So, you’re getting married. Congratulations! Whether this is your first or fourth marriage, you have many things and costs to consider: venue, gowns and tuxes, flowers, rings, your religious views, the religious views of your families and perhaps the requirements of your church, synagogue, mosque or temple. You may not want God mentioned at all in your celebration of marriage. You have deadlines to meet on top of going to work or to school (or both) and you hardly have the time! All this and more is happening in your busy life. You need to get all this done and fit it all into a budget you control, rather than letting your budget control you. You have a huge organizational chore on your hands. You realize some things will be missed or decided in too much haste, but you hope not. And we haven’t even begun talking about the event at the hub of this event planning: your wedding ceremony.
Your ceremony starts everything. In your ceremony you take that giant step beyond your past and forge a new beginning with solemn oaths and vows of love, exchanging rings, symbolizing your unity and launching your marriage as well as the celebration. Your entrance and walk down the aisle to stand before your guests and the officiant are prelude and the processional. The officiant welcomes you and your guests and says why you are there. Then the handoff when your parents present the bride to be married to the groom, the commitment (you say “I do”), standard vows (the ‘repeat after me’ part), personal vows if you wish, exchange of rings, some symbolism (Unity Candle, Unity Sand, etc.), the charge to the couple, and perhaps a prayer. Finally, after all your planning, hard work, hurrying and scurrying, and standing perfectly pretty before the world for 15-18 minutes, you come to that great moment when the officiant says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” The officiant announces you and you walk out to tears, cheers, and joyous applause (the recessional). Let the party begin.
What just happened to make the bride gleam and smile, the groom breathe and loosen his tie, parents cry, friends cheer and the world recognize Mr. & Mrs. Newlywed? In less than 20 minutes, you all heard about love, how you met, about your love for each other, what you are promising with your solemn vows and what to expect from it, all in a ceremony that is as traditional as the ages and can be as personal, creative and entertaining as you want it to be. Believe me, every part of a wedding ceremony can be done the way you want it, or even discarded. “Traditional” simply means the form of your ceremony, not the way you do yours. You may change only the vows, include your children, skip the commitment and vows and just promise to love one another in your own words, or collect the good wishes of your guests that they write on flat stones (a sort of lasting Twitter without the Internet). The form is flexible.
The words of your wedding ceremony will count now and in the years to come. Plan to make them important to you and memorable to your guests.