Your top 6 wedding ceremony questions answered

by | Apr 18, 2023 | Ceremony Ideas, Wedding Tips & Info

All the answers to your most important wedding ceremony questions…

The music starts, eyes lock, worlds intertwine and after all the bridges and bumps that brought you here, you finally make it official. Oh, and the kiss – don’t forget the kiss. Your wedding ceremony is one of the biggest parts of your big day, so it’s a no-brainer that you want it to be as special as your love story. 

Not only does it set the tone for the rest of your wedding celebrations, your ceremony is a chance to tell your wedding story in a way that reflects you and yours. And although it’s the impromptu moments that will make it memorable, being prepared will make the real deal a breeze. Which is why we’ve pulled together the top six wedding ceremony questions we hear the most, from the order of events to writing your vows and all the good bits in between.

So without further I-do’s…

How long should a wedding ceremony be?

When it comes to how long a wedding ceremony should be, it’s all about balance. You want to give yourselves enough time to fully celebrate your love, while also allowing time for other important aspects of your day. Elopement ceremonies typically last around 10-15 minutes, while full wedding ceremonies generally run between 20-30 minutes. This allows you to enjoy every step in your ceremony, while also giving you plenty of time to chat to your guests, take photos, steal some food from passing platters and enjoy the day with your loved ones.

Ultimately, the length of your ceremony is ultimately up to you. Whatever your call, your chosen celebrant will work with you to craft a ceremony that fits you better than Cindy’s glass slipper.


bride and groom spray champagne with their bridal party in Autumn wedding at Winehouse in Queenstown, New Zealand

What is the typical order of events in a wedding ceremony?

When we say ‘typical’ order of events, we don’t mean mandatory. Write that down. We’re big advocates of restyling tradition with a creative ceremony that’s tailored to your unique love story, but hey – you’ve got to know the rules to break them, right? While the wedding ceremony order of events might look a little different depending on your cultural, religious, or personal preferences (or if you’re eloping!) here’s what your basic ceremony run-sheet could look like:

  • Pre-ceremony welcome and wedding party entrance. Your celebrant welcomes your guests and takes care of the housekeeping nitty gritty’s before cueing your chosen music for the wedding party to make the grand entrance down the aisle.
  • Ceremony introduction and love story. To set the tone for your ceremony, your celebrant will  reflect on your love story so far and acknowledge the significance of the marriage commitment you’re about to make. You may choose to throw in a reading or poem, include the kiddos or shout out to your fur babies along the way.
  • Vows and “I do”.  Here’s when you and your partner share your vows and collectively make the entire guest list weep. Whether you’ve chosen traditional or personalised vows, here you’ll say ‘I do’ to the love of your life. Don’t worry, we’ll always be well stocked with tissues for the happy tears.
  • Rings and first kiss. Your celebrant will invite your ring bearer forward and guide you through exchanging your rings. Once you’ve slid the rings onto each other’s fingers, your celebrant will give the green flag for your first smooch as a married couple. The trick here is just to keep kissing and give your photographer lots of time to get “the shot”.
  • Signing of the marriage paperwork and closing comments. There’s a bit of breathing space here for you to soak everything in and have a quick chat while some background music plays and your witnesses sign your marriage paperwork. You and your partner will dot the i’s and cross the t’s too before your celebrant invites you to get ready for the grand finale.
  • Wedding ceremony exit and congratulations. Your celebrant will get the whole crowd on their feet and pumped before introducing you as newlyweds for the very first time.  More of your favourite music plays as you and your wedding party walk back down the aisle to a showering of rose petals from your nearest and dearest.

Don’t forget there’s still plenty of space to add to the mix with readings, quotes, songs, unity ceremonies, lighting candles for loved ones or anything else that tickles your fancy. Give your celebrant a bell to help you create a personalised wedding ceremony in NZ.

just married couple exit their ceremony with flower petal confetti from guests in Queenstown, New Zealand

Which song should I pick for my wedding ceremony?

Our best tip? Choose songs for your wedding ceremony that are meaningful to you, whether you’d find them on a wedding blog or not. We’ve heard everything from Lizzo, to Coldplay, to Jimi Hendrix and The Foo Fighters. At the end of the day, music can pack a big emotional punch, and can hold so much meaning for you and your partner. Whether it’s a favourite you’re already obsessed with, one with lyrics that make you sob, or a song with a special family connection, don’t be afraid to think outside the usual box. 

