Your guide to

Your Dream Wedding Ceremony

Joyce Mathers Celebrant ​

The Boring Stuff


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This book is general in nature and not meant to replace any specific advice. The author disclaims all and any liability to any persons whatsoever in respect of anything done by any person in reliance, whether in whole or in part, on this e-book.


Your wedding ceremony is one of the most significant events in your life so it is important that you are able to enjoy a truly magical ceremony that respects your beliefs, reflects your values and traditions, and affirms the depth of your love for each other.

Key to creating your unique wedding ceremony are the visions you have for your special day and choices you make about the type of ceremony you desire:
  • ​Where will your ceremony be held? 
  • How large will the bridal party be be? 
  • How many guests will be attending? 
  • Will it be a formal or an informal ceremony? 
  • Are there cultural or family traditions you wish to include? 
  • Do you wish to have any people important to you participating in the ceremony? 

When it comes to choosing the type of wedding ceremony you would like, the options are endless.

My aim with this guide is to present you with all the information you could ever need to make the whole process of planning your perfect wedding ceremony as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Selecting Your Celebrant

Choosing your marriage celebrant may not be an exciting task, but it is a very important one. Amid all the excitement of choosing outfits, venues, themes and colour schemes, it’s easy to pay scant attention to choosing a celebrant - never mind figuring out how to choose the wedding celebrant that is right for you. After all, a Celebrant is a Celebrant. Right?

Well, not quite!

While any registered Marriage Celebrant can steer you through the marriage process and conduct your wedding ceremony, only the Wedding Celebrant that is right for you can make your ceremony the most memorable part of your day. 

Your Celebrant will be standing right there beside you as you make one of

the most important commitments in your life; so, it makes sense to choose someone you like and someone you can trust with your once-in-a-lifetime ceremony.

Why do you need a Civil Celebrant?

Having decided on a civil wedding, you must employ a registered Wedding Celebrant to conduct your marriage ceremony. All Civil Celebrants are appointed and registered by the Attorney-General’s Department after receiving the relevant training and qualifications. There are a number of legal responsibilities that come with the job. There include ensuring;

  • ​Couples lodge the Notice of Intended Marriage with relevant identifications.
  • Ceremonies contain all the legal wording/requirements
  • Marriage documents are registered within the required 14 day timeframe

How soon should you get in touch?

This should really be right at the top of your ‘to-do’ list. As a guide, the Wedding Celebrant you choose needs to receive your completed Notice of Intended Marriage form from you a maximum of 18 months and a minimum of one month before you tie the knot. When you are completely satisfied in your choice of Marriage Celebrant make your booking quickly. Good Celebrants are booked well in advance. Having done all the hard work, why take the chance of missing out on the Wedding Celebrant that is just right for you? The early bird, as they say...

How do you choose the right Wedding Celebrant?

Ultimately you will want an experienced and professional Celebrant. One with all the knowledge and skills to prepare and deliver a unique wedding ceremony that reflects your personalities, that will delight both you and your guests and create a magical, meaningful, memory that will last for a lifetime.

Start by looking at their websites. Review their testimonials. How many are there? How recent are they? How expansive are the comments? Request to speak directly with couples who have used their services.

Your Celebrant should have good communication skills. Make contact with

prospective Celebrants both in writing and by phone so that you can get a good feel for how well they express themselves.

It is essential that you develop a personal rapport with your Celebrant. The relationship between you and your Celebrant is going to be crucial to the success of your big day. It is important to feel comfortable that your Celebrant is not only professional but also warm and friendly in their approach; so, it is well worth investing your time in an initial face-to-face chat with potential Wedding Celebrants.

Many Celebrants, myself included, offer an obligation-free first meeting. This initial chat gives you a chance to, not only hear how well the Celebrant speaks, but to also experience how well he, or she, listens to your ideas, your needs and your concerns and gives you the chance to see if the ‘fit’ between you is right.

What should you ask at the initial meeting?

When you meet with your Celebrant for the first time, it is a good idea to be prepared. Have a list of questions that you want answered. The last thing you want is to leave this meeting with your most important issues and concerns being left unaddressed.

Here are some questions you may wish to consider including:-

Q: What is your fee and what does it include?

Pricing can be confusing. Ask your prospective Celebrants for clear pricing information​ on their services, fees, booking and payment terms. 

It is important to consider both the price, and the value of the services being offered. One Celebrant may, at first glance, appear to be offering a great deal but have “add-on” charges that are not clearly stated. For example, there may be additional charges for travelling to the venue, for attending rehearsals, for supplying a signing table, etc. 

Remember, what appears to be cheapest is not always best! Make sure you are comparing ‘apples with apples’ as they say.

Q: What is your philosophy as a Wedding Celebrant?

You are looking for someone you can trust with your once-in-a-lifetime ceremony; so, it is important that you have a clear understanding of their philosophy as a Marriage Celebrant.

My personal philosophy  is simple:
Deliver great service, exceptional value for money, and a magical, meaningful and memorable experience for my clients and their guests. Always!

I do this by giving you;

  • More Time
  • More Attention
  • More Input
  • More Inspiration
  • More Creativity

That way I can ensure that every ceremony I deliver will be unique, heartfelt and truly personal.

Q: How do you create your ceremonies?

Not all ceremonies are created equal. Sadly, many celebrants continue to churn out 5-minute ‘boilerplate’ ceremonies using prewritten material that is inserted into a standard ceremony template. I do not subscribe to this one-price-fits-all approach. I am very fussy! 

All of my ceremonies are created using my 7-step process​, but each of them is different. I take great pride in the fact that all the ceremonies I craft are as unique as the couples I am creating them for. 

Q: Do you perform wedding rituals?

Not every Celebrant is comfortable performing rituals but I love them. 

I have an extensive list that I love to perform. It is so beautiful to perform a ritual
that holds some special meaning to the Bride and Groom. 

