The Absolutely Perfect Wedding Ceremony
The Absolutely Perfect Wedding Ceremony
Right off the bat, let me assure you that there is no better site than this one for giving you great ideas and walking you step-by-step through the planning of a perfect wedding ceremony!
As a minister for the past 25 years in three churches, I've helped to plan and preside over more than 200 wedding ceremonies in Montana, Colorado and Michigan. I've personally witnessed what really works best in weddings and I've discovered the secrets to what propels a wedding ceremony "over the top" in creating beautiful memories for the bride and groom!
If you are looking for the greatest tips for planning the perfect Christian-based wedding ceremony, I highly suggest that you take the time to peruse this site! I'll guide you through several ideas and explain the most beautiful, tried-and-tested ingredients to incorporate into your once-in-a-lifetime wedding ceremony! I promise that you'll find some really cool things!
Why should you listen to me? Well, I have a reputation in all of the churches and communities that I've served for performing "the most beautiful weddings ever!" Again, that includes more than 200 weddings! I've also written four nationally-published books, including two tearjerkers titled A Choice to Cherish and Written on Her Heart. You can tell by the titles that I'm all about love, warm hearts and cherishing life! In other words, you can depend upon my having a truly sensitive side! It's the part of me that I bring to every consultation with every bride and groom who meet with me! Also, I won a prestigious Jefferson Award, sponsored at the time by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, for outstanding public service for my work in the church.
So, what I'm asking you to do is trust me for some great ideas!
Ready? Let's go!
WEDDING SLIDESHOW DVD
First of all, a wedding slideshow DVD is a great idea. Prepare a slideshow starting with photographs of the bride and groom's baby pictures and chronologically work up through each life and into their lives together. Go from baby pictures to first days of school to middle childhood to teenage years, etc. How do you accomplish this? Scan your pictures, upload them to your computer, put them in order and add them to Photo DVD Maker. Choose your background music and complete your slideshow. Export the slideshow to AVI and MPEG videos or burn it to a CD/DVD. Make more than one copy, as this will be a priceless keepsake!
Tip: Use no more than 2 songs and 50-60 photos, which makes your slideshow around 6-7 minutes long. That's perfect! Three or four songs are too many and take too much time, dulling the effect of this great idea!
Tip: The best time to exhibit your slideshow is right at the start of your wedding ceremony, just before the wedding party takes the stage! The slideshow settles and brings focus to the audience, and it sets the tone for your perfect wedding!
Often, ALL of the men (groomsmen, minister/officiant, and groom) enter together from somewhere near the front of the sanctuary and take their positions before the bridesmaids walk one-by-one up the aisle without escorts. This is fine; however, the most beautiful and interesting way to handle the entrance of all members of the wedding party is as follows: Have only the groom and officiant enter together from off to the side and take their respective positions, which puts the focus on the groom and gives him his "moment in the sun" without other distractions. Then have each groomsman usher each bridesmaid up the aisle, arm-in-arm, before each "couple" splits off at the front and moves to their respective positions that they'll hold during the wedding ceremony.
Either of these two entrances works, of course, but after years of experience, I've found that the second method is more perfect and is liked more by the audience!
Tip: Forget about having the bridesmaids execute the "goose step" or some awkward and abnormal walk up the aisle. This does not work well and is not flattering at all in our day and age! Just allow the bridesmaids to walk elegantly and slowly, savoring the moment and giving people with cameras the time to snap some great pictures!
Tip: Make sure at the rehearsal that you have instructed the parents to stand up when the selected music plays for the bride to enter! That will cause everyone else to follow suit and stand, as well! Again, the bride should take lots of time in walking down the aisle! Move slowly and smile!
FIRST WORDS OF GREETING
Once the entire wedding party has come forward and everyone is "in position," the officiant can say something absolutely perfect, like this: "On behalf of the bride and groom, it is my distinct privilege to welcome all of you to this marriage ceremony. We understand that a wedding is a celebration of love. All of you gathered here today are special in the bride and groom's hearts and lives, and they are deeply honored that you have come to share this beautiful occasion with them. Your very presence illustrates your love for each of them, and the love felt in this place surely flows from the heart of Almighty God. With that said, we are here in the sight of God and all of you, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony. Let's ask God's favor and blessing on this gathering..." (A prayer follows).
