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Weddings Newsletter



By Hilary Hudson


Many couples feel that their love is unique. They want to write their own words for their wedding ceremony because no one ever has or ever will feel as they do about each other.


First of all the couple wanting to write their own will need to go to a civil or interdenominational celebrant.

People marrying in mainstream churches, Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist will have a restricted choice of words and readings. For those churches marriage is a sacrament of the church and even readings should be from the bible.

Photograph by Liz Cadogan, Otago


There are of course some exceptions by some ministers, priests and pastors but as a rule the wedding ceremony is by the book. For those getting married in a registry office there is usually only one brief take-it-or-leave-it ceremony.

For marriages performed by civil celebrants there is much more choice.

First there is the legal requirement. The couple must say to each other, in the presence of the celebrant and two witnesses, I (bride's name /groom's name) take you (groom's name/bride's name ) as my husband/wife. The forms say "legally married" before wife and husband but that is often not said. In a registrar's office the couple must be asked if they have come there of their own free will, however in a celebrant wedding that is not a legal requirement.


So where to from there.


Perhaps you will start with a welcome to the family and guests, which may include what marriage means to you.


In formal church weddings the bride is given away by her father, mother, brother or supporter. In some Jewish ceremonies all the couple's parents support the marriage as in "who supports this couple as they marry today". From that at many civil weddings the bride's parents or the couple's parents both do the supporting. Often all those present are invited to say "we do" in response to the celebrant's question "who supports this couple as they marry today". There is no legal requirement on giving away or supporting.


The next step is the vow or promise from the couple to each other. The law requires the words "I .. take you. to be my husband/wife". In the vows you can decide what you want to promise. You may want the "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part". You may want to "share a relationship of love and of tenderness and laughter". Whatever you want to say is right for you.


For centuries a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand indicated that the wearer was married. A ring or rings are not legally required. If you decide to have a ring or rings, you may want to say something as the ring is placed on the finger. The words can reflect what the ring is a symbol of and why the giver of the ring would like it to be worn as in "I give you this ring as a token of my love and a sign of my promises, please wear it as a symbol of all we share".


Alright: you have welcomed the guests, made the promises, given or exchanged rings. Now you want the celebrant to tell you and your guests that you are married and you are to share your future together. So what has happened? You have publicly committed yourself. You may wish your guests to wish you happiness love and luck. You may want the celebrant to declare you husband and wife or wife and husband.


Thus the wedding ceremony may fall into four sections, a welcome, promises, rings and a pronouncement of marriage.

Readings also add to the occasion. The ceremonies we are talking about are very short. The way to extend them is with readings. Your library will have many books of readings to choose from.

Photograph by Liz Cadogan, Otago

For a book on wedding ceremonies try "Civil Rites and Ceremonies" by Hilary Hudson. Most New Zealand libraries have it.


May your love flourish and grow through all the trials and triumphs that life has in store for you. Good luck with the words.