Extending Your Wedding Ceremony Experience

Extending your wedding ceremony experience can make your ceremony fresh and memorable for you and your guests, and get your celebration off to a great start. Extending your wedding ceremony doesn’t mean making the ceremony itself longer, but rather offers ways to surround your ceremony with things for your guests to see and do.

Some couples are opting to offer a social hour – or half hour – before the ceremony begins. They invite guests, for example, to arrive at 4:00pm for a brief social time before a 4:30pm start time. While this is a nice idea, it can be tricky to get people to stop socializing and shift to a ceremony mindset. Know your guests here, and decide if this is a good idea for your group.

Extending your wedding ceremony experience can also be accomplished by showing a video of you as a couple before the ceremony begins. Some couples show this kind of video during their reception, but pictures showing the growth and path of your relationship can be a great introduction to your ceremony. You probably don’t want to include the “cute kids” pictures, but rather focus on the two of you together, the experiences you’ve shared, and your life together. Backed with some of your favorite music, this can be an entertaining interlude for your guests as they wait for the ceremony to begin. A caveat with this suggestion – if your ceremony is taking place outdoors, make sure the video can be seen in the sunlight.

Guests show support for marriage by adding thumbprints

And a final way to extend your ceremony experience is to introduce the thumbprints poster you want your guests to contribute to in place of a guestbook. These have become popular, but can be more meaningful if introduced during the ceremony as a community ritual demonstrating your guests’ support for your marriage. You and your wedding party can place your thumbprints on the poster during the ceremony, and guests can be invited by your officiant to add their thumbprints on the way into the social hour/reception space. You’ll get much better participation with this positioning and invitation from the officiant, and will have a more complete poster to hang in your home as a remembrance of the special people who shared in your special day.

As these three examples show, with a little “out of the box” thinking extending your wedding ceremony experience in ways that make it more enjoyable, more personal and more meaningful for your guests is fairly easily accomplished. Happy ceremony planning!

Meaningful Unity Rituals

Meaningful unity rituals can add a memorable touch to your wedding ceremony. Along with your exchange of vows and rings, the unity ritual serves as a highlight of the ceremony when it is done well. So how do you ensure that your unity ritual is meaningful and significant?

Meaningful unity rituals serve a purpose. The purpose is to visually illustrate the vows you’ve just exchanged – blending your lives, joining your lives, becoming one, bringing your individuality to your marriage, and respecting each others goals and preferences can each be demonstrated with unity rituals. The more personal the ritual, the more meaningful it can be.

There are a few well known unity rituals – the unity candle lit from tapers representing your single lives now joining together, and the sand ceremony blending different colored sand showing the blending of your lives into one. They are fine, and if you like them, you should have them in your ceremony. There is another set of unity rituals gaining popularity including handfasting, love letters and tree plantings. They, too, should be part of your ceremony if you like the symbolism involved in them.

Love Letters Unity Ritual

If you select one of the newer unity rituals, and especially if you have a unity ritual created just for you, it is essential that the symbolism and meaning be explained to your guests while you perform the ritual.

A story was shared with me regarding a recent wedding. There was a unity ritual, because the couple moved to a table and did something with dirt from two containers, but no one explained what exactly they were doing or what it was supposed to signify. That unity ritual was a failure from the perspective of the guests. Hopefully it had meaning for the couple, but because it wasn’t explained the guests felt left out and not respected. Maybe the soil came from their childhood homes and would be used to plant a tree outside their own home, thus connecting their histories and families. Or maybe they had gathered the soil on vacations they’ve shared and it represented their love of travel. Or maybe the soil represented the basis for their marriage – as the soil supports and nourishes a tree it surrounds, so will they work to support and nourish their marriage going forward. If the symbolism this ritual held for the couple had been explained, the guests would have understood it, would have learned about the priorities and focus of the couple, and the ritual would have become a significant part of the ceremony.

