I have a bit of advice and I believe that’s what this column is supposed to be about! My ideas are based on officiating countless weddings, and the focus here is on the ceremony – so here goes:
Don’t be late. Too often I see people rushing in just before the processional begins, and sometimes I see them sneaking in after we’ve started the ceremony, standing in the back afraid to take a seat. Guests should give themselves plenty of time to be sure to arrive before designated start time. Remember, the ceremony is when the couple is getting married, the reception is a party. If you care about the couple, be there on time for their ceremony. Brides – don’t be late either. I know it’s your big day, but the entire day has a schedule – be gracious and be ready on time.
Pick an officiant you know or will meet with you to insure the service will accurately express your beliefs. I often hear stories about things said by clergy that elicited gasps of shock from the couple and guests. Here’s a basic example, if you don’t want the words ‘love, honor and obey,’ be sure to make that clear. Most folks do not say that anymore, but you want to be sure you’re on the same page. Another custom that is falling out of favor is the line: ‘who gives this woman.’ Some ministers will automatically do this, if you don’t want this part, you’d better let that be known. Whatever your beliefs or perspective on life, take the time with the person performing your ceremony so they can accurately reflect those views.
It’s probably best that you not have a friend marry you (unless your friend is an officiant.) An untrained person just doesn’t bring it, but sometimes, if that person has good presentation skills, and is willing to do the research to make it meaningful, it could work out. Also be sure its legal. Here in Pennsylvania it usually is not, but in some states you can get a license for a day, and some other states accept internet ordinations. It is the states that have control over marriage law, so check carefully.
Do have enough chairs for everyone. Enough said!
Don’t have the ceremony in the hot sun without providing some shade and/or cold drinks. Parasols really make a big difference.
Do talk to your photographer to be sure he or she will not be coming in too close during the ceremony. Most photographers will not intrude during the ceremony, and isn’t that why they have those long lenses? But I have experienced one or two who came in way too close during the most poignant moments – and it was really distracting and inappropriate.
Don’t have an aisle runner outdoors on grass – it usually doesn’t work out well. On a bumpy surface a runner doesn’t lay flat and tends to trip you as you walk on it. Check with your florist and make sure you are not paying for an aisle runner that you don’t want.
Do ask people to turn off their phones and cameras. This is becoming a major problem. People spend more times taking pictures and video on their phones than listening and respecting the moment. Besides, your professional will take way better photos that those iPhone shots with the tops of guests heads in the front. I too often see people holding up phones and even iPads during the ceremony and frankly, I think it’s just awful! Have your DJ, ushers or officiant announce that you are having an ‘unplugged’ ceremony and they need to turn off all their devices. Signage is great for this, too.
No one can guarantee that things won’t go wrong, but keeping in mind these simple do’s and don’ts will help ensure your wedding ceremony goes smoothly.
Photo by Nora & Troy (www.noraandtroy.com) Used by permission