Wedding Advice

I know that the wedding day can be a bit overwhelming for lots of people, but especially introverts, as it combines some of their least favourite things: being the centre of attention, getting their photo taken repeatedly, engaging in small talk and having minimal alone time.

A lot of modern wedding traditions are built for extroverts: the first dance, photo shoots and personalised hashtags all serve the purpose of making YOU the star of the day. That works for some, but I am mindful it’s not for everyone.

There are a lot of introverts and more private people out there who don’t feel comfortable with this level of attention—but that doesn't mean that they can’t have an amazing wedding day.

So if you're an introverted, shy or sensitive person, don't feel the pressure to conform to tradition, family pressure or Pinterest. Like all wedding planning, you have the power to make it work for you. Don’t let others make you feel bad for planning the wedding ceremony you want, especially if that means celebrating in front of just a small number of guests.

Introvert Extrovert Scale

1. Choose the right celebrant

Are they too high energy for you? Are they talking too much?

The right person will be sensitive to your needs. They should have the ability to see and meet you where you are at and make you feel comfortable.

I can normally tell from our initial interactions if I am dealing with an extrovert or an introvert. If I think someone is more on the introverted side of the scale, I focus less on chit-chat and try to get to the point quicker. I prefer to build rapport in a different, more substantive way. By the time the ceremony rolls around, we will have built a strong trusting relationship that will help calm your nerves on the day.

Georgina & John | Tocal Homestead | Philippa Enid Photography

Georgina & John | Tocal Homestead | Philippa Enid Photography

 

2. Ceremony Positioning

I know the idea of standing up in front of friends and family for the ceremony might feel uncomfortable. Rest assured, as your celebrant, I’ll take some of the heat off you. I’ll be there to engage and entertain the guests. You might be surprised to hear, you can get away with minimal speaking during your ceremony. You just have to say the legal vows. If you don’t feel comfortable facing the guests, you can face each other and just pretend it’s just you two up there. If you want to take it down a further notch, you could even consider sitting during the ceremony.

Couple hugging mid ceremony as celebrant Julie Muir reads script

Jess & Jord's Wedding in their backyard in Islington | Something Blue Photography | Julie Muir Celebrant | I love that the couple stood hugging during this ceremony

 

3. The Vows

If the idea of exchanging vows makes you break out in a cold sweat, I’ve got plenty of strategies to coach you through it including helping you write your vows and practicing them out loud.  But if you are dead-set that you don’t want to do personalised vows because it’s giving you a gut-wrenching feeling, I’ll respect that too. I’ve got a work-around where I ask you vow questions instead, where a simple ‘I do’ or ‘I will” is all you have to say. Or we can skip that part completely and you can write a private letter to your partner instead.

Groom nailing vows at Mindaribba House with Julie Muir as the Celebrant

Renae & Graeme's wedding at Mindaribba House | Woodland Creative Photography | Julie Muir Celebrant | Graeme had us all laughing and crying with his awesome vows.

 

4. Wedding Party Size

Consider keeping the wedding party small. It might sound counter-intuitive because you might think a big wedding party means the guests have more people to look at during the ceremony, but generally a bigger wedding party, means a bigger sense of occasion and possible more fuss or problems to manage. It will also mean the getting-ready part won’t be so hectic. The time before the ceremony begins should be calm, not frantic.

 

Groom lifting the bride for a kiss as guests clap

Thea & Conor's wedding at Cork, Ireland | Dara Munnis Photography | Julie Muir Celebrant

 

5. First Look

This quiet moment will allow for you to get out the jitters and nerves so you feel and look relaxed and comfortable for the rest of the photos. It can slow everything down and help avoid a frenzy.

Nathalie & Ben | Margan Winery, Broke | Keegan Cronin Photography

Nathalie & Ben | Margan Winery, Broke | Keegan Cronin Photography

 

6. Pre-ceremony meditation

Before the ceremony, meditation will help ease the nerves. If I am marrying you, I’ll happily do a meditation with you and whoever is around you, before you walk down the aisle, to ground you and bring you back into the moment.

Pre-ceremony meditation | Jack Chauvel Photography | voco Kirkton Park

Pre-ceremony meditation | Jack Chauvel Photography | voco Kirkton Park

 

7. Photo Policy

An unplugged ceremony might be best to avoid the paparazzi feel. You can set privacy as a priority by asking the guests not to post any photos of you to social media.

