When planning a wedding, many couples focus on the little details, like the wedding party's attire, the centerpieces, and those delicious signature drinks. But amidst planning an elaborate and beautiful celebration, it's easy to overlook the main aspect of your big day: The wedding ceremony. Waiting until the last minute to plan your service may result in disorganization and lack of personality. Since every couple deserves a memorable "I do" moment, here are six tips to help you structure a ceremony you'll love.
Discuss the basics with your partner.
You and your partner should discuss your desired ceremony style early on in the planning process. Do you want a long or short service? Traditional or modern? Also decide if your ceremony will be religious, interfaith (mixing two separate religions), spiritual, or civil (adhering to state law instead of religion). Naturally, the type of ceremony will determine your officiant; religious leaders often officiate religious services, while a government official presides over civil ones. Once the couple agrees on style, it's time to structure the ceremony.
Plan an introduction.
After the processional, the officiant usually begins the ceremony with an introduction. Some couples prefer the officiant to simply thank the guests, while others desire an elaborate re-telling of their entire love story. Choose the introduction that feels right for your relationship and ceremony.
Choose readings that speak to you.
The introduction of the ceremony usually involves readings presented by a friend or relative of the couple. If you want to include a reading, opt for something that has special meaning to the two of you, whether it's a religious verse, a passage from a novel, or a funny personal essay. Don't be afraid to get creative, and keep each reading short (about two minutes or less) so your guests don't lose interest. You may also consider scattering the readings throughout the ceremony. Keep in mind that some officiants need to approve of the readings beforehand.
Exchange vows in the way that feels best.
Perhaps the highlight of a wedding ceremony is the vow exchange. Like all other parts of a service, your vows should be catered to your ceremony style and personal preference. Oftentimes the officiant will recite vows, and the bride and groom will repeat them afterward. But many couples nowadays opt for different types of vow exchanges; for example, reciting vows at the same time, memorizing traditional vows and reciting them without prompting from the officiant, and writing their own vows.
Plan your picture-perfect "I do" moment.
After the vow exchange comes the declaration of intent (in which the couple says "I do") and the ring exchange. Remember to enjoy and appreciate these moments! After all, it's when you officially become husband and wife. Make sure the backdrop is one you want to remember forever, as this is one of the most photographed portions of the day.
Consider other religious and cultural rituals.
Some couples may want to incorporate other rituals at this point in the ceremony, either for religious, personal, or cultural reasons. Some examples include a group blessing, unity candle, or breaking of a glass (a tradition at Jewish weddings). Make sure your officiant understands the ritual beforehand to prevent any missteps.