I’ve seen my fair share of wedding ceremonies over the past three years and I’ve begun to notice some similar qualities of my most favorite ceremonies. Events at wedding ceremonies that always make me cry are when the couple choose to write their own vows and when someone close to the couple officiates the ceremony. Whether or not you’re choosing to have a public ceremony at a wedding or a private ceremony during an elopement, your ceremony is really important! After all, the ceremony is the only part of the entire day that’s actually legal. Everything but the ceremony is just a party and celebration of love. But the ceremony is important as it marks the specific moments when you’ll be legally married!
In my opinion (and from experience), the following tips are surefire ways to make sure your ceremony is meaningful and 100% original to you and your love story!
1. Choose a Special Location
For a lot of people, this means getting married in a church, but that doesn’t always have be the immediate go-to. Meaningful locations are not always bound by four walls and a ceiling. Parks, cities, landmarks – the possibilities are endless. Just make sure to find out if it’s legal to get married in certain areas if you’re considering a public park! The last thing anyone wants is to get arrested on their wedding day 😉
However, if getting married in a church is meaningful to you, put some thought into the actual church. To some people, it might be important to get married in the same church that their parents did. Or it might not even be the specific church that’s important, but the city that the church is located.
2. Find the Right Officiant
Some of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed were at weddings where the couple was very close with the person officiating the ceremony. One ceremony in particular that I will never forget is one I second shot at with Abigail Reeder Designs. The bride was very close with her two brothers and one of them became ordained so he could legally marry his sister and her fiancé at the wedding. He made everyone laugh and cry throughout the ceremony – it was truly beautiful!
Getting ordained to officiate a wedding is actually really easy (at least in Ohio it is, I’m not sure of the process in other states). If there’s someone you have in mind that you would love to ask to do the deed, make sure to ask in advance so that person has time to go through the proper procedures. A common courtesy would be to offer to pay for the licensing this person will go through and to be quite honest, it’s actually pretty cheap! Just make sure this person knows to deliver the paperwork to the State so you can be considered 100% legally married!
Second Shooter for Abigail Reeder Designs
3. Keep it Intimate
Some of my favorite ceremonies have been at smaller, more intimate weddings when it’s just the immediate family and closest friends of the couple. Likely, these people have experienced a majority of life’s events with the couple and the big day has been highly anticipated by all in attendance.
Something that others may not think about is eloping. It is my dream to photograph a beautiful elopement out West in the mountains. Some of my most favorite wedding photographers live in Colorado or Oregon or photograph often in the mountains or on the West Coast. I’ve grown tobe very envious of them! Currently, my dream wedding (for myself) is an elopement either in the PNW or in a South American rainforest. Elopements are so private – so personal. With no one but the photographer, the officiant and maybe a witness, your elopement can be whatever you want it to be. No strings attached, no holding back. Just raw, real, and personal. And that, to me, is beautiful and meaningful.
4. Personalize Your Vows
You can’t get more meaningful and personal than by writing your own vows! Personalized vows are so emotional and real. They can be whatever you want them to be! You can let your humorous and playful side shine through or you can be surprisingly romantic and thoughtful. Introducing things that are meaningful to you in your vows makes your ceremony really special. It might be that no one else will understand your intimate jokes or quirks, but your spouse will and that’s all that truly matters.
5. Interact During the Ceremony
For God’s sake, you guys! You’re getting married!! When you’re at your ceremony – getting marrried! – interact with each other! Hold hands, look each other in the eye. SMILE! LAUGH! Say “I love you.” If you’re getting married, you’re doing it because you love each other. Even the most hands off couple can become super emotional and hands on, on their wedding day. Don’t be shy or embarrassed! This is your day to act exactly how your emotions are driving you to!
Second Shooter for Abigail Reeder Designs
6. Technology Free – Go Unplugged
I’ve talked about this before in other blog posts and I’m still a big believer that guests should not be experiencing your big day watching through the screen of an iPhone or tablet while “documenting your ceremony for you.” I’m going to be as (politely) blunt and straightforward as I possibly can here, guys.
Wedding guests – if you’ve been invited to a wedding, put down your phone and actually experience the day with your own eyes! 99% of couples hire a photographer for their wedding day. This means that they do not need you to document the day for them! That’s why they paid a professional to be there 🙂 Relax and enjoy your time at the wedding with your loved ones!
Couples – your ceremony photos will look significantly nicer if your guests are not hiding behind their phones or tablets. When you picture your wedding ceremony and your officiant asks you to look out at your guests, what do you picture? Most likely, you picture smiling faces that are dedicated to you and to celebrating your big day! What I’m almost positive about is that when you picture this moment – it’s not looking out into a crowd of people looking at their phones instead of at you!
Just remember, if you want an unplugged wedding, tell the officiant in advance to include a statement at the beginning of the ceremony, before the procession begins. Bonus points if you put up a sign that explains to your guests about an unplugged wedding. And if you truly do not care about an unplugged wedding, that is your choice and everyone else will be happy with whatever you choose!
From professional experience, I think so many people get excited about weddings and become enthralled with planning out the little details and the party that sometimes they forget that the ceremony is the most important part of the day. Without the ceremony, the wedding would just be a big party! It wouldn’t be the start of a marriage. If some of my tips just aren’t for you, figure out what will make your ceremony meaningful for you. If you have additional tips, I’d love to hear them – please leave them in a comment below!