Types of Wedding Ceremonies

I create each ceremony for a particular and unique couple - you. In that process I use skills developed over the creation of hundreds of very individual ceremonies, together with extensive knowledge of all the traditional, historical and cultural elements that can be incorporated in your ceremony and fuse these with who you are here and now, so that your wedding ceremony speaks to your hearts and to the hearts of everyone present.

There is an enormous amount of flexibility possible in how your ceremony is structured and what elements are included, some of which will be influenced by the type of wedding you choose. I offer you a fresh approach to ceremonies, the benefit of my in-depth analysis of all aspects of the traditional wedding ceremony, and unique inclusions not offered by any other celebrant.

Australia has marriage equality, and therefore your gender is not relevant to the legality of your marriage - but that you are free to marry, that is, you are not already married to someone else (or to one another), is

Testimonial from Stu (the groom) who married Katie at Clear Mountain Lodge:
 Initially I discounted the whole ceremonial process as just being something that was fixed and had to be performed out of legal and official necessity. This remained so even through the very helpful guided process of writing the basis of our content and vows, which was then transformed into something extraordinary by Jenny Cram. Even though I was impressed with the drafts leading up to the day, in my mind it was still part of the official process. Jenny Cram totally reshaped my views about how special a wedding ceremony could be, and this became apparent for me on our wedding day. From the moment I was standing waiting for my future wife, I began to truly appreciate what Jenny had done. In creating this ceremony, Jenny had transformed something I thought was run of the mill stuff into something very personalized, and it changed the whole atmosphere of the wedding. I felt confident in Jenny where I was, under her friendly guidance, the guests were all engaged- in fact I felt they were emotionally connected with the proceedings. Jenny brought it all together and it made me feel like there was a whole other element to a wedding day that I had totally overlooked. I feel that this was the element that Jenny brought to our wedding. It could, very easily have been lost by anyone other than the most dedicated, professional and expert marriage celebrant.

Your choices, wishes, ideas and vision all inform the design of your wedding ceremony and the level of formality. Within the ceremony package you choose there are many possibilities.

Wedding traditions comprise many and varied customs. These are merely the reflection of the history of the people and cultures concerned. They can therefore be creatively tailored to suit your own circumstances and situation. There is no right and wrong beyond doing what comes from the heart and is authentic to you.

You may choose to have a traditional wedding, or you may choose to have a particular type of wedding or incorporate elements from a range of types of weddings in yours.  You may choose to have a secular ceremony, as do most Australians who choose to be married by a civil celebrant.  Or you may choose to have a ceremony that reflects your own spirituality. This may be something as simple as acknowledging connection to the land, perhaps through a formal acknowledgement of the traditional owners, or it may be something more personal.

As a secular humanist civil celebrant I do not include religious references in your ceremony unless you specifically ask me to
do so, so you won't be blind-sided on the day by religious content you were not expecting. However, unlike some other countries, having a secular ceremony is from personal choice of the couple, not because of any legal prohibition that applies to civil weddings.  If you wish, your ceremony can be spiritual in nature, evoking a sense of the sacred without resorting to religion. And if you wish you may include religious references, prayers, readings and music in your civil ceremony.  Where you yourselves are not religious but someone important to you is, this can be accomplished in a number of ways that are not intrusively obvious to guests who are not religious but which lend an air of familiarity to the ceremony for those who are. This is also a way to acknowledge dual religious heritages within a secular (non-religious) ceremony.

Backyard Weddings

A backyard wedding can be a casual setting for a casual wedding, or it can be as elegant and sophisticated as you wish - it all depends on the backyard and your vision for your ceremony. For a couple who want a simple no-fuss wedding the backyard or deck can be the ideal solution.

Bilingual Weddings

You may choose to celebrate your marriage using one or more languages other than English. This can be something as simple as a reading in the language of the bride or groom's heritage, the bride and groom speaking from the heart to their parents, or a fully bilingual ceremony in which the various parts of the ceremony are repeated in the second language, or translated. If both the bride and groom speak English, but some of the guests do not, a translator can be used. Where the bride, the groom or one or both of the official witnesses do not speak English, the law requires that an official interpreter be used at the ceremony. 