Take the Hand-fasting Ceremony for example; this is a beautiful ritual for people with a Scottish or Celtic background; or, the Sand Ceremony - a perfect ritual for a blended family; and, the wine box and letter ritual that offers something a little more personal to the Bride and Groom. The list is endless.

Q: Do you provide a PA system?

For a wedding ceremony with 20, or more, guests, I believe it is important that the Celebrant’s voice is projected to ensure it can be heard; so, a powerful and reliable PA system is a must. I, personally, use a fantastic system that is compact and unobtrusive and yet capable of projecting my voice over the throng of 200 people!

Q: Can music be broadcast through your PA system?

If you intend using pre-recorded music during your ceremony, you must ask your Celebrant if their PA system is capable of broadcasting it. Some PA systems offer one, or more, audio inputs for pre-recorded music stored on either a USB memory stick, a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop computer. Please note, however, that it is not the Celebrant’s responsibility to organise or play the music. You will need to have someone willing and able to carry out this duty on the day.

Q: Will you hold a rehearsal of our ceremony?

Not every wedding ceremony requires a rehearsal. But, for those that do, they can be of enormous benefit. Rehearsals can help the Bride and Groom get their head around each individual step in the Ceremony, such as how far they have to
walk to the “Arbour” and where they will stand. Being given the opportunity to

practice the vows and rituals can greatly reduce the stress of the event. Rehearsals are also a great photo-opportunity for the pre-wedding album!

Q: What will you wear on the day?

This may seem like an odd question but, believe me, some Celebrants are not
blessed with the greatest gift of style! Remember your Celebrant will be in your
wedding photos, so it is important that you can be confident that he or she will
come coordinated with your wedding party.

My personal dress style is elegant and understated… I never under-dress! 

I go to great lengths to ensure that, on the day, my outfit will reflect the type of ceremony you have chosen in colours that will coordinate with and not clash with the bridal party.

Can you really have the wedding of your dreams?

Yes you can! Whatever your wedding fantasy, you can have it exactly the way you want it; but if, and only if, you choose the right wedding celebrant. 

So have your list of questions prepared for your initial meeting with prospective Celebrants and don't leave without your most important issues and concerns being addressed.​

Meet Joyce

Hi I'm Joyce Mathers. I was born in Scotland where I married at the tender age of 21. Since 1990 I have had the pleasure of living in the beautiful city of Perth.

Being blessed with a fresh outlook on life and boundless energy, definitely makes me a ‘glass-half full’  kind of person. 

I’m told that among my better qualities are; my bubbly personality, my generous smile and my ability to make people feel relaxed and at ease in my company.

I am very much into the arts. As an accomplished Jazz singer I love both live music and the theatre but I equally enjoy sitting quietly reading my book under the shade of a tree… when free time permits.

I’m also a hopeless romantic at heart; totally in love with love and the concept of marriage. I think George Sands was so right when he wrote:

 There is only one happiness in life…
to love and to be loved in return

My Philosophy

With me as your celebrant you can be confident that your ceremony will be unique, heartfelt and truly personal… whatever the occasion. My sole focus is on delivering great service, exceptional value for money, and a magical, meaningful and memorable experience for you and for your guests.

My Philosophy 

1. You will find me well presented

My dress style is elegant and understated… I never under-dress! On the day, my outfit will reflect the type of ceremony you have chosen in colours that will 

coordinate, not clash, with the bridal party. (I would like you to note that if you do choose a beach wedding… I will not be turning up in a bikini. That’s a promise!)

2. You will find me enthusiastic, entertaining and engaging

I am well-spoken and, as an accomplished jazz singer, I possess strong voice projection and the ability to ‘read’ an audience and the skills to ensure they are fully engaged and connected with your ceremony.

3. You will receive personal and supportive advice

I take pride in taking the time to really get to know you; to understand the vision you have for your ceremony and in working diligently to make sure that your vision becomes your reality.

4. Your ceremony will be truly personal

I promise you the full breadth and depth of my experience and expertise and a ceremony designed to respect your beliefs, reflect your values and to touch the hearts and minds of everyone present.

5. You will have no (unplanned) surprises

While I'm happy to perform ceremonies that are a surprise for your guests, my promise and my commitment to you is that you will experience no unforeseen surprises when it comes to your ceremony. Everything will be planned, agreed and signed-off well before your big day. You can find out more about what I do and how I do it here.

Legal Obligations


1. Before Your Wedding Day

The first document that must be lodged, is the Notice of Intended Marriage​​ – this notes your identification and the date, time, and place of your wedding.  

There are many sections to fill in to make sure that you qualify to marry and this form must be lodged within a period from 18th months to 1 month prior to the date of your marriage.​

As close as possible to your wedding date, you must also sign a form called Declaration of No Legal Impediment – this document confirms that there are no legal reasons preventing you from marrying.

2. On Your Wedding Day

On the day of your wedding you will then sign an Official Certificate of Marriage as well as a Presentation copy of the Certificate of Marriage

3. After Your Wedding 

After the wedding I have fourteen days to send: 
  • ​Notice of Intended Marriage
  • Declaration of No Legal Impediment and 
  • Official Certificate of Marriage 

to the office of Births Deaths and Marriages.  

Lodging this paperwork makes your wedding legal.


​Before you recite your personal vows, I have a legal obligation, as your celebrant, to say the following specific words from the marriage act:

“​I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.​Before you are joined together in marriage in my presence, and in the presence of these your family and friends, I am bound to remind you of the solemn and firm nature of the relationship into which you are about to enter. ​Marriage according to the law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life"​​​

Legal Vows

​​​​I​ (Groom),​ 
call upon these persons here present
To witness that I take you (Bride)
To be my lawful wedded wife

I (Bride),
call upon these persons here present 
To witness that I take you (Groom)
To be my lawful wedded husband

Order Of Service

  • Housekeeping – asking guests for their attention, suggesting guests turn off their mobile phones and providing information about whether confetti can be used.  …instructions from Bride and Groom regarding the preferences in relation to housekeeping…i.e. photos? 

