Although your wedding day is filled with significant moments, the ceremony is the pinnacle of the entire celebration. It's the reason everyone has joined together, and it's more than just a formality. Whether you're having a religious or secular service, your ceremony is your chance to express who you are as a couple; you can personalize your readings, add rituals that have significance for you, or even infuse your love story throughout the service. Here, officiants share some of the most creative touches their couples have been adding to their ceremonies lately.
April Beer, a contemporary interfaith minister based in New Jersey, truly tailors each ceremony to fit her couple. One of her favorite parts is telling the couple’s love story.
“Since my ceremonies are based on the couple's love, this is one of the highlights of the ceremony. Of course, I include the silliest, sappiest, and most loving moments, as well as mentioning their cats and dogs!”
Beer also loves to interview family and friends before the ceremony to get their takes on the relationship. “If the couple permits me, I don’t share the answers with them until they hear what others think and feel during the ceremony. It’s a fun time!”
Photo Credit: Choco Studio
If your families live all over the world, it can be nearly impossible for everyone to come together for the wedding. To include your distant loved ones, encourage them to write letters, which can be woven into the ceremony. At the wedding of an American-born bride and her Irish husband, New York City-based wedding officiant Sarah Ritchie read notes of encouragement and happiness from the groom’s father, brother, and several close friends who couldn’t make the trip. “The couple and all those attending the wedding felt enveloped in the blessings sent from across the Atlantic,” said Ritchie.
At another wedding Ritchie officiated, the couple’s elderly grandma and the bride’s sister — who had just given birth in another country — recorded video messages for the happy couple, which were played during the ceremony. “Not a dry eye could be found!” she recalled.
Writing letters isn't just for guests who can't attend the wedding; you can also invite any guest attending to write you a note that'll be read on your first anniversary. The letters can include well wishes, advice for married life, favorite memories of you two together, or anything else they’d like to include (you can either include a card about this with your invitations, post about it on your wedding website, and/or have nice stationery and pens available at the venue).
Pass around a box during the ceremony for your guests to drop in their notes. Then, seal it up until your anniversary! “What could be better during an anniversary than to read the blessings of loved ones at the time of the wedding?” said Ritchie.
Photo Credit: Jennie Andrews Photography
Another twist is to craft a “fight box." Before your big day, gather a wooden box, a bottle of wine (or the alcohol of your choice), and two glasses. Write love notes to each other, explaining your feelings as you prepare to start your new life together as husband and wife. Seal your letter without letting your soon-to-be read what you’ve written.
During the ceremony, place the love notes inside the wooden box with the wine and glasses. Take turns hammering the box shut, one nail at a time, until the box is sealed.
Agree to keep the box sealed until a special anniversary, like your 10th or 20th, unless you hit a rough patch. Then, break open the box, pour the wine, read the letters, and remember what it’s all about!
Photo Credit: Love Me Do Photography