 

Unplugged Wedding ceremony Sign

Unplugged Wedding ceremony Sign

 

8. Congratulations Post-ceremony

Allocate a short time for the congratulations after the ceremony as this might be one of the most draining parts of the day for you. If it’s all too much, just ask the photographer to take the group photo and that will get you moving swiftly on to next part of the day and stop the bulk congratulations.

Emma & Lucas | Stanley Park | Ben Howland Photography

Emma & Lucas | Stanley Park | Ben Howland Photography

 

9. Recharge Time

After the congratulations, factor in recharge time. Identify a quiet and secluded space that you can retreat to so you can have a break before the next item on the schedule.

 

Rhian & Brent | Porteno Events, Surry Hills | Paq Photography

Rhian & Brent | Porteno Events, Surry Hills | Paq Photography

 

Lastly, try to keep at the forefront of you mind that the eyes on you are from those that love you the most. Being the focus of everyone’s attention can be intimidating, but remember, the ‘audience’ loves you and wants only the best for you.

Why it's ok to cry during your wedding ceremony blog by Julie Muir Celebrant
Why it's ok to cry during your wedding ceremony blog by Julie Muir Celebrant

Whether you normally bawl at the drop of a hat or can’t even shed a tear during The Notebook, there’s a good chance that you might cry on your wedding day.

So many couples confide in me that they are worried about crying during the ceremony, as they feel it’s a bit embarrassing. I disagree completely. There ain’t no shame or embarrassment in crying on your wedding day. Shedding a few tears just shows that you understand how important this milestone really is.

The reason for the tears is usually a mix of happiness, letting go and moving on to another stage of life.

You’re expressing your love in front of others, and celebrating your relationship—that can certainly get tears to flow in even the most hardened personality! I’ve seen so many dudes swear to me in meetings that they won’t cry, only to bawl on the day, and I love it.

When you well up, others will well up too. I promise you won’t be alone. I actually think you are giving your guests a gift. There aren’t many safe spaces you can cry, out in the open: a wedding day is a real opportunity for you and your guests to feel alive by feeling a broad range of emotions.

Groom crying during the ceremony | Folk & Follow Photography
Groom crying during the ceremony | Folk & Follow Photography

In my experience, there are normally a few times during the ceremony when you are most likely to cry:

The Processional (The Walking-in)

There has normally been a huge build-up to the wedding. So much running around and last-minute logistics that you don’t have time to think about the emotional element of agreeing to devote your life to someone. When the processional music starts, that’s normally the first chance you have had to actually be still, breath and feel, and it can hit you like a ton of bricks. My advise is to keep your eyes focused on your partner and LEAN IN to whatever emotions bubble up.

Groom crying during the ceremony | The Robertsons Photography
Groom crying during the ceremony | The Robertsons Photography
Father crying during the ceremony | The Robertsons Photography
Father crying during the ceremony | The Robertsons Photography

The Personalised Vows

If you and your partner have written your own personalised vows, this portion of the ceremony may cause you (and pretty much everyone in attendance) to cry at your wedding. A vow is a promise, and this exchange is all about promising to love and support your partner through good times and bad—so it’s bound to get pretty weepy when you’re reading your vows or listening to your partner’s. If you’re worried about tripping over your words in between sobs, remember that it’s okay to get emotional—it means that your words are honest and heartfelt. Also, the more you practice your vows the easier reading them will be, even if you do start crying. My advice is also to have a good mix of heartfelt vows and funny vows to break things up. It’s important to have the light and the shade.

Bridesmaids crying during the personalised vows | Woodland Creative
Bridesmaids crying during the personalised vows | Woodland Creative

The LOVE Story

All celebrants do the same thing in a legal sense. It doesn't matter which celebrant you book, they are going to marry you. So what differentiates the BEST CELEBRANTS from the rest? It's how they make you feel. It's the experience that they create for you and your guests. It's hard to describe. It's an intangible quality that they have to read the crowd and elevate the vibe. Not all celebrants have the skills to tell your love story in an engaging and authentic way. It's a fine line between boring and over-the-top. The best celebrants know how to create a space for you and your guests to FEEEEEEEEEL a range of emotions during the love story.

