Week 9: The ceremony and the run sheet

On your wedding day, timing is important.  Wrangling a huge crowd of partially intoxicated, distracted and hyperactive guests away from your ceremony venue, into allocated seating and onto the dance floor is not an easy job – so a good run sheet for your MC and celebrant is absolutely essential.

P-WEDWhere’s the reception? Is the bar open yet?

There are many good examples of running sheets online – such as this one or this one (which is probably too detailed, but you get the idea).  In hindsight, ours was probably a bit over the top with detail but it probably helped settle my nerves to write down exactly how I wanted the day to run.  Here it is – feel free to use it as a template for your own wedding.

Running Sheet

I wrote a little about the ceremony in one of my earlier posts about finding a celebrant – hopefully by now you have found an awesome celebrant and have an idea about who you would like to give a reading, which music you want when you walk down the aisle and how you would like to be announced.  If you are getting married outside, make sure your celebrant has a PA system and a decent set of speakers for music so your thoughtful choice of words and lyrics are heard by your friends and family.


Rap battle ceremony.  Drop the mic, I’m out

Now is also the time to write down exactly what you want to say in your vows and practice them so you are less nervous on the day.  The same applies for guests giving readings – give a copy of the readings to your guests early so they won’t feel awkward about speaking in public if they have had a month or two to mentally prepare and practice.

Importantly, if you are adamant that you do not want to be introduced as “Mr and Mrs (insert partner’s first and last name here)” make sure you tell your celebrant how you would prefer to be introduced as a couple.  Most civil celebrants should be flexible enough to say whatever you tell them, except for specific requirements to ensure your marriage is legal, which is summarised nicely here.

Some ceremony advice based on experience from my own wedding and as a wedding guest –

1. Make sure you have the option to get married undercover in the event of rain

2. If it looks like it will rain, put someone in charge of bringing a few umbrellas

3. Test your PA system and have enough extension cords or battery power to see you through the ceremony

4. Don’t ask anyone to give a reading that is longer than 3 minutes – your guests will be bored and you will be too

5. Save the french kiss for your wedding night and spare your guests the trauma of witnessing your tongue wrestle

6. Find someone trustworthy to hold on to your wedding certificate!

AP135A pink feather quill pen is optional for LOLs


Week 3: The guests, the bridal party and celebrant

Take a piece of paper, a pen and your partner and together write down everyone you know – family, school friends, work friends, other friends, acquaintances.

If it is important to you, now is the time to also ask your parents (and siblings) who they would like to invite.

Now you hopefully have a huge list of names you can work with to make your guest list.


Guest list, not guess list

We circled names of those we had to invite (family), those we felt obliged to invite (family friends) and those we really wanted to celebrate with us (our friends).  Somehow we ended up with about 100 people, it was terrifying.

We sourced addresses from families and contacts from Facebook and sent a ‘save the date’ photo message with text using Over. Then we prayed that not everyone would RSVP considering we only gave 10 weeks’ notice for our guests to arrange time off, travel and accommodation in order to attend.

Around this time we discussed who we wanted to have in our bridal party.  Our decision to have a small group (best man, maid of honor, bridesmaid, groomsman and two flower girls) was unintended but ultimately worked out very well because we had to choose dresses and suits for everyone with only a couple of months up our sleeve. So, if you are planning a wedding in 12 weeks as well, I recommend keeping your posse tight.


Small bridal party = less drama

My partner had a great idea to put the guest list and addresses into Google docs, which then became our wedding planning database.  We added columns for phone numbers, addresses, RSVP’s received, dietary requirements etc.

A separate spreadsheet for our budget with contact details for wedding vendors and amounts was also very useful as we could check off when bills were paid.

It is important to find yourselves a registered celebrant at least a couple of months before your wedding day.  In Australia you must complete and lodge a notice of intended marriage application at least one month before getting married.  This is usually done soon after booking with your celebrant.  You must also both have evidence of the date and place of birth (i.e. your birth certificate) or a valid passport if your were born overseas, and current photo ID, in addition to evidence of previous divorce or death of any spouse (if applicable).  Getting hold of our original birth certificates also meant asking our parents to dig through their filing cabinets to track them down.  Organising the paperwork to complete the notice of intended marriage application took a couple of weeks, so we were glad we found our celebrant early!

Our celebrant was Kim-Maree Summers, who was professional, relaxed and very experienced.  I was very lucky to find her on Google.  She is passionate about her work and was awarded Australia’s number 1 celebrant the year we got married!  I strongly recommend meeting with your celebrant as soon as possible – it is important you both have some rapport when them and can meet a few times before your wedding day to discuss the ceremony to ensure there are no disasters or surprises.

Planning the ceremony was a lot harder than I anticipated – it took us a long time to decide on vows, readings and music.  Amidst the wedding planning craziness, it is important to take time out to work on your ceremony together so it will memorable and special.


Organising the chair covers was the easy part

Around the time of choosing your celebrant, also consider who you would like to be your MC for the reception.  My advice for choosing an MC is to find someone who is reliable, organised and a confident speaker and unlikely to get too emotional, drunk, controversial or embarrassing at your reception.  Find someone you know well who won’t take the opportunity to use the microphone to broadcast their political agenda, preach a sermon, advertise their business or offend your guests.  Your MC should make everyone feel comfortable, relaxed and happy.  I also believe the MC role shouldn’t just be limited to older uncles – a young or female MC can also do the job just as well.