As the wedding officiant around here, one who is proudly celebrating my 5th year as happy presider of wedding ceremonies—- I would love nothing more than to offer a few wedding ceremony tips from my years as an officiant, and from years working behind the scenes at BBP! Some of the Best Ceremony Tips are lighthearted, some most serious—- all given to help you create the wedding ceremony of your dreams! All weddings are welcome here! Read on!
- NEVER take yourselves too seriously. You did not invent weddings, yours is not the best or the biggest and others will come along after you have said I Do. Your intention should be to be lighthearted, to be able to laugh at yourselves, and most of all to have a good time!
Your ceremony will very likely not be perfect. Sorry, but that’s simply a fact. Things happen. Things you didn’t expect and probably didn’t foresee. Some things happen and are taken care of by a great wedding day team so that you discover the incident after the I Do’s. But, in the eventuality of the ooooops, laugh. Take a breath. Enjoy the moment. It will at the very least give you something to remember years and years from now and at best be that first moment that as a married couple you stood together and handled a curve ball with laughter and calm.
Your officiant should probably not be a friend—- but a trusted and caring professional. This officiant should be willing to work with you and bring your words, your personality, your ‘flavor’ into the ceremony and not rely on canned words or phrases that are used all the time with other couples.
2. Never lose sight of the fact of the Big Deal! The Big Deal is that at the end of the day you’re married! When you are able to keep focused on the main thing, the rest of the day just goes a little easier. The other things become a lot less important than the Big Deal! Focus on the two of you, on the joy!
3. Your ceremony should be about YOU— who you are as individuals, you should hear your voice in the ceremony. It doesn’t have to be a ceremony of a certain length, saying what you want to say and including special friends or family should all be part of it. If you love a certain poet, include that poetry, if you love a particular scripture, include that. If your Aunt Suzie plans to sing and dance please include that! Your ceremony is the vital part ahead of the party—- the part of the day that will usher the two of you into the rest of your lives.
4. No matter where your ceremony is going to be held, be present with each other in that spot! For example, when I officiate I always take a second off mike to look at the couple as they arrive in front of me for their ceremony. We take that moment for the couple to move closer to each other, to join hands if they are comfortable with that, to look into each others eyes and assess the gravity of the situation. “Here we go!” The couple above had been planning an outdoor ceremony, but as frequently happens, life intervenes. Rain happens, situations change so that the best laid plans become the plans that didn’t happen. Plan B ensues.
4b. Have a Plan B. Plan B doesn’t have to be tightly held, it’s Plan B after all because —-oh please, you don’t want it to happen. But if it does, you’ve planned for it, you’ve thought about it, you’re okay with it. Be of good cheer, it is what it is.
5. Refer back to #2……………
6. You don’t have to write your own vows. In all honesty I’d say of the many couples I’ve married, about 70% write their own vows and the rest of them want to use traditional vows. Note: the phrase “traditional vows” is relative! Make sure that your officiant can determine exactly what you mean, and then further, that your ceremony is exactly what you want when it’s all said and done.
When you write your own vows they should sound like you as well. Your officiant can give you points to get you started if you’re stuck. They don’t have to be super long, but they should say what is in your heart. I suggest that couples purchase ‘vow books’ that are carried, and that they can more elegantly open and read from. In this way, you don’t have to memorize your vows or worry about flubbing your words. You’re going to be nervous, and that’s okay. Don’t set yourself up to be even more nervous!
It’s not uncommon that a couple asks me to ‘check’ their vows, a task I’m always happy to do. Sometimes one or the other of the couple is afraid that they have written 4 lines and their soon to be spouse has compiled a phone book. When you have an impartial third party you smooth over and such notions, and the couple doesn’t necessarily have to share their words with each other before the big moment has arrived.
7. If one of you are planning a big surprise or a funny moment, please at least warn your partner! I officiated a wedding last year where during the vows the bride took a moment, a very long pause, reached down and under her gown and came out with a flask. While it was worthy of a chuckle, almost every guest thought, ‘oh my goodness, she’s gonna run!!!!’ Surprises are great, spontaneity is wonderful, but temper that with a bit of warning. Whew!
8. Part of making the ceremony YOURS is to have the freedom to incorporate any traditions or Pinterest moments into your own ceremony. Whether that is a sand ceremony, tying the knot, jumping the broom, assembling the frame, whatever you want—– do it. I warn you to practice it first. And more than once. Because life happens, right?
9. Keep your guests involved in your ceremony with a program especially if your ceremony doesn’t benefit from a microphone. Even an officiant with a loud and carrying voice (cough,cough) may not reach your grandmother, or the back two rows. Your guests want to know what’s happening even if they can’t hear every word.
10. No matter whether your wedding ceremony will host hundreds of people, or just an intimate affair with the two of you it should be SPECIAL. Don’t be afraid to take the time to create a ceremony that says exactly what you want to say to each other, communicates your relationship now and the one you want to have in the future, and shares who you are as individuals, as parts of a family and in a community of friends.
I’m going to leave this here, and it’s for the grooms. Don’t be afraid to have YOUR moment! You can walk down with the officiant of course, or walk with your parents, or with someone special. OR, just maybe………….. you take that time for yourself, have your moment! Walk down that aisle, wherever it may be, alone! Dance a little, strut your stuff, wave to your family and friends, shake hands with your people, stop to kiss your grandma————- do what you would like. Because it’s your day too!
At the end of the day you want everyone to feel like they’ve just attended the best wedding ever, but most importantly the warmest, most personal and certainly joyous occasion ever!
I can’t wait to work with even more amazing couples this year, to find out what kind of ceremony they would like to have and to make their dreams come true!
***If you, a friend or family member is planning your wedding, WE’D LOVE to hear your story, chat about your I Do’s and be part of your Wedding Day Team! MAYBE even be part of officiating your ceremony!!
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