Guest crying during the ceremony | Folk & Follow Photograpjy
Guest crying during the ceremony | Folk & Follow Photography

So while I encourage all my couples to cry on their wedding day if they feel able, it also doesn’t mean anything if you don’t cry. Everyone expresses their emotions differently and not crying isn’t bad or wrong.

But, if you've hired a good photographer (and a good celebrant) then at least you'll know that if you get something in your eye, it might turn out tobe one of the best photos from the day.

 

Should you have a wedding ceremony rehearsal blog by Julie Muir Celebrant

There's no rule that says you must have a wedding rehearsal. If you have a small bridal party, and the ceremony does not include any wedding rituals or readings, then you can probably get away with not having a rehearsal. However, if your wedding is more formal—and especially if you have children participating in the ceremony, then I recommend you do one.

Personally, I’m a big fan of a walk-through. The main reason is that, without a doubt, they make everything run smoother on the day. It’s a great opportunity to tap into the knowledge and expertise of the celebrant. Having said that, I’ve done lots of weddings without a rehearsal for couples who felt they didn’t need one, and they worked out fine too.

Reasons to have a wedding Rehearsal

  1. It will ease your nerves on the wedding day.
  2. It will ease the nerves of the bridal party too. Yep. It’s not just the people getting married that get nervous. The bridal party often get anxious too. This might not be a factor if any of your bridal party have been in a wedding before.
  3. The photos will be better……guaranteed. Rehearsals are all about choreography, timing and positioning. These are key to good photos. Inches make all the difference. If the bridal party aren’t mindful of their positioning, all the photos can look off. And if a couple don’t stand in the middle of their arbour, it looks terrible in the photos. The celebrant will go over small but important details such as how high to hold the bouquets and whether the blokes are going to clasp their hands or leave them in their pockets.
  4. You’ll nail the entrance. A rehearsal is the time for figuring out when each flower girl, page boy and bridesmaid is going to walk and who will queue them in if they can’t hear the music. It can be a stressful doing this on the fly the day of the wedding without a rehearsal. You can practise the pace, not too fast and not too slow. If your father is walking you don’t the aisle, he probably won’t know what to do when he gets there. A rehearsal can give him guidance on which side to walk on, when to move and what to say so he doesn’t have to hover awkwardly.
  5. Working with children in the wedding can be difficult at the best of times. It’s quite likely that your flower girl or page boy will get stage fright and refuse to walk down the aisle with so many people staring at them. Your little ring bearer might refuse to come up when called. You can mitigate this by practising at the rehearsal.
  6. Every venue location is different and has it’s own considerations. It’s easier to make changes at the Rehearsal than on the wedding day. E.g decide when the musicians will set up, see if the sun will be shining directly in your eyes.
  7. Rehearsals are a great time to practice operating the music. Has the correct version of the song been downloaded? There might be more than one volume knob on the PA system to get to grips with. It’s also a good time to practise the fade!
  8. It’s a good time to sign the Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage (DONLIM) with your celebrant. This can be done on the day of the ceremony but do you really want to be signing a document after you get out of the car, before you walk down the aisle?
  9. It’s a good chance for the bridal party to get to know each other, if they haven’t already met. On a deeper level, it’s a bit of a bonding session for the group. Rehearsals, done well, should be a bit of fun.

Reasons NOT to have a Rehearsal

  1. If you are a cruisy kind of couple that take things in your stride then you might not need one. If you don’t care that things aren’t symmetrical in the photos or if the spacing between the bridesmaids isn’t exact, then the chances are, you will get away without having one. The celebrant, venue manager or wedding planner will be there to give you directions on the day.
  2. Not having a Rehearsal can add to the excitement and suspense on the day. You might actually find it more thrilling that you haven’t stepped through it all before and are experiencing everything for the first time.
  3. Having a Rehearsal just might not be very convenient. It’s fine if you are staying at the venue the night before, but if you are not, you might not want the hassle of trekking all the way out there for a 30 minute rehearsal. The day before a wedding you will have a lot of things to do. You might prefer to spend the time with out of town guests, getting your nails done, finishing your speech.
  4. Most celebrants charge for a Rehearsal to cover their time and travel to the venue. It might just be one extra expense that you don’t want to fork out for.