Testimonial from Leigh and Francesc, who married in a bilingual English and Catalan ceremony which celebrated both cultures.
Our friends and family all commented on how impressed they were by you, our celebrant. They were impacted by the uniqueness of our ceremony and how it  'touched all bases' regarding our love, marriage, us, family, etc. You were truly 'there' from day one, making the legal requirements a breeze and your accessibility for questions or concerns was second to none. The process you have in place for the preparation of our ceremony was so impressive and provided an opportunity for us, not only to assist in writing our ceremony, but, in reflecting upon and our love, and intentions for marriage and the wedding was more thorough and useful than our pre-marriage counselling in many regards! We chose you after being dissatisfied with our original celebrant and you did not disappoint! You were way beyond!! Jennifer, you truly understand, convey, and commit yourself to the intensely important nature of marriage and your role in solemnising marriages. You are also just a very articulate, diligent, warm, committed, intelligent, thoughtful, accessible, competent, person. We highly recommend you and thank you for making our ceremony special, modern, inspired, inspiring and blessed. Thank you and our very best wishes to you for lots of joy.

Buddhist Weddings

There is no specific Buddhist wedding liturgy. Wedding customs differ from country to country and the type of Buddhism practised. The conscious intention brought to the ceremony by the bride and groom is of primary importance and can be enhanced by the choice of rituals. The vows can express Buddhist principles and the Five Precepts, which offer a framework for a successful marriage. The Four Blessings can also be included in the ceremony.

Celtic Weddings

Celtic weddings incorporate pre-Christian elements. A Celtic wedding can be specific to your heritage, incorporating Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or Cornish customs. Common inclusions are handfasting, the four elements of air, water, earth, and fire, and jumping the broom.

Chapel Weddings

If your vision for your wedding is a traditional ceremony, but you do not wish to marry in a church, you might choose to hold your ceremony in one of the non-denominational or secular wedding chapels available in south-east Queensland. While a few chapels are purpose-built, the majority are small deconsecrated churches with traditional 19th century architecture, wooden pews, a central aisle and an altar on a raised dais.  A chapel wedding will include a formal processional and a formal recessional and may also include formal seating of the parents just before the wedding starts. As an indoor venue a chapel wedding affords opportunities to include rituals such as the Unity Candle, and is particular appropriate if you wish to have a military wedding or include some religious content in the ceremony.

Child-inclusive Weddings

Whether you are a couple with children, a couple whose marriage will form a blended family, or proud grandparents who want to include the grandchildren in their ceremony, a child-inclusive wedding will enhance the joyfulness of the day.  Including children in your ceremony can greatly enhance the meaning of your ceremony and strengthen relationships with the children.

Cultural Weddings

As long as the minimal legal requirements are observed your wedding can reflect the traditions of a particular culture. For some couples this may be the only option open where a legal religious wedding in a particular tradition is not available to them in Brisbane. For others incorporating traditions from their heritage can add immensely to the ceremony. This might be something as simple as sharing wine in the Chinese tradition, tying the bride and groom's garments together and taking the seven steps in the Hindu tradition, or being crowned in the Orthodox tradition, or the ceremony can follow closely the traditions of wedding ceremonies in your culture.

Earth-Friendly (Green) Weddings

An earth-friendly or eco-friendly wedding is all about the choices you make to ensure that start your married life without damaging the environment or contributing to global warming.  Making socially conscious choices  can save you money too.  You could choose a local ceremony site, such as a park or garden, that is complete in itself, thus minimising carbon emissions and have the ceremony and the reception at the same place or in easy walking distance from each other. You also can express your commitment to the environment in the wording of the ceremony, by choosing recycled rings (perhaps purchased as estate items or passed on down your family), and by skipping the ceremony program.

Fusion Weddings

As the world grows smaller, fusion or multicultural wedding ceremonies are becoming more popular. A fusion wedding is a wedding that includes elements from multiple cultures in a sensitive and mindful fashion that avoids appropriating rituals that have no meaning to those attending the ceremony. As your celebrant I will work with you to find the commonality in various cultural customs, traditions, rituals and ceremony elements and draw those common elements together to create a holistic ceremony in a way is respectful and meaningful, and enjoyable for everyone.

Testimonial from Gina and Kevin, whose relaxed Bayside ceremony
melded their Taiwanese and Irish cultures
Hi Jenny! A very big THANK YOU for your services Jenny, words can't describe how good it was, you  made my dad cry and that's hard to do. Everyone enjoyed how funny and interesting it was, some are still talking about it, Tosh went as far as saying "it was the best ceremony he has seen". The look on Andrew's face when you mentioned" bridesmaid" was so funny! He was still getting stick the day after. I would definitely recommend you to anyone and I can see why you have won so many awards. Gina and myself had a great day from start to finish and we are so happy we found you to wed us Thanks soooo much Jenny!


