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Why do a good ceremony when a mediocre one will do?
What difference does it make?
They are just as married aren't they?
How can you be more married than married.


A celebrant on another forum implied that it does not matter whether the celebrant was good or bad, as long as the couple are "legally married". This is an attitude prevalent among some celebrants. (avoid them if you can for obvious reasons).
This is an important question because it asks — why should a celebrant do the best marriage possible - when a mediocre one will do ?
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This celebrant's actual letter is below (name changed). It is a warning to couples -
one celebrant is not as good as another.

My personal reply to him
"You can be more married than (legally) married."

Silas, I read your submission on this forum and I wonder if you would be open to a different opinion?

My understanding is that the law is not the marriage. Marriages have existed for thousands of years. It is only in our recent culture that the law records the marriage. The words "legal marriage" only mean that the marriage has been recorded in law for custody and property purposes, and for the general ordering of society. And in Australian culture legal marriages do not have to be recorded, – a de facto Marriage is the equivalent in law of a recorded marriage!

More married psychologically.

I maintain you can be "more married" psychologically. Those couples who choose to co-create, with a sensitive celebrant, a ceremony which has substance and meaning, alter their psyche to a greater extent. They feel a deeper conviction about the commitment they have made. In their preparation of the music and the poetry and the prose and the symbolism and so on, they gain a deeper understanding of their marriage ceremony as a rite of passage wherein an inner change takes place. They think of themselves in a more profound and extensive way. This is the basis, by the way, of the argument in favour of celebrants co-creating and delivering the best wedding they possibly can for each couple. The best ceremonies give the most psychological strength to the relationship. And as Dr John Gottman says, the best memories sustain relationships during the tough times.

More married socially.

I also maintain that you can be "more married" socially. In a wedding of substance, family and friends witness the commitment. Couples organise this for a purpose. They invite the supportive "peer pressure", if you like, of family and friends. We are very influenced by what those around us think of us. We want them to think about us as persons who keep our word, who really give our best shot to making a marriage, not only work, but one which is happy in itself, and will generate happiness to all family and friends involved.

More married culturally.

I also maintain that you can be "more married" culturally. Each wedding which draws on the best of all the visual and performing arts — everything from a beautiful venue, to the finest music, plants the wedding, in the minds of all the members of a society, as the flagship ceremony of the culture, and marriage as the basic institution which is the primary component of the culture.

These are the reasons why Lionel Murphy, our founder, wanted Australian civil celebrants to provide the best ceremonies in the western world - it is the reason why every celebrant should aspire after "Best Practice". The bottom line is that we strengthen relationships and increase the sum total of human happiness.

The Code of Practice for celebrants.

And, Silas,if you need a legal basis for this, and I hope you don't,
you will find it in the Code of Practice No 3-

"Recognition of significance of marriage
A marriage celebrant must recognise the social, cultural and legal significance of marriage and the marriage ceremony in the Australian community, and the importance of strong and respectful family relationships."

Dally Messenger III

Letter of Silas the Celebrant.

For me I would not bat an eyelid with marrying the couple, as long as it is legal of course!
It is not for me to say who can and who cannot be married.

I am a believer that it doesn't matter what I think about a couples situation - married is married. Are a couple who have a 'bells and whistles' wedding any more or less married than the couple who opt for the bare legal wording and a couple of witnesses? No - married is married. I charge the same for both.