THE GIVING OF THE BRIDE
Shortly after the father or another significant person walks the bride down the aisle, the officiant looks directly at that person and asks the age-old question, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Most often, the response is the usual, "I do" or "Her mother and I." THAT'S what the audience always hears and it's not exciting or creative or refreshing in any way; it' just the same-old, same-old. So, to make your wedding ceremony better and more interesting and memorable, simply have the father speak words like this: "With unspeakable joy and overwhelming love in our hearts, her mother and I give her to this man." Wow, that's so much better and it's such a simple addition to make your wedding ceremony stand out from all the rest! Talk about making things just a little more perfect! And it's not much more to ask a nervous father to memorize!
Tip: Here are some perfect words that the officiant could say to make the giving of the bride more beautiful: "_____ and _____, we rejoice with you today in the presence of your family members. They are a very special part of this occasion. Your parents in particular take great joy in both of you, as they have watched you grow and mature and finally arrive at this special moment in your lives. They have loved you, shared anxious moments with you and over you, prayed for you, dreamed for you, and affirmed you. The act of giving away the bride is symbolic of the fact that a most significant person in the bride's life blesses the marriage to the chosen groom. So, because this person has played such an important and vital role in your lives, I ask, Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" Perfecto!
THE ROSE CEREMONY
Near the beginning of the wedding ceremony and a short time after the presentation of the bride to the groom, a terrific "surprise" occurs when the bride and groom pause to give roses to their mothers. This is an unexpected, fabulous and beautiful touch to add to your wedding ceremony!
The wedding officiant simply picks up two roses (or two bouquets of roses) from a "hiding place" up front and hands them to the bride and groom. The wedding couple walks to the mother of the bride and takes a moment to present the rose(s) with hugs and kisses, then they walk across the aisle to the groom's mother for a similar presentation before moving back to their earlier positions.
The wedding officiant would say something like this: "The bride and groom would like to pause at this time to honor their parents, who have loved them, raised them, and guided them to this wonderful time in their lives. In recognition of the love and sacrifice that each parent has made, the bride and groom will give a rose (or roses) to each of their mothers as a token of love and respect."
Tip: Take your time with this ceremony and be careful, as it often involves navigating steps with high heels and a long wedding dress. Enjoy the hugs and kisses, and take time to speak or whisper special words to each parent, who will remember and cherish this time spent with them. The audience always loves this "surprise" as well, so there's no need to hurry. And since this is an unexpected moment, do not list it in your wedding program! Let it just "come out of nowhere" and bless everyone with it!
UNITY CANDLE CEREMONY
Many couples want to incorporate the use of "unity candles" in their wedding ceremony, so let's talk about that. I highly recommend that you use this idea, as everyone who has ever done this in one of my weddings has been blessed by this special ceremony.
Lighting of a unity candle is very popular in America. This ceremony involves two taper or smaller candles, each sitting on a table at the side of a bigger and taller candle in the middle. The center candle, usually white in color, is the unity candle. Often, the two smaller candles are the colors of the wedding itself, or they may be white, as well.
Tip: I suggest that you buy these candles and holders at a Wal-Mart or K-Mart and design the "arrangement" yourself, as this is so much cheaper than buying a ready-made "unity candle set" at a wedding or flower shop. By preparing the candles yourself, the cost is usually only $10 to $15. Otherwise, be ready to lay down $50 to $100 or more!
Tip: You may choose to decorate your candle set with the wedding invitation or other ornamentation, such as beads, ribbons or ribbon bows. Another idea is to use straight pins to attach a photo or a poem to the unity candle.
Now, the two taper candles are lit at the beginning or near the beginning of the wedding ceremony. You have two choices that work very well: 1) The mothers of the bride and groom step forward together and each lights a candle, which represents the love and support that each family has for either the bride or the groom; 2) The bride and groom step forward early in the ceremony and each lights a candle, which represents their coming forward on this special day as individuals choosing to become united. Either way, the lighting ceremony works the very best if the person presiding over the wedding first explains the symbolism of the candle lighting and then the actual lighting ceremony is accompanied by someone singing a special song or a piece of a song. However, if you choose to send the mothers forward at the very beginning before anyone else in the wedding party has entered, there will be no explanation and the mothers simply light the taper candles with music playing.
