What is a Traditional Wedding Ceremony really?
What’s the general order of Service?

Well, traditionally you just show up! But over time ceremonies have morphed into something far more elaborate. AND then there’s the legal aspect. By law the couples, witnesses and guests must hear two things:

  • The monitum
  • A vow

It’s the monitum that has currently divided a nation.

Why? Simply put, the monitum clearly defines marriage in Australia as the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, thus same sex marriages are not recognised as a lawful marriage in Australia. It’s common for same sex couples to have a commitment ceremony which leaves out the monitum and the vows.

To remove the monitum will mean YOU ARE NOT MARRIED. The same goes for the vows. You can’t change the monitum either. Lots of couples like the Celebrant to say a few words letting guests know that they disagree with the law as it currently stands. Your Celebrant can work with you to ensure your marriage isn’t legally compromised and that the wording truly reflects your beliefs without offending.

AND somewhere in the ceremony the full names of both parties to the marriage MUST be said.

Except for the monitum and the vows, any or all of these can be changed to reflect your personality, your beliefs and wishes

So, removing the boring legal bits what is a traditional wedding to most people? 

Your Celebrant can help you with this too but here are a few simple traditional practices. Except for the monitum and the vows, any or all of these can be changed to reflect your personality, your beliefs and wishes or they can be moved to where you want them in the order of your ceremony. As mentioned previously as long as the Monitum and legal vows are said by the Celebrant in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961 you will be legally married. Sorry to harp on this but it’s really important that you truly understand these are the 2 parts of the ceremony that make a marriage lawful. In fact, you could stand up in front of a Celebrant and witnesses, carryout these 2 parts and nothing else and you are legally married.

Back to the traditional order of service… What comes first?

Celebrant’s Introduction

Before the Bride arrives your Celebrant welcomes guests and outlines your wishes in terms of taking photos, turning off mobiles etc.

Here Comes the Bride (The Procession)

The Bride walks down the aisle to music with the bridal party and her escort eg father, mother etc. The Bride may even wish to enter with her groom or anyone deemed suitable. Maybe there are children she wishes to escort her or a pet? (Pets may not reflect tradition but this is your traditional ceremony to design as you wish.)

Giving Away the Bride

Traditionally, the father of the Bride gives her away. But this practice has changed over modern times and now the Bride may ask her mother or anyone she feels is best placed to do so. Alternatively, many ceremonies now include a family and/or guests’ blessing instead of the traditional father of the Bride ritual. The Celebrant will motion for everyone to stand and then ask them to confirm their love and support of the marriage. I’ve found this is often followed by some very emotional clapping and cheering even before the couple is married! It really can be a very warm part of the ceremony not to mention, FUN!

The Welcome

  • The Celebrant welcomes family and guests.
  • Acknowledges the Bride.
  • Introduces themselves as required by law
  • Acknowledges guests who have travelled distances and to those who aren’t able to be there on the day including the ill and especially passed loved ones.


The Celebrant must say the following words prior to the exchange of vows:

‘I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are married in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now 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 for life.

You might be wondering what the intent of the monitum is? The word Monitum is Latin and simply means ‘warning’. It is a message to the couple about the binding nature of marriage. 

The Monitum can be very confronting for some couples and often they challenge the wording and want to change it to reflect their beliefs on equality. Sadly, not an option. But, there is nothing to stop us working together to add a statement after the monitum is read that might go something like this...

‘Groom (your name) and Bride (your name) look forward to the day when all couples in Australia, regardless of gender, share the right to marriage.‘

(I'm happy to chat about your thoughts on this when we catch up)

Saying ‘I do’

You may also know this as ‘the Asking’. It’s the unofficial bit where the Celebrant asks the couple to publicly state their desire to marry.

The Vows

Many couples like to say vows to each other. I can help you with this or you can write your own. However, there is a requirement under the Marriage Act Guidelines that a couple must declare vows to each other in front of the Celebrant and the witnesses to the wedding. Here’s a snippet from the Guidelines, Section 45:

Form of ceremony (2) Where a marriage is solemnised by or in the presence of an authorised celebrant, not being a minister of religion, it is sufficient if each of the parties says to the other, in the presence of the authorised celebrant and the witnesses, the words: “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)”; or words to that effect.

Many couples find this a little formal or old fashioned and ask for some of the words to be changed. Like removing the word ‘thee’. This is ok. We can work together to create a vow that is lawfully binding without removing the essence and intent of the vows.


Mostly a ring exchange is the traditional ritual included in many marriages. However, this is not to say you can’t have many other rituals included in your traditional ceremony. Keep popping back in here to watch for my next blog on rituals for more information or feel free to contact me.

The Declaration

The Celebrant announces the couple are married and usually they kiss which incites lots of clapping and cheers from the guests!

Signing the Register

The coupe and the witnesses move to the signing table to sign the Register and the Marriage Certificate.

Presenting the Married Couple

The Celebrant presents the married couple to the guests. Lots of clapping and cheering AGAIN usually follows this announcement.

Here Comes the Married Couple (The Recessional)

The couple with their attendants walk down the aisle to music. The parents usually follow shortly after.

If you have an upcoming Wedding, whether you're after a Traditional or more personalised service, get in touch and we can create your ideal ceremony!

Pamela Mansfield