How to Make Your Wedding Ceremony Stand Out
This week a couple asked me what typically happens in a ceremony and how they could make their wedding unique.
Below is a brief outline of a typical ceremony and some of the fun things we could do with each section. Not every section is required or needs to be followed, except for the one part where you both consent to getting married!
Processional: Some brides prefer to walk in alone, together with their future spouse, or with family members. Music plays a huge role, since no one is going to be talking while the bride (or groom!) is walking. You could have a pretty arrangement of your favorite song performed live or since I'm a composer, I could write an original track for you to walk down the aisle.
The Officiant's Opening Remarks You've heard the cliche said a hundred times: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..." Or some start by saying, "Friends and family..." Depending on how you like it. I tend to lean into an inclusive, "Welcome all," or "Welcome Everyone." One wedding I did started with a poem that revolved around welcoming everyone. Sometimes after a brief introduction, a family member or someone in the bridal party will have a prepared reading. It could also come later depending on what the reading is.
The Officiant Addresses the Couple Typically this is where I'll transition into telling your story of how you met, how important the moment is that we're in right now, and what the impact is of your love for each other is in the future. If there are any intertwined themes here they would be included as well. We can make it as funny or sentimental as you'd like. I like to lean into some of the more fun stories here since it can get more emotional as we get into the serious moments.
Sometimes there will be a symbolic ceremony we perform, like a "Unity Candle," or "Unity Wine," where you would take two objects and make them one. So for example, there would be three candles, two smaller ones that the both of you would have lit beforehand, and then you'd at the same time light the bigger middle candle. The last wedding I did, the couple were coffee drinkers, and they mixed coffee and milk together so symbolize their marriage and represent that once milk and coffee are mixed together, they can never be undone.
The Exchange of Vows - The one truly legal part!! Your vows are your promises to each other. You may repeat the familiar "to have and to hold, for better or for worse" vows, or recite ones you've written yourselves. This is something that I can write for you, or you can write for yourselves and share in the moment. Again, some people like to have some lighthearted promises mixed in with their serious ones.
The Ring Exchange As you exchange rings, you typically say, "With this ring, I thee wed." Also, you can choose to write something else, or I can share some other phrases. We can include a little bit about the ring here too, especially if they are made of something unique like wood or another sort of precious metal and how it affected your choice. Perhaps there's a special engraving on the rings you'd like to share.
Pause - I like to take a moment here to make sure you and your fiancé have a moment to look into each other's eyes before the madness of the rest of the day ensues and give you both time to think about your futures. It's a moment to reflect on your love and have a mental note to save this juncture in your mind forever.
The Pronouncement of Marriage The officiant makes it official ("I now pronounce you husband and wife"). Again, we can phrase this in a few different ways, but it's tied into the Kiss too.
The Kiss And now the moment everyone's been waiting for: your first kiss as a married couple. I'll phrase this however you want, the last couple I worked with wanted me to say "You know what to do next" to keep it light-hearted and non-traditional. I know this can be a bit overwhelming, but that's what I'm here for to break it down and make it what you'd like.
The ceremony tends to feel like it goes by pretty quickly when we're in the middle of doing it. On average it takes about 20-25 minutes from processional to recessional.
Ultimately the day is yours and we can work together to make the ceremony as unique as you are. There could be cultural significance, heartfelt stories, or just plain fun. Maybe even a combination of all three!