Classic wedding songs used to be social cues. When I was a lad we knew when to stand and when to sit based on the tune that was being played. These days, I have to tell guests when it’s time to stand or sit. I like it when couples select music that’s meaningful to them personally, but there is something to be said for these classic wedding songs and the pageantry they invoke.
If you want to know how to find those classic wedding tunes, here are the names for those compositions that have a special place in the wedding music canon.
We’ve all heard that beautiful tune traditionally played as a bride walks down the aisle. Richard Wagner composed it for the romantic opera Lohengrin. He called it Treulich Geführt, which can be translated to English as “Faithfully Guided”. Stirring stuff.
If you have a bagpiper, a modern traditional tune for the processional would be Highland Cathedral.
That rousing tune we know as the end of a wedding is—very inconveniently—known by the same name in English as the traditional tune for the processional! In the era of Google, the best way to distinguish them is by their composer.
You don’t have to change your name when you get married. But if you decide to, the most challenging part is prioritising what to do first. So here’s a guide for newlyweds changing their name after marriage in Victoria.
What are my rights?
You always retain the right to use the name on your birth certificate. If you have previously legally changed your name, that name always remains your right as well. You can use your previous name professionally while also using your married name in other contexts. And you can revert to that name at any time you wish, for any reason you wish.
When you get married, you also gain the right to use the family name of the person you marry. You can replace the family name on your birth certificate or change of name certificate with it, or you can use it in addition to your previous name.
If you decide to use both names, you can use them in any order you choose. For example, if Tobin Jones marries Kia Nguyen, Tobin’s options are:
Tobin Nguyen-Jones, and
And Kia’s options are:
Kia Jones-Nguyen, and
And your partner’s choice has no effect on yours.
These rules are the same regardless of your gender: a husband can take his wife’s or husband’s name the same as a wife can.
How do I prove it?
You only need your marriage certificate to prove a change of name after marriage in Victoria, but you need to use the right one!
The certificate you need to start this process is the one issued by your state’s registrar, but that’s not the first certificate you will get. Your celebrant must provide you with an entirely useless sheet of paper on your wedding day. This sheet of paper is officially called Form 15, but celebrants usually refer to it as Fluffy Form Fifteen, as a reference to its odd status in law. To ensure maximum confusion, the Vogons have put the words Marriage Certificate at the top of Fluffy Form Fifteen.
The piece of paper you need to change all your details is called a marriage certificate, and at the time of writing, Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria advises that it takes them 28 days to produce it.
Your celebrant will usually order this certificate for you. If you need to do it yourself, you will have to wait for your celebrant to advise that the registration has been processed, and your celebrant will need to check this manually until that part of the process has been completed.
The certificate for any marriage registered in Victoria can be ordered by either party to the marriage from
Once you have it in your hot little hands (please wash your hands), you can then start the daunting process of getting your name changed with other organisations. I have prepared a list below, including links to the relevant authorities in Victoria where appropriate. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully at least starts you along the right track.
Update your licence first to use as proof of your change of name after marriage in Victoria with other organisations.
Driver Licences can be changed with VicRoads using only your marriage certificate from the Registry Office. There is a form on the website, but if you just go to your local office with your existing licence and your marriage certificate, they will do it on the spot (note that the warning that you have only 14 days to notify them does not apply to you, because your previous name is still your legal name)
These are government agencies that take a some time and effort to process your change of name after marriage, so get the ball rolling as soon as you can.
Passport if you have a passport and there are more than two years until its expiry, the Passport Office will replace it at no charge, though you do need to produce two new photos
MyGov is a little complicated, but not entirely illogical; go in via MyGov to access your account with any one service like the Australian Taxation Office, Medicare or Centrelink to change your name, and it is then populated back across all the other services connected to MyGov
These are private organisations, but with a higher priority than the last stage, which can just keep ticking over with your old name until you get around to it.
