When you’re planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. Things like wedding favors, flowers, and seating charts can quickly take all of your attention. Although those details are important, remember to focus on the wedding ceremony, too. After all, it’s the main event! Adding your personal touch to the ceremony will make it unique and memorable for years to come.
Your wedding planner or officiant can offer guidelines for a typical wedding ceremony, but don’t feel obligated to stick with the routine. Whether you’re planning a traditional service or a casual celebration, there are many ways to customize your ceremony to fit the overall vision for your day. Here are 10 tips:
1. The Entrance Music. First of all, consider your overall wedding theme. Are you going for a relaxed, personal feel or something more formal? Choose songs and instruments that will enhance the motif of your day. A casual wedding might include acoustic guitars strumming your favorite love songs, while a formal wedding could incorporate a 5-piece string ensemble performing classical pieces. Either way, if you can, opt for live music rather than a recording in order to give guests the most enjoyable experience.
2. The Seating of Family Members. Honor the members of your family by having an usher formally accompany them to their seats at the beginning of the ceremony. Start by seating siblings (if they’re not in the wedding party), then grandparents, then great-grandparents. The mother of the bride should be seated last, just after the mother of the groom. If a family member has passed away, remember her legacy by having an usher place a flower in an empty seat.
3. The Procession. Here comes the bride! …right after the rest of the wedding party. First, the officiant will lead the groom and groomsmen to the front. Next, your bridesmaids will enter, followed by the maid of honor. The ring bearer and flower girl enter just before the bride. Feel free to seat flower girls and ring bearers in the front row, rather than asking them to stand for the entire ceremony.
4. The Welcome. Once the bridal party is at the altar and the processional music ends, your officiant will kick off the ceremony with a few opening remarks. Talk to your officiant about what he or she will say. Do you want an explanation of marriage and the meaning of this important day? Do you want to incorporate a few childhood stories about the bride and groom? Decide what you want to be said (or not said) and offer some tips in advance.
5. The Songs. If you’re having a religious ceremony, congregational singing is a wonderful way to engage your audience. Choose your favorite hymns or songs and ask everyone to sing along (just provide the words in your program or via projector). If you want to feature a song as special music, make sure the lyrics fit the mood of the ceremony. Recorded music is prone to technical difficulties, so have songs performed live. Asking a musically-talented family member or friend to perform the music will make it even more memorable.
6. The Readings. Do you have a favorite poem? A favorite Scripture verse? Choose a reading that is meaningful to you and your sweetheart and ask a family member, friend or wedding party member to read it aloud during your ceremony.
7. The Unity Symbol. Lighting a candle. Mixing colored sand. Planting a tree. There are a variety of ways to create a unique unity symbol that you can feature in your home for years to come. If you’ll be blending families during your ceremony, consider inviting stepchildren to participate in the unity symbol. Presenting stepchildren with a token like an engraved necklace or bracelet is a beautiful way to incorporate them in your ceremony and to affirm your commitment to love them as your own.
8. The Vows. Writing your own vows is a great way to customize your ceremony. Consider what you’re promising to your beloved and highlight those commitments in your own words. If you’ll be reciting your own vows, make sure you’ll have adequate sound amplification so guests can hear the beauty of your words to each other.
9. The Rings. Your wedding rings serve as a visual reminder of the commitment you make on your wedding day. Keep them in a safe place before the ceremony and ensure that the maid of honor and best man have the rings before walking down the aisle. Consider engraving the inside of your wedding bands with your wedding date or a special note for your sweetheart.
10. The Kiss. To practice or not to practice? Whether you and your sweetie rehearse the nuptial kiss or just let it be natural, it’s important to talk about your expectations. Decide together if you want the kiss to be lengthy or short, hugging or just holding hands, etc. Talking about the kiss ahead of time will ensure a picture-perfect ending to your ceremony.
By Claire Molineaux Foster4