  • Processional (or Bridal march).  The Bridesmaids enter, followed by the Bride and the person who is giving her away…..or any version of the bride’s choice of processional. There is no hard and fast way to do the bridal march.

  • Welcoming.  The Celebrant welcomes family and friends and introduces herself.
  • Giving away of the Bride. The bride is given away by; her dad, brother, mum, sister, other family member or friend.

  • Reading. Passages of verse or poetry can be used. It is usual to have a close friend or family member present these readings.

  • Introduction. The Celebrant speaks about the couple’s commitment to each other and what marriage means to them and anything else the couple feels is meaningful and or significant.

  • Monitum. This is required by law and must be said appropriately in accordance with the Marriage Act.
  • Legal Vows. These Vows are also required by Law

  • Personal Vows. These may be written by the couple themselves or by celebrant

  • Ring Ceremony. Exchanging of rings

  • Ritual. If you would like to include a ritual or family custom
  • The Pronouncing.  Couple is pronounced husband and wife
  • The Kiss. No explanation needed!
  • Signing of the register. Couple sign in the presence of two witnesses

  • Conclusion by Celebrant

  • Recessional. Bride and Groom are presented for the first time and leave followed by the bridal party.

Wedding Party Entrance

Option 1

Very traditionally the bride and her father or the person giving her away would walk down the aisle first with her bridesmaids following.

Option 2

Bridesmaids enter first. 

The bride and her father follow making the final entrance.

Option 3

Bridesmaids enter with the groomsmen and they split at the “alter”.

Bride then enters with dad

Option 4

Groomsmen take each both mothers and/or grandmothers down the aisle​ first and get them seated.

The Bridesmaids then follow with the Bride and father bring up the rear.  

Special Inclusions

First Kiss : Last Kiss

​I am always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make my Wedding Ceremonies even more special. 

So, I was thrilled when I came across "First Kiss : Last Kiss" which I have now adapted and can present to prospective couples as a special inclusion for their ceremony. 

As their mum was the first one to kiss them when they were born, I think it is a beautiful gesture to offer mum the opportunity of being the last to kiss their son or daughter before they take their vows and become husband and wife.  

I glean information about the bride's and groom's relationship with their mums​, using my Celebrant's "bag of tricks," and I use that knowledge to make the ceremony unique and very personal to them.  

Very often the couple will choose to keep the inclusion as a surprise for their mums too. When surprised by the offer their reaction on the day has to be seen to be believed. It is always always pure gold!​

Including other family members 

​Very often these days the bride or groom will have their children at the wedding ceremony.  

I believe this offers another fantastic  opportunity for us to add something special by making the children an integral part of the process. And why not? They are, after all, going to play a huge part of the bride and groom's future. 

One example is to include them in the vows; 

"Do you promise to be there for mum in her marriage, and support both Mum and David in their future together?"     

Another way to include the children is to simply ask them for their blessing for their mum and dad to be.

Including someone who has passed

​Often a close member of the family or a person special ​to the bride and groom ​may have passed away before their wedding day.

Whilst we certainly wouldn't want to turn a happy day into a sad one, there are many ways to include this special person in the ceremony.  

One example of this might be to light a candle in their honour and have it placed beside their photograph to burn throughout the ceremony: 

"As we feel the warmth of the flame, it reminds us of the warmth of their love that is with us in spirit."

Writing Your Vows

Why write your own vows?

Writing Wedding Vows can be difficult! Not everyone is blessed with the gift of putting words down on paper that express exactly how they feel. It can be quite a daunting thought to actually have to write vows that are going to be read out in front of the people who are closest to you.​​ ​

"there is no greater gift you can give your loved one on your wedding day than words that are honest & true & come straight from your soul."

However; there is no greater gift you can give your loved one on your wedding day than to hold their hand, look them in the eye and tell them exactly what they mean to you, in words that are honest and true and come straight from your soul. 

Keep your vows simple and concise

If you find the process daunting, keep in mind that you're not trying to write an essay or a book! You are writing vows to each other and they need to be simple, honest and to the point.

I find it helps if couples take some time to consider what they want to say to each other. These simple questions may make it a little easier to help you gather your thoughts, so grab a pen and notepad and write down your answers:

  1. What does that person mean to you?
  2. How does that person make you feel?
  3. What do you hope for the future?
  4. What are you prepared to promise?

Yes! These are simple questions.  But, in all honestly, they are all the questions you really need to consider.

Lets look at some possible sample answers:

  1. Jane means the world to me and I don’t think I could live without her and she is my soulmate.
  2. She makes me happy. She makes me smile.
  3. I hope that we are going to grow old together and have a wonderful life of holidaying and having adventures and fun
  4. That I am going to love her forever, look after her, and be kind and faithful to her, and I am going to try to never let her down.

These are equally simple answers but they are heartfelt and true and they can be easily combined to create simply beautiful Wedding Vows. For example:

I, John Smith, declare that you, Jane Brown, mean the world to me.
You are my soulmate and the love of my life.
You make me happy and you make me smile.
I do not want to live without you.
I want to grow old with you.
I want to travel and have adventures with you.
I promise that I will love and honour you and I promise to be kind and thoughtful.
I will endeavour to always be there for you and try to never let you down.
Jane, I will love you forever.

If you would like to add a bit of humour, think of something that you could tease each other about. Something like...

I promise to allow you every Sunday on the couch with the remote control during footy season.


 promise to always let you have the last word as long as its “Sorry!”

When it comes to writing wedding vows, be true - whatever you do!

Whatever you chose to write it must be the truth. Vows are best kept simple and to the point but they must be honest and speak of you as a couple and be promises that you wish to keep.

As an experienced Marriage Celebrant I work with couples almost every day helping them write vows that express exactly what is in their hearts. But, if you find that writing your own wedding vows is a bit too much of a struggle and it's just not for you, then my very affordable Vow Writing Service might be just the thing for you.