Tips if you decide it's a good idea to have a ceremony run-through

  1. If you are having live music at your wedding, you musicians more than likely won’t come to the rehearsal so it’s a good idea to download the songs to your phone to practice the walking in.
  2. You and your bridesmaids might want to practice walking in the shoes.
  3. Don’t rehearse your personal vows at the rehearsal. Practice them in private and then they’ll have the WOW factor on the day.

When and where should you have a wedding rehearsal?

Generally you’ll have the rehearsal the day before the wedding, either in the morning or the evening at the venue (because the venue and the celebrant will likely have another wedding in the afternoon of the day before).

You don’t have to have an on-site rehearsal. It might be more convenient to just have it a local park or in your back yard.

You don’t have to have it the day before the wedding. It might suit you better to have it the Sunday before or an evening that week.

Book in the date and time of the rehearsal sooner rather than later. Rehearsals can be tricky to coordinate. There are a lot of people involved, and also the venue and the celebrant need to be available at your preferred time too.

If you start on time, a rehearsal will take about 30 minutes.

Who should be invited?

  • The two people getting married (bride and groom, bride and bride, groom and groom)
  • the person walking you down the aisle (traditionally father but can be anyone)
  • the flower girls and page boys
  • the rest of the bridal party
  • anyone doing a reading
  • the person operating the music

That’s the optimum but having said all that, if someone can’t make it to a rehearsal, it’s not worth stressing over or getting into an argument with anyone over. Your celebrant will work with whoever can be there.

Try not to have too many extras there either. It can be distracting when the celebrant is trying to pull it all together and those not involved are standing around chatting.

 

Rehearsals can be a welcome addition to your ceremony preparations or they can be a another thing on your to do list. It’s up to you to decide what feels right for you.

If this article is a bit long for you or you just don't have time to read it now, I've recorded a video with all the same information that you might prefer to watch.

Music is such an important part of your wedding day. And not just for the P-A-R-T-Y. You need to get it right for the ceremony too. The music you chose should be a reflection of your personalities and set the vibe for your guests, whether that's romantic, classic, relaxed, fun, upbeat or alternative. Music sets the mood and the tone and encourages the guests to be social so it’s worth putting a bit of thought into it.


Live Music

The first decision you need to make is whether you will have live music or use your celebrant's PA system.
Professional musicians are worth their weight in gold. Live music helps the guests focus on the emotional aspects of the occasion and share in the moments of happiness.

You’ll need to decide if you want to go classical with a harpist, flautist, violinist or something more modern like a singer/guitar duo or band.

I do understand having ceremony music is not in most people's budget. You could get around this by asking someone you know to play guitar and/or sing. I’m sure they would be delighted to be asked to be involved, especially as it’s only for the ceremony.

For a list of singers I recommend in Newcastle and the Hunter, see my Little Black Book.

Mike Rizk playing Spanish guitar

Andrew & Nano's wedding at Gunners Barracks, Mosman | Julie Muir Celebrant | Mike Rizk Musician

Celebrant’s PA

Check with your celebrant if it’s you or them that’s downloading the music. Personally, I download everything for my couples from Spotify Premium onto a phone I use just for ceremonies. I do ask my couples to provide me with someone to press play on the day. Usually a cousin or the partner of someone in the bridal party is a good option. I always give them a demo on operating the PA system, either at the Rehearsal or about half an hour before the ceremony starts.

Occasions for ceremony music

There are four occasions that you'll need to choose music for:

1. Before the ceremony starts, as guests arrive

Most guests in Australia arrive 20 mins before the ceremony start time. You've likely spent a motza on your wedding, so it's important to make a good first impression. The styling and the music on arrival will do this. They are key for setting the vibe.

You don't have to have music before the ceremony, but silence is not always golden. What could be more uncomfortable than a large group of people sitting silently waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin? Generally something acoustic or pop-y works well pre-ceremony. Think the 'afternoon acoustic' playlist in Spotify. The person walking down the aisle won't actually hear this music, so why not give this job to the other partner to choose the playlist? They could choose songs that they love, something to calm the nerves or hype themselves up. No-one says it has to be romantic music. Park Avenue anyone?

If you have song choice fatigue after choosing the other ceremony music, the first dance song, the reception entrance song etc. and you just don't have the time or headspace to think about pre-ceremony, don't worry! Your celebrant should have a good pre-ceremony playlist they can play, so you don't have to spend any energy thinking about it.