Handfasting is a Celtic tradition going back to pre-Christian Pagan times. It involves the binding together of the couple's hands. This evolved from the handshake into the joining of all four hands crossed in the centre to create a sign of infinity. It can be used as an Engagement or Betrothal ceremony signalling intention, or incorporated as a ritual in any marriage ceremony before the vows to signify the couple's agreement to marry, or the whole ceremony can be based on modern interpretation of the ritual. A handfasting can also be used as part of a commitment ceremony or a renewal of vows. It adds a a spiritual aspect to the ceremony outside of specific religious tradition. In a Celtic wedding the colours of the ribbon or cords have individual significance.

Hawaiian Weddings

With its sub-tropical climate Brisbane is the perfect place to have a Hawaiian style wedding - on the beach or beside a swimming pool in which frangipani or orchids are floating.  Leis, flowers for the women, fragrant and green leaves for the men and a sand ceremony (an Hawaiian innovation) are features of a Hawaiian wedding, as is casual (and colourful) clothing.

Humanist Weddings

In the very deepest sense all weddings are humanist expressions of the intentions of two people to enter a covenantal relationship based on mutual respect and mutual love. A Humanist wedding is non-religious. It celebrates human values and natural human spirituality based on a human sense of integrity without reference to any supreme being, but it is not anti-religion. Australia is one of a very small number of countries in which you can have a legal Humanist wedding. In most countries the only way to have a fully secular wedding is to be married in the Registry Office, Town Hall, or Courthouse. But this means a stock-standard ceremony. A Humanist wedding ceremony has meaningful secular or non-religious content with a very personal focus, which makes the ceremony relaxed and comfortable and allows for light-hearted moments as well as solemn and serious ones. Because it is an inclusive ceremony, emphasising those things that are common to humanity, whatever the beliefs of your guests might be no-one present will feel excluded.

Inter-Cultural Weddings

Where a couple comes from two different cultural or religious backgrounds both can be celebrated and incorporated. With careful planning the traditions and customs of both cultures can be seamlessly integrated to create a meaningful and thrilling experience forging a powerful bond that will resonate ever after in the lives of the couple and their families. In other words, I ensure that we work through the ways your different wedding traditions might interact with one another, empahising the concept of unity. I've performed numbers of ceremonies celebrating various combinations of Australian, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, American, French, German, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African, Jewish, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Maori, Pacific Islander, Hindu and Muslim heritage, to name just a few. The ceremony can be entirely secular, spiritual or include elements of the religious traditions of either or both families.

Inter-faith Weddings

Specifically blend the bride and groom's religious traditions. In all other aspects an inter-faith wedding is similar to an Inter-Cultural Wedding.

Irish Weddings

An Irish wedding incorporates Irish customs and symbols. Common symbols are the shamrock, the celtic cross, the Tara brooch, Claddagh rings. The ceremony might include Irish music played by fiddlers and/or pipers, traditionally worded Irish blessings, special coins, an oathing stone, and the Celtic loving cup.

Jewish Weddings

Where one or both of you is Jewish but you prefer a civil ceremony, your ceremony can honour and incorporate Jewish traditions, using the Hebrew language in relevant parts if you wish. Whether you want to put the Oy Vey into your wedding ceremony, or take it out of it, I can accommodate your needs.

Mediaeval Weddings / Medieval Weddings

A Mediaeval Wedding is a theme wedding that revolves around a particular historical period. While sourcing appropriate clothing is relatively easy, finding a suitable location can be more difficult. You may have to resort to using decorations and props to create a mediaeval ambience. Careful choice of music  and musicians is important. The ceremony will be formal, using language reminiscent of the time. While Australian law requires a certain form of words to be included in the vows, those words are not out of place in a Mediaeval Wedding. 

Military Weddings

A military wedding simply involves military participation in a traditional and very formal marriage ceremony. The distinguishing mark of a military wedding is that the groom and members of the wedding party who are serving members of the armed forces (Officers or NCO rank) wear their uniforms and the bride and groom exit under an arch of swords or sabres. The type of uniform depends on the time of day and the formality of the wedding. If a serving member, the bride may also wear her uniform but most opt for the traditional wedding gown. Boutonnieres are never worn with uniforms, but decorations are.

Pet-inclusive Weddings

Your pets are an important part of your family. Including them in your ceremony can add an element of fun and playfulness to your ceremony. Dogs can play a significant role in your ceremony. I will work with you to ensure that that role is appropriate for your dog's personality and attention span.