Real Estate ownership is mostly straightforward, as you just need to notify your local council
Medical Providers will still get your data from the central registry, but it is still wise to ensure you’ve advised them of your name change to prevent it being a distraction in an emergency
Wills are automatically invalidated by marriage, so if you have one when you get married, you’ll need a new one afterward
Financial Institutions will each have their own way of doing things, so pop along to each of your institutions’ websites to find out their process; and remember to think of your
Working with Children check
The entities below don’t matter anywhere near as much, and it is entirely reasonable to simply update with your change of name as the need arises. The critical element is having your licence or passport done and ready so you have some photo identification ready whenever the need arises.
Utilities will have their own way of doing things, so contact them one at a time if it matters:
Finding the best wedding songs to match the feeling you want for your wedding is a challenge. And although the technology that rides around in our pocket has dramatically opened up the options, there is now even more to wade through!
You probably already use streaming apps like Spotify, Apple Music, or one of the many other services. You may even be using a music identification app like Shazam or Soundhound. Between these two types of apps, you have the best pair of helpers you can get for setting the tone for your big day.
And these ideas are still helpful even if you are lucky enough to have live musicians performing at your ceremony.
Get set up
Here are my steps for setting up your music selection strategy:
If you don’t already have both a music identification app and a music streaming app that lets you make playlists, download one of each and set up an account
List the sections of your ceremony you want music for, and create a new playlist for each section
Make sure you and your partner both have access to the playlists and can add to them as well as listent to them
Ensure your music identification app is very easy to access on the go
That’s all for the setup. Now, you may have a few tracks to add to your playlists already, and thats great. I suggest that you dont rush to fill them up though. These playlists are your shortlists, so you want to keep them as short as possible to begin with.
And to get the best wedding songs in them, allow the inspiration to come. Hopefully you’ve set yourself up months before the big day. So when you hear a song that could be suitable, ID it, and add it to the appropriate playlist (remembering that you can add the same song to all the shortlists if its suitable).
It’s also good to keep in mind that your additions may inspire your fiancé to add theirs, so a slow burn is great. Just keep an understanding between yourselves that you only delete tracks from a playlist together.
Set a deadline
The next thing to do, though, is to set a deadline for closing the playlists. And when that deadline happens, it’s time to sit down with your fiance and select from the tracks youve shortlisted.
Allow hours! You won’t be on the same page all the way, so you need to allow yourselves time to get there. Most importantly, listen to each other!
I don’t know how many times I’ve sat at my desk waiting for a couple to—you know—send me their vows when it’s getting really close to the line. And the fact that I have to wait so often really indicates to me that there must be something I can do to help people. By giving them a bit of an idea of how to go about doing it.
So this is my take on how to write vows.
A lot of people don’t realise, but personal vows are actually quite a new idea. They haven’t been around for as long as marriage has been around. They came along when civil celebrants came along and people decided to create ceremonies their own way, which is kind of what civil celebrants are really all about. Personal vows are not essential, but they really are a good way to make your ceremony about you, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re so important.
Historically, vows used to be set by the church or the temple or the mosque, so you just did whatever you were told and you said whatever you were told to say.
What you decide to write, though, that’s up to you. It can be a secret from your partner, or you can actually let them know what you’re what you’re going to say beforehand. There’s no reason why you have to keep them a secret, but it’s a nice thing to do as well.
So, how long should vows be?
If you’re a great writer, you could potentially write pages and pages, but that’s not necessarily a great thing.
Long vows tend to get lost. You get halfway through and everyone has forgotten what you said at the beginning, including your partner, which is the last thing you want. You get to the end and the and that whole swathe of information is just kind of gone unless you’ve been a great storyteller. If you’re just a normal storyteller like me, then you need to keep them short.
I always say three paragraphs is about right. That’s about an A6 sheet of paper. If you filled that whole thing up, that would be fine, but you really don’t want much more than that. You need to keep it short, keep it simple: I write 3 paragraphs.
