Your wedding day will be one of the most important days of your entire life. A powerful ceremony will anchor it forever as one of the sweetest memories, not only for you and your fiancé but for everyone in attendance. Designing a wedding ceremony is a bit like baking a cake – you need the proper ingredients added in just the right amount and sequence to create an unforgettable masterpiece. As a wedding officiant for the past 12 years, I’ve discovered key elements that will make your ceremony one for the record books. Below are 5 tips that will aid you in designing the wedding ceremony of your dreams:
1. Tell Your Love Story
Start at the beginning and make it as mushy as possible! How did you meet, where were you in your lives at that time, and how did your story unfold over time to bring you to the day of your wedding? What are some of your most special memories and what milestones have you experienced together? How did you know that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with this person and what do you cherish the most about them? Weaving these colorful details into a narrative will have your friends and family melting. They will hang on each and every word and hearing your love story shared with others will allow you and your fiancé to relive each moment again.
2. Add a Symbolic Gesture
Performing a symbolic ceremonial gesture together such as planting a tree, planting a rose bush, Celtic handfasting, or drinking from the same cup is a physical representation of the life you are creating together as a couple. It adds a layer of sweetness to your ceremony that is both meaningful and delightful. Besides the importance of the words spoken and vows exchanged, a symbolic gesture will root you deeper into the reality of your individual lives becoming one.
3. Add a Poem, Prayer or a Song
Giving a friend or family member the esteemed honor of sharing a poem, a prayer or a specific song that represents you as a couple is a beautiful way to add texture to your ceremony. Prayers can be timeless, such as Corinthians 13:4-8 or romantic, as with “I Carry Your Heart,” by E.E. Cummings. A friend, family member or hired musician can also sing a meaningful song. At one wedding I officiated, the couple hired a guitarist and singer to serenade them with “Kiss Me,” by Sixpence None the Richer. At another wedding, the bride’s best girlfriends sang “The Lost Words Blessing” from the album Spell Songs. Whichever poems, prayers and songs you choose, they are guaranteed to enrich your ceremony immensely.
4. Include the Audience
Many people have played a part in your journey together as a couple and honoring them for their roles in your life will likely move them to tears. It is important to thank guests for their presence at your wedding, many of whom will have traveled great distances to be there. It is equally important and powerful to acknowledge who they have been for you throughout your lives as individuals, and as a couple. This is always a very moving part of the ceremony because it draws your loved ones closer to the sacredness of the day. They feel connected to you on a deep level and are intimately included in the cherished memories being made.
5. Make it Yours
Every couple possesses a love story with its very own unique flavor of sweetness and humor, so whether you’re defined by your shared love of Star Wars, Game of Thrones, tattoos, rodeos, Comicon, punk rock, world travel or Jane Austen novels, make sure that your ceremony is infused with the very essence of who you are. No Instagram or Pinterest comparisons! YOU DO YOU! By doing so you will leave your own distinct mark upon the day and the sweetness of those memories will carry you forward into married life. Your friends and family members will never forget the imprint that your wedding left upon their hearts, so make your wedding ceremony YOURS, through and through.