You don't have to say "I do".
From the moment we met in our fave hang Parlour, I knew it was friends at first wine.
Shannon O'Heir (my celebrant-y crush and friend of the studio) is original, down to earth, and super great at her job (which I'm sure she'll tell you it doesn't feel like a job). She's all about creating personal, authentic and memorable ceremonies that give couples an amazing start to life together.
She recently wrote some words for us about a few things we could afford to question when it comes to the wedding ceremony.
Take it away Shannon!
Sentence: “OH! I thought we HAD to do that”
Usage: A very commonly heard phrase during meetings with lovely-loved-up couples looking to create a wedding ceremony that positively REEKS of them (in a good way)
Perhaps not surprisingly to anyone who is planning wedding, anyone who has ever met anyone planning a wedding, or any clever dogs… weddings seem to come with a lot of ‘shoulddas’ and a big side of ‘because it’s always been done that way’. BUT, while there are a few bits and pieces that have to be said in your ceremony to make it legal (about 3 to be exact) there’s also lot of bits and pieces that you DON’T HAVE to have. And that’s what we’re talking about today. Straight up, no waiting…wedding bits you can ditch (if you want*).
*Disclaimer: Don’t get me wrong, if tradition is your thing then let’s go for it and create a beautiful, classic ceremony. Your ceremony is all yours - traditional or off-the-wall quirky, classic or wild. My job is to help make sure it looks, feels and sounds like you and, of course, is legal. It really is all for the taking…which is why your friendly neighbourhood celebrant is here to guide you through your MANY options!
You don’t have to…. say ‘I Do’
Name a wedding scene from any film or TV show that DOESN’T include the celebrant/minister/pastor phrasing the question, “Do you so and so, take so-and-so to be your lawful wedded wife, to love, honour and cherish, forsaking all others until death do you part”? and I’ll show you a surprised Celebrant. But did you know you don’t have to say “I Do” during your wedding ceremony at all?
One of the coolest parts of civil ceremonies in Australia, is that your Marriage Celebrant doesn’t have ‘power vested in them’ to make you married. A celebrant is more like an authorised witness to your marriage and you get to marry EACH OTHER by exchanging legal minimum vows WITH each other.
So, if you’re feeling creative, why not consider ditching the “I Do’s” completely and writing your own personal promises that capture the kind of commitment you two are going to make to each other, or stick with the “I Do’s” but tweak them and make them personal (maybe include a few personal jokes!). What about, “Do you promise to love, support and challenge Sarah for the rest of your life, even when she tries to organise your lives with walls of post-it notes?”
You don’t have to….walk down the aisle and be ‘given away’
If you love the idea of walking down the aisle with your Dad, then GREAT – let’s do it! But if you want to change up your big WOW entry moment, it doesn’t have to be one of you and Dad. You can be escorted by one, or both, parents, your step-parents, your grandparents, a wedding party, a whole crew of support people, no-one at all, or only your soon-to-be-spouse. What about skipping the processional altogether and arriving early to greet all your guests together with your partner? Talk about a pre-game relax vibe. And hey, for those thinking they have to wait at the end of the aisle for your beloved…. don’t forget you can TOTALLY get involved in some serious ‘entrance’ action as well.
Once you’ve made it down the aisle, if you want a twist on the classic “Who gives this woman to be married to this man” to which the Bride’s father traditionally answers “I do”- then consider making the vibe more contemporary and inclusive by asking all your parents, or even everyone present, to give their love and support to the big ol’ marrying adventure you two are about to embark on!
You don’t have to…exchange rings
Ahhh wedding rings. Circles representing eternity, symbols of the never-ending love of the spouses, the ol’ Vena Amoris finger-to-heart vein situation, or a promise of fidelity. There’s a lot of veeeerry good symbolism happening with wedding rings and a bit of bling never goes astray on a wedding day, but (contrary to popular opinion) a wedding ring is not required to make a marriage.
So if jewellery is not your bag - maybe you’re a minimalist, maybe you can’t wear rings at work, maybe you just want to throw tradition out the window on your big day – then consider exchanging something else. Burgers? Gin? A puppy?! Nothing? Maybe the exchange of your promises to love each other for the rest of your lives, ‘til death do you part’, is enough symbolism for one day. Good to know it’s up to you though, right?
You don’t have to…. choreograph your ceremony
You don’t choreograph the way you walk down the street with your partner (or maybe you do? In which case…we should probs be mates), or how you secretly squeeze each other’s knees under the table when someone tells a bad joke at a dinner party, or the way you wrap yourselves together on that single armchair while watching Netflix, so don’t feel compelled to choreograph your wedding ceremony like it’s the sequel to La-La Land.
Sure, a bit of ‘stand here’ and ‘hold the mic like this’ kinda thing during a rehearsal is totally fine, but the ceremony should look and feel like your REAL LIFE together, not a piece of performance art. So try to relax, hold each other’s hands like you normally would, look at each other and giggle, have a cheeky butt grab. Whatever it is that YOU TWO normally do - just do that. The added bonus… the less you have to try to remember on the day, the more you can relax in the moment and be truly present with your number 1 person on the planet.
You don’t have to… ‘keep it together’
Put on as much water proof mascara as you need, bring a hanky, and sure…keep your knees together if you like. But whatever you do, don’t feel like you have to keep your emotions under wraps on your wedding day.
A wedding is kind of like being on a boat y’know…you’ve got to try to go with the (e)motion. Tears, cheers, laughter, high-fives (are high-fives a feeling?), snacks – whatever it is that comes out on the day…let it! Whether it’s an elopement, or the biggest party of your life, your wedding day is all about expressing how you feel, so don’t feel like you have to keep it under wraps. Expressing genuine, authentic and heartfelt responses to your partner, family and friends on one of the biggest days of your life, will ensure you have a genuine, authentic and heartfelt ceremony that is memorable for all the right reasons.
So remember you lovely loved-up people, YOU are the masters of your wedding ceremony destiny! Not your celebrant, not your mum or your neighbours, not your childhood bestie, and definitely not that well-intentioned person selling you your wedding shoes. Fill your ceremony with stuff YOU like and that means something to you, and you can’t go wrong.