2. Walking-in Song (Processional)

You can have one song for all the bridal party (page boys, flower girls, bridesmaids and bride) or you can split it into two and have one song for the bridal party and one song for the person getting married and whoever is walking them down the aisle. (Normally the bride and her father but these days, who is to say that it’s not a groom walking down the aisle to the processional song?!).

Usually this is something romantic, but it doesn't have to be. If you want to dance down the aisle to ‘I like Big Buts’ or ‘Another one bites the dust’ that’s cool too.

Get whoever is operating your music to faaaadddee when you reach the top of the aisle. Sounds so much better than an abrupt halt.

 

3. The Signing Song

This is the least important of all the ceremony music. This song just gives your guests permission to chat. They are half-watching you sign, half-chatting about what an awesome ceremony it's been, and this song is just playing in the background on low volume. You don’t want your guests sitting there rigid. It’s not church.

4. Walking Out Song (Recessional)

This one is important. It should reflect the mood. It should be uplifting, upbeat and make you want to dance down the aisle because you are so happy that you have just gotten married. This song should signify to the guests that the party is about to get started!! This sing needs to start with a bang. Lots of great songs take ages to get to the good bit, so if this is a slow starter, the person pressing play may need to skip forward to the good bit.

Tips for choosing your songs

1. Try not to Google wedding music. OK, I know you probably will, but don't be surprised if you get lots of 80s wedding music show up in your search and nothing that really resonates.

2. Connect your song choices to memories. Think back to when you first started dating to see if a song jumps out at you. Try to think of songs you've danced together to in the kitchen or listened to while road-tripping or concerts you've been to together.

3. Check the lyrics. You might love the song but do the lyrics fit your wedding? The Bon Iver' song Skinny Love sounds romantic but is about the sort of love that is destructive.

4. Look for acoustic or instrumental versions of songs E.g. (i) Hold On We're Going Home by Drake sung by the Artic Monkeys (ii) Tinie Tempah's Written in the Starts Acoustic version. (iii) Beyonce’s Halo by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern jukebox.

Youtube is full of acoustic covers that turn music what would be normally not suitable for a wedding into great options.

Group Song

Another way to incorporate music into your ceremony, is to have a group song. Nothing says crowd participation like making your guests sing along to a song.
I did a Brazilian + Aussie wedding outdoors where it rained and they had no Plan B. All the guests sang 'All you need is love' by the Beatles as the rain poured down and we were all getting soaked. It was a moment I'll never forget! This group song completely lifted the mood.

Some songs to get you started

If you are really stuck and don't know where to start, I've listed a few songs here. Music is deeply personal so there is a good chance you are going to have different taste to me. If you don't like my music, don't read too much into it- I am still the celebrant for you!

Adore - Amy Shark
Agnes Obel – Philharmonics (instrumental)
Aint Nobody (loves me better) - Jasmine Thompson
All of You- Busby Marou
Angels – The XX
Baby I’m Yours – Breakbot
Be Mine – Alabama Shakes
Better Man – Pearl Jam
Better Together – Jack Johnson
Big Jet Plane - Angus and Julia Stone
Big Jet Plane- Angus & Julia Stone
Blackbird – The Beatles
Blue light – Bloc Party
Bubbly- Colbie Caillat
Can’t Do Without You – Caribou
Can’t Help Falling in Love – Hearts and Colours
Cinema – (Skrillex Remix) [feat. Gary Go]
Cupid – Sam Cooke
Damaged – Primal Scream
Dirty Paws - Of Monsters and Men
Dissolve Me – Alt-J
Don’t Let Go – Weezer
Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Essence- Lucind Williams
Everlong – Foo Fighters
Fall at Your Feet - Boy and Bear
Fell In Love With a Girl – White Stripes
First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
Fix you - Cold Play
Fresh Eyes – Andy Grammar
Get Good (infinitefreefall remix) – St South
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
Groovin Slowly – John Butler Trio
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
Heart Beats Slow - Angus and Julia Stone
Heartbeats- José González
Here Comes Your Man – Pixies
Ho Hey- Lumineers
Hold - Vera Blue
Husky – Forever So
I found a Reason – The Velvet Underground
I Need My Girl – The National
I remember – Deadmau5 & Kaskade
I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash
I Wanna Be Yours – Arctic Monkeys
I will follow you into the dark- Death Cab for Cu
I’m in Love- Cash Savage and the last drinks
It Gets Better – The Preatures

