From custom centerpieces to the perfect playlist, many couples invest a significant amount of time and energy into their wedding reception plans. Yet, the very essence of one’s wedding day lies in the ceremony! The sweet vows, the emotional “I do’s,” and the crowd of loved ones gathering to celebrate your love — the ceremony is truly where the magic happens.
It’s easy to find an officiant and use standard ceremony proceedings, but there are plenty of ways to add a more personal touch to your celebration. After all, the reception may go by in a blur, but your time at the altar is forever cherished. So how can you make those moments as special as possible?
Here are a few suggestions from industry experts who know what makes a profound and meaningful wedding ceremony!
Make it your own.
Who wants to start their happily ever after with a dry, boring script? Pepper your ceremony with sweet nods to your relationship and other details that are uniquely you!
“Write up your own traditions,” encourages Jennifer Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “If you have something you have shared as a couple or a family – make it your own by adding it into the ceremony. It could be quotes from movies, quotes from those passed on, music written by someone you love dearly incorporated into the wholeness of the event.”
Sulak adds: “Look into your culture, heritage, faiths, and more! The joining in marriage is such a special time that is beyond a few words and a piece of paper. Remove all expectations from the equation if you can, this way you will be more free to move around with ideas that will transcend what others have seen or will see.”
Perform a handfasting ritual.
There are countless wedding traditions from throughout history, and handfasting is one that continues to be a favorite for today’s couples.
“Handfasting is an ancient Celtic and Nordic ritual that is experiencing a revival,” explains Maureen Cotton of The Soulful Wedding. “Handfasting can be done with just two ropes, ribbons, or fabrics all the way up to five. The exact symbolism and method can vary, but it’s always a unity ritual reflecting two lives intertwining into one.”
The best part? This ritual lends itself to plenty of opportunities to add your own touches. Sulak reveals a few ways she has seen couples personalize the handfasting ceremony, sharing: “I’ve seen couples bring important people into the ceremony itself and add a cord to make all of the strands around their hands & wrists. The cords are usually made by the couple themselves using colors they love or part of their family crests.”
Ask for help with the proceedings.
Your big moment isn’t one to be taken lightly! So whether you hire an officiant to oversee the ceremony or simply for help writing it, it’s best to get some professional support.
As Brian Franklin of Vows and Speeches shares, “the words should be as beautiful as the visuals. That requires a level of attention to these moments that, for many weddings, is not given enough priority. More and more couples invite a friend or family member to officiate in the hopes that it will make the ceremony more meaningful – but that person’s lack of experience will often lead them to grab a template of a ceremony online or accidentally leave out critical elements of the ceremony itself.”
“Remember that some of your guests may not know you as a couple or know your love story,” Franklin continues. “The ceremony and your vows are part of how this story is told – and to leave these moments purely in the hands of a friend has a level of unnecessary danger attached to it. Even if they’re great, it can only be improved by putting it in the hands of professional speechwriters.”
Leave a lasting mark.
Your love will last a lifetime, so why not mark your nuptials with a lifelong memory? “Nature-loving couples love the tree planting ceremony and its symbolism,” Cotton notes. “The couple brings a small potted tree or other plant to the ceremony. In the ceremony, they both add soil to it, representing their individual experiences that will nurture their relationship.”
“The tree will grow and evolve over time and needs care—all beautiful metaphors of needing to nurture your ever-evolving marriage,” she adds. “Optionally, other family members and close friends can add soil to represent their support and presence in your lives.”
These are only a handful of ways to craft a ceremony as unique as your love story, but it’s essential to pick and choose elements that are significant to you and your partner. As Cotton asserts, “Meaning is created by intention. You can read all the unique ceremony ideas and tips in the world, but it won’t make your ceremony meaningful unless it aligns with your personal intentions—for marriage and for the gathering called your wedding.”
So spend some time with your partner discussing your ideal ceremony and how you can infuse it with personal details that set it apart from the rest! The result will be a celebration that you and your guests will remember for years to come.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.