getting married for the first time, and in fact, it is still asked by people on their second and third time around. Getting married is not an everyday occurrence, so it's not a natural thing where people simply 'know' what to do. Celebrant Shell Brown walks us through the process...
The first thing you need to do is contact your friendly, local Celebrant. They can guide you through the legalities and what you need to do before, during and after your marriage ceremony. Your celebrant will work with you to create a ceremony that is tailored to your style and personalities and can be completely unique to you.
But even before you do that… let's make sure that you and your partner are eligible to get married in Australia.
1. Are either of you married already? To each other or to other people? The answer to this should be 'no'
2. Are you both 18+? (speak to your celebrant if one of you is 16+) This one should be 'yes'
3. Are you related to each other in a direct line? This one should be a 'no'
4. Have you given at least one month notice to your celebrant? This should be a 'yes, we absolutely will'
5. Do you both consent to the marriage? Again - this one is a big 'yes'
You and your partner will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form and lodging it with your chosen celebrant at least one month (and no earlier than 18 months) before the ceremony. Your celebrant will then make sure it's all in order and check your ID.
An ID needs to do two things:
1. show where and when you were born and
2. prove you are who you say you are (a photo ID)
A passport does both of these things, but don't worry if you don't have a passport, you can still use your birth certificate and a driver's licence.
If either you or your partner have been married before, you are required to show proof of the end of the previous marriage... Divorce or death certificates. Your celebrant must see these documents before they can legally perform the marriage ceremony.
Once you have the legal paperwork down, then depending on the type of wedding you are planning, there are a few other tasks that you'll need to add to your list, but as they are personal and unique to you and your partner, each couple's list will look a little different.
Here are some things your might include to your list of decisions:
The first thing to do is chose a few possible dates and then confirm with your chosen celebrant which date they are available.
The most popular month to get married in Australia is October closely followed by November and March.
62% of all weddings in Australia happen on a Saturday; 15% on a Friday and 11% on a Sunday.... it's a good fact to remember that whilst there are 52 Saturdays in the year, there are only 12/13 in those three most popular months, so you're going to want to secure your celebrant as early as you can.
Choosing a Celebrant
There are 4 options when it comes to choosing who you'd like to marry you:
1. Marriage Celebrant - somebody who is appointed by and registered with the Attorney General's Department and will work together with you to create a personalised ceremony. Marriage Celebrants can marry you anywhere and at anytime (obviously there are some rules we need to follow here)
2. Religious Celebrant - similar to a Marriage Celebrant, but when the Marriage Equality law was changed in 2017 registered civil celebrants were given a 3 month window to change over into a new type of registration allowing them to decline marrying same sex couples because of their personal religious beliefs.
3. Religious Minsters - somebody who is affliated with a religious church or organisation. 4. Registry Office - There is a Marriage Registery Office in each state/territory. You are generally limited to an appointed time during the week to hold your ceremony at their office, have little to no say in your ceremony and may only be allowed to take a small number (if any) guests.
Here are some of our fabulous Celebrants Network celebrants:
When choosing your celebrant, think about your values as a couple, your needs as per timing and location and more importantly - choose somebody who you get along with. Remember, your celebrant will be instrumental in setting the vibe for your ceremony, so it's importnat that they 'get you'.
You'll need to decide if you're going to use the same venue/outdoor space for your ceremony and reception, or you might have separate places in mind.
Popular wedding venues/public ceremony spaces will book out 12-18 months in advance (sometimes longer), so if you have your heart set on something in particular - get in early, otherwise go for something a little different that won't be overrun by brides and grooms.
Outdoor spaces may require council approval - check the local council websites for information.
If you are choosing an outdoor space make sure you consider seating, especially for older guests. You'll also need to think about the weather - your dream might be of a bare foot beach wedding, but you'll have no happy guests if it's 40 degrees on the day and there is no shade. Which brings me to the vital importance of having a solid Plan B in place. It's great to think positively and hope that the rain holds off, but if it doesn't, then you have a logistical nightmare on your hands trying to organise your 120 soaked loved ones into a nearby gazebo designed to hold 10.
Plan B people - Plan B!
The Guest List
This will come down to a few personal factors: budget and size of the venue being just two, just remember, it's your day and you might want to consider if you really want to share it with a bunch of people you don't really know?
The Bridal Party
This tradition stems back to the olden days when people believed that evil spirits were afoot with a plan to steal away the bride before she had a chance to be given to the groom by her father - usually for some sort of fee....
Photo source: people.com
Today, things are a little different and brides are generally not in mortal danger on their wedding day, so besides having somebody to arrange your hen's/buck's nights and hold up your dress whilst you use the bathroom, there really isn't a dire need for a bridal party anymore. Having said that - it's always more fun with friends around.
If you're going full on traditional with your bridal party, it can become quite an expensive exercise for you and for your chosen ones when you consider they have to buy a dress/suit, shoes, travel, have their hair, make up and nails done - maybe things they wouldn't have forked out for as a plain old guest. Having said that, there are less expensive ways to organise everything and it's also good fun to be able to share the day with your favourite friends, so this is a personal choice.
There are some people who don't care too much about having photos of their ceremony and they will usually have a cousin who owns a 'big' camera who said he would take the photos...
Then there are the people who hired a professional photographer on the way home from becoming engaged...
And then there's the people who thought they didn't care too much about having photos of their ceremony until about a month or so after the wedding and the cousin showed them the 7 out of focus photos he took of their special day and now they wished that they'd hired a professional photographer...
This is obviously a personal decision and one that would come down to budget, but if you're going to spend money somewhere..... this would be a good choice.
The next photographic decision is whether to have your ceremony "Unplugged" - this means that we ask your guests to put away their phones, cameras and iPads for the duration of the ceremony, that way they can be focused on the reason they're there - to support you as you become married. If you've chosen not to have a professional photographer, then maybe choose one friend or relative to take photos
What you will want to avoid though is this ↓
Carrying a bouquet of flowers started being a thing back in the days when people didn't shower all that often and the pretty scent was meant to mask anything unpleasant on your day of days.
Since showering has become more popular, carrying flowers has become less vital, but people still like to carry them though because it seems to complete the bridal look. If you feel you have to carry something, there are plenty of options other than flowers, A few examples I've seen: a bouquet of broaches, a purse, a sword, their baby or, a puppy.
The Wedding Attire
The majority of couples getting married like to follow the tradition of wearing a suit and/or a white dress, however if you choose to wear anything else - at all, then you will be no less married than your frocked up peers when it's all said and done. It's your wedding day - so you do you.
Some people feel that they wouldn't feel right if they didn't wear a traditional wedding dress, and to those people I say - you wear what ever you feel good in.
Remember to think about the logistics - how are you, your partner, your parents, your grandparents, your bridal party, your cousin with the camera and the bouquet puppies going to get from the house to the ceremony.... then from the ceremony to the reception..... then home? And who is taking all those dogs home after the photos?
You don't have to spend heaps of money on cars or having matching cars - they just need to get everybody from A to B to C and back to A again.
There are certain sections in the marriage ceremony where music is suggested:
1. Before the couple arrive
2. When the couple enter the ceremony
3. During the legal signing of the register/certificates
4. When they leave as a married couple
Music is such a personal thing, it's a good idea to sit down together and decide what you want to say through song.
That just about covers the most important part of the day - the actual getting married bit and the rest of your planning will be for the reception and possibly your honeymoon, so here is where your celebrant registers all your legal paperwok and wishes you all the best.
For more information about getting married - please check out The Celebrants Network website... oh, and congratulations!