It’s Alright, It’s OK – Primal Scream
January Wedding – I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers
King and Cross – Asgeir
Kings and Queens – Daniel Lee Kendall (acoustic guitar)
Kiss Me - Ed Sheeran
Let’s Get It On – Marvin Gaye
Lost in the moment - Daniel Lee Kendall
Love Shack – The B-52s
Lover – San Cisco
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
Make the World Safe For You – The Whitlams
Marry Song – Band of Horses
Mess is Mine- Vance Joy
Monday – Matt Corby
My People – Presets
Never Gonna Give You Up – Hannah Trigwell
Never Tear Us Apart – INXS
Peaches and Cream – John Butler
Rather Be - Jasmine Thompson
Rip Tide – Vance Joy
Rivers and Roads- The Head and the Heart
Romeo & Juliet- Dire Straits
Save Me- Goyte
Saved – Khalid
Saw You First- Givers
Say You Will – Hearts and Colours
Skinny Love – Bon Iver
So Good To Me – Chris Malinchak
Something About Us – Daft Punk
Something About Us – Daft Punk
Stay Close – Flume
Stolen away on 55th and 3rd – Dave Matthews Band
Straight to You – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Surprise Yourself – Jack Garrett
Surprise Yourself- Jack Garratt
Sweet Disposition – Temper Trap
Sweet Disposition – The Temper Trap
The Songbird – Fleetwood Mac
These Arms of Mine – Otis Redding
Thinkin’ Bout You – Frank Ocean
This Old Love – Lior
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Two is Better than One- Boys Like Girls
Two of us on the Run- Lucius
Until Death do them part- Paul Kelly, Uncle Bill
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson (feat. Bruno Mars)
Walking On a Dream – Empire of the Sun
Wandering Star – Portishead
Wedding Song – Angus & Julia Stone
What A Man – Salt N Pepa
With You Around- Yellowcard
With You Forever – PNAU
Wonderwall – Oasis
You always make me smile- Kyle Andrews
You’ve Got the Love – Florence and the Machine
Young and Beautiful – Lana Del Rey
Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn and John

I've put all my song suggestions into two Spotify playlists to make it super-easy for you to listen to

Consider These! Wedding Ceremony Walking-In Songs - Julie Muir Celebrant 

Changing your name is a personal decision that every man and woman has to make. Yes! Men can change their names too if they want to.

If you decide to change your name after you get married, then be prepared. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a chore. It is not as simple as waving a wand. I wish it could be done with just one form! Unfortunaetly, it’s a P-R-O-C-E-S-S that can take months, depending on how organised or how much spare time you have.

Think of it as your next project, after the wedding planning is over!  It is not nearly as much fun but it is a necessary-evil if you want to change your name.

Step 1- Decide what your new name will be

I’ll use myself as an example: Julie Mary Cotter married Cameron Lee Muir in a beautiful wedding in Dingle, Ireland in July 2009. I’ll use any excuse to talk about my wedding!

Your options are:

  • Take on your partner’s last name e.g. Julie Mary Muir
  • Hyphenate your last names e.g. Julie Mary Cotter-Muir
  • Double-barrell your last names e.g. Julie Mary Cotter Muir
  • Make your maiden name your middle name and take your partner’s name as your last name e.g. Julie Cotter Muir
  • Make up a new last name that is a mix of the two. e.g. Cotuir or Muiter (Hmmmm, I’m not sure that will work for every combination. It certainly wasn’t a realistic option for me!)
  • Make up a completely new last name. We seriously considered this option until Cameron wanted us to be called the Farnsworths! Then I gave up on the idea.

Step 2- Make it legal by getting the right certificate

Most people will just need an Official Marriage Certificate (so don’t over-complicate things unless you need to!)

If you want to take your partner’s last name, hyphenate or double-barrell, you can do this with just an Official Marriage Certificate issued from your state’s Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM). Easy-peasy!

If you want to do anything else, like the name mash-up or the name creation, you will need to get an official Name Change Certificate. This is a much bigger decision to make and shouldn't be made lightly. If you go down this route, you will end up with a new birth cert, effectively erasing the records of your old name, s it's not for the faint-hearted!

