Weddings 101: Ceremony

It’s so easy to get caught up in cake, flowers, and the gown that couples forget to spend the time {or are too worn down from planning without a planner!} to put the necessary thought into their wedding ceremony! Well – no worries! We have you covered. So, pour yourself a glass of wine and read on for all the little details you should consider! Officiant The officiant sets the tone for the ceremony, and the energy for the guests. They spend time speaking about the two of you in front of those that know you best. If a more personal vibe is what you envision, consider asking an officiant (pastor/minister/etc.) that you’ve known forever, or a family member or friend that is ordained (or would be willing to get ordained online!) They can speak to who you are and how they know you or your fiancé; they may have personal stories of you or the two of you together that can add significance to the meaning of your big day. If you prefer to hire an officiant, consider your budget. You likely won’t meet the least expensive day-of officiant until your wedding day and there is generally no personalization. If your budget allows, select someone who is willing to meet with you a couple times to get to know you so that they can personalize the remarks.

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Ceremony Location Will your ceremony be indoors or outdoors? At a church or another venue? Be sure to consider the location when determining your ceremony details. Consider that you want an additional 10% seating on top of your anticipated attendance so that the seating is not so restrictive. If you’ve landed on an outdoor ceremony, make sure to have a back-up plan in place in the case of inclement weather and consider the elements for your guests. Will they be in direct sun? Will it occur during a time of year where they may get cold? You can consider many possible items to help make their experience outdoors more enjoyable – water bottles, bug spray, sunglasses, umbrellas, wraps or blankets always add a nice touch and solve the favor dilemma! You may consider posting your program on a chalkboard or in another manner versus physically handing them out if you are outside. You wouldn’t want the wind taking your ceremony details right from their fingertips!

Structure and Length How do you want to structure your ceremony? Do you want music during the ceremony itself? Readings? Are there any other special moments that would highlight the unity of you and your fiancé or your families? In general, you will typically see 1-2 readings and 1-2 music spots throughout the ceremony itself. When considering alternatives to prayer readings, think of favorite sayings, book excerpts or poems. It could even be something written by a close family member or friend where they can share their thoughts/memories of the two of you and the significance of the moment. Finally, be sure to discuss your desired length with the officiant so he/she can help you tailor the ceremony to fit your needs.

Music Do you prefer live music or piped music? There are many live musicians available that are very experienced with weddings, from as simple as a harp or acoustic guitar to a string quartet. Consider your venue’s capabilities and size as you look to book live musicians, including the musicians’ electrical needs, if any. The music selections also give you the opportunity to continue to personalize your ceremony, if you choose to do so. Movie soundtracks and popular tunes are very popular, whether you have live music or not.

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Seating Will you seat the bride’s friends and family on the left and the groom’s on the right or will you let guests select the side they would like to sit? Consider a different type of seating arrangement if traditional isn’t your style (and if you aren’t in a church). You could conduct your ceremony in the round, or have multiple aisles.

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Processional/Recessional Don’t forget about parents and grandparents as you plan your processional. How will they get down the aisle? Are they in the actual processional or will they be escorted before the processional begins? Also, consider what order you want the wedding party to process in. Do you want the processional to be traditional, with bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down in pairs, or the groomsmen at the front with only the bridesmaids walking down the aisle? Or, do you want to mix it up and have them each walk down individually? Or, maybe you want them to process down the aisle as a pair and also stand as a pair? Should they exit the same way they came in or differently?

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Vows Do you want to write your own or use those provided by your officiant? Make sure you and your fiancé agree on how you both want to approach your vows. They are such a meaningful moment during the ceremony. If you want the personalization of writing your own, make sure your officiant has a copy on hand, just in case you forget. No matter how intimate the ceremony, make sure your officiant is mic’d and able to hold a microphone for you as you recite your vows. It’s the best part of the ceremony so we want to make sure your guests can hear!

There you have it, our wedding ceremony pearls of wisdom! Remember, if planning this special day all of your own seems stressful to you, our weddings team has your back!

Photo credits from top to bottom: Photogen Inc., Rivets & Roses, Lace/Hanky, pixelposey, Canary Grey,Laura Ivanova.