Announcing Your Marriage: The Transition of Exchanging Rings

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Although you are married the minute you have exchanged the legal vows (and I love that moment of transition as only we 3 know it’s happened), it is tradition to hold off announcing your marriage until after the rings are exchanged.

Once this has happened I can turn to your guests and pronounce you married, or as husband and wife. If in fact that is what you want me to announce. I need just say: “Congratulations!” but it is nice to enjoy a moment when your change in status is defined. This is the moment when you can be announced as married partners/ your commitment in marriage is declared/ your intent to live together in marriage is cemented – you can play around with the words if you want to get away from tradition.

However it is after this declaration that I say “ You may kiss (the bride)!” - a moment everyone seems to be waiting for. Again this is optional – you can leave it out or say something different.

After the applause dies down you sit quietly to complete the legal formalities – i.e. sign the documents. You and your two witnesses over the age of 18 must sign 3 documents in my presence – an elegant, commemorative certificate which you keep ( proof and souvenir of your marriage), the register ( the celebrant’s book) and an ordinary-looking form which is your official certificate of marriage that goes to Births Deaths and Marriages. A woman will sign all 3 in her existing name. At BDM your official certificate is processed along with your Notice of Intended Marriage. You can apply for a copy of the certificate ( i.e. purchase it ) from BDM. It is essential to get this copy as it is proof not only of your marriage but of your ID. You will need it anywhere you have to prove your identity – e.g. when changing a name on legal documents like licenses and passports. It is also worth mentioning that there is no obligation for a woman to change her family name after marriage. Getting a copy of your official marriage certificate keeps your options open. For men as well as women!

After the signing is complete you are introduced to your guests as “Mr and Mrs”, or “a married couple”, “married partners” – or whatever appellation you choose – and usually you will walk back down an aisle or just step forward to meet your guests who will be wanting to congratulate you.

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