Choosing Your Wedding Venue

As a Marriage Celebrant I have experienced all types of marriage ceremonies at different venues around Canberra, South Coast and regional areas. These experiences lead me to some thoughts you may wish to consider when deciding on your wedding venue – inside or outside.

Many couples will know instantly where they want to hold their marriage ceremony – whether it’s a place they love to go to or somewhere that holds particular interest or memories for them, or simply a gorgeous place for a wedding. But if you’re not sure or can’t decide, have a think about some of these practicalities;


  • Do you want your ceremony and reception at the one venue? Convenience.
  • Which venue will hold the amount of people you want at your ceremony – whether it’s a large crowd or just a few people? If the venue is too big and you only have few people it will look overwhelming – too small and all your guests may be crowded in.
  • Does it have a PLAN B backup option in case the weather is terrible on the day?


  • How easy is the place for you AND your invited guests to access – easy to walk into, cater to less mobile guests, not going to be too wet underfoot (if it’s been raining the days before) – public toilets nearby, enough shade or shelter, some public seating, not too noisy, will it be crowded with other public on your wedding day?
  • Can your wedding cars drive in close enough so the bridal party don’t have to walk so far?


  • Is it as pretty as you want, can you decorate the space yourself, will the grass be mown, is there any litter that you will have to get rid of yourselves?
  • Can you move around any furniture or anything else in the way of your ceremony?


  • How much are you prepared to pay to hold the ceremony in that space?
  • Do you have to pay for access to electrical connections for a PA or other equipment to be used during your ceremony?
  • Do you need to hire anything for that space eg chairs, arch etc?

The venues where you can be married are almost limitless these days! So, just a few suggestions to think about that may help you choose the perfect place, which will make you – and your guests – happy, for your perfect wedding ceremony.

My Time…. Your Wedding

How I spend my time for your marriage ceremony… step by step.

There are a lot of processes involved in providing a LEGAL marriage ceremony.  My Celebrant work starts before meeting the couple and progresses through these processes to after the marriage ceremony and concludes with submitting their marriage papers.

Preparation of materials, forms and information in anticipation of meeting with new couples.

I receive an enquiry

I respond to that enquiry – answering questions, providing information. (20 – 30 mins)

We set a time to meet.

I prepare for that meeting by gathering my information to present to the couple.

We meet – in my home office or I drive to their chosen meeting destination (30 – 60 mins),

At our meet & greet – I provide my information and listen to the couple’s wedding plans.

The couple go away to make their decision.

When they have invited me to be their Celebrant we arrange our next meeting.

We meet to (60+ mins);

begin filling in legal forms,

I check ID’s and other personal information,

I have other legal information I am required to provide to every couple,

We begin discussing ceremony ideas and plans.

I add all details of my new clients to my Wedding Ceremony database, including generating and sending a receipt for their booking payment.  (60+ mins)

Some couples like to meet several more times, to discuss their Order of Ceremony and other ideas. It’s up to each couple to determine how much time they wish to spend working their ceremony with me.

I craft the first draft of their ceremony. Time taken depends on how much each couple want in their ceremony – some want minimal and others have a lot they want included.

Communications back and forth between us, to edit and refine their ceremony.

Writing may include preparation of a wedding ritual, if requested by the couple (e.g gift giving etc).

There is final agreement when we are all satisfied with the completed ceremony (av. several wks).

The weeks before the wedding date, I follow up several times to check final arrangements and final fee payment.

I prepare the final 4 legal documents ready for signing (40 mins) – print their presentation certificate

Rehearsal day; (30 – 60+ mins)

I drive to the wedding venue.

Rehearsal may include walking in practice with the chosen music.

They check the legal documents for correct spelling/information

The couple sign one final legal document, before their wedding ceremony.

Finalising the ceremony; (60+ mins)

  • I print my copy of their ceremony – for my use during the ceremony
  • generate and print the couple’s decorative presentation copy of their ceremony
  • recheck all the documentation
  • prepare the PA system – recharging, sound check and packing.
  • pack the signing table and accessories
  • pack my car with the wedding items.


  • Personal preparation,
  • Drive to the venue, arriving at least 20mins before start time,
  • Set up PA and signing table,
  • Check who has the wedding rings,
  • Chat with Groom, groomsmen and guests
  • Present the WEDDING CEREMONY (30- 60 mins),
  • Check all signings on the wedding documentation,
  • Pack down all my equipment
  • Say good bye to my couple – with perhaps a photo together.
  • Leave the venue, drive home.

