If we're being totally honest, an Australian wedding isn't too different from those in other parts of the world. Sharing traditions with British and American weddings, and with customs borrowed from countries and cultures all across the globe, an Australian wedding ceremony isn't totally unique. There are however a few things we have implemented that put an Australian stamp on our wedding ceremonies and receptions. From sharing an acknowledgement of country, to serving lamingtons, in this article we cover some of the traditions and customs associated with an Australian wedding ceremony and reception. 

What exactly is an Australian wedding?

Unlike the wonderfully iconic Indian wedding - with its elaborate rituals and multiple-day celebrations - or the Scottish wedding - where bagpipe music and traditional kilts steal the show - an Australian wedding is in many ways hard to define. Incorporating a blend of customs and traditions from various cultures across the world, an Australian wedding ceremony can vary in size, style and location.

Sure, we might have taken influences from our Greek populations, our British history or even our German roots, but in many ways, an Australian wedding ceremony shares similarities with those in countries across Europe, the US and the rest of the world. 

However, there are certainly some things we can say about Australian weddings. For example, the typical Australian wedding ceremony often includes the exchange of vows and rings, officiated by a celebrant or religious figure. Couples may choose to have their ceremony in a church, garden, beach, or other meaningful locations. But in general, the following traits apply:

There's a bridal party

The couple may have a bridal party consisting of bridesmaids, groomsmen, and other close friends or family members who play special roles in the wedding.

There's a white dress and a suit

The bride typically wears a white wedding dress, while the groom wears a suit or tuxedo. However, modern couples may choose attire that reflects their personal style and preferences.

There's an exchange of vows

Australian weddings may incorporate rituals such as the exchange of vows and the signing of the marriage certificate.

There's a party 

After the ceremony, a reception is held where guests gather to celebrate the newlyweds. This often includes a meal, speeches, toasts, and hopefully some dancing!

There's a cake 

Cutting and sharing a wedding cake is a common tradition in Australian weddings. The cake is often elaborately decorated and serves as a centrepiece during the reception.

There's a nod to another culture 

Due to Australia's multiculturalism, couples may incorporate elements from their own cultural backgrounds or those of their families. This can include traditional music, dances, or customs.

There's a recognition of First Nations peoples

Many Australians also recognise traditions from our First Nations people at their weddings. Whether it's simply an Acknowledgement of Country, or a longer and specialised ceremony, this is another element that lots of Australian weddings share.

 

Planning an Australian wedding ceremony -traditions and customs 

So while there is no fixed concept of a 'traditional Australian wedding', there are certain symbols and rituals that hold significance and continue to be cherished by Aussies.

The real question is then, in what ways does Australia uniquely celebrate the sacred union of marriage? Allow us to share some of the Australian wedding ceremony and reception traditions and customs that you could embrace at your upcoming wedding!

1. A stone ceremony

The Australian stone ceremony is a unique indigenous tradition in Australia. Each casting a stone into a flowing river, the ceremony symbolises the commitment of the newlyweds to remain together as life's journey flows around them. The flowing river serves as a metaphor for the continuous movement and changes that occur in life, meanwhile the stones represent the couple's solid and enduring bond and connection. 

It is also thought that the stone ceremony is inspired by Celtic traditions. Used by early settlers and convicts in Australia who couldn't afford rings, the stone ceremony was implemented as a symbol of the wedding promises made. 

2. A smoking ceremony 

In modern Australian weddings, the integration of a Smoking Ceremony tradition has become less common. However, you will find that in certain regions within Australia, this wonderful ritual still stands. So, if you're hoping to celebrate Australia's ancient history during your special day, this might be a place to start. 

Originating from ancient Aboriginal practices, a smoking ceremony typically entails the burning of fertility herbs and healing plants. As a result of the burn, a fragrant cloud of smoke is produced which makes for an incredible atmosphere at any event. During the smoking ceremony, the aromatic smoke is gently wafted over the newly married couple, by the person holding the ceremony. Believed to invoke blessings of longevity, fertility, and the birth of healthy children, the smoke makes for an exciting spiritual addition to any Australian wedding ceremony. 

 

3. An inclusive walk down the isle

In most of Western society, it is customary for brides to be accompanied exclusively by their fathers when walking down the aisle. However, in Australia, many couples have decided to turn tradition on its head.

Removing the patriarchal tradition and considering a more updated and modern society, it is common for women to be walked down the isle by both of their parents. 

In doing so, Australian wedding ceremonies honour the significance of the mother as well as the father. You'll find that this symbolic gesture not only reflects the unique Australian wedding tradition but also speaks volumes about the modern values and inclusivity that young Australian couples uphold. 

 

4. The unity bowl 

At Australian weddings, the unity bowl is a cherished tradition that adds a heartwarming to an Australian wedding ceremony. During this part of the day, a couple will come together with close friends and family members and fill a bowl with rocks. 

But it's more interesting than that! The rocks in the bowl symbolise each persons' unwavering support for the newly married couple. What's more, the stones themselves often come in various colours, representing the different families and people involved. If you're interested in personalising things a little more, you can also request that each person labels their rock with the names, patterns or messages.

Although this unique ritual has been passed down through generations, it's not actually clear where it comes from! However what we can say is that if you're looking for something traditionally Australian for your big day, then why not incorporate this?

 

5. Territorial acknowledgement

Everyone knows by now that the acknowledgement of country is important at any event or gathering in Australia. Showing recognition of the past, present, and future, a territorial acknowledgement is a positive and traditional Australian wedding custom you shouldn't forget.

6. A different kind of wedding cake

Forget the cake - if you're having an Australian wedding, why not bring in the lamingtons?

Every Australian knows what a Lamington is, with its vanilla sponge cake which is sliced into squares and coated in chocolate and coconut flakes. So if an Australian wedding is on the cards, you can tone up the Aussie by serving lamingtons on your big day. 

 

7. Family heirloom

Mostly practiced in religious backgrounds in Australia, you'll find that if you go to a wedding in a church in Australia, the Bible is passed down to the next generations. 

In religious families, the bible - representing a cherished family heirloom - is passed down, becoming the newly married couple's responsibility. In taking part in the tradition, they promise to read and take care of the Bible, until they pass it on to another pair of newlyweds (possibly their own children). 

8. Nutbush City Limits

If you thought that everyone in the world heads to school to learn the Nutbush City Limits dance, then you're mistaken. 

Australia stands out as the sole country globally where the Nutbush City Limits dance is exclusively performed. The lively line dance is taught in school gyms across the nation and has gained immense popularity, becoming a staple at Australian weddings. Isn't it crazy how things happen?

With its widespread familiarity, the dancefloor is always filled whenever the Nutbush is played, as everyone knows the iconic moves!

Australian wedding stationery by Peppermint Press 

At Peppermint Press, we create timeless wedding stationery worthy of a place in your love story. With our ceremony booklets, seating charts, welcome signs and more, you'll make a impactful first impression and create a strong wedding brand.

Learn more about our wedding stationery here. 

December 19, 2023

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