Wedding Ceremony Ideas & Inspiration

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Ceremony Ideas, Wedding inspiration, Wedding Tips & Info

Would you like a personalised wedding experience but need some wedding ceremony ideas?

In New Zealand there are very few legal elements required for your wedding ceremony and your YBD celebrant will always take care of those. The rest of your ceremony can be completely unique to you and include any elements you like. At Your Big Day we’re not sticklers for tradition, in fact we love to break the rules and give your ceremony a personal twist!

So, you have lots of freedom to make your wedding ceremony totally ‘yours’. Great… Or maybe, a bit overwhelming? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favourite wedding ceremony ideas and extra inspiration to help personalise your wedding day…



There are many different ways to approach the idea of sand mixing in your wedding ceremony.

You can use two different colours of sand to represent the two of you as individuals, and mix them to symbolise the marriage you are creating together. Another option is to use or add multiple colours of sand to represent the most important aspects of your relationship/marriage. Families might include additional coloured sands for children to take part too. There’s also the option to include your bridal party, parents or official witnesses in your sand mixing ceremony.

The sands are mixed in a see through vessel during the ceremony so that everyone can see the layering effect it creates. Your celebrant might talk about how your marriage is a unique blend of the different elements represented by the different coloured sands and how each layer supports the other. This wedding ceremony idea leaves you with a beautiful keep-sake piece of wedding art for you to display at home.

signed wine bottle for wedding ceremony in Queenstown New Zealand

2. wine box

Wine lovers will love this wedding ceremony idea as a great excuse to buy a bottle of your favourite drop.

There are various ways to approach the wine box idea, but typically they all involve locking a bottle of wine in a box during the ceremony with the view for everything to be un-boxed and opened on a specific future occasion. This might be after you resolve your first fight as a married couple, when you celebrate a milestone anniversary, or on your first night in your own home.

You could choose to add the date, location and your signatures to the label on the bottle and there’s an option to add other notes or sentimental items to the box for safe keeping too. With this ceremony idea the wine will eventually be used up, but you can keep the box to pass on as a family heirloom.


3. lucky dip WITNESS draw

Legally you must have two witnesses to sign your New Zealand marriage paperwork (learn how to get your licence and paperwork here). Your witnesses must be able to understand what’s happening during your wedding ceremony and the legal documentation that they sign. Friends and family members are allowed to be your witnesses, but how do you choose only two?

Our favourite wedding ceremony idea for choosing your wedding witnesses is to play a lucky dip! Write down everyone’s names and pop them in a hat/jar/vase/whatever, and then you each draw one name during your ceremony. Your YBD celebrant can help you prepare everything in advance if you send them a list of the names you want to include. And if there’s anyone you really don’t want to be a witness, leave their name out… they’ll never know!


bride and groom dancing to celebrate after their wedding ceremony at Jack's Retreat in Queenstown, New Zealand


All wedding ceremonies are different and not all of them will even have music. If you’re eloping on a mountain top you might prefer the sound of nature to a portable speaker. But, music can be a great way to personalise your ceremony and keep you comfortable with some familiar sounds. Choosing music that’s meaningful to you will also allow you to relive special moments again as you re-listen to your wedding ceremony playlist long after your wedding day.

Our recommendation is to choose five songs: one for your wedding entrance, two for signing the paperwork, one for your wedding exit, and one for your first dance. You might not want or need them all but these are the key moments that work well with music for many other couples. And don’t think about choosing ‘wedding songs’, simply choose songs that are special to you. At YBD weddings we’ve heard everything from punk to pop and house to hip hop!


ring bearer boys and groomsmen hold wedding rings during wedding ceremony in Queenstown, New Zealand


This wedding ceremony idea is perfect for big and small weddings and a great way to include kids too. Some or all of your guests will take turns in holding your wedding rings during the ceremony. Your YBD celebrant will ask everyone to think about their love and best wishes for you as nearly-weds as they hold the rings. The love creates energy which warms your rings and so after you exchange them you’re not only reminded of your connection to each other but also to everyone present who helped to warm your rings. 

Think about who you want to include in your ring warming ceremony. It could be all your guests, just your bridal party, just the kids, or key individuals such as parents. For large groups your celebrant can introduce the ring warming at the beginning of your ceremony so that guests can pass the rings around as the ceremony continues. This way your rings will be ready for you to exchange towards the end of your ceremony.


Gay wedding with two grooms lighting a unity candle during wedding ceremony at Stoneridge Estate in Queenstown


 This is another unity ritual which can be personalised to suit you and what you wish to symbolise during your wedding ceremony. The overall idea is that there are always three candles, two small candles to represent you and your partner, and a larger candle to represent your marriage. First, you light your own candles individually, then use those two flames to light the marriage candle. The act of lighting one candle from two flames symbolises two people becoming one in marriage. Some YBD couples have also added extra candles to represent their families to begin the process. 