Example Wedding Vows

The following are a few examples of wedding vows. Feel free to use these as inspiration to help you with writing your own personal wedding vows.

My Lawfully Wedded...

_____, I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife. Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live.
I take you, with all your faults and strengths, as I offer myself to you with all my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need help, and turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life. P&J

I Take You...

_____, I take you to be my husband/wife from this time onward, to join with you and to share all that is to come, to be your faithful husband/wife, to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, and eternally made new. Sam

You Are My Best Friend...

I love you,_____. You are my best friend. Today I give myself to you in
marriage. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard. These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.  Sarah

I Promise...

I promise to be there when you need me, to fill your days with sunshine, to comfort you and encourage you, to help you reach your goals, to be your best friend ever and to love you all my life with all my heart. DL

The Ring Ceremony

Wedding rituals have been with us since time immemorial. They are used to signify the love and affection a couple have for each other and the commitment they are about to make. 

The most common ritual in Australian weddings is the giving and receiving of rings.

Conducting the Ring Ceremony

Holding hands left to left.

It has been said that the rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because it was believed there is a vein of love running from that finger straight to the wearer’s heart.  

With this in mind GROOM please place the ring on the third finger of the BRIDE’s hand.

Example 1

I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness.  As I place it on your finger, I commit my heart and soul to you.
May these rings be a sign of your never-ending commitment to one another, showing how your love is never-ending.  
May you both keep your promise to one another, sharing the true value of life in each other’s arms.
he roundness of your rings symbolise the endlessness of love.  
Its pure metal speaks of the purity of love.  
Its value reminds you that you should protect what you hold most valuable in life.  
Wear your rings with love and honour.

 Example 2

{name} with this ring I thee wed.  I promise to care for you with love and with friendship.  I promise to support you through good times and troubled times. Let this ring be a sign of that promise.
May these rings be a sign of your never-ending love for each other symbolising that your love is never ending.
May you touch this ring for comfort when you are lonely.
May you touch this ring for strength when you need to be strong and find comfort when you are parted
May you touch this ring and smile when you are down.
But most of all may you touch this ring, as you have touched each other’s hearts, with the warmth of love.
By accepting these rings you accept each other’s love and become each other’s life part for life.  
By accepting these rings you become husband and wife.

Other Rituals

Wedding rituals ha​ve been with us forever. They are used to signify the love and affection a couple have for each other and the commitment they are about to make. Rituals make a beautiful inclusion in any wedding ceremony.

Some couples prefer to include symbolic rituals that reflect their personalities, or represent them as a couple. In some instances rituals are included to add a cultural element to a ceremony. In others couples simply include a symbolic ritual for no other reason than they want to do something different during their ceremony. 

And why not?

The giving and receiving of wedding rings is the most common ritual in Australian weddings but there are endless options available. The following are some examples of popular rituals often included in modern wedding ceremonies. These can be done in addition to, or as an alternative to, the exchanging of wedding rings. 

You may well have some ideas of your own for the inclusion of rituals that are significant to you and will make your ceremony even more special to you, your family and your friends. If you have, please get in touch and I will happily discuss them with you.

Candle Ritual

​The candle ritual is a favourite with many couples because it is a simple ceremony that holds powerful visual symbolism.

​The candle ritual involves the lighting of three candles; two taper candles

representing the bride and groom and a third, larger, candle representing unity through the joining of two lives.

The larger candle can be re-lit on each anniversary of your wedding to commemorate your ceremony and to honour the love and commitment you continue to share.

Sand Ritual

​The origins of this beautiful ritual are unclear but it is thought to have been started either by Hawaiians or Native Americans. Originally, a handful of sand would have been thrown it into the wind by the bride and groom. The grains of sand would become combined and impossible to separate, symbolising the joining of two lives and the inseparable nature of marriage.

​The modern sand ritual retains all of the powerful visual symbolism of the original ceremony but it is performed somewhat differently. Today, the Bride and the Groom each pour separate containers of coloured sand into a beautiful commemorative vessel, to symbolise the blending of their lives together. This vessel then becomes a precious keepsake to be displayed in a special place in the home and serve as as a constant reminder of their union in marriage.

Hand-Fasting Ritual

​This ritual has its roots set deep in Celtic traditions of the Scots and the Welsh. Originally, the hands of the bride and groom were bound together with a rope, ribbon or cord. The wrapping and “tying of the knot” in the ribbon or cord forming an infinity symbol representing a oneness between the couple and symbolising the joining of their lives. It is also the origin of the expression, "tying the knot" that we still use to this day. ​

Today, hand-fasting rituals can either be designed with the entire ceremony centred around the binding of the hands or, as in most cases, as a simplified version that is used as an element within the wedding ceremony itself.

Rose (Flower) Ritual

There are many variations of the rose ritual; it can be beautiful way to symbolise a couples love for each other or to acknowledge their mothers.

To acknowledge the mothers the Bride may present a single flower from her bouquet to her mother as she walks down the aisle and at the end of the wedding ceremony, on her way back down the aisle, she also hands her mother-in-law a flower from her bouquet. Alternatively, the Bride and Groom can each present a rose to their mothers early in the ceremony as a gesture of their love and gratitude.​

When used to symbolise their love for each other, the Bride and Groom exchange a single rose before placing their roses together in central container as they declare their love with some special words.

The rose ritual is popular because it can be used to symbolise marriage in a modern way. It symbolises that marriage, whilst beautiful like a rose, can also be prickly and thorny. In exchanging roses, a couple are acknowledging that the good can come with the bad making and committing to face whatever comes together - hence the placing of the two roses together into the vase.

