Category Archives: Ceremony

I Guest You’d Want to be Included

Your guests enjoy witnessing you and your fiancé commit your lives and futures to one another. Weddings are often reminders of how special one’s own relationship is, and celebrations of love bring joy to all.

However, some ceremonies are lengthy, uninteresting to those who are easily distracted and unrelatable to guests who don’t have religious ties. Incorporating your guests is a great way to keep them engaged and add special meaning and fun. There are many special ways to do so.

Ring Warming: Everyone rubs your rings and gives you blessings to carry with you. You can do this during the ceremony, but it may cause a delay. Instead, put them near the entrance with a note asking for rubs, well wishes and prayers. They can either be written or shared with you privately during the reception. When everyone is seated, your ring bearer gets them to bring up the aisle.

Showing Love: At the beginning of your ceremony, after the guests are welcomed, have your officiant request everyone blow a kiss in your direction. It is a sweet, easy gesture that will instantly make you feel surrounded by love.

Community Vow: Relationships aren’t always easy and knowing you have the support of those closest to you is invaluable. Work with your officiant to create a unique affirmation to which your guests will respond “We do.” It should be done after you exchange your personal vows. An example is “Do each of you promise to support us, offer love, encouragement, guidance and your secrets for happiness?”

Speaking Up: As tradition goes, most weddings include a variation of “Anyone who objects to this wedding should speak now or forever hold their peace.” Why not flip the script and request “Anyone who supports this union speak now.” Guests can provide brief sentiments, anecdotes or milestones in your relationship if they choose. For larger weddings, it is recommended you designate only a few people to contribute for the sake of time.

Sing-along: Select a song you love that your guests are familiar with. Print the lyrics and include them with your program. After you are pronounced husband and wife and are ready to walk down the aisle together, cue the music and get serenaded by everyone in your life you love. It helps to designate someone to act as a conductor to minimize confusion and is fun for all.

Of course your wedding is about the new stage of life you are embarking on with your spouse. However, you wouldn’t have gotten to that place, nor will you be able to grow and thrive without the love and support of those who care about you most. An invitation is wonderful but including them in sentimental ways shows your gratitude and makes for a unique and special experience.

Give it Your Best Shot

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Capturing every moment from beginning to end of your special day is of utmost importance and you don’t want any detail to be missed. Some take longer than others. Most don’t impact your guests as they are done during preparation, the ceremony or reception. Of course you want perfect pictures with your family. However, your guests don’t want to wait long while you do so. Minimizing the time can be done very simply.

Shot List: Give the names of those you will include to your photographer, so no one is left out during formal poses. It speeds up the process so he or she can be prepared. Also, ask a friend to assist in gathering everyone. It reduces your stress and makes everything more expeditious.

Timing: Strike a pose before the ceremony if you aren’t concerned about seeing your spouse prior to walking down the aisle. Everyone will look their best and most fresh and it adds to your time celebrating. If you’d rather wait until afterwards, consider choosing only a few formal photos. Often, the random shots are more enjoyable as they are candid and surprising.

Expectations: Formal photos are tricky for any occasion and even more so if there are many people. It is difficult to capture everyone focused, smiling and with their clothes and hair just perfect at the same time. Likely, you will find quirks in many of them.  While formality may be important, perfection shouldn’t be expected. Embrace the snafus. They capture personality and add charm.

Typically, the time allotted for formal family photos is between 15 and 30 minutes. It is surprisingly short but very doable if you prepare in advance. Cameras will be clicking from the time you get ready until the time you call it a night. There are countless photos to go through once the day is done. Hence, the number of formal ones doesn’t need to be excessive and can be done quickly with a bit of forethought.

The Venue Too?

As with most aspects of your dream day, finding the perfect venue may require more time and thought than anticipated. You should research and brainstorm before you look for many reasons some of which follow:

Style: While spaces of every size and sort exist, perhaps they don’t in your area. If they do, they may not match your style, vision, theme etc. Work around this by finding venues you can easily transform, i.e. blank slates or non-wedding locations similar to what you are looking for.

Availability: Looking early is important because many book up way in advance. Even those that don’t sometimes have your chosen date already taken. If so, you can ask to be put on the waiting list if your date becomes available while continuing to look. However, if you can’t see getting wed anywhere else, extending your engagement is an option.

Size: If a place is too small, invite only close friends and family to your ceremony and include everyone else at the reception. Alternatively, if you have too much room, see if you can use only a portion of the space or get creative by spreading out the seating to minimize the appearance of the size.