This is this is the same with all kind of writing; not just vows, but I always write in threes. And I have three things that I think you should include:
Why this person?
What do you promise, and
When does it end?
When Does it End?
It’s especially helpful to start at the end with wedding vows because the end is almost written for you. When does the marriage end? When one of you snuffs it (that’s exactly how my husband and I entered our wedding vows). Most of us here in Australia have heard the traditional ending of Christian wedding vows, which are usually something like “until death us do part” or “for as long as we both shall live”.
I love the ending of Buddhist wedding vows, which run along the lines of “I give you my life to keep”. And Hindu wedding vows end with a similarly eloquent “let us be true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock”. Now, there is the vague possibility that couples do not intend to stay together for life—and that seems to me to be a very important conversation to have with your fiancé—but most of you are going to want to find a nice way to say that your marriage is for life.
And because this part of your vows is pretty straightforward, start by taking a moment to think about how you want to say it, and that will mean you’re not starting the beginning of your vows with a blank piece of paper, and it will also give you a general idea to aim for with the rest of your vows.
Why this Person?
We’ve done the end. It’s time to start at the beginning, which is why this person. Now, when I started writing my vows for my husband, I was on a train in Scotland.
Scotland itself is a mystical place to me. It’s the home of many of my ancestors and it is a place where I feel deeply connected to the land. I was also about as far away from my fiancé as it was possible to get and it was so much easier to think about what’s important to you when it’s not right in front of you. I highly recommend getting away for a bit before you even think about writing your vows.
So think about why you chose to marry this person and what it is about them that makes you want to make a commitment to them in the first place and come up with a sentence or three.
Again, there’s that’s three.
You can think about things like their personality: their sense of humour; their passions; how they treat their family; their appearance; their talents and skills; that weird way they fold socks or all the fact that they like to have ice in their red wine.
The main thing is keep it to three. Pick your top three and stick with those.
What are You Promising?
And that brings us to the middle, which is actually the end of your writing challenge: what are you promising?
This is the core part of your vows, and this is the main thing that you need to actually get across. This is the most important bit, the biggest challenge in terms of writing your vows. Summarise why you’ve made the decision that you’ve made and why you’ve decided to get married on this particular day.
You should talk to your partner about those expectations anyway. When you get married, it’s a perfect opportunity to express your commitment in a way that’s memorable and full of all that importance.
Traditional vows use words like love, honour and obey. Now don’t use obey: that’s completely anachronistic! But values like trust and loyalty are certainly not going out of fashion. And it doesn’t matter how many other brides and grooms have used them in the past.
The other classic is to acknowledge that things won’t always be rosy. Promising to never leave the lid off the Vegemite; or making an effort not to leave your dirty socks on the couch always raise a laugh. And promising to be on hand with an icy Prosecco in a crisis usually elicits a nice aww. But most importantly, this is where you lay down your intentions. Your promises should be personal, relevant, and meaningful.
And you should get to the point and say them in a single paragraph. Three sentences to sum up what kind of a husband or wife you mean to be.
And that’s it.
There’s one more thing to think about. There are mandatory vows that you have to include somewhere in your ceremony. The smoothest way is to put them at right at the end of your personal vows.
In Australian law, the Marriage Act of 1961 requires that you recite mandatory vows, whatever your personal vows may say. You have to say the words prescribed in this legislation. Bob married Blanche away from the cameras in the Ritz Carlton in 1995. He had to say, “I ask the persons here present to witness that I, Robert James Lee Hawke, take thee, Josephine Blanche D’Alpuget to be my lawful wedded wife”.
The statement is part of the process and your full legal names have to be used. He couldn’t be called Bob; it had to be Robert. She couldn’t be called Blanche; it had to be Josephine.
And don’t be fooled by the fact that it says “or words to that effect”. You really can’t change very much.
Just a little more help…
There are of course pages all over the web that can help you with writing vows. I don’t have a crystal ball or anything that means that my way is the best way. Absolutely use all of them.