Stone Ceremony

The Stone Ritual is a beautiful way of involving everyone in the ceremony. Each guest receives a blessing stone as they arrive; stones specially chosen as symbols of love, good wishes and heartfelt blessings for the couple and to serve as a lasting reminder of their presence at their wedding. ​

By holding the stones during the ceremony, the guests are given the opportunity to transfer their love and blessings for the couple to the stones. At the end of the ceremony the stones are either thrown into the sea to symbolise the couple’s unity or, placed into a commemorative container to be displayed as a significant memento of their special day.

Warming of the Rings Ritual

The most common and visible symbol of a couple’s commitment to each other comes in the exchange of wedding rings. Warming of the Rings is a beautiful ritual that involves everyone present in this spiritual moment.

The ritual begins with the rings being passed to the Mother of the Bride before working their way around the congregation and back to the Mother of the Groom. On their journey, each of the guests is given the opportunity to hold the rings for a moment and “warm” them with their love and best wishes before passing them on.

When the time comes for the Bride and Groom to exchange rings, they are exchanging rings that have been warmed and blessed by the love, good wishes and heartfelt blessings of everyone present.

Memory Box Ritual

Unlike the previous rituals, the memory box ritual is not symbolic as such. 

It is simply involves the preparation of wedding keepsake for the future which can be a beautiful thing to include in your wedding ceremony

Couples place meaningful items into a decorative box that they seal during the ceremony and reopen at some significant time in the future.

There are many ways this can be carried out and there are many different things that can be placed in the box. Couples with many of items, often pre-pack the box and simply seal it during the ceremony. It can also be a nice touch to involve   family members or friends in the sealing of the box.

Be Creative​

Be creative when it comes to choosing your own special items for your wedding day tradition. Ask your mum, grandmother, aunt, or someone close to you to suggest something special; that may be a family heirloom such as; a vintage dress, a veil or even a tiara or piece of jewellery.

Family members have a sense of pride when something of theirs has been chosen to be part of the bride’s attire – it is really quite an honour. Remember, the items you choose don't have to be expensive but they do have to be of sentimental value to both you and to the people providing them.



In addition to writing your own marriage vows, selecting readings that you as a couple relate to is another way to make your ceremony especially meaningful.

Readings can be selected from popular contemporary novels to beloved classic literature, from humorous children's readings to heartfelt poetry, in fact from anywhere you find a passage that is inspiring to you.

Example Readings

​I have gathered a few examples of inspiring readings I have heard bridal couples include in their ceremonies:

1. These are the hands...

"These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. 
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear and grief wracks your mind.
The hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will help you hold your family as one, and give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”

2. Why marriage?

"Because to the depths of you, you long to love one person with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your body.
Because you need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of you,
Someone who loves you when you’re unlikeable and who looks for the divine potential in you.
Because marriage means opportunity to grow in love and in friendship.
Because marriage is a discipline to be added to a list of achievements.
Because knowing this, you promise to take full responsibility for your spiritual, mental and physical wholeness.
You create you, and take half of the responsibility of your marriage.
Together you create your marriage, because with this understanding, the possibilities are limitless"

3. Today is the Day

Today is the day you will always remember
The greatest in anyone’s life.
you start the day just two people in love
And end it as husband and wife.
It’s a brand new beginning, the start of a journey,
With moments to cherish and treasure;
And although there’ll be times when you both disagree
These will surely be outweighed by pleasure.
You’ll have heard many words of advice in the past
When the secrets of marriage were spoken.
But you know that the answers lie hidden inside;
Where the bond of true love lies unbroken.
So live happy forever – as lovers and friends
It’s the dawn of a new life for you.
As you stand there together with love in your eyes,
From the moment you whisper “I do”.
And with luck, all your hopes, and your dreams can be real
May success find its way to your hearts.
Tomorrow can bring you the greatest of joys,……
But today is the day it all starts.

Bridal Music

Does the bridal music you choose really play a big part in the success of your Wedding Ceremony?  

Yes it does! 

Ok, I'm a musician and music naturally plays an important part in my life, so I know I'm biased. But let me ask you this...

...could you consider, even for just a moment, a wedding ceremony without music to help capture the mood and celebrate the occasion? 

What would your wedding be without that special song to accompany you down the aisle? 

A wedding without music is just unthinkable! A wedding with the 'wrong' music is almost as bad.

I really believe that the music you choose goes a long way in determining the success of your big day. I believe it pays to choose wisely!

There are many different ways to include music in your ceremony and there are also no fixed rules. What is important though, is that the music you choose represents you: it has to have meaning and significance and 'speak' of you and your intended in some special way.

So, don't put it off! It is important to put your heads together early and decide on the type of music you would like. 

I find the best way is to, simply, start writing down all the music you love as it comes to mind. Here are a few questions you might consider to help you on your way:

  • Is there a particular singer that you both enjoy listening to?
  • Is there a tune that you both call “your own”?
  • What is your style or genre or music that appeals to you e.g. pop, jazz, classical?
  • Would you want to have live musicians or recorded music?

I always advise couples I am marrying that it is a good idea to have around 15 minutes of low-key, ambience, music prepared and ready to play as their guests arrive. The right choice of music here sets the mood for the ceremony and creates a relaxed and welcoming feel that helps keep everyone in a calm frame of mind.

You can prepare your own mixed playlist if you prefer; or, you can a buy a pre-compiled selection of music in any genre you prefer. What could be better? A fantastic mix of music and all the hard work done for you!

One of my favourite compilations of prelude music is Wedding Music by Romantic Music Masters.

Music For Your Bridal Procession

When choosing your bridal music, nothing can be more important, or difficult sometimes, than picking the song to walk down the aisle to.

Again it is best if this song has some significant meaning to you both; or, at the very least, that you both like it!

Having narrowed down the choice, you then you need to consider the beat of the music. Have no doubt, you will walk down the aisle to the beat of the music...every bride does!

So the song you choose to accompany you down the aisle should be one with a pretty chilled-out beat.

That way you will be sure to take your time when walking down the aisle. After
all, this is your special moment - you want to make it last: you don’t want end up under the arbour in under 10 seconds flat!