Tip: I recommend that you place a Bic lighter behind each of the taper candles that easily can be picked up and used to light the two candles.
Tip: If the candles will be lit after all participants have walked the aisle and the minister has opened the ceremony, I suggest that the song selection lasts no more than two minutes; otherwise, the lighting of the candles has taken place, everyone is back in position, and then the song goes on and on and causes a bit of an uncomfortable feeling for all the participants. However, if your soloist is absolutely terrific, singing the entire song is a fair option.
Tip: At the wedding rehearsal, remind all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen to relax and look at the soloist as she (he) sings! This helps to direct everyone's attention toward the action (in this case, the singer) and gives everyone in the wedding party something to do rather than just gaze uncomfortably at one another!
Toward the end of the wedding ceremony, usually after the wedding vows have been pronounced, the bride and groom step forward and each takes one of the previously lit taper candles in hand. They bring the two flames together at the wick of the unity candle and use them to light the tall, white candle. After blowing out and replacing the taper candles in their respective holders, the bride and groom return to their previous positions.
Tip: When blowing out the taper candles, the bride and groom need to turn away from the unity candle or risk the chance of blowing out not only the taper candles, but the unity candle!
Before the bride and groom step forward to light the unity candle, the officiant should explain the symbolism of this ceremony, telling the audience that "the bride and groom will use the two flames to bring their own hearts and the love of both families together," and that "the two shall now become one" and the two lives have merged as they light the single candle. This is an interesting and beautiful part of the wedding!
Further explanation can be used by the officiant as follows: "The lighting of the unity candle is reminiscent of a long-ago custom whereby the fire from the hearths of the homes of both families was used to start a fire in the newlyweds' home. It represents for us today the two now becoming one in the eyes of the Lord."
UNITY SAND CEREMONY
The Unity Sand Ceremony is similar to the Unity Candle Ceremony, but I suggest you do both! Instead of looking at this as an alternative to the unity candle ceremony, add it toward the close of the wedding ceremony so that you end up with a beautiful, commemorative vase as a keepsake to take home for display!
In sand ceremonies of old, the bridal couple would simultaneously toss handfuls of sand into the wind. The grains of sand mixed in the air, illustrating unity for an eternity of love. Today, here's how this ceremony works best: Using the colors of your wedding, choose a different color of sand for the bride and for the groom, and also purchase some white sand for the officiant. Place each volume of colored sand into three separate vases or bottles from which all three participants will pour their measures of sand into a larger, clear and classy Unity Vase. Before the wedding ceremony, set the three smaller vases beside the Unity Vase on a table, which may be the same table used for the unity candle set.
Tip: The best Unity Vase is one that has a clear cap or suction cap or cork on top that may be inserted at the end of the sand ceremony to "lock in" the mixed sand.
Near the end of the wedding ceremony, the officiant invites the bride and groom to pick up their respective vases of colored sand, while the officiant takes the vase with the white sand in one hand and the empty Unity Vase in the other. As the officiant explains the significance of the sand ceremony, he (she) pours about 1/4 of the white sand into the Unity Vase, creating a base or "foundation" of white sand which represents God as the foundation or "rock" of the marriage. Next, the bride pours approximately 1/3 of her sand into the Unity Vase on top of the white sand, followed by the groom pouring in approximately 1/3 of his sand. This symbolizes that both the bride and groom's individuality is to be respected and cherished. Then the bride, groom and officiant simultaneously pour their colored sands into the vase, which mixes the three colors at once into beautiful swirls, symbolizing the oneness of the couple, their unity with God, and the welcoming of God into their marriage. It is also true that this three-way mixing of sand can never be separated, symbolizing unity and eternity. The bride and groom should finish pouring completely before the officiant pours his final 1/4 of the white sand on top as the final covering, symbolizing the fact that God has brought the couple together and reigns as Lord of their lives.
The layers of sand in the Unity Vase serve to create a unique design, giving the wedded couple a wonderful keepsake.