Finalising post-wedding;

Record all final details on my Wedding Ceremony database (30 mins),

Scan and email the couple’s legal documents to ACT Births Deaths & Marriages office (for NSW marriages, register mail all copied documents to Sydney BDM and a trip to the post office) (40+ mins)

Electronic file all documents, holding onto hard copies until confirmation of receipt of documents and/or of registration of the marriage has been received.

Contact the couple when I receive official confirmation of registration of their marriage.

Many hours and days are involved in my preparation, presentation and finalisation of every wedding ceremony I conduct. The only differences in time spent will only be with those couples who choose one of my quick and quiet, Legals-Only or Intimate style wedding ceremonies.

Legal Requirements for Marrying – simplified

***First, you will need to book your Marriage Celebrant

Sign a Notification of Intention to Marry (NOIM) form with you Marriage Celebrant at least one month before your wedding date.

Provide the required ID documents to your Celebrant, to be recorded on the NOIM. Your Celebrant is also required to provide you with other specific information relating to marriage.

A short time before your marriage ceremony sign another form – Declaration of No Legal Impediment – declaring that you can legally marry each other.

Have two adults present at your ceremony to act as your witnesses to the marriage and to the signing of the legal documents.

Your Celebrant recites a declaration statement to all present at the ceremony and then you each recite a personal declaration to all present (known as the Monitum).

At the end of your ceremony you sign all three legal papers;

a. Two copies of the marriage certificate, and

b. The presentation, decorative marriage certificate,

witnessed by your Celebrant and your two witnesses.

Your Celebrant is then responsible for submitting your three marriage papers within 14 days of your marriage ceremony.

Legal wording required in ALL marriage ceremonies within Australia

If you have attended wedding ceremonies in Australia in recent years you will no doubt have heard the same couple of paragraphs recited by the Celebrant at all of those ceremonies. No, it’s not the Celebrant “copying” someone else’s ceremony or simply writing the same words for all of their couple’s ceremonies! It’s actually the wording required in the Marriage Act 1961 that stamps the marriage as being valid and legal. A ceremony without this exact wording will not be a legally valid marriage!

What is that exact wording from the Marriage Act 1961?

The Celebrant recites;

“I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law.

Before you are joined in marriage 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 law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

These paragraphs are followed by the bride and groom each reciting aloud their own personal declaration or vow to all of those witnessing their marriage ceremony;

“I call upon the persons present here to witness that I [groom’s full name] take you, [bride’s full name} to be my lawful, wedded wife”, (repeated by the other partner).

These words are intended to reflect that the marrying couple fully understand the nature of the ceremony and that they are marrying each other.

The couple’s individual declarations/vows can be added to personal vows that the couple may have chosen themselves, for example;

I call upon the persons present here to witness that I Groovy Groom take you, Beautiful Bride to be my lawful, wedded wife. Beautiful, I promise to love, honour and cherish you for the rest of our lives.”

Changes to the Marriage Act in 2017 meant that same sex couples are now legally able to marry anywhere within Australia.

Legally there is only a limited capacity for anyone – brides, grooms or celebrants – to change the wording of these vows so it’s best to stay with that legal wording and thus be assured that the marriage is legally valid!

So next wedding you attend, listen intently for the reciting of these declarations or vows!

CONSIDERING which wedding suppliers to engage for your wedding.

CONSIDERATIONS … How to help your wedding suppliers help YOU!

Your wedding is all about YOU and what you want for your celebration. Here are some of observations of things you can CONSIDER when looking for and booking your wedding suppliers, helping to make your choices easier and your wedding suppliers super helpful with your wedding plans.

As a Marriage Celebrant of many years, having conducted hundreds of marriage ceremonies here are some ways you can help ‘us’ to help make your planning and ceremony go smoothly…

Always have a great ‘PLAN B’ for your outdoor ceremony in case the weather is horrible on the day. Be prepared to use it! When deciding your venue, consider that many open spaces can create a very poor venue when the weather is not ideal.

The Bride and bridal party may only need to attend the wedding ceremony for 20-30 minutes but your guests and your Celebrant will be at the venue longer than you!

Is there enough shade for everyone? You don’t want your guests looking red, hot and flustered in your wedding photos because they had to wait in the full, hot sun. Sometimes that may be all they remember from your wedding ceremony! Similarly, are you going to keep them waiting outside in the freezing cold?

The poor weather may also contribute to the presentation of your ceremony – wind will blow the decorations around and ruin your styling and your hair; cold, jittery weather may impact on the voices of your Celebrant and anyone else having to speak during your ceremony.

