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Updated: Apr 23

"Hi Anne, we’re interested in booking you for our celebrant. How long are your ceremonies?"

I often get asked this question by couples when they first contact me.

Your wedding ceremony is ALL about you. My job is to make it happen. If you want an epic hour-long ceremony…I'll put it together for you. If you want short and sweet…let’s do it! It’s perfectly okay for your ceremony to go for 5 minutes, 20 minutes or 40 minutes.

What's the quickest ceremony you can do?

To answer that question I need to explain a couple of things first, because to be legally married there are two things that must be said in your ceremony and heard by your witnesses.

The first is that I say my name, that I am a Commonweath Marriage Celebrant (which I am, you can check on the Attorney-General's website) and the Monitum which is:

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.

The second is a legal vow that you and your partner must say either before or after your personal vows:

I ask everyone here to witness that I, Lee Smith (Sam Jones) take you, Sam Jones (Lee Smith) to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband or spouse).

So if we do those two things - 5 minutes and you'll be hitched! We just need to spend a few more minutes for you both to sign the certificates along with your witnesses and me to make it totally official.

We want to have everything in our ceremony but we don't want it to be too long.

So now you know how short your ceremony can be with just the two legal requirements being done. Everything on top of that is your choice – readings, candle lighting or wine pouring (if they’re your thing), personal vows, ring giving, even the ‘I do’ bit (because that isn’t a legal requirement).

Depending on what you choose to include will determine how long your ceremony will take. I suggest to my couples who are wanting a 'traditional style' ceremony that we aim for 30 minutes. That will cover the wedding party's entrance, me talking about marriage and their love story, the monitum and legal vows, personal vows, ring giving and declaration, signing certificates to them walking out as newlyweds.

Wedding day schedule

Whichever style of ceremony you choose, your celebrant will be able to tell you how long your ceremony will take. You will then need to add about 15 minutes after your ceremony for the 'congratulations', time for family and group photos, then 5 minutes for you and your wedding party to grab a quick drink or visit the bathroom before heading off to do your photos.

So here's what it might look like...

Ceremony starts 3:00 pm

Ceremony ends 3:30pm

Congratulations 3:30 - 3:45pm

Family and group photo 3:45 - 4:00pm

Wedding party and couple photos 4:00pm ...ready to be back in time for the reception and party!

Talk with your photographer when you're scheduling your wedding. They will know when sunset is on the day of your wedding and want to have your photos finished before it gets dark. Your photographer will also probably talk about 'the golden hour' which is that time of day when the light is golden. Your wedding photos taken then will be beautiful.

Don't forget your reception venue will want to discuss your schedule too. They'll let you know what time they need everyone seated and ready for you and your wedding party to make a spectacular entrance into the reception.

Happy planning everyone and if you have any questions let me know.

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