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  • Writer's pictureChristina Mackay

Standing on Ceremony

Kia ora.

As the evenings get a little cooler and the mornings are a little fresher, I thought I would reflect on Ceremony. What it means and why we have ceremony and ritual in our lives.

For starters, Ceremonies have always played a pivotal role in societies around the world.

They mark the transitions in our lives, the human journey from Birth to Death. From the moment we are born our minds and spirit are shaped by values and customs that are specific to our time and place in the world, which gives structure and meaning to our lives. It connects us in a formalised way to our family, our community with our shared sense of values.

The ceremony is a holistic and memorable way, whether celebrating the bonding of life together, the joyous welcoming of a new life into a family or the mourning of a loved one.

wedding altar in auckland

Ceremony and ritual help to communicate life's transitions in a tangible way. By linking us to the past and bringing intention to the now it provides meaningful memories in our hearts and minds.

So let’s begin by looking at a Contemporary Wedding Ceremony. Remembering that in New Zealand the only legal thing you have to do is to say is your vows that must include the following phrase:

“I (name) take or choose or words to that effect… (Name) to be my wife / husband.”

Contemporary Wedding Ceremony Structure:

Having readings poems, songs, live music or rituals are a fantastic way to include family and friends in your ceremony and sit anywhere within the ceremony. Ritual is often used with families to acknowledge a cultural tradition.

nz wedding ritual

I will talk about rituals in my April Blog.

Once the bridal party is in position, the Celebrant will get the Groom and Groomsman into position. Now there are different ways to format a wedding but the most common is for the bridal party to be standing in front of a floral arrangement or archway.

However some weddings are performed in the round or the guests are gathered on the side with the wedding couple on the other side, this is often influenced by the number of guests, venue or location.

Once we are all in position the music and the procession begin. Now some couples like to walk up on either side of the guests and then meet in the middle and walk hand in hand to the altar or archway, others have their parents or parent walk up with them. Whatever your jam the flowers girls go first followed by the bridesmaids and the Maid of honour usually comes up last before the bride.

The Celebrant then welcomes everyone and will acknowledge family and friends that have travelled from afar, acknowledge family and friends that cannot attend, and often but not always, acknowledge any family that have passed away that have played a significant role.

what to expect at a new zealand wedding

The celebrant then talks about Your Love Story, How you meet, your Life adventures to date. What do you like about each other and what do you like to do together?

We then come to The Proposal Story which always offers a bit of light entertainment.

The Manifestation in ceremony speak is the significant part of the Ceremony and includes the following:

- What marriage means to you

- Declaration of Intent - the “I do” part of the ceremony

- Your Vows, the only legal requirement

- The Ring Exchange

- The Pronouncement is where the celebrant or family miner or friend pronounces you husband and wife and offers good wishes on your life journey.

- The Kiss is always a highlight.

- We then call upon the witness to Sign the Register which is the legal documentation, and you will need to have two witnesses.

groom and bride at the altar

However, it is important to remember that you do not have to have any of the above except the vows.

And finally The Announcement and the Recession. This is where the celebrant formally announces the newlywed's Mfr and Mrs before they recess to the wedding reception and party time. This is often when a group is offered up to the newlyweds, and it is also an opportunity for a group photo.

wedding photos new zealand

And this is where the MC takes over and the Celebrant's job is done, it’s a wrap…

So that is a contemporary Full Wedding Ceremony structure in a nutshell. I also offer a Love Notes Ceremony which I will talk about in my April Blog but for now

Please visit my website or contact me.

nz wedding celebrant


Christina Mackay.


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