Tip: The officiant may speak words to this effect: "As you join your lives together, the two separate bottles of sand symbolize your individuality and suggest your individual decisions to marry one another. The white sand represents your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. With the pouring of the white sand first, it represents the sure and solid foundation of your Christianity and faith. As each of you pours in your separate colors, it illustrates your uniqueness as individuals created by Almighty God. As all three of us pour our colors simultaneously, this is symbolic of your coming together as husband and wife in the eyes of the Lord, as the two become one, and as your marriage is blessed by God. Finally, with the final grains of white sand, your marriage and your lives are under the protective hands of God. Now look at this beautiful, one-of-a-kind treasure! It's perfect for your table or mantle in your new home!"
Another great idea for a Christian wedding is to have the officiant, a parent, or a member of the wedding party read some verses from the Holy Bible. The best selection of all is 1 Corinthians 13, which contains 13 verses and ends with "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." It takes about one minute to read the whole chapter. However, if you'd prefer just to hit the key verses in the chapter, I suggest reading verses 4-8, which says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." That says it all in a nutshell, and it's perfect for any ceremony!
Tip: Make sure that the reader enunciates and speaks clearly and loudly! This will give the reading a place of significance and will give it an awesome "punch!"
Besides having a soloist do the honors of singing at your wedding (I highly recommend one or two songs during the ceremony), another idea to add is that of having someone special read a great song lyric as a poem. Choose a bridal party member or a parent or sibling to share. For example, the lyrics to Rascal Flatts' song, "Bless the Broken Road," are as follows:
"I set out on a narrow way, many years ago,
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road;
But I got lost a time or two,
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through,
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you.
Every long lost dream led me to where you are,
Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern Stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms;
This much I know is true:
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.
God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you."
A reading like this is a super addition to your wedding ceremony!
THE PASTORAL CHARGE
Whatever the officiant may want to offer to the bride and groom by way of a soliloquy of marriage instructions or advice during the ceremony, be bold enough to ask him or her not to speak more than 3 or 4 minutes. When a minister or officiant rattles on and on extemporaneously for 10 to 15 minutes, it takes the air out of the ceremony and brings all the emotions to a grinding halt. Believe me, absolutely great words can be spoken in just 3 or 4 minutes! Case in point: take a look in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13 and you'll see everything necessary that could be said about love in sixty seconds!
THE MARRIAGE VOWS
Marriage vows can be traditional or contemporary, long or short, memorized or repeated after the officiant, and even personalized. Whichever you choose, the easiest, safest and most flawlessly delivered vows are those that can be repeated after the officiant. Here is an example of traditional vows: "I, _____, take you, _____, to be my lawfully wedded _____, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part; and to you I pledge my faithfulness." More contemporary vows could go like this: "I,_____, take you, _____, to be my lawful and wedded _____, to have and to hold, from this day forward forever, in sickness as well as in health, in poverty as well as in wealth, in the good that lights your days or the bad that darkens your ways, and to be true to you alone until death alone parts us. I do so promise."
Tip: When repeating your wedding vows, make sure the bride and groom turn to face one another, thereby affording the audience a side profile so they can "get in on" the facial expressions and hear the words more clearly. In fact, a side profile should be used as often as possible throughout the entire wedding ceremony.
EXCHANGE OF RINGS
Have the officiant say something like this: "From hundreds of years ago, the ring has been used to seal this most significant human commitment - that of holy matrimony. The ring is an unending circle that represents your unending love and the eternity of your love for one another. It is symbolic of your vows and promises, and it is an unending circle to remind you that the tie which binds your lives together is an unending tie. Now, as beautiful tokens of your marriage vows, you may give these rings to each other."
As the bride and groom respectively place rings on each other's finger, they may repeat these perfect words after the officiant: "With this ring, I pledge my love, and I promise to nurture my love every day of our lives together. I give it in humble gratitude, with great joy in my heart."
Tip: If the ring gets stuck at the knuckle while "slipping it on," don't panic and don't fight it. Just hold the ring as you finish your vows. The person receiving the ring can discreetly slide it all the way on at any time during the next couple of minutes.
THE WEDDING KISS
I don't think any instructions are warranted as you hear the words, "You may now kiss your bride!" This is the moment you've been waiting for, so thoroughly enjoy! Yes, it's legal!
Well, my friends, I think I've shared plenty. The ideas that I've presented are the best of the best! All the rest is common sense. Certainly, I believe that if you incorporate these ideas into your special day, you'll end up with The Absolutely Perfect Wedding Ceremony!
This is beautifulsoul. Over and out!