Of course this wedding ceremony idea is more weather dependent than others as lighting candles outside on a windy day isn’t easy. It’s important to know that if the candle lighting doesn’t quite go to plan on the day then the symbolism does not need to be lost. You could have a backup plan such as a hand fasting (see more info below).


7. hand fasting

This is an ancient Celtic ritual which has been adopted and adapted in many different ways for modern wedding ceremonies. The idea is that your hands are tied together during your wedding ceremony to symbolise the two of you becoming one in marriage. There are no rules about what to tie your hands with, when in the ceremony to tie and untie them, which hands will be tied, and who who will tie them… It’s all completely up to you.

Some YBD couples have used different materials and different colours to represent different aspects of their relationship or the key ingredients/promises for their marriage. Other couples have chosen to tie just one hand each and keep the other hand free to exchange rings, hold vows, or represent their remaining individuality not to be sacrificed in creating their marriage. 


Bride and groom exit their wedding ceremony after a champagne toast in Queenstown, New Zealand


This wedding ceremony idea is a fun and boozy way to conclude your ceremony and transition into party mode for your reception. Ask your caterer (or enlist some friends) to hand everyone a glass of champagne during the register signing part of your ceremony. Once you’re all signed up to married life and everyone has their glasses ready your YBD celebrant or a guest of your choice can make the first official toast to you as newlyweds!  

If you’re opting not to have speeches during your wedding reception then this part of your wedding ceremony could be the only chance for anyone to raise a toast in your honour. And if bubbles isn’t your thing then feel free to choose your favourite tipple instead.



We’ve all heard of the “first kiss”, but at Your Big Day we love the ideas of a “first selfie” during your wedding ceremony! Put on your best newlywed smile and snap a selfie to mark the moment. You might want your selfie to be just the two of you, include your YBD celebrant, or gather up all your guests to get involved too. Most professional photographers will send you a sneak peek of your wedding photos within a few days after your wedding, but with your first selfie you’ll have a little snapshot of that special moment immediately. For larger groups be prepared with a selfie stick or put a bit of distance between you and your guests to fit them in the frame.



You don’t need to wait for your ceremony to finish for the party to start at a YBD wedding. How about this awesome wedding ceremony idea of having shots with your witnesses after signing your marriage paperwork? You can pick your favourite poison, cheers, and down it in one! It’s a quick, easy and fun way to have a mini celebration within your already awesome wedding ceremony.

Shots on the mountain top for winter heli-wedding have the added bonus of warming you up from the inside too. Your YBD celebrant can provide a flask and cups for you but you can also order your own and have your wedding details engraved to create a unique wedding day keep sake.


Picnic box for Queenstown wedding couple in New Zealand


This wedding ceremony idea is inspired by an African wedding tradition which began with the Yorùbá people. During your ceremony you’ll taste four different flavours which represent four different stages of the marriage you are entering into on your wedding day: sour, bitter, hot and sweet. Think of it as an alternative to “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer” etc with the added benefit of some excellent facial expressions as you tickle your tastebuds.

The sour element highlights the imperfections of marriage and your commitment to supporting each other no matter what. Traditionally the sour flavour is lemon but you could also use sour lollies or kimchi. Feelings of rejection, denial and jealousy are represented in the bitter element. Vinegar is the traditional flavour here but you could use unsweetened cocoa or kale. The hot element represents the passion in your relationship and your commitment to express the desires at the very depth of your core. A taste of cayenne pepper is the traditional but you could substitute that for jalapenos or spicy flavoured potato chips. And finally, you’ll conclude with the sweet element to symbolise how all the efforts of the bitter, sour and hot phases are worth it in the end. Traditionally honey is used for this element but you could choose any sweet treat you like such as strawberries or even ice cream!


bride and groom wave to the camera during wedding ceremony at Winehouse in Queenstown, New Zealand


If there will be any friends or family missing on your wedding day then there are still lots of ways to include, honour and remember them during your wedding ceremony. They may be unable to make the celebrations due to travel restrictions, financial constraints or no longer being with us in this life… But you may well want to do something to help you feel closer to them on your special day.

There are so many ideas for including missing or lost loved ones in your wedding ceremony that we’ve already written a whole blog post dedicated to this one topic here

Are you planning a Queenstown wedding and want to know more about working with Your Big Day to create a fun and awesome ceremony?

Contact us today to check pricing and availability.

Photos included in this post with big thank to:

Williams Photography
Kate Roberge Photography
Kellie Francis Photography
Carla Mitchell Photography
Dawn Thomson Photography