But I’ve done one more thing to try and help you with your vow writing. I’ve gone one step further in making this process just a little bit easier.
I created a form that will help guide you through these steps. It will email your completed vows straight to your inbox.
Even great writers get stumped sometimes, especially when it comes to something as important as writing your vows. So don’t feel bad about it. Just get in there and do it. I hope this has helped, and if it did help, share it.
Traditionally, after the official business of marrying a couple is done, a celebrant will say something like, “you may now kiss the bride”. Which makes sense if it’s the nineteenth century and a groom has just taken possession of his bride. But I’ve never been comfortable with that wording. I don’t have the authority to permit anyone to kiss anyone else, and nor should I!
I’ve shortened it to you “may now kiss”, which is okay, even if it sounds unfinished. I’ve occasionally turned it on the guests and suggested they might like to see the couple kiss. My favourite solution was a recent wedding where I turned to the bride and said “you may now kiss the groom”!
At my own wedding, we played with it a little more, and instead of having one, we had five! Each moment where it felt appropriate, our bagpiper played the refrain of Scotland the Brave, and that was our cue!
But the awkwardness in the celebrant’s phrasing is nothing compared to the question each couple faces of how they should kiss!
Do we go for a long, impassioned smooch?
Do we have a peck on the lips?
Should you kiss their hand and leave it at that?
You could head down a YouTube rabbithole, or I could just tell you: the answer is somewhere in the middle. It can be fun for the celebrant to have to remind you that you have guests. And it can be charming to play it coy. But the fact is most Australians want to see some passion in the kiss, and not too much!
You’re in charge of this, though: if you tell your celebrant you’re going to have a fifteen minute pash while everyone watches, then that’s what should happen. And if you tell your celebrant to leave out the kissing altogether, then that’s what should happen. I might think you should find the sweet spot between those two extremes, but the most important thing to remember is that it’s your wedding: you do you.
I could tell you that 15 seconds is plenty of time to kiss the bride (or groom!), but if you’re really in the moment, you’re not going to have your stopwatch going!
But I will say this: make sure you talk this through with your partner before the day. It can be uncomfortable for both of you, and probably your guests too if you aren’t in sync. So get on the same page, and have fun practising 😉
There’s often a fine line between a joke and an insult, and in recent years weve been bombarded by those who decry the growth of what they call “political correctness”, or as I like to call it, “good manners”. So is there a way to make non-offensive gay jokes, or do we need to be entirely serious when preparing speeches for same sex weddings?
There is a firmly entrenched custom in western cultures in which certain guests—and usually the couple themselves—make a speech. And very frequently those speeches are hilarious. One of the main reasons humour is considered appropriate at this point in the customary proceedings is that the process a formal wedding takes usually means it has been very serious—probably also stressful—up until this point. And there’s a myriad of studies about the health benefits of humour.
So, with that in mind, the couples’ parents, attendants and even the couple themselves are very likely to want to include humour in their speeches.
Now, there are some very standardised jokes that are wheeled out for weddings. As much as these might elicit a laugh, the best laughs always come from more personal musings directly related to the couple being celebrated.
The science of jokes
Cognitive psychologists largely agree that there are three stages in finding something humorous. For a joke to work, the audience has to:
Mentally construct the set-up of the joke
Detect incongruity in its multiple interpretations, and
Resolve the incongruity by inhibiting the literal interpretations (which are not funny), and enjoying the meaning of the funny one.
To do that, first consider whether the audience can imagine the set-up you’re creating. If they aren’t with you in the setup, there is no way they’re going to follow you into the next stage. It’s here, right at the beginning, that those who want to keep telling old jokes lose their audience.
If a tired or inappropriate stereotype is being perpetuated, any member of the audience who finds the stereotype inappropriate won’t be able to inhibit the unfunny interpretations, and therefore won’t recognise the funny one. Its not a choice they’re making; it’s a choice you’re making.
