#WeddingWednesday: Writing Your Ceremony
Before you get the party started on the dance floor, you need to actually get married. You can create whatever ceremony you feel best encompasses you and your fiancés relationship. There are no specific guidelines that you have to follow when creating your ceremony so we’ve put together some tips to help!
First, you should assemble your vows. The vows are the most important part of the day. For the first time, before all of your friends and family, you are promising yourselves to each other for the rest of your lives. This is what you are celebrating throughout the day and the day should revolve around that. Your vows can help you choose the tone for the ceremony. If your vows are serious, the ceremony should be serious. If they aren’t serious the ceremony should be more laid back.
After you have set the tone for the ceremony you should create a ceremony outline. Here is an example of a ceremony outline:
- Welcome: Brief statement from the officiant informing guests that the ceremony will begin shortly. During this time, the officiant could remind guests to turn off their cell phones and put them away.
- Processional: When everyone walks down the aisle. Oftentimes the grandparents of the groom will walk down the aisle first. Then the grandparents of the bride will go down the aisle. After that, the parents of the groom will walk down the aisle followed by the mother of the bride escorted by a male member of the family (brother of the bride, cousin of the bride, etc.). Then, the bridesmaids and groomsmen will walk down the aisle in pairs with the maid of honor and best man going last. The flower girl and ring bearer will walk down the aisle prior to the bride and father of the bride.
- Address: The officiant will address the audience and have free reign to talk for a little bit about the couple, love and/or marriage, if they desire.
- Reading: Someone close to the bride or groom will come up to read a selection. This is typically chosen by the bride and groom but sometimes they will give the reader the option to choose their own reading.
- Expression of Intent: The couple tells the officiant and your witnesses you are intending to enter into a legally binding marriage.
- Unity Ceremony: This is when you would choose to do the Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony, Tree Planting Ceremony, etc.
- Exchange of Rings: Bride will put ring on groom and groom will put ring on bride in front of their friends and family.
- Pronouncement: The officiant will pronounce you husband and wife, you’ll kiss and the officiant will introduce you as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time.
- Recessional: Everyone walks back up the aisle and out following the bride and groom. This is basically the opposite order of the processional.
After you have a proper outline for your ceremony you will want to fill in all of the missing information. What will you do for your unity ceremony? What will you say when you exchange rings? And of course, what exactly will you say when you exchange vows?
For the vows you can choose to take bits and pieces from poems, books, movies, video games, etc. or create vows that come from you. Whatever you do choose, make sure that your fiancé is on the same page so that you have similar formats and lengths of your vows. Personal wedding vows may be the popular choice but selecting traditional vows can be just as, if not, more meaningful.
If you choose to write your own vows, first check in with the officiant. Some religious congregations may require you to say at least part of the traditional vows if not all. You can still say your own vows typically but you will want to know what the rules are for the ceremony up front. Some officiants may want to review your vows prior to the ceremony so they will have to be ready early in this case.
You can either write your vows with your fiancé or you can do them separately. Also, you will need to decide if you will keep them secret from each other until the ceremony or not. Another thing you may want to consider is setting a due date for your vows. By setting a due date you’ll ensure neither you or your fiance write your vows the night before the wedding. This way you will give your vows the time and thought that they need.
When writing your vows you should work both on your own and together to think about what you love about each other and what makes your relationship special and unique. Write down all of your memorable moments whether they are good or bad. When you first sit down to write your vows, write everything that comes to mind in that moment. Don’t be afraid to write way more than you will need. This will allow you to see all of your thoughts at once. Look through those thoughts and pick out the most important things then write what you love about your spouse, the key things that define your relationship and why they are important. If there is something that you can work on to build an even better, healthier relationship then include that in your vows and promise your spouse that you will work on it.
The goal is to have your vows last for around one minute or less per person. It may not seem like a lot but it really is as it will encompass your relationship with your partner and the reason why you are marrying them. Pick the most important promises and save the more personal thoughts for the letter you give your spouse on the morning of the ceremony.
Refine the tone of your vows but also try to be yourself. The tone is up to you but you’ll want to ensure that they are truthful and come from your heart. If your vows are more lighthearted then make sure they acknowledge the seriousness of the commitment you will make. Remember that your vows should not be so personal that your audience will not be able to understand them. Don’t add too many inside jokes, obscure nicknames or code words. If you’re eloping and don’t have an audience then be as personal as you would like.
It is not necessary to memorize your vows but you must at least practice them. As you practice try to look up while you read so you can look at your partner when you say your vows and also so you can be confident in speaking clearly. If you look down at the paper your voice will not carry as well and will sound more like a mumble. These words are meant to be heard by your audience so read them out loud when practicing. This way you’ll be able to hear how they sound when spoken. You will also want to make sure that the words flow with ease. Also, ensure there are no run on sentences or tongue twisters in your vows.
Once you have both your ceremony and vows written up you are ready to marry your one true love in a ceremony that best defines your relationship.
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