Scottish Weddings (also referred to as Tartan Weddings)

Celebrating your Scottish heritage in your wedding can be both romantic and soul-stirring, a feast for the eyes (the tartan) and the ears (the skirl of the bagpipes).  Wonderful traditions that celebrate your heritage include a piper leading the bride in and the newly married couple out, touches of tartan and heather and thistles in bouquets,  age-old rituals such as the sashing of the bride, the use of a quaich, handfasting, jumping the besom, and suitable readings in Scots dialect or from Scottish authors.  I wear  a sash in my clan tartan or the more generic Flower of Scotland tartan with an elegant black outfit. You can go all the way with the kilt and sash, and I can enhance that by creating a ceremony that is traditional in all aspects, we can incorporate selected elements of the traditional Scottish wedding in the ceremony, or we can take a subtle approach to referencing your heritage. It's up to you.
more information about my Bluebonnet Tartan Weddings ...

Spiritual Weddings

A spiritual wedding is rich in symbolism and tradition, evoking a sacred or divine feeling within the context of the marriage ceremony. Because spirituality is based on individual experience what it means is highly personal to you. Your spiritual ceremony may therefore express a universal understanding,  incorporate your personal earth-centred spiritual beliefs or be a non-denomational ceremony with non-specific references to the divine. Inspiring and beautiful readings that are universal and not necessarily connected with any particular religion can be included.

Surprise Weddings

A surprise wedding is a family-oriented alternative to an elopement. You minimise the stress of the wedding but have your family and friends present at the ceremony. Generally the wedding is held in conjunction with another celebration - your child's naming, a housewarming, or some other festive occasion or family gathering that is given as the rationale for the gatherin. The Australian Marriage Act requires that both parties must give real consent to the marriage both in the process leading up to the ceremony and in the ceremony itself, and therefore, while it is legal to surprise your guests it is not legally possible to surprise either the bride or the groom.

Theme Weddings

Theme weddings add originality and excitment to your wedding and are a hot trend at the moment. While all weddings are, in a sense thematic because the theme is the wedding, adding a unique subject matter will tie it together. A theme wedding can add flair, originality, fun and excitement to your special day, and will actively involve your guests in creating the atmosphere. You can use a theme to link to your romantic history as a couple.  Your venue may suggest the theme, for example a wine theme for a wedding held in a vineyard, or you may draw inspiration from your wedding date, a historical period, personal interests, hobbies, favourite movies, novels, even a storybook fantasy, a particular culture or your honeymoon destination, anything that you feel will stamp your wedding with your combined personality as a new couple.

True-Blue Aussie Weddings

Koalas or kangaroos at your wedding, didgeridoo music or bush ballads, bush poetry, an outdoor setting surrounded by gum trees or rainforest, and a laid-back ceremony. Any or all of these ingredients can make for a very memorable occasion.

Unstructured Weddings

For those who would prefer a much more relaxed and informal ceremony with a spontaneous, I offer an unstructured ceremony conducted round a table at home, a picnic table in a park, or in your favourite cafè, restaurant, pub, or bar, over coffee, high tea, a meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or a glass of your preferred tipple, or just in a very relaxed manner sitting doing nothing in particular. NB I don't expect to join in the meal - my focus is on you!.

An unstructured ceremony is not an unprepared ceremony. I don't just turn up on the day and wing it. Rather, it is a ceremony that I facilitate. The ceremony will include the minimal words the two of you must say in order to create your marriage and the passage from the Marriage Act that I, as your celebrant, must recite. The rest is whatever you decide - anything from a free-flowing conversation, spontaneous promises and 'let's see how it goes on the day', to formal promises you write yourselves (with my help if required) combined with conversation, or, indeed, whatever you feel is the best way to express your love and commitment. And at the end of the day you'll be just as married as you would be after a traditional big white wedding, but with far less stress.

Vintage Weddings

The word "vintage" when applied to a wedding means that the wedding will have the look and feel of the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and maybe the 1960s, with the most popular being the 1950s, probably because of the very flattering fashion silhouette of the time, the full skirted, small-waisted silhouette introduced by Christian Dior in 1947. Known as the “New Look” it signaled the end of post-war austerity by its lavish use of fabric. As with furniture, theme weddings from older periods in history are identified by the era – so we have Edwardian, Victorian, Elizabethan, and Mediaeval themed weddings, for example. While, strictly speaking, a 1920s themed wedding could be called vintage because that era is less than 100 years ago, it is more commonly referred to as a Roaring Twenties themed wedding.

In order to decide what aspects of the period you want to feature in your wedding it is necessary to understand how weddings were done in the period

Visa Weddings

Where one party to the marriage is a foreign national entering Australia on a Prospective Marriage Visa (Fiance Visa) the wedding is required to take place within 9 months of his/her arrival.  Such weddings may be conducted in very simple English or with the assistance of an Interpreter if required.

As celebrant I can provide the required letter and other documentation regarding the arrangements for the wedding that authorities require as part of the visa application process. There is an affordable extra charge for this service.