One of the things I feel is always missing from wedding blogs is any discussion of the actual ceremony, which we sometimes forget is the most important part! The invitations, reception, decor, small details, dress, and all the rest are only possible because of the ceremony itself! It was hard for me to know how to proceed with the ceremony because of the lack of advice around the internerd. So, I put together a little list of helpful suggestions for planning a meaningful and beautiful ceremony! Enjoy!
1. Even if you are having a traditional ceremony with a minister in a church, make sure to personalize even small portions of the ceremony. If your church won't allow textual or vow changes, consider choosing to have favorite songs played in lieu of a traditional processional. We walked down the aisle to "The Book of Love" by The Magnetic Fields, and exited to "I Believe When I Fall in Love (It Will Be Forever)" by Stevie Wonder. Or ask if you can add a reading, and find a meaningful poem or excerpt. A.P. and I chose to incorporate three poems, two of which had meaning and one which we discovered together. The three poems we chose were "I Carry Your Heart with Me" by e.e. cummings, "Our Union" by Hafiz, and a stanza translated from Rosemonde Gerard's "L'eternelle chanson."
2. Write your own ceremony or add small personalized sections. A.P. and I chose to write our entire ceremony. Okay, I'm the writer, so I wrote it. But it wasn't easy. It's not the sort of thing I'm accustomed to writing! By far, the best resource I found for this was The Wedding Ceremony Planner by Judith Johnson. It has a number of different versions of the major portions of a wedding (e.g. gathering words, exchange of vows, etc.). I loved it because I could take sort of mix and match what I liked. I also used portions as jumping off points for things that I wrote (like the moment of silence, in which we especially honored A.P.'s mother, who passed away during our engagement). It was a super, super helpful resource and if you are planning on writing your own ceremony, I cannot recommend this book enough!
3. Have a friend marry you. If you are not particularly religious and you're thinking about using a justice of the peace, I highly encourage you to think about having a friend marry you. We had my friend since high school marry us. I chose her for a lot of reasons, but the primary reasons included the fact that she lived here, has known me since I was a kid, and has welcomed A.P. with open arms since the day she met him. She always makes sure to include him and when his mother died, she gave him a big hug. It was the nicest thing. We got her ordained through The Universal Life Church, which is quick, easy, and free! (If you're unsure about the marriage laws in your state, check out their website. They have a great state-by-state breakdown. You can view it here.) Having a friend marry you really makes the entire thing so much more intimate and special. If your friend is your minister, awesome. If not, and you're not religious, I urge you to consider this option. It's not nearly as hard as it sounds. And...it's free (though we did buy our friend a pretty pearl necklace as a thank you)!
4. If possible, keep it short. Though this is the reason everyone has gathered, it's still the hardest to get through for many people. Often times, people can't see or hear what's happening, and sitting still for a long period of time isn't always the most fun thing. Plus, if you are having an outdoor ceremony, you have to consider how long you're asking people to be in the heat and sun. Plus, you don't want to stand for that long (especially if you're wearing heels). It's nerve wracking being up there in front of everyone, I'm not going to lie. So, keep it sweet, meaningful, but err on the short side.
6. Write your own vows. We actually did both traditional vows and we read something we wrote. (I thought A.P. lost his, but we recently found them! I promise I'll share that story one day.) Writing our own vows was awesome. How often do you really get to tell the person you love why you love them and how much in front of everyone else that you love? That's a whole lotta love! And yes, I cried. I'm a wuss, remember?
And of course, the most important advice of all...
7. Savor every moment. You really can't believe how incredibly quickly the whole day goes by!
PS. Be sure to check back in next Wednesday! I'll be offering readers a discount code on a bridal website!