If you don’t like any of the “standard” unity rituals, or any of the “newer” unity rituals, and don’t want to explore the possibility of a personal unity ritual, that’s OK, too. Unity rituals are a totally optional part of the ceremony. I like them because they involve movement and action for the couple which is visually interesting, and if well explained, can add meaning to the ceremony. But they aren’t for everyone. You can choose to move from your exchange of vows and rings to the closing elements of the ceremony. Simple ceremonies can be lovely and can keep the focus on your promises/vows which can be very touching, too. Just remember to ensure meaningful unity rituals for yourselves and your guests if you choose to include them in your wedding ceremony.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2018. If you are recently engaged, welcome to the wonderful world of wedding planning. You will discover that it is more complex than you may have expected, but remember that there are many wedding professionals ready to help make your wedding vision a reality for you. Selecting your date and venue are probably the first steps for you, followed quickly by booking the wedding professionals you feel most comfortable with.

Some of you have been planning for your wedding day for a number of months now, and 2018, the year of the wedding, has finally arrived. If you’ve taken a pause in your wedding planning over the holidays, now is a good time to check your to do list and ensure that everything is still on schedule. The next few months are sure to zoom by and you can keep your stress level down by keeping on track with remaining tasks.

The beginning of the new year may also be the opportunity some of you take to reflect on your relationship and decide that it’s time to move toward marriage. You have time to get a ring for a romantic Valentine’s Day proposal, and don’t forget the romantic possibilities a warm fireplace, or a simple walk on a crisp winter day can offer.

Whatever the milestones you will mark in this new year; proposal and engagement, setting the date or experiencing your dreamed of wedding day, may 2018 be a year of love and wonder for you on your wonderful journey together. Wishing you all a happy new year and a loving one, too.

Congratulations to the Newly Engaged!

Congratulations to all newly engaged couples. December holidays are the most popular time of the year for couples to get engaged, so there are quite a few of you out there this week. I hope you take a little time to savor this moment, to share the happy news with your families, and to bask in the love you’ve found together.

When you begin planning your wedding day, you’ll probably start with setting a date and booking a venue. Then it’s time to start talking about what you want in your ceremony – the part of your wedding day where you cross the threshold into marriage by making promises to each other in front of the important people who have gathered to celebrate with you.

Whether you decide on a simple, informal ceremony in front of a handful of people, or a more formal and elaborate experience with a hundred or more guests, the ceremony should reflect you as a couple and should include only the elements you want. I’d be happy to speak with you about your ceremony wishes at any time.

Please explore my services on my website, check out the testimonials, and take a look at the ritual options on the Weddings page. Then contact me via an online form, email or phone, and I’ll be happy to check my availability for your date and chat with you about your ceremony wishes. And again, Congratulations on your engagement and good luck with all your wedding planning.

Warm Holiday Wishes

Sending warm holiday wishes to everyone. With the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, HumanLight, and New Years packed into the last two weeks of the year, there are plenty of holidays to choose from and to celebrate. Each holiday has its own celebrations, traditions and rituals to draw people together and create warm memories.

You may decorate your home, give and receive gifts, gather with family and friends, drink champagne and bake cookies. However you celebrate, I encourage you to take time to savor the moments, to build memories, and to cherish those close to your heart.

It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle caused by the many extra tasks involved in holiday celebrations, but if you take the time to pause and enjoy a conversation, to take a walk on a crisp, sunny day, or even to watch an old, favorite holiday movie together you’ll make more memories and enjoy the season more.

Especially if you’re planning a 2018 wedding, this is a good opportunity to put away your lists for a few days and concentrate on sharing the holidays with your partner. Talk about your memories of treasured childhood holiday celebrations. Discuss what traditions you might want to include in your holidays as a married couple. Do a little something to let your partner that you’re thinking of them at this busy time of year – an extra hug, a special thank you, a gentle kiss will be much appreciated.

No matter which holiday you celebrate, or how you celebrate, remember that it is the people you share your celebration with that mean the most. Wishing you safe and warm holiday celebrations.