As most people will go down the Official Mariiage Cert route, I am going to focus on that.

The Official Marriage Certificate is not the one you sign on the day of your wedding (that’s still a legal document, so don’t loose it but it’s not the FINAL certificate).

In NSW, to get the final Marriage Certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages, you have a few options:

  1. Complete a form at the NSW Service Centre (Anyone else noticed how amazing the customer service is ?! It’s so good it makes you wonder if you are actually in a government department)
  2. Apply online to BDM through your MyGov account.

In both these cases, they take your application and match it up with the celebrant’s paperwork and voilà!

3. Your celebrant can order it for you.

Smart couples go for option 3!! Honestly, there are only advantages to doing it this way. It will cost the same, but you’ll save yourself a bit of hassle by giving yourself one less thing to do. This isn’t normally included in the celebrant’s fee, so you’ll need to pay them for the actual cert.

Next, decide if you want the standard certificate or one of the commemorative ones. There are currently 16 designs to choose from.

You can get more informative from the NSW BDM website here.

If you order the commemorative cert, you get both, the standard one and the pretty one. You will use the standard one to change your name everywhere. The only point of paying extra for the pretty one, is if you intend to frame it.

Note- they don’t come together in the post (because a contarctor takes care of the pretty ones) so don’t panic when the first one arrives, and you think there has been a mistake. The other will follow shortly.

Cost

Standard Certificate $60

Commemorative $87

Marriage Certificate Designs NSW

Marriage Certificate Designs NSW

Normally it takes anywhere from 1 week to 8 weeks (depending how busy BDM are), so be patient. Use that time to prepare for Step 3.

Step 3- Change your name with organisations

You need to have the final Marriage Certificate in your hands before you can approach most organisations but there are a few things you can get a jump start on while you are waiting for it to arrive.

Facebook & Instagram

You can do this straight away. We can do it as part of the ceremony if you want! It’s a nice idea to put your maiden name in brackets so people can still find you. Although, on second thoughts who cares about their high school sweetheart tracking them down on Facebook after they are married?, unless you want an opportunity to gloat about how wonderful your life is now!)

Personal email address

You can do this anytime, even before the wedding.

Work email address

I’m pretty sure everyone in the office will know you are getting married. Just try keeping that a secret while you are engaged. No doubt you’ve had to quickly close your Pinterest boards a few times as your boss walks by and panic when you have forgotten to collect your seating chart from the photocopier.

It’s good that your colleagues know. They can sort out your business cards, your voicemail and your new email address and signature while you are on your honeymoon.

THE LIST of where to change your name after marriage- in order of importance

Driver’s licence

Bring the all-important cert to the NSW Service Centre and they will print you a new licence on the spot. If you do this within a year of getting married, they don’t charge you for the re-print. It’ll still have the same expiry date as your old one but with your new name.

Bank account.

Bring your new drivers liscence and your new Marriage cert and they will change your account name, no bother.

Medicare

This is a good one to do next, as most medical practitioners will want to know your Medicare has changed before they start changing your records.

Passport

Be careful. Be very very careful! Do not get excited and book the flights for your honeymoon abroad in your married name unless you have your new passport. Airport security will not care less about your easy-to-make mistake. No amount of tears will get you on the plane. So figure out your timings. You could be waiting up to 8 weeks to get your marriage cert from BDM (unless you pay extra for priority) and then you need to leave enough time to apply for and get your new passport which could be an additional few weeks. Depending on when your honeymoon is, it’s probably not worth the stress. Consider changing your passport when you get back.  You may be eligible for a free passport if your current passport still has two years validity.

Obviously this advice is for Australians only. If you are from another country like me, you will need to check the rules with the passport office in your own country.

By now, you will have the main items changed, and you can breath a sigh of relief. However don’t rest for too long, as you still have another bazillion to go. Thankfully there are no legal time limits for changing your name, so it’s fine to have both names in circulation at the same time.

