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  • Writer's pictureChloe Jetson

Paying Respect - Incorporating an Acknowledgement of Country into your wedding

This article was first written for Ivory Tribe, and published on the 21 April 2021.

Choosing a super special place to say your I-Do’s is often top of the list when you begin planning a wedding. It may be a place already filled with memories for you and your family or somewhere so stunning it quickly captures your heart. Or maybe it’s simply the most on-point venue with the classiest cocktail list and epic views.

Whatever your scenario, it may be important to you to consider the history of the land you stand upon and the many layers of memory existing there.

If so, choosing to include an Acknowledgement of Country in your wedding ceremony is an appropriate way to show your respect for this country’s history and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as First Australians and custodians of this land.

Whilst we do not speak for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we’d love to share the research we have found and the ideas we have learnt to help you incorporate an Acknowledgement of Country respectfully into your wedding ceremony.

Image by Be Here Be Now, taken on Yorta Yorta Country.

What is an Acknowledgement of Country?

Wurundjeri and Ngurai Illum Wurrung woman Georgia Mae Capocchi-Hunter explains that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture is based around respect for each other, for Lore (a concept comparable to Western “law”) and for land.

Anyone can say an Acknowledgement of Country, Indigenous or not, and in doing so demonstrates respect for the traditional custodians of the land, their history and of the land itself.

Because Aboriginal culture considers the land a living entity, “Country” is often capitalised.

Why would I consider including an Acknowledgement of Country at our wedding?

Many couples choose to include an Acknowledgement of Country in their ceremonies these days, for many reasons. Some may be personal, but fundamentally it is about paying respect and demonstrating an understanding of Aboriginal people’s unique position in our country and culture today.

We think it’s important that every couple make their ceremony their own. However, making a deeper connection to the place you have chosen to make these incredible promises may add another layer of importance and meaning to the epic memories you’re creating.

How could we incorporate an Acknowledgement of Country?

Celebrants will often include an Acknowledgement of Country towards the beginning of the ceremony, often on behalf of the couple. If you’re getting married in a church, or it doesn’t seem appropriate for your ceremony, your MC could incorporate this into their welcome.

There are different variations on appropriate wording, with some useful suggestions and information here.

Here is an example that could be used:

As we begin the celebrations today, [Couple] wish to acknowledge the custodians of this land, the people of the [Aboriginal region] nation and their Elders past and present. [Couple] acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Celebrant, Aisle Meets Annie, has some wonderful examples of Acknowledgement of Country shared on her website. You can find her examples here, and they’re a wonderful reflection of how it can be incorporated into your ceremony.

It’s also important to determine who the traditional custodians are of the land you are holding your ceremony. We find this map easy to use and accurate.

Some couples choose to research the cultural beliefs and practices of the custodians of that land to deepen their acknowledgement. This can also provide some relatable, interesting context for your guests, which never goes astray! Below, we’ve added some links to help you get started if you want to explore this.

All you need to remember is to be respectful in your language and tone, and if you’re unsure, reach out to one of these organisations and simply ask.

If you would like to do further research, we found the following links helpful when researching to write this post.

Image by Be Here Be Now, taken on Yorta Yorta Country.

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