Often times, we focus on the decor, flowers, the dress, guest list, and the food at the wedding.... the look and feel of the day. And hey, those are the things that you can see in photographs long after the day is over. It's also the areas where Beth and I are able to collaborate most with our clients! But there is one part of a wedding that is truly personal to a couple and that's the ceremony. To paraphrase a line from one of my all-time favorite movies "You've Got Mail", whatever else your wedding is, I believe, it ought to begin by being personal.
Now if you are having a religious ceremony, this could mean working with your officiant to incorporate scripture, songs, or other passages that have special meaning or significance to you and your intended. Usually, your officiant will suggest passages that are meaningful to your union and can enhance the way you wish to begin your marriage.
If you opt for a less religious ceremony, you may have a wider field of inspiration to draw on. You can choose an officiant who will either work with you to write your ceremony or vows, or you can choose to write it on your own. So, if you decide to write your own vows or ceremony, where to begin? I've found a helpful road-map to ceremony components can be found in the book "The Wedding Ceremony Planner" by Reverend Judith Johnson. It gives you a breakdown of the typical parts you hear in ceremonies, including the welcome or gathering words, readings and songs, the marriage address, rituals or ceremonies (such as candle or tea ceremonies), the vows, ring exchange and pronouncement, just to name a few, along with examples to get you started.
For suggestions on wording and phrases that can add a personal touch to your ceremony, books dedicated to special words and perfect things to say on your big day such as "Wedding Blessings" by June Cotner or "Words for the Wedding" by Wendy Paris and Andrew Chesler can be very helpful. These books are filled with hundreds of poems, prayers, quotations and phrases that can personalize your ceremony. You can also consider drawing upon favorite quotes from your own life. You can call on the words of a favorite song, book, movie or poem that has had special meaning to one or both of you. Another idea is to incorporate the story of how you met to give your guests even more insight into your relationship.
Don't be afraid to dive in and be a little creative. The writing of your ceremony or personal vows can be a great project for you and your soon-to-be-husband to work on together. Coming up with words that express your feelings and embody your commitment can be a way for the two of you to bond even more. It can help you remember the happiness you've found in each other, especially with all the other happenings during the wedding planning process.
However the words of your ceremony come together on the page, I encourage you to try and make it meaningful to you as a couple. Often, the ceremonies and weddings that are most remembered and beloved by guests are the ones that leave them saying, "That was SO them!" So my advice is to make your wedding personal. And there's no better place to start than at the beginning with your ceremony, which, after all is the foundation for not just your wedding, but your marriage.