House

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Mortgage Provider
  • Landlord/Real Estate
  • Home Insurance
  • Council – rates if you are a property owner
  • Internet
  • Pay TV

Car

  • Road toll accounts
  • Roadside Assist
  • Car Rego
  • Car Breakdown

Children

  • School
  • Childcare Provider

Pets

  • Dog Registration Council
  • Pet microchip details
  • Vet

Mind, Body & Soul

  • Blood Bank
  • Cervical screening register
  • Gym Membership
  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Other health professionals or specialists
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Sports Clubs

Other

  • Centrelink and family assistance
  • Australian Taxation office
  • Superannuation
  • Library
  • Working with Children’s Check
  • Will
  • Store accounts- (I love my Myer’s card)
  • Mobile
  • Voicemail
  • Spotify
  • Electoral enrollment
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Accountant
  • Employer
  • Investment/Shares
  • ABN
  • Business Name Registration
  • Professional Associations
  • Social Clubs

You made it. I’m exhausted just writing about it….never mind actually doing it. Good luck and just know, we’ve all been there. It’s horrendous but you will get through it. Actually I still get the odd piece of mail with my old name and I’ve been married 8 years!

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FREE CHECKLIST

CHANGING YOUR NAME AFTER YOU GET MARRIED

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Here is a video on the same topic in case you prefer to get your content that way.

Dogs in the bridal party blog graphic | Julie Muir Celebrant

 

During my training to become a celebrant I was strongly advised not to allow pets, especially dogs to take part in any ceremonies as they can be unpredictable and distracting.

Then I launched myself into the world of celebrancy and the first couple that booked me wanted not one, but all three of their dogs to be involved.

What was I suppose to do? My guiding principle as a celebrant is to advise and facilitate; not to stand in the way of what couples want....... so the dogs were in!

They accompanied the bridesmaids down the aisle and sat beside them well-behaved for most of the ceremony, gently encouraged by a few doggie-treats that we had hidden in a nearby flower-pot. At one point, Birdie the Staffy left her position and went to her owners for attention. Far from distracting and taking away from the ceremony, it was endearing. It added to the ‘realness’ of the ceremony.

I didn’t have my rescue dog Sasha when I got married but if I could do it all again, I’d definitely include her. Pets play such an important role in people’s lives: I can understand why couples want their fur-babies to be there and involved on their special day.

My advice to couples now is that as long as you understand that everything may not go exactly to plan on the day and you are relaxed about it, then you should go for it.

Unless of course, you think your dog won’t enjoy it. If your dog is anxious or easily excitable, they may find the whole experience overwhelming and you should put their needs above your own wants.

Birdie the Dog wearing a flower collar

Birdie the Dog wearing a flower collar

Tips for how to successfully include dogs in the wedding

Role

Consider how your dog will be involved. Your dog could take the place of a flower girl or page boy by walking down the aisle unassisted. This may take some training and won’t be suitable for all dogs. You could put them on a lead and get them to accompany one of your bridal party down the aisle. You could let them be the ring bearer with the rings attached to their collar. You may need to have one of your bridal party loaded up with treats to reward good behaviour. It’s probably best to tell you bridal party about your plans, just in case one of them suffers from allergies so that they are forewarned and can take some precautions. Why not go all out and let the dog be the ‘best man’?! Remember, it’s your wedding and you can do what you want!

Rehearsal

This is important for the smooth running of the ceremony. Having a rehearsal won’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly on the day but it will help highlight any possible problems. E.g. a dog that won’t sit in position because they want to go to their owner or one that keeps barking.

Venue

Check that the venue doesn’t mind pets. It would be awful to turn up on the day only to find out that pets aren’t allowed. Think about where your dog will sleep that night. You may need to book some pet-friendly accommodation.

Handler/ Petsitter

You are going to have enough to worry about on the day without adding to the stress by worrying about your dog. Hire someone to look after your dog: to dress it, bring it to the ceremony on time, make sure it is watered and fed and looked after for the rest of the day if the dog isn’t going to the reception. They should probably take the dog on a nice long walk before the ceremony to burn off excess energy so they are more likely to behave.

Outfit

There is nothing cuter than a dog wearing an outfit, especially a tuxedo or a bowtie. Make sure they won’t be too hot. Consider a flower wreath or just a collar with a flower on it. Tell your florist what you are doing as some flowers and berries could be poisonous. And get them groomed close to the wedding sot that they are looking and smelling their best.

Photographer

Tell your photographer so they are prepared and don’t miss any crucial shots. They may even have some ideas on how to incorporate your dog into your photos.

For recommendations on professional pet handlers in Newcastle and the Hunter, see my Little Black Book.

Gunners Barracks | Folk & Follow

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