If you need to ‘make the call’ about moving your ceremony to ‘PLAN B’ on your wedding day be considerate of where your guests and your Marriage Celebrant will be kept waiting.

If you change the TIME for your ceremony remember to tell your Marriage Celebrant! You would be surprised how many times a Celebrant has been set up ready to go to then have to wait an extra hour for people to arrive… because the Celebrant wasn’t informed of the time change.

Your Celebrant may also have booked another event to fit in with the time that you have given them for your ceremony. Any changes to this time may impact on a Celebrant getting to their next event in good time.

Now let’s consider other wedding suppliers and how you can help them to help you with their services and products.

As a Marriage Celebrant I spend much of my time in my office writing, emailing, planning and doing office work. However, consider other suppliers who are HANDS-ON, creating their products. As I network with many wedding suppliers I hear about the considerations these Businesses need, to ensure they provide the best possible products and services to you. These suppliers may include;

  • Florists,
  • Boutique stationary suppliers,
  • Cake makers and decorators, and
  • Dressmakers

When making your plans and choosing your suppliers please consider;

  • While they are working hands-on with their products they may not have time to check their emails on a daily basis. But I guarantee these people will have their PHONES nearby to either answer your call quickly or for you to leave a msg which they can respond to in a timely manner. So consider not to expect immediate response to your email enquiry… allow a few days courtesy… or better still CALL them and chat.
  • Once you have contacted a supplier who has responded to you, it’s a great consideration for you to let them know if you have chosen to go elsewhere. These are generally Sole Traders who need to know who they will be working with.
  • Be considerate at giving them plenty of NOTICE to allow them to order and make your requirements, thus providing you with their best service and products.

Photographers… When choosing your photographer consider comparing ‘apples with apples’ as they say!  Meet and chat with a few whose work you’ve seen and like. Their technical information may not appear on their advertising media in which case you’ll need to be asking them the questions. Consider asking more about the QUALITY of their images – high resolution vs low resolution; are their images watermarked, which means you then have to pay extra for copies. Use this information to determine if you are comparing ‘apples with apples’ to then make the best choice for you and your requirements.

And when you have booked your fantastic photographer, consider the amount of time they will be spending with you, often ALL day. They need a break too. A break between your formal photo shoot and your reception is a great consideration. You need your photographer ‘switched’ on and ready to quickly capture anything that happens, so offering them a short breather will help them get YOU their best results and memories!

So much more that you can consider while planning your special day! Hopefully, my observations here will assist you when considering your wedding suppliers?

Good luck and have fun!


1.The Celebrant will be AVAILABLE for your celebration date and time. Your Celebrant wont have any other bookings for your date that will impact on them conducting you ceremony at the time and place you have chosen.

2. The Celebrant will be “on the same page as you’, when it comes to what YOU are planning for your ceremony. Your Celebrant can be one of your most helpful wedding suppliers, giving you great advice and hints on different things to consider (I have years of experience at conducting wedding ceremonies!) They will be open to your requests and offer you plenty of information.

3. You – the couple – will FEEL EASY with your Celebrant, being free to chat about your plans and have some laughs along the way! You’ll feel confident that you can speak with them at any time, ask them any questions or discuss any issues.

4. They will be RESPONSIVE to you right from your initial contact with them. The Celebrant will respond in a timely manner and offer you alternative times to meet to fit in with your timetable. They wont leave you waiting for answers to your questions and will provide your draft ceremony in plenty of time for you to review.

5. They will “know their stuff”! The Celebrant will put you at easy knowing that they have a thorough knowledge of what has to be done to have you legally married! They’ll take care of all the legal stuff so you wont need to worry about any of that… a comforting thought when you have so much else to arrange and organise for your special day! If you’d like to chat with me about your upcoming ceremony feel free to contact me at any time.;

Want a wedding day without the worry of “OVERSPENDING”?

As an experienced Marriage Celebrant I have conducted all styles of wedding ceremonies over the years. Every wedding is different because every couple is different!

Would you like your wedding ceremony to be beautiful and memorable but not have to spend a fortune on getting just what you want? Then it’s time to sit with your partner and think and brainstorm together what you MUST, CAN and MAYBE have for your wedding.

First suggestion is that you make a distinction between your MARRIAGE CEREMONY and your WEDDING RECEPTION/PARTY. If you’re working to a budget (and who isn’t these days!!!) divide your budget between these 2 ‘events’. Do this by determining which one you are prepared to spend more of your budget – Ceremony or Reception.