And thats when the jokers start complaining about political correctness.
Start by understanding the audience
The most important thing you can do is consider the audience. And for a wedding, they are all reasonably likely to have something in common with the couple getting married. A gay wedding will probably have a strong proportion of gay attendees: so gay-themed jokes are fine, as long as they don’t mock gay people. A lesbian wedding will probably have a strong contingent of lesbian attendants: so lesbian jokes are definitely appropriate, as long as they don’t mock lesbians.
Are you detecting a theme yet?
If the only way you can be funny is by mocking others, you’re probably not very funny. Perhaps in that case you can ask someone else to make that speech. But non offensive gay jokes exist, and it’s always better just to stick to jokes that don’t mock other people.
The idea that you can’t tell a joke without offending anyone anymore is just nonsense. You never could tell a racist joke without offending a racial minority. The only thing thats changed is that—for the most part—we actually care about racial minorities now. You could only tell racist jokes in the past because in the past your audience didn’t care about racial minorities. The same applies to any other kind of marginalised group.
Write for the couple, and you should hit a point that carries most of the audience along with you.
Write your own jokes
I don’t object entirely to using jokes you find on the internet. There are many many many websites dedicated to listing jokes and one liners for wedding speeches. There are even a few that list non offensive gay jokes. But apart from the fact that your audience is very likely to have heard them all before, using recycled jokes misses the advantage you get from ensuring your audience can construct the setup in their imagination.
Write your own jokes, considering the couple and the characteristics their friends are likely to share. This is a winning formula for a hilarious wedding speech that is perfect for the event.
Lastly, the most important thing you’re being asked to do when making a speech at a wedding is to celebrate the couple. If you get so lost in the humour that you forget to do that, your speech will definitely fall flat.
Use humour to engage the audience.
Use humour to make the event a celebration.
Use humour to praise the couple.
The speaker who can make us laugh while being entirely serious about how joyful the occasion is, wins.
A surprise wedding can be a great alternative for couples seeking something personal and fun. And better still, it helps to keep the family in check!
You can tell your guests it’s an engagement party, which is quite a common approach. Maybe hold a farewell party and get married at it. You can tell them you have a very important announcement in the most sombre of tones and that you don’t want to explain it more than once, so everyone has to come. My favourite idea for a surprise wedding would be to plan a party for April Fools’ Day and have the celebrant call all your guests fools before marrying you!
Under Australian law, you cannot plan a wedding and keep it a secret from your fiancé. Surprise weddings can be a surprise for the guests, but not for either party to the marriage. You may plan most of the wedding and present the plans to a partner with some notice, but they need to be a part of planning at least in the last month before the wedding.
Guests, on the other hand: surprise them all you want!
If you plan a surprise wedding but you tell guests it’s something else, there is the risk that they will decide another event is more important.
To mitigate this risk, one approach is to say you’re thinking of eloping so they had better come to the engagement party. You can also let a few strategic friends and relatives know so they can help. And if all else fails and you have a very important person say they’re going to wait for the wedding, just tell them.
You do need to have two adults to be witnesses. And to be your witnesses, they must be both alert and sober! You don’t need to tell your witnesses beforehand (as long as you’re confident they will be both present and capable of fulfilling the role) but having a couple of people in on the plan can be very helpful.
Advantages of Surprise Weddings
You’re in control! No one can tell you how to plan a wedding if they don’t know you’re planning a wedding!
A soft alternative to elopement: people who are considering eloping to minimise expectations and expenses but still want their family and friends around should seriously consider a surprise wedding.
Its a diversion! Many couples find that family members can get a little interfere-y when there’s a wedding being planned. A surprise wedding is the perfect foil to keep unwelcome noses out of your planning.
Remove unnecessary tradition by cutting your ceremony down to the bit that matter most.
Reduce your costs: getting married at your engagement party halves the number of parties you are paying for! And many other costs become unnecessary when your wedding is a surprise.