Finally, you have to decide on whether you would like to be accompanied down the aisle to the sound of a male or female voice.

I have found the most emotive and memorable bridal songs to be the ones that the bride and groom have selected together: songs that they love because of the special meaning the music holds for them both.

So, in choosing your music to walk down the aisle to, you may want to think of the song you had your first slow, romantic, dance to – perhaps it was when you were on holiday on a beach in some far-off and exotic place. Or, it may be the song that was playing when you first met. 

There are many different situations that can lend themselves to a song becoming “yours”. Whatever that song is, if it means something to you both, if it makes you both feel good inside, then that is a sure sign it is the song you should go for!

Music For Signing The Marriage Register

Signing the Marriage Register is a relatively simple matter - but it can take a while!

Both the Bride and Groom have to sign the register, as do your two witnesses and the Celebrant. After all of this you can be sure that your photographer will want to capture this special moment in not one but a truckload of photos!

So, you are going to need some music here as well.

In my experience, it is best to choose a few songs to cover this period. Again, try and choose something that is pretty chilled out: still, perhaps, songs with some meaning -  although that is not as important here as it is for the Bridal Processional.

Music For The Bride and Groom Recessional

You are now a married couple being presented to the world as as 'Mr. & Mrs.' for the very first time... the music you choose for this part of your ceremony should be upbeat and celebratory and communicate just how happy you are!

With the serious business over, this can also be a moment that lends itself to having some fun. Many couples choose this time to express themselves as a couple as they make their departure and leave on a 'high note'.

You will find no end of inspiration for your recessional by searching Youtube for “best wedding songs” or the like.

Live Music or Recorded Music?

I love to hear live music being played during a wedding ceremony.  The most beautiful I have experienced was played by String Quartets: they provide an ambience that, in my view, is like no other. 

There are many different styles of musicians available from solo guitarists, harpists, string quartets, jazz bands to DJ’s. It all depends on the style you prefer and and the size of your budget. Prices do vary a lot and it is worth shopping around for quotes.

I find it very easy to work with live musicians: with just a nod of the head we can cue the next song and there is never a fear of the music running out!

Bridal music is most commonly pre-recorded on a smart phone or tablet these days and played back through the Celebrant's P.A. system. If you choose to use recorded music, there are a couple of key things you should be aware of:

  1. Copyright Laws: You do not own any recorded music you buy. You have merely purchased the right to play and listen to it - and even these rights are limited. For example, you are not permitted to play the music in a public setting. Other licenses must be purchased to do that.
  2. Operating The Recording Device: It is not your Celebrant’s responsibility to operate the recording device. You must ensure that you have a designated person to operate the device at the relevant times throughout the ceremony.

Looking For Inspiration? 

​If you are looking for inspiration and ideas for your bridal music, you can download my Top-10 songs for each section of your wedding ceremony here.​

Seating Arrangements

To seat or not to seat? That is the question!

Should provide seats for guests at your wedding ceremony or not? It is a question that I often see raised in social media groups and online forums for brides-to-be. And the answer? I can honestly say there is no right answer.

In my experience as a Celebrant, I have seen almost every variation in seating arrangements possible. I have seen situations where:

  • ​seats have been provided for all the guests,
  • seats have been provided for just a limited number of guests, and where 
  • no seats at all have been provided.  

They each work perfectly well.

Providing seats for each of the guests 

​Providing each guest at your wedding the opportunity to sit comfortably and enjoy the ceremony is a traditional and very popular option. And, I believe, a lovely one too! After all, as the bride and groom, you are the hosts for the day and making your guests feel comfortable is all part of being good hosts.

Traditionally, the front few rows of seats are reserved for immediate family, with friends and extended family sitting behind: those of the bride to the left and the groom's to the right (as you look at the bride and groom). The first seat (next to the aisle) on the left hand side is usually reserved for the person with the honour of giving the bride away.

Some couples choose to go as far as allocating front row seats to specific guests. In these instances I always encourage the bride and groom to think long and hard about the people they would like to have closest to them on their very special day.

I have seen many occasions where guests seated in the front rows have been allocated their own personal seat with a name tag. This is a nice touch; very special, very thoughtful and really quite lovely. Name tags can be attached with string or ribbon. They can be standard rectangular tags, heart shaped, butterfly shaped, boat shaped ...  what ever your heart desires. Just dip into your creative mind!

However, whatever you decide, make sure they are well secured and they can't be blown away!

​Providing seating for all your wedding guests also gives you a chance to be a little more creative with your decorations. Ribbons in the colour of your wedding party can be added, or fresh flowers placed at the end of each row of chairs. Shepherd hooks are very popular and, if you are into DIY, you could even make your own decorations in the theme and style of your wedding.

A word of warning for any bride planning to wear a wedding dress with a full skirt - make sure there will be plenty of space for you to be to be escorted arm-in-arm down the aisle. I have seen occasions where the bride has actually had to walk in front of the person giving her away because the aisle between the seats was too narrow!

If you are planning to hold your wedding ceremony in a rural setting, bench seating is quite appropriate and very popular. I have even seen bales of hay used as seats. They are not only a quirky and fun way of seating your guests but can make your ceremony set-up blend into the wonderful landscape surrounding you.

When it comes to seating, the sky is the limit as you draw on your imagination.

Providing seats for just some of your guests

Providing seats for a limited number of your wedding guests is another popular arrangement.

This is a compromise  where, for example, if you were planning a wedding with 90 guests, you would choose to provide around only 40 seats for your guests.

You could arrange, for instance, two blocks of ten chairs (two rows with a split in the middle for the aisle). This would allow you to cater for your immediate family, elderly guests or any guests that may be pregnant or have a disability. And, it also keeps the cost down a little bit.

On many occasions, with partial seating, the guests are a little reluctant to sit down as they are being polite leaving the seating for other guests. However, in such instances, it is your Celebrant's job (often with a little friendly coaxing) to make sure all the seats are filled.

