Plan an Unforgettable Ceremony

I have never attended a wedding where I didn’t cry. Granted, I’ve only been to a handful of nuptials in my life, but all it takes is seeing that look of love in the couple's eyes and I become emotional myself. I know my own wedding will be no different (I'll likely be a watery-eyed, red-nosed mess!). My fiancé Corey and I want our ceremony to be meaningful and personal without getting so carried away that I cry away all of my makeup.

The challenge? Corey and I have chosen to have a non-religious ceremony. That means legally, all our ceremony must entail is a few signatures and an “I do.” However, we don't want it to be quick and impersonal. Many couples I’ve spoken with tell me the whole wedding day flies by; we don’t want our ceremony to be two minutes long! Recently, we hired an officiant who is helping us figure out how to personalize our event. Here are a few ideas we are considering incorporating into our ceremony to make it longer and more memorable:

1. Anniversary box: Prior to the ceremony, the bride and groom write a love letter to each other. The letters (along with a bottle of wine or champagne) are taken out and placed in a box, not to be opened until the 1st, 5th or 10th anniversary (or really, whenever you want). I don’t know if I’m patient enough for this one! I struggle to read books without flipping to the last page and finding out what happens, so I’m afraid the box might taunt me. I can only imagine how excited I would be to read that letter 5 or so years from now and relive the love from our wedding day with Corey.

2. Unity candles: Typically, the mothers of the bride and groom light a candle, then the light is transported to a final unity candle that the couple can keep after the ceremony. I definitely like the idea of incorporating our families into the ceremony—a marriage is truly the birth of a new family unit and joins together existing families, which is a beautiful thing.

3. Sand ceremony: Sand ceremonies provide a beautiful depiction of two different people combining and intertwining. The bride and groom each take turns pouring different colors of sand into a bottle. The end result cannot be replicated under any circumstance and leaves the couple with a beautiful piece of décor to display in their homes. I love the idea of bringing home a "souvenir" from the ceremony that stays in our home for the rest of our lives.

4. Blessing of the rings: This is a new concept our officiant brought to our attention, where each member of the bridal party holds and passes our wedding bands before we put them on. Usually, the bridesmaids and groomsmen just stand there during the entire ceremony, so this is a great way to involve them in the actual rite of passage. However, I’m not convinced that this wouldn’t be a bit corny for us.

Photo Credit: K and K Photography

Tell us: How are you personalizing your ceremony and making it meaningful to you as a couple?


—Nikki Stroud 


Nikki Stroud is a real bride who is learning every step of the way when it comes to wedding planning. She and her fiancé, Corey Allan (both Ball State alums), will be married in September of 2012 in front of their friends and family in Indianapolis. Glittering ivory lights, exposed plumbing and sleek wood floors depict their romantic yet rustic venue in the Downtown area. The couple hopes to incorporate personal touches to make the celebration truly reflect their relationship.