Regulations: Locations without any restrictions are rare so consider what you will accept. Churches, for example, likely don’t allow alcohol, have limits on noise levels and closing times. Such are reasonable due to locational and TABC regulations, etc. Other sites require you to use “preferred” vendors, have minimum time requirements and other ways to increase costs you don’t want, need or can afford.

Given the number of possible places, you need a clear vision of what you are looking for to minimize the time and energy spent looking at venues. Among those considerations are budget, capacity, restrictions, style and availability.

Backing Out

Some of the first things when preparing for your big day is to choose your pastor, the wedding party and who will give toasts and speeches. All are very important roles requiring time, energy and forethought both on your part and theirs. Unfortunately, there are occasions when one or more will back out at the last minute leaving you to wonder what to do.

Don’t get upset. Life happens and those who accepted their positions did so out of care for you. While it may throw you for a loop, there is surely a good reason behind his/her decision.

If a member of your wedding party, replacing them is not the best idea. Who you choose will likely feel as if a backup and be hurt. It is perfectly acceptable to have an uneven number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. However, if it’s your maid of honor or the best man, feel free to ask someone already chosen to change roles.

As far as toasts and speeches go, people put time and effort into saying what they will deliver. There’s no reason to ask someone new. It also puts a lot of pressure on anyone to compose anything meaningful at the last minute.

For piece of mind, you should (at some point in time) inquire why things changed but no wedding is perfect and such questions should be addressed after your ceremony. The best thing is that, at the end of the day, you have married your life partner.

Can You Hear Me Now?

You may not realize music is a sizable portion of your wedding during the ceremony and reception. There are many things to consider when choosing what songs, the number, timing, length etc. you opt for. In fact, sometimes your decisions have an impact on your guests as many things can easily go wrong.

Sound Check: Whether a pianist, violinist or MP3 player, it is imperative you check out the acoustics prior to your ceremony. Doing so ensures the songs you want are familiar, the sound system comes across to your liking and, if not, can be adjusted prior to your big day.

Timing is Key: Many guests arrive early and don’t know one another. That leads to an uncomfortable silence while sitting with people you’ve never met. It’s important to elect music to diffuse the awkwardness.

First Dance: The song you select for your first dance shouldn’t be too long. It is a special moment for you, your husband and guests but it shouldn’t be more than two to three minutes.

Give Me a Break: You should have downtime in your music as well. When eating, it is a good chance for quiet conversation as you likely have seated people who know one another together and too much volume equals overload.

Including Everyone: You and your husband my be huge fans of jazz (for example) but it’s important to mix up the genres so your guests are pleased. Whether dancing or not, you don’t want monotony and people getting bored from what sounds redundant.

While the ceremony and reception choices are quite different, each are equally important and shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. Some venues have regulations which could keep you from having music if you don’t plan ahead. It also makes people smile, enjoy themselves and perhaps even make new friends.

But(ton) Not for you

Buttons are often thought of as tiny things that keep clothes intact. Once lost, you buy another and your outfit is seamless again. If you take a closer look, it is the small threads that connect and tie everything together. Your fiancé is your button that ties your life together and makes everything harmonious. Incorporating them into your wedding is a whimsical way to show your connection.  Following are a few ways how to use them from beginning to end:

Save the date: Because they are cheap, you could use a different one to enclose each card and, once returned, sew them on to the tie that holds your bouquet together. It’s a fantastic way to make all your guests feel special.

Backdrops: It’s likely that no wedding you’ve been to had button banners. The variety in color, shape and size make it easy to sew and hang them behind the altar for a unique alternative as you take your vows.

Bouquets: Of course, you can have a button bouquet as you walk down the aisle in re flowers. If your mom, grandmother or anyone in your husband to be’s family sewed, using their collection would make it extra special.

Centerpieces: Whether you fill your vases with buttons or have flowers made of them going from smaller to larger in diversified colors to replicate real flowers, there are artisans who can make anything you envision.

Grand Exit: Rather than throwing rice or flower petals as you exit after your vows, you can have small bags of buttons at the entrance of your venue for your guests to toss as you leave as husband and wife.

Aside from showing your personality and doing something different, when you think of what buttons are used for is quite appropriate for your wedding as they sew you together for the rest of your life.

Dropping Petals

It has been a long-standing tradition that flower girls drop petals along the aisle prior to the bride’s entrance. Depending on the venue, real petals may be prohibited and artificial ones are used instead. However, as customs lessen, many different and unique alternatives are becoming popular. Here are just a few:

Individual stems: A basket full of individual stemmed flowers for your flower girl to hand out to either give to your guests seated at the end of each aisle or to those who are most important to you and your fiancé.

