You are unique – as individuals and as a couple. Your ceremony should reflect this special quality. From my experience of creating hundreds of customised ceremonies, here are my top tips for making your ceremony special and memorable. A unique combination of words and actions makes all the difference in the world.
1. Tell your Wedding Story Your story is unique and special.
No other couple will have the same story as yours, of how you met, the course of your relationship, and the proposal. It is usually part of the “Address to the Guests” section at the beginning of the ceremony.
2. Write your own Vows The exchange of vows is the heart of the ceremony.
It’s when you make the promises to each other that you will uphold and live by for the rest of your lives. Writing your own special vows is a great way of personalizing your ceremony. You can combine the traditional vows, repeating them after the celebrant, and then read to each other the unique personal vows you’ve written… These vows can express your deepest feelings about each other.
A reading can reflect who you are and how you feel about marrying each other. It’s a way to share words that have special significance for the two of you, to express what you understand by marriage or love, and what you hope for in your marriage.
4. Have Rituals that have a special meaning for you
Don’t feel you have to stick with what’s always been done. You might exchange Ring-Pop rings because you have always joked that that’s what you would do, before exchanging the real rings of course!
Give old traditions a new twist. Have both of you stamp on the glass, rather than just the groom, if you are including that element of a Jewish wedding in your ceremony. Have the bride give the groom the coins if you want a twist on Spanish wedding tradition. Look up wedding traditions from around the world, find one you like and make it your own.
6. Include guests in the ceremony in a special way
Invite them to bless the rings as they are passed around. Or have the guests form a circle or semi-circle around you for the ceremony, or say a blessing over you together. For an evening or night-time wedding, the two of you could light a Unity Candle at the beginning of the ceremony and then pass the light, with a taper, to your Lady of Honour who then lights the candle of the person beside her, and so on, with guests passing the light from one to the other as a way of blessing your marriage.
7. Have your dog as the ring bearer
If you don’t mind sharing the limelight with your pet, have it carry the rings. Animals are notorious scene stealers. Be prepared that it may want to jump up on you and get muddy paw prints on your wedding clothes. If that’s OK with you, please make sure the dog has done its business immediately BEFORE the ceremony begins, and have someone lead it up the aisle. Make sure the rings are handed to the Best Man or Lady of Honour, and that your dog is then led away from the ceremony by a handler.
8. Include a second or third language
Bilingual or multilingual ceremonies are fun and different. It’s a great way to honour your heritage or special family members or guests. Just make sure you have a translation available in your Order of Service or in the actual words of the ceremony, so that everyone understands the whole ceremony.
9. Choose a venue that has meaning for you
It could be beautiful country club, a garden, a beach, a lake, a boat, your own home. Your choice of venue is another way to make your wedding unique. If the place has special significance for you, be sure to include some words about that in the ceremony.
10. Do something surprising, before, during or immediately after the ceremony
If you are going to surprise your guests, it’s a good idea to for it to be something that the two of you have planned. You could go dancing up or down the aisle together, or sing your vows to each other or piggyback down the aisle as husband and wife. Waiters could pass glasses of wine or champagne around just before the end of the ceremony so everyone can toast you after you’re introduced as newly-weds. Or have a champagne cork sabering to start the toasts immediately after the ceremony.
These tips are a handful of suggestions. They should get your imaginations all fired up with your own ideas of what would make your ceremony unique. Go wild! Have fun and let the brainstorming begin!
Catherine Kentridge, Licensed Wedding Officiant
Custom Wedding Ceremonies