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And today it almost always also reflects the individuality of the couple, the words and music being appropriate and meaningful to the bride and groom, considering their beliefs and their particular situations. This is accomplished by discussions before the big day between the couple and the person who is officiating at the service.
Ministers of many church denominations will often conduct ceremonies outside their churches, while independent marriage celebrants can conduct both religious and non-religious ceremonies.
Whether the couple select a minister of religion, an independent marriage celebrant or an organisational celebrant, a date that suits all parties should be finalised fairly quickly, given the strong demand for celebrants at particular times of the year. Churches and other popular venues might also be booked far in advance.
Some couples will also want to arrange pre-marriage courses (often run by churches for those intending to marry) before the big day.
If it is to be a ceremony in a registry office the registrar can be contacted at the Justice Department for an appointment to arrange a date and time for the ceremony. Registry offices provide a personal service which meets the needs of couples in the area they serve.
But, whatever the choice of ceremony, it should be a mix of dignity and celebration. And, with thoughtful planning it can be all this, shaped by the words and music to be meaningful to every couple.
Different denominations and faiths have varying views on divorcees having a religious wedding. Widows and widowers can, however, choose the ceremony they want.
Apart from any religious restrictions, a second wedding can have all the traditions and formalities of a first wedding.