Bubbles: Blowing bubbles is a fun and whimsical way to precede your entrance. Aside from not being messy, even adults can’t help but smile at the sight of bubbles and some guests might even try to catch them.

Miniature bouquet: Any little girl given a special job would be honored and feel even more significant if she was given a small bouquet (one suitable for her size) that matches yours.

Customized sign: A sign or pennant with a message introducing you is another clever substitute for petals. Whether it says “Here comes the bride” or “Introducing Mrs. (insert your new last name), not only will your guests be surprised but it will be a keepsake to remember your special day.

Paper hearts: Your wedding is a celebration of the love you have built and will continue to grow. Whether made of shades that match your décor or are crafted out of something important to the two of you, they are a wonderful thing to see as you walk down the aisle.

There are many creative and fun things for flower girls to carry. Not only are they unexpected but each will bring joy to both you and your guests and be an element that sets your wedding apart.

Guest Dressed

Your primary focus is on your dress, what your fiancé is going to wear and the clothing for the wedding party. However, there are things to consider regarding your guests as it is YOUR day and some things aren’t appropriate.

White: Wearing white (or even a shade of it) should not be done which goes without saying. Unless you have a black and white theme or specifically request certain people to wear it, doing so is unacceptable.

Black: No one wants a color associated with funerals and grief. If someone feels more comfortable wearing a darker hue, a shade of blue or dark green is fitting. After all, it’s a celebration and colors should be cheery and upbeat.

Sparkles: Guests might want to add a little accent to their outfit but going overboard is disrespectful. That should be saved for their own wedding day as lighting and photography will catch the glimmer and outshine you even if not intended.

The best way to avoid any mishaps is to include a dress code on your invitations. Even if you say semi-casual, your guests should dress up rather than down. To avoid any confusion, include an option where you can be contacted with questions.

Something Old

As part of the saying goes “Something old….,” is a portion of what is representative of good luck for your upcoming nuptials. Whether traditional or modern in nature, many brides follow the superstition if for nothing more than fun.

Your bouquet is a great place to start. Everyone’s grandma had handkerchiefs (usually handmade) that can be wrapped around your flowers rather than the typical ribbon tie. Perhaps you have your parents’ or grandparents’ wedding rings. Even if only borrowing them for the day, you can secure them in the ribbon. Then you can feel them as you hold your bouquet and they symbolize the lengthy marriage you long to have.

Every bride looks forward to opulent jewels accenting their dress on the special day. However, there are many families in which brides have worn the same jewelry for generations. If that is the case in yours, it would be very meaningful for you keep up the tradition for them (and likely in retrospect, for you).

Most girls gather things that are meaningful in some way as a child. If you’d rather not be so traditional, you can incorporate something from your collection and, depending upon what it is, find a way to integrate it into your ceremony or reception.

A great idea is to include your husband. Maybe there is a pin he could wear on his lapel in place of a boutonniere from someone meaningful to you both.

While your wedding day is all about you and your fiancé, it’s hard to discount how meaningful it is for your family to be included. They are your roots, the epitome of relationships you strive to have and the beginning of two families joining together.

Regretfully Speaking

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When planning your wedding, excitement takes over and it may seem like you’ve covered every detail due to the sudden obsession that kicks in. Unfortunately, there is remorse that brides have looking back on their big day that should be considered. Here are just a few:

Ceremony: It is easy for your pastor to get carried away or for you to write long vows, but many brides wish their ceremonies were shorter in retrospect as not only did they get bored but worried their guests did too.

Time Spent: Brides often lament getting caught up in making everything perfect, taking photos, feeling overwhelmed at their new life change that they wish they had taken more time to have one on one time with family and close friends. When you are in a rush, it is difficult to focus anything other than what you’ve tried to make perfect but some of the most meaningful moments get left out.

Social Media: It should go without saying that people would turn cell phones off and not take personal photos, but many don’t think to do so. Also, sharing of your wedding pictures on social media is not often appreciated as they are for you do to so when you are ready.

Invitation Obligation: Inviting people out of guilt raises your costs and possibly makes you feel uncomfortable. You should be surrounded by people you love and care about. Inevitably, there will be a few people who will be on the guest list without choice, but you should only invite people that you genuinely want to be with.

Perfection Expectation: Every bride puts in so much time and energy to make everything perfect and many regret that their expectations weren’t met. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Anticipate snafus and go with the flow. At the end of the day, you will be with the love of your life as a wife forever.

It’s important that you look back on your wedding day without disappointment. It will be as it should be despite what you’ve planned and it is one of the most important days in your life. That alone makes it perfect.