Providing no seating at all 

​Providing no seating at all for guests at your wedding ceremony is an arrangement best suited to the more casual style of wedding. 

'Surprise Weddings', for instance, come to mind here; or weddings to be held in a backyard that are more akin to a 'party with legalities' than a traditional wedding.

The best Surprise Weddings are those that are totally incognito! 

Having invited your guests to your wedding under the guise of a 50th birthday party, you wouldn't want to give the surprise away by having your garden set up for a wedding when they arrive. So no chairs, or at least, formal arrangement of chairs is appropriate here.

Similarly, seating would be superfluous if you were planning to have a casual ceremony. Perhaps at a local park or at the beach, with the bride and groom ringed by their family and friends: everyone up close and personal and very much connected to the bride and groom and the ceremony.

Of course not providing seats for your guests will present no problems at all if all your guests happen to be fit and well and in the prime of their lives; or, if your ceremony is going to be kept fairly short and sweet. If not, it would pay to be prudent and consider the specific needs of any guests that may be elderly, pregnant, or have a disability.

So, to sit or not to sit?  Should you provide seating for the guests at your wedding ceremony? I hope you will now agree that there really is no right or wrong way... there is only your way!

Changing Your Name

Assuming your spouse's surname is not a legal requirement in Australia; however, it is done frequently here as a matter of custom.

How it is done still perplexes many couples. I see people posting frequently in Facebook groups and wedding forums asking for advice on how they can change their name after getting married.  And it's a question I'm asked time and again when couples first come to see me.

So, let me explain how you change your name after marriage.

Your Celebrant is legally bound to lodge your marriage paperwork with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) within 14 days of your marriage.

Only after this period may you then apply for the Certificate that allows you to change your name.

A Marriage Certificate Application Form (BDM3) must be completed in order to change your name. It costs $48 to apply for this Certificate. You can download a copy of the application form here

There are three ways you can submit your application after your wedding:

1. Do it in person

After 14 days from the date of your wedding, you can go directly to the BDM office. There, you will need to provide identification as specified on Page 2 of the Application Form BDM3

The office of Births Deaths and Marriages are located at: Level 10141 St. George’s Terrace in Perth.

2. Mail it

You can post your application with certified copies of your identifications to BDM. A list of people who can legally certify your documents can be found on Page 3 of the Marriage Certificate Application.

3. Let your Celebrant handle it 

Your Celebrant can include your application form with the documents he, or she, submits to Births Deaths and Marriages after your wedding.

As your Celebrant it would be my pleasure to take care of the submission of your application. And, of course, I would make no extra charge! It is just part of the service I like to offer all my clients to help make the process as easy and stress free as possible for them.

At our initial meeting, as we are preparing the Notice of Intended Marriage, I will take extra copies of all the identification required. I will certify these copies and keep them on file, along with the completed marriage certificate application form and payment details for BDM, until after your wedding. 

Following your wedding, I will collate all the required documentation and lodge your application with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages on your behalf.

You should receive your certificate within 2 – 3 weeks of submission. You can then take your certificate to all of the relevant institutions and have your name changed on your passport, driving licence, bank accounts etc..

What It Costs

I offer a range​ of custom-crafted wedding ceremonies, all of them meeting the same high quality standards but each of them designed to suit the size and style of your wedding whilst reflecting your unique circumstances.

 My Sapphire Ceremony Package​ is my most popular package. It includes:

  • ​Initial Meeting to lodge Notice of Intended Marriage
  • Consultation to design your Ceremony
  • Unlimited meetings, phone calls or emails regarding Ceremony
  • Meeting to sign Declaration of No Legal Impediment
  • Creation of Ceremony that is custom-made for the bride and groom
  • Unlimited drafting of ceremony until bride and groom approval
  • Optional Rituals incorporated into your ceremony
  • Information on choices of poems, readings, music and vows 
  • Rehearsal optional at venue or at my home office prior to the wedding.
  • Travel to and from Ceremony venue included (Perth CBD only)  
  • Conducting the Ceremony (I will arrive no later than 30 – 45 minutes prior to Ceremony start time) 
  • PA Equipment supplied which can play music for the ceremony if required
  • Optional lodgement of Application for Marriage Certificate for Name Changing purposes
  • All printing and postage
  • Consultation on my dress code for your wedding.
  • Presentation Certificate for you to keep.

Ceremony Price: $600.00 (+ GST)

If you would like to book my services I require a $200 non-refundable deposit with the balance paid 14 days prior to the wedding ceremony.


Q: Why should I trust you with my ceremony?

Why you can trust me with your once-in-a-lifetime ceremony comes down to just three things; 
My PhilosophyMy Promise and My Reputation.

My Philosophy
My philosophy is simple and it revolves around you:
  1. You will find me well presented
  2. You will find me enthusiastic, entertaining and engaging
  3. You will receive personal and supportive advice
  4. Your ceremony will be truly personal
  5. You will have no (unplanned) surprises

My Promise  
My promise to you is a magical, meaningful and memorable experience for both you and your guests. 

My Reputation
My reputation is founded on ALWAYS delivering on my promise.

Please don’t just take my word for it! Read what my clients have to say about me and how well I do in living up to my promise.

Q: What kind of ceremony can I expect?​

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my goal as your civil celebrant is to create and deliver a ceremony for you that is a unique, heartfelt and truly memorable experience. A ceremony that is designed to express exactly what you want to

say, exactly the way you want to say it… to each other, to your family and to your friends.

Unlike many celebrants, I do not subscribe to a one-price-fits-all approach. I believe in crafting ceremonies that are as unique as the couples they are for. But, although each of my ceremonies is unique, they are all created following my 7-step process. You can read more about the process I use here.​

Q: Can I write my own wedding vows?

Yes you certainly can!