Live music or a Spotify special, it’s also worth considering the length of your entrance song for the sake of logistics. We highly recommend scheduling a rehearsal at your chosen venue to walk through the timings and cues before the big day. This will help everyone feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed, which  also leads to more natural and relaxed wedding photos. Side perk.

intimate wedding ceremony at sunset in Jack's Point, Queenstown, New Zealand

What are some popular wedding ceremony readings and poems?

Whether it’s a world famous love poem, an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh or a quote from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there are a huge number of options for wedding ceremony readings or poems. You can go with a serious or lighthearted reading, just remember to choose something that speaks to you two as a couple and means something a little extra to you. Also, think about who you would like to deliver the reading during your ceremony. This can be a great way to include some of your favourite people in a very special way. This is a moment that will mean the world to you, so make sure you find the words to reflect that.

Hot tip? Your celebrant will advise your readers to practise before the ceremony so that they feel confident and relaxed for their big moment on your big day. 

child daughter reads poem during mum and dad's wedding ceremony in Queenstown, New Zealand

How can I personalise my wedding ceremony?

This is our speciality. There’s beauty in a classically traditional wedding, and there’s beauty in personalising a wedding ceremony that reflects the two of you in all your glory. Here’s a few tips from us – or get even more wedding ceremony ideas & inspiration right here.

  1. Write your own vows: Writing your own vows is your opportunity to share your story, your love, your dreams, and your promises to each other in your own words. Make it personal – your celebrant can help, more on this below.

  2. Incorporate cultural or religious traditions: If you and/or your partner come from different cultural or religious backgrounds, why not celebrate that in your wedding ceremony? This is a great way to nod to your heritage and share your traditions with your guests.

  3. Include family members or friends: Your village raised you, so it only makes sense to include them in the ceremony – whether sharing a reading, singing a song or acting as your witnesses. Feel free to get creative.

  4. Create a unity ceremony: This is a symbolic and visible showing of the invisible but undeniable bond of marriage you are creating during your wedding ceremony. Some ideas include a unity candle which you light together, sand-mixing to create a new and unique design you can keep forever, or tying your hands together in a hand-fastening ceremony.

  5. Choose the right celebrant: Promise we’re not just tooting our own horn here – your celebrant plays a huge part in personalising your ceremony. So make sure you find someone who will listen to what you want, give meaningful suggestions and advice, and ultimately cater everything to you and your partner. Bonus points if they can spin a good yarn with your weird uncle over canapés.

Remember, your wedding day is all about celebrating you and yours and all the wonderful quirks that make you two pretty damn special. So get in there, get creative, and put your beautiful stamp all over your wedding day. And while we’re there, check out these 5 wedding traditions and how to break them.

maori couple wearing korowai and kissing at sunset overlooking  Queenstown, New Zealand

What should we include in our wedding vows, and how do we go about writing them?

Nothing makes your commitment personal like writing your own wedding vows. Whether you begin with traditional vows and end with your own, or write your own from start to married, this is your chance to speak directly to your partner and promise them the bottom corners of your heart. This is a big one, so take a minute to reflect on your relationship to date and what you want to promise each other.

Start by brainstorming your thoughts, and take note of key phrases that come to mind. Ask yourself what you love about your partner, and how you can support them in everyday life – the good days and the bad. Think of this as a love letter to your partner: tell them how you feel, and tell them all the ways you’ll put your love into action throughout your marriage. Make it personal with anecdotes that are meaningful to your relationship, or ditch the jokes and truly put your most serious heart on your sleeve.

Hot tip: If you’re unsure how long your wedding vows should be, there’s no perfect length. As long as you’re writing from the heart, you’re winning. Oh, and we’ve also got a bunch of templates on hand that will help you write your own wedding vows, available to all our nearly-wed couples. Get in touch for more info and resources.

two brides share their wedding vows during elopement ceremony in Queenstown, New Zealand

So there you have it, your top six wedding ceremony questions answered. If you didn’t find yours on the list, never fear – we’re sitting right behind this blog with a wealth of knowledge, just waiting for you to ask. Get in touch to discuss any questions you might have, and let’s find your perfect celebrant to make it official.


Photos from Your Big Day weddings with thanks to all the gorgeous newlyweds and…
Luisa Apanui Photography
Flint & Steel Photography
Kellie Francis Photography