Writing your own ceremony can be a beautiful and rewarding task. It can really bring you and your fiancé closer together during the wedding planning process as you reminisce about your past and set intentions for your future as a married couple.
It can also be a challenge to put all of the parts together. What is the best way to cross into married life in a way that completely represents the two of you as a couple? How can the unique parts of you and your fiancé be incorporated into your wedding ceremony?
To get you started, think of the overall feel that you want for your ceremony. If the two of you sit down and answer these eight questions honestly, it can color how your entire ceremony plays out:
1. What is the intention behind our wedding ceremony?
This is easily the most important question to answer, as it’ll set the tone for your ceremony.
Essentially you want to be answering the question, why are we getting married and what does this mean to us? What is the main message we want to convey to each other and our guests? And how will it be a representative of who we are as a couple?
2. What time and place will our wedding ceremony take place?
If you are still looking for venues, you can narrow down your options by picking a place that really speaks to you as a couple. Are there any particular locations that you remember really connecting? Where have you made memories? Where do you spend a lot of time together?
If you feel connected in nature, find a beautiful outdoor ceremony spot. If you both love history, there may be a perfect wedding ceremony location right in your local museum.
What about the time of day? Are you both early birds? You can have a beautiful ceremony followed by brunch. Night owls can wait for the sun to set and marry among tiki torches or hanging lanterns.
My husband and I both love the outdoors and are not morning people, so we were married at a provincial park in the late afternoon.
3. Will there be participation?
If you feel your wedding ceremony is an adjoining of families or communities, you can incorporate your guests into your ceremony. Some ideas include:
- Passing of the rings: Each guest can hold the rings and say a blessing for you. This typically only works if you have a small guest count.
- Reverse unity candle ceremony: After the couple lights the unity candle, they light the candles of the maid of honor and best man, who light the candles at the end of the pew or row. This is further passed on by lighting a candle held by every guest.
All of the above questions (1-3) will permeate the 3 main parts of your wedding ceremony itself: the separation phase, transitional phase, and pronouncement phase.
The Separation Phase
The separation phase is where you leave your “old” life and prepare to move forward as a married couple. Traditionally this is marked by the bride being given away by her father, but this can also be marked with words. You can do this by acknowledging your families, appreciating your growth as individuals, and/or honoring your past experiences as a couple.
Here are some questions to get you started:
4. If you had to pick three pivotal moments that really describe your relationship, what would they be?
There are events and experiences that define every couple. What have you experienced that made you think, wow, this person is the one? Are there are any particular moments that strengthened your bond as a couple?
5. What does it mean to have your family and friends present?
Couples can chose to acknowledge how your marriage is a reflection of their greater community. You can speak of the values your parents instilled in you, or how your friends have built a community to show love and support. You can also use this time to remember important people who cannot be at your wedding ceremony and express what they mean to you.
This is the point during the wedding ceremony where the past is gone, and the future is yet to come. This is where you take your vows and can take symbolic actions to symbolize your intention for married life.
6. Are there any rituals you want to incorporate in your wedding ceremony?
Many couples choose to incorporate rituals from various groups, religions, or life experiences. Here are a few ideas:
- A unity candle ceremony: At the beginning of the wedding ceremony, one person from both the bride and groom’s family lights a taper candle to represent the families love and support for the marriage. Later in the ceremony, to mark the adjoining of the two families and creating a new one, the bride and groom use the two candles already lit to light a large unity candle together.
- Handfasting: Also known as “binding of the hands,” this is a Celtic custom where the officiant wraps ribbons into an infinite shape to represent your vows. Many people choose different colors of ribbons to symbolize different vows.
- A personalized alter: Whether you and your partner are coffee aficionados, book lovers, or avid video game players, you can create your own alter to symbolize an appreciation for your past, being present in your wedding ceremony, and hopes for your future as a married couple
7. What are your hopes for the future?
Think of yourself 50 years into marriage, sitting with your partner, looking at each other. You still recognize those eyes like the first day you met, but there are a few lines around them now. What has he done throughout your 50 years that have made you feel like you are the most important person in his life? What are the little things that you do for each other that you never want to lose over time? What does she do throughout your 50 years that makes you look back and think, “wow… this has been such a beautiful life”?
The Pronouncement Phase
The pronouncement phase is where your “new life” is acknowledged. You and your fiancé have crossed the threshold and are now married!
8. How do you want to be pronounced as married?
How do you want to be announced as a married couple? As husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Lastname, or “you are now officially married!”? You can really add a personal touch to the pronouncement by choosing a poem, blessing, or parable that speak to you as a couple before being announced as a married couple.
All of these things combined create an entire ceremony of little things that mean so much to you and your fiancé. You can display your love and intention for a beautiful married life as quirky or as elegant as you want. Crafting your own meaningful wedding ceremony takes a lot of reflection and intention, but it can make your wedding so much more personal and special to you.