Wedding ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve attended both as a guest and as a wedding officiant for many couples over the years, and the one constant in all weddings is they are all different from each other. Although a wedding ceremony may consist of the same basic traditions such as blessings, music, vows, rings, a kiss, etc., they are all unique to the people involved and the way they express their love for each other.
If you have ever been married, or are planning a wedding right now, you know that creating a wedding ceremony is exciting, scary, funny, emotional, and intense. It’s one of the most vulnerable moments of your life. You are standing in front of everyone you know, sharing your heart and baring your soul. So what are you supposed to say up there?
Here are some ideas from wedding ceremonies that I have witnessed that perfectly captured the day for couples and those who attended their nuptials. Hopefully some of these ideas will give you food for thought for your own wedding ceremony.
- Tell your love story: The best way to express your love for each other is to tell your love story. How did you two meet? When did you feel the butterflies? When was the first kiss? These little romantic anecdotes build and strengthen an emotional connection between you, your spouse and everyone else in attendance. They invite your audience to understand how you arrived at the alter in the first place and why this relationship is so special. You do not need to go into a great amount of detail. Just accentuate the highlights of your relationship. Use funny short stories and memories, describe each others personalities and why you make a good fit. Be sure to include stories from each of your loved ones as well, which brings me to my next point:
- Include the people who got you there: We all know when we get into these big, important relationships we can’t do so without turning to our closest friends and family for help and support. Many times our closest friends/family know our love stories the best. So instead of waiting until the reception for your best man and/or maid of honor to give their toast include them in your ceremony. Have them stand and speak about your relationship. It can be funny or heartfelt or whatever you deem is appropriate for the special day. I was at a wedding where the bride’s brother and cousin spoke about the bride meeting her future husband, and the husband’s sisters also spoke about their budding relationship. It was filled with laughter and great stories, but it also broke up the serious tension of the ceremony. Or if your family and friends do not have a comfort with public speaking (as many people do not) then you can include them yourself by specifically thanking them during the wedding ceremony. A wonderful way to honor your relationship is to honor the people who gave you the love and support to get you there in the first place.
- Vows: The vows are the heart of the wedding ceremony. You must stand in front of everyone and verbally commit to treating this one person a certain way for the rest of your life. What on earth should you say? This is where I would suggest you check in with yourself. All of these emotions are swirling around so it’s best to give them all a voice. What do you honestly feel? Scared, hopeful, excited, terrified? Express them all. Be honest. If you do not feel comfortable saying something like “till death do us part” then don’t say it. Just say what’s in your heart. Be practical. Many times people are bringing their day-to-day activities into their vows, because let’s face it, that is where the real experience of marriage happens. I’ve had couples say they will never watch “Game of Thrones” with anyone else. It’s funny, it’s true and it’s also something that is part of their actual lives together. Plus if either one are ever caught watching GOT with another, then they have grounds for a divorce (just kidding). So sticking with truth, humor and love makes for vows you feel comfortable saying because they are practical, honest and realistic.
- Accentuation’s: Wedding ceremonies have changed quite a bit over the decades. The reading of bible versus, poetry, or music with candle lighting is not seen as much. The traditional wedding march has been replaced with wedding parties dancing down the aisle to popular rock music, with the bride being the last dancer to boogie on down. However any of the above ideas add a bit of what I call “accentuation’s” to a ceremony. The little touches highlight the fun, emotional, or religious/spiritual aspect of a ceremony. It’s important to remember to include them, but only if they make sense for you and your soon to be spouse. If the symbology of candle lighting is an important aspect in your union, then be sure to include it. If a spiritual quote or religious verse is a strong reflection of your beliefs then be sure to have it spoken during the ceremony. It seems many people like to skip these little extras in an effort to get the ceremony over with a bit quicker, but in my opinion it is best to savor the moment and do everything to make your wedding unforgettable.
Weddings are a magical, wonderful celebration and happen once in a lifetime (ok for some they happen several times in a lifetime). The point being the ceremony should reflect who you are, who your soon to be spouse is and what your relationship means to both of you. In my experience, making your wedding ceremony as personal to you and your loved ones is key. It heightens the emotions, the humor and the love that abounds during a wedding. By paying respect to your own love story, acknowledging the important people in your life, creating personal and powerful vows and accentuating the magical aspects of your big day you will create an unforgettable wedding ceremony.