Writing personal wedding vows brings a whole new level of meaning to your ceremony: That magical moment, when you find yourselves standing in front of the people most important to you, publicly declaring your love and commitment to each other in your own words, is a beautiful experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.

As an experienced Marriage Celebrant I work with couples almost every day; taking care of their legal vows and guiding them in how to write their own personal wedding vows that express exactly what is in their hearts.

If, for whatever reason, writing a personal statement of your love and commitment is not something you would care to tackle, why not check out my very affordable Vow Writing Service.

Q: What is included in your Ceremony Packages?

My Wedding and Commitment Packages offer only custom-crafted ceremonies.  In choosing me as your celebrant you are choosing to say no to a “one-size-fits-all" approach and yes to a truly personal and heartfelt ceremony that is unique as you - the couple it is to be created for.

As a minimum, my ceremony packages include:
  • Initial meeting to lodge your Notice of Intended Marriage
  • Consultation regarding type of Ceremony
  • Unlimited phone calls or emails regarding your Ceremony
  • Meeting to sign your Declaration of No Legal Impediment
  • Creation and delivery of a uniquely personal Ceremony
  • Advice on optional poems, readings, music and vows for your ceremony
  • Up to 50km travel each way to and from your venue 
  • My arrival at your venue no later than 30 minutes prior to Ceremony start time.
  • Optional lodgement of Application for Marriage Certificate for Name Changing purposes.
  • Optional use of professional PA System (can that can also play music for the ceremony) 
  • All legal paperwork, printing and postage
  • Consultation on my dress code for your ceremony.
  • Your presentation keepsake

Q: What does a celebrant cost?

The fees you can expect to pay for a civil celebrant will depend on a number of factors:
  • ​the experience and skill of the celebrant,
  • the style and complexity of the ceremony, and 
  • whether or not the ceremony is custom-crafted specifically for you.

As an entertaining and engaging Civil Celebrant my philosophy is a simple one; deliver great service, terrific value for money and a magical, memorable experience for my clients and their guests. Always!

My fees range from as little $350 to in excess of $800; depending on the nature, style and complexity of your particular ceremony. All my services are covered by my 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and flexible payment plans can be arranged on request. You can find more information on my ceremonies and packages here

Q: What should I include in my wedding ceremony?

When it comes to creating your own, unique, wedding ceremony there are many decisions to be made: 

  • where to hold your ceremony, 
  • the size of the bridal party,
  • how many guests to invite, 
  • the rituals and traditions to include, 
  • the words you will say to each other, 
  • people to include in the ceremony, 
  • the level of formality… 

the list can seem endless!

Be assured that with my comprehensive knowledge and experience of wedding ceremonies I will be there to guide you through the process every step of the way. And, whatever the wedding package you choose, whatever the rituals, traditions or customs you wish to incorporate, and whatever the location you prefer to hold your ceremony, I can guarantee you a unique ceremony designed to respect your beliefs, reflect your values and touch the hearts and minds of everyone present.

You can find more information on some of the types of ceremonies you can choose from here.

Q: Can I include a ritual or family custom in my ceremony?

Yes! Of Course.

Wedding rituals have been with us since time immemorial and they make a beautiful inclusion in any wedding ceremony.

Some couples prefer to include symbolic rituals that reflect their personalities, or represent them as a couple. In some instances rituals are included to add a cultural element to a ceremony. In others couples simply include a symbolic ritual for no other reason than they want to do something different during their ceremony. And why not?

You may well have some ideas of your own for the inclusion of rituals that are significant to you and will make your ceremony even more special to you, your family and your friends. If you have, I will happily discuss them with you.

You can find some examples of popular rituals often included in modern wedding ceremonies here.

Q: How can we get legally married in Australia?

To be legally married in Australia you must:-
  • ​not be married to someone else
  • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister
  • be at least eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old
  • understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming husband and wife
  • use specific words during the ceremony
  • give written notice of their intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.

Q: What are our ceremony choices?

Before your marriage ceremony can be solemnised, you must decide where the marriage will take place and whether the ceremony will be a religious or civil event. As an authorised marriage celebrant I can perform both forms of ceremony, which are recognised as legal marriages under Australian law.

Q: What documents do we need to provide

Before I can marry you, you must show me documentary proof that you are 18 years old or older. That evidence must be either a birth certificate or a passport. I may also need to see your driver’s licence or other identification to support the information given on the Notice of Intended Marriage form.

If either person has been married before, that person must show me proof that they are free to remarry. That proof is in the form of a Certificate of Divorce or a Death Certificate.

Q: We are not Australian. Can you marry us?

You don't have to be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia to legally marry here. Where either the bride or groom is a foreign national entering Australia on a Prospective Spouse Visa (Fiance Visa) the wedding is required to take place within 9 months of the granting of the visa.

Such weddings may be either be conducted in very simple English or with the assistance of an Interpreter as required.

As your 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.

Q: How do we register our marriage?

On the day of your wedding, you will sign three marriage certificates. Each certificate should be signed by you, your celebrant and two witnesses. One of the certificates will be presented to you as a record of your marriage.  

As your celebrant, I will register your marriage with the Western Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages within fourteen days.

The certificate issued by the registry is required for many official purposes. It is advisable to apply for a copy of this certificate from the registry after your wedding.

Check List

  • Select and book a venue
  • Select and book a Celebrant
  • Select and book a Photographer
  • Select and book a Videographer
  • Emergency contact number
  • Legal paperwork
  • Birth certificates/ driving licences/passports
  • Music - guest arrival/ processional/ signing the register/ recessional
  • Witnesses - full name required
  • Personal Vows
  • Ceremony Readings
  • Ceremony Rituals
  • Wedding Party entrance
  • Arbour
  • Seating
  • Decorations/Florist
  • Signing Table
  • P.A. System

Book a Chat With Joyce

Let's chat. No pressure. No Obligation. Just a friendly chat over a cup of tea or coffee to talk about your ceremony and to find out if we are a good fit for each other.​