When you have a ball park budget figure for each event, LIST what you MUST HAVE in each. For example in your CEREMONY you MUST HAVE a MARRIAGE CELEBRANT to legally marry you. In your RECEPTION you MUST HAVE a VENUE. The MUST HAVES – whatever you decide these are – should be the first items into your 2 budget spreadsheets. From the MUST HAVES you then fill in your spreadsheets with items you would LIKE TO or CAN have but that can then cut out if your budget doesn’t stretch that far.

Next suggestion, do your RESEARCH or HUNTING. Look online, in magazines, ask others who have done this before for information on items they had that you might also like to have. Remember when HUNTING not to go outside your LIST that you and your partner put together right at the beginning. Generally it’s good to pick up to 3 people/businesses / items/ places in each of your list categories to either visit or get further information or quotes. When you go OUTSIDE your agreed list that’s when you start to include more and more extras. Remember that you haven’t included these extras in your original budget. If you find something you believe you really should have on your LISTS then as you add it to the list take something off the list – those CAN or MAYBE ITEMS.

When you’ve made your decisions for each of the items on your 2 lists STICK TO those decisions. Best not to go back and forth constantly reviewing and finding new suppliers as this will confuse you and add stress that you don’t need! When you have made your decisions put the quotes into your budget and add it up as you progress. That way you’ll know when you’ve reached your BUDGET SPEND.

At that stage it’s time to stop looking. If you’re over budget on the CEREMONY or the RECEPTION you should work out together if you can add a little extra to the budget or TAKE OFF items from the bottom of your 2 priority lists – those CAN or MAYBE items.

Every wedding needs a PLAN whether it’s just you and your 2 witnesses or it’s a huge celebration with all your family and friends. Whichever you choose, having a budget can be a great strategy to help you organise your wedding without huge stress and huge bills that you have to continue to pay well after your wedding day. GOOD LUCK!

What is a ‘Legals Only’ Marriage Ceremony?

There are many reasons why couples might choose to have what I call a ‘legals only’ style marriage ceremony.

To be legally married (anywhere in Australia) I, as your chosen Marriage Celebrant, will ensure that the minimum legal requirements are undertaken, as set out in the Marriage Act, 1961 legislation.

Let me explain briefly what is involved when I conduct this style of marriage ceremony…

Step 1. We will meet and together we’ll complete and sign the first legal paper – the Notification of Intention to Marry, form. This MUST be completed and lodged with me, your Marriage Celebrant, at least one month prior to your wedding date. I hold onto this form until your marriage is conducted.           

At this meeting I’ll also give to you other information that I am legally required to provide.

Step 2. You must have 2 adult witnesses to bring to your wedding. They can be anyone you like. If you’re not able to or you simply don’t want to invite your own witnesses, no problem, I can organise 2 witnesses to attend on your wedding day!

            The witnesses are there to witness you and me reciting the legal vows (as per the Marriage Act) and then to witness that it is you signing the legal marriage documents.

Step 3. We then set the date, time and place for your wedding day – at least one month away.

Step 4. You, your 2 witnesses and I attend at the agreed place, date and time for the wedding.

Step 5. Before holding the little ‘ceremony’ I will request that you both read and sign the next legal paper which is your final declaration before you are married that you are legally free to marry each other.

Step 6. I’ll recite the legal declaration before you and your witnesses, (this is called the Monitum) which is a minimum requirement for a marriage to be LEGAL.

Step 7. I will request you both to individually recite the legal declaration/vows before me and your witnesses – also a minimum requirement under the Marriage Act.

You are not required to say any personal vows or to exchange wedding rings in this style ceremony.

Step 8. You, the 2 witnesses and I will finish the procedure by all signing the 3 legal documents.

Step 9. I then have 14 days (by law) in which to lodge all the legal paperwork with the Office of Births Deaths and Marriages in the State in which your wedding was conducted. This includes the first paper, the Notification of Intention to Marry. But of course I will lodge your papers immediately after your ceremony – not waiting up to 14 days!

Some of those reasons you might want to consider a ‘legals only’ style ceremony…..

No fuss; minimal preparation; simplicity; no one besides your witnesses need to know about it; quick and quiet; no ‘ceremony’ as such; everyone is happy; less stress for you; you’re having a ‘non-legal’ wedding celebration overseas OR have already held that ceremony; minimal cost to you; you want to be married as quickly as possible; you don’t want anyone else involved in your wedding day…. and this list could go on!

Contact me at any time to discuss this style of marriage ceremony and decide if it’s what YOU want for your wedding!