A wedding is a celebration of Love. Whether you are planning a small intimate gathering or a large banquet, a traditional religious service or a unique spiritual ritual, the ceremony is truly its' centerpiece. Oftentimes in planning this special life passage, questions about the date, the place, your wedding party, the menu, the cost, the music and the flowers overshadow the creation of the ceremony. The truth is, creating your ceremony is meaningful and rewarding, since the result is a ceremony truly reflecting who you are as a couple and your vision of your marriage.
First take a deep breath and trust that as you journey through this creative process you are indeed creating a beautiful and meaningful ceremony. Allow for time to experiment with ideas, and trust your heart in guiding you. The ceremony you actually end up with may look very different than where you started; and it is also possible that the first ideas you jot down will be perfect. Leave yourselves plenty of time and know that this is a work in progress - maybe even until your wedding day. You may come across a poem the day before the ceremony that makes your heart sing. That is okay, just be sure to let your minister, rabbi or officiant know that anything and everything is subject to change.
- Generating information: You do this by asking yourselves questions and allowing the creative process free reign with your answers. This is both a brainstorming activity to come up with as many ideas as possible and a chance for you and your fiancé to express your particular ideas about marriage and your ceremony. It is essential at this stage is to remember that answering these questions is simply the initial stage of generating information. Don't feel pressured to decide exactly what will be included in the ceremony and who is going to say what and when, In fact it is best not to make specific decisions at the same time you are initially expressing ideas. This crucial information generating stage gives you a chance to explore the various ideas and components you are considering as part of your unique wedding ceremony. This is a time when all ideas are allowed. If you and your fiancé are doing this on your own - without an officiant - it is best to individually write down your answers before you begin discussing them. Then share your responses to one questions at a time. Otherwise, it is too easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated with all the possibilities. When I work with a couple to design their ceremony, I ask them not to discuss their answers until we actually meet, and then I allow time to hear each of their responses question by question, noting where there is agreement, differences of opinion and strong feelings. Warning: This stage is fertile ground for conflict since you and your fiancé may have very different ideas about your ceremony. So, B R E A T H E and be clear that your intention is to listen to one another's thoughts. If you notice yourself becoming defensive or feeling hurt because the love of your life has a different point of view, take a breather and remind yourself that through this exchange of ideas you have the opportunity to create the perfect ceremony for both of you. Trust the process and remember this good practice in actively listening to one another and creating your desired results as loving partners.
- What is your vision of your marriage?
- What is your vision of your wedding?
- What is your vision of your ceremony?
- What would you like included in your ceremony:
- What are your favorite poems, essays, readings about love and marriage?
- Who do you want to read: friends, family and/or the officiant?
- Do you want to choose what they read or do you want them to choose? (One of my friends asked close friends of different religions to choose something to read about love and marriage from their religious traditions.)
- Resources: Wedding Readings, Perfect Readings for Weddings, Wedding Blessings
- Do you want to write your own?
- Do you want to say them from memory or read them?
- Are you both exchanging rings?
- What does a wedding ring symbolize to you?
- What do you want said about the ring(s)?
- What do you want to say when you exchange ring(s)?
- Do you both want to say the same thing?
- Families and friends
- Do you want family and friends to participate in the ceremony?
- Will they be part of the wedding party?
- Will they read one of the readings?
- How do you want them to participate?
- Do you want to acknowledge loved ones who are not present and how do you want to acknowledge them?
- Do you want to light candles representing the joining of your families?
- If there are stepfamily members how do you see them participating?
- If there are children from a previous marriage(s) how do you want them involved? (Some couples create a separate ceremony before the actual wedding and ask each member of the new blended family to speak to their vision and hopes for this new family.)
- Edit your information: Once you've generated and shared all your ideas, it's time for the editing stage - weed out what you don't want and choose what you do want. Some of the weeding process is dictated by how long you want the ceremony to be. If your guests will be standing around you on the beach you will probably want a shorter ceremony than if you are in a formal setting where people are seated. Since you may have differences of opinion during the editing stage, start with what you agree on and then focus on areas where you have differing opinions. Be very clear about what is a must have for you and what you are willing to let go without holding a grudge. Be aware that you don't have to make all these decisions in one sitting, it may be helpful to sleep on it to give yourself time to digest all your ideas. Remember: As a couple, you are designing your ideal ceremony and your goal is to deepen your love story as you co-create your celebration of love.
- Wedding ceremony structure: Keep in mind the following structure for the specific order of your ceremony. Be creative, use this structure as a guide as you create your ideal ceremony.
- Music as people are gathering for the ceremony.
- Music as you are walking down the aisle.
- The Foundation words of Welcome said by the Officiant to all gathered and some words about the meaning of marriage.
- Acknowledgement of loved one who are not present at the ceremony.
- The Lighting of Candles joining your families.
- Prayer or Blessing Readings and/or musical interludes.
- Exchange of Rings.
- Pronouncement of you as husband and wife/wedded partners.
- Closing prayer/blessing.
- Presentation of your as husband and wife/marital partners.
Creating your perfect ceremony is the ideal way to prepare for your wedding day. Remember: Your ceremony is the gateway to your marriage, that until your ceremony has only existed in your imagination.
Susyn Reeve, Interfaith Minister