A wedding ceremony can be vastly different from one couple to the next, but there are certain traditions that have withstood the test of time. You’ll definitely want to exchange rings, state your vows and share your first kiss. Even so, there is room for personality in every ceremony. Your ceremony can be short and sweet or lovingly longer. It can be formal or casual. It can be religious or non-denominational. The look, tone, and content of your ceremony can and should be personalized to fit you and your fiance.
Create a style for your wedding ceremony that represents who you and your fiance are as a couple. For example, if you’re simple and earthy have an outdoor ceremony with minimal decor. If you prefer a more polished, sophisticated look, opt for an indoor wedding ceremony with a classic color palette and more elaborate florals. Consider the following factors as you decide on a look for your event.
- Location: This is the single most influential decision you will make for the look of your ceremony. Do you have a “special place” you want to get married? If you want your ceremony outside, do you want it in a field, a garden, by the lake or under a tree? If you want it indoors, do you like the look of a museum, warehouse, hotel ballroom, barn or historic home? There are so many options, you just have to determine what fits you and your event best.
- Type of Seating: Hay bales, benches, folding chairs, mismatched antique chairs, and church pews all give a different vibe to your ceremony. Decide what goes with the atmosphere you are trying to create.
- Decor: Ceremony decor can include a guestbook table, aisle decor, alter decor as well as many other miscellaneous items. Including decor that means something to you, like Grandpa’s writing desk as the ceremony table, can really bring personality to your ceremony look. Remember more is more, but less is more sometimes too. (Does that make sense? Haha) Also, choose florals that reflect what you like. Some people just don’t like roses, for example, and it is totally fine not to use them.
- Wedding Party Attire: You can really make a statement with what you and your wedding party wear during the ceremony. The color palette, pattern, style, and level of formality accent the look of your ceremony.
Tone can be further described as the mood, the feel or the atmosphere of an event. The two major elements that contribute to the tone of your wedding ceremony are your music and your officiant.
- Music: Choose music that means something to you. For example, I had “Amazing Grace” play during the unity ceremony at my wedding. Everyone says it’s a funeral song, but it is one of mine and my grandmother’s favorite songs, so now it’s a wedding song! The song playing during your exit is a great opportunity to show some personality. You can also have family or friends preform during the ceremony for another personal touch.
- Officiant: The officiant you choose will set the tone for how religious or not your ceremony will be. Go with a church pastor, youth minister, religion professor or priest if you want a traditional service. There are many other options if you want a more non-denominational ceremony. Either way, it is usually best to choose an officiant that knows you well; it helps calm the nerves. Make sure you discuss whether or not you want stories, jokes and audience participation included in your ceremony.
The substance of your wedding ceremony says a lot about what you and your fiance care about and the message you want to send the world about the commitment you are making to each other. That sounds intense, but your officiant should be able to guide you through the process.
- Readings: Pick quotes and/or Bible verses that you love. It can be the quote on your fridge magnet that you live by every day, a lyric from a favorite song or something that’s stuck with you from a book you read years ago. Your officiant can help you if you don’t have a set quote in mind but know the essence of what you are trying to say.
- Your Vows: Some of you may opt to personalize vows by writing your own. This takes time and thought, but allows you to say exactly what you want. For those of you that tend to get emotional or think you may get really nervous, it may be best to stick with vows provided by your officiant.
- Unity Ceremony: A unity ceremony symbolizes the union of two individuals into one marriage. Not everyone decides to do a unity ceremony during their ceremony, but if you like the idea, you have a lot of different options. For example, you can do a candle lighting, mix colored sand or water, plant a tree, break a loaf bread or braid a cord of three strands. We’ve even had a couple take a shot of bourbon for their unity ceremony! You can be as creative as you want or go with a classic option.
My number one piece of advice for you is to be unapologetically yourself. Don’t give in to outside pressures to portray an idealized version of yourself for your guests. Embrace your individuality and your identity as a couple by personalizing your ceremony to your taste. It’s okay to adhere to standard practices, but empower yourself to skip any tradition that you don’t like, don’t believe in or don’t care about.
Feature photo by Jessica Moore Photography.