The Art of Wedding

In his beloved poem The Art of Marriage, Wilferd Arlan Peterson writes ‘the little things are the big things.’ And while he’s talking about how to make a relationship work in the long run, I feel the same way about the wedding itself. I’m not talking about the color of the table linens – but how other choices express what this important day means.

There are many ways to show how you value your family and friends, and many words and ways to express what your marriage commitment means to the two of you.

From time to time people ask me if I say the words about ‘anyone objecting’ to the marriage. You know, the ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ part. I’m also occasionally asked about the ‘love, honor and obey’ line. I never use either of those phrases. And while there is a theological argument for the obey part, I am not a theologian, nor do I care for that justification. I think most of us prefer not to use that particular word at all.

Even ‘who gives this woman’ doesn’t resonate for me, but from time to time I’ve been asked to include it, and I have. After a respectful conversation with a bride or a dad, we have most often worked out a more modern alternative. Simply substituting ‘presents’ for ‘gives’ makes a nice change. When presented with alternatives people are usually happy. It’s just that they never really gave it much thought. But that’s my job, and I’m here to help. And this is what I mean by the little things being the big things.

As weddings continue to evolve, here are a few more thoughts on the art of the wedding.

While a father often has the honor of walking his daughter down the aisle, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, why not include mom, too? Consider thanking parents or other special family members in some special way. Toasts are great, but you can go further. Add a special thank you right in your ceremony. Present them with gifts; they don’t have to cost a lot of money, it is a symbolic act.

Speaking of gifts, if you are giving gifts to your bridal party, make sure they are relevant. People always say that it’s not the cost it’s the meaning. Let me illustrate that: a pair of cufflinks for a guy who only wears flannel shirts is no gift at all.

Seating is another detail that matters. It is truly a daunting task. Perhaps that’s why I feel so attracted to the long farm table trend. Everyone together at one big table puts everyone on equal ground. Yes, you still have to decide who sits next to whom, but that’s not nearly as difficult as working out many separate tables. I always feel a little second class when I’m at the table all the way in the back, although I completely understand everyone can’t sit next to the couple.

Yes, the little things in the wedding can be the big things. The details you choose reflect something about who you are. When making financial choices, ask yourself: why do I want this, why do I need this, and what does it say about us? When choosing how to marry, who will officiate, do the same. Is a wedding a display, or is it something more?

Each choice you make can be guided by these simple questions. If the answer is that it brings more joy and meaning, then it’s probably a good choice!


THANK YOU Lisa Rhinehart for all the gorgeous photos. Lisa was chosen as one of the top 50 wedding photographers world-wide.


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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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