Disadvantages of Surprise Weddings
Excluding family and friends from planning: when you plan a surprise wedding, many of the traditional roles like the mother of the bride, wedding attendants and so on are foregone.
Keeping things a secret can be hard, as can hiding your excitement!
Did you notice that I don’t have many disadvantages listed? Well, there aren’t many! But the ones that exist are pretty significant. So consider your options carefully, but be encouraged! Surprise weddings are a great idea if they meet your needs!
Choosing the best time to get married is no mean feat!
Whatever you pick, you’re stuck with it as your anniversary! But even more important than that, the date you pick can influence:
who you can book
where you can book
what it will cost, and
whether you can even get what you want!
So, I’m suggesting you take three steps in the process of selecting your wedding date. And I’ve added a few other things to consider below.
Step 1: Put it in Context
You probably already have an idea of an overall style for your wedding ceremony. Things like whether you want to be outdoors or indoors; at a beach or on a mountaintop; cosied up or the centre of attention.
With these things in mind, you can then consider the season that would work best for you. Then you can list any of your friends’ and family’s special dates or events. And that will give you a range for the best time to get married.
Side note: Australian outdoor wedding plans are often confounded by foreign seasons. Get strategic! Rather than relying on European seasonal expectations, take advantage of Indigenous knowledge about seasons, and Bureau of Meteorology records. For Melbourne and Gippsland, there is a great resource for Indigenous seasonal wisdom here. And the BOM has a wealth of weather data here.
Step 2: Check Availability for Your Vendors
It’s best to research critical elements of your plans before setting your date. Consider things like your ceremony and reception venue/s, and of course your celebrant.
If you pick the best date for your wedding only to find out you can’t have me as your celebrant, you will, of course, be utterly devastated! Same with that perfect reception or ceremony venue: check our availability before you make your decision.
Step 3: Check for Community Events
By this stage you will have narrowed your dates list down considerably. The only thing left to do is to check what else is happening in the weeks before and after your dates. It can be particularly annoying for guests who need to travel to find that all the accommodation is booked because of another event. Check council websites and state tourism websites to see if there are any clashes that can help you narrow down your options.
As you work through those steps, you might also like to think about these ideas:
Consider days other than Saturday
56% of weddings in Australia happen on a Saturday, and the wedding industry is geared towards Saturday weddings. This is largely due to it being a weekend day with another weekend day following: but, most venues will charge a fortune to let you keep partying into the night, so I don’t know why that should matter.
The upshot of that convention is that both booking openings and pricing can be more favourable elsewhere in the week. On average, Tuesdays have the fewest weddings, closely followed by Wednesdays. Fridays are great for night weddings, and Sundays are great for morning weddings.
Consider public holidays and other occasions
Public holidays are often overlooked, and there are a few strategic ones that could be perfect for you:
Good Friday might not be popular with hyper-religious folk, but it is followed by a weekend day, and across the whole of Australia the average number of weddings that happen on a Good Friday is just over 100 (well below the Saturday average of 1,269) so it’s an easy day to book, and you may find a discount or two!
Easter Monday is similarly open for booking: it might not be followed by a weekend, but it makes a great morning or afternoon wedding date
Halloween has a slightly higher average number of weddings than the others in this list, because it occasionally falls on a Saturday, but what a theme! Halloweens that don’t fall on a Saturday have an average of 200 weddings across Australia.
Melbourne Cup Day could make a great theme for a wedding and it is wide open for weddings (as long as your venue isn’t a racecourse)!
Novelty dates come with their own hassles
In the last decade, the most popular date for weddings was Saturday 10 November 2012. 3,040 couples tied the knot across Australia on that day just to see their wedding date abbreviated to 10.11.12. It’s a fun novelty, but the payoff is that choosing such a date means you are competing with a lot of people for bookings. When choosing the best time to get married, it’s probably not going to be the same day as everyone else!