Top 12 Wedding Ceremony Tips from an Officiant
Now that you’ve started to plan your wedding, it’s time to think about the wedding ceremony! Rev Jill Dillner talks to Denny about her best ceremony tips, from vows to readings to music and everything in between. Here are our
Top 12 Wedding Ceremony Tips from an Officiant
1. Meet Your Officiant
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s so important! Meeting your officiant in advance of the wedding day ensures you all vibe well and are on the same page. Looking for someone who is funny and lighthearted? What about an officiant who will speed things up while it’s 100 degrees outside at your summer wedding? Maybe you want to make sure your officiant can find common threads in your and your fiance’s different faiths. Do your research and also read reviews. Most of all, scheduling a meeting can help you cover all bases when making your decision.
2. Make Your Ceremony Unique
Your story is #1 – how and when did you meet? Did you connect online, at a bar, or a party? Talk to your officiant about your love story, so they can incorporate elements of it into your wedding ceremony. Most couples want a beautiful, meaningful, and fun celebration. Your officiant can help cover all three in a unique way, so guests will transition from your ceremony to cocktail hour with great energy!
3. Get Married Anywhere
Don’t want to have a church ceremony? No problem! New Jersey has countless beautiful outdoor venues where you can get married surrounded by nature. Check out a few on the Off BEET Productions blog. Maybe you’d like your ceremony to be on the beach? Your officiant can adapt to any setting you desire, even your own backyard or living room!
4. Know the Weather
If you’re getting married in summer months like June, expect the weather to be super hot. In New Jersey, May tends to be pretty rainy. Getting married outside in the winter? Consider what family members, like children and grandparents, may have trouble in the cold. Know your weather, know your season, and respect it. Prepare accordingly, and even plan for a backup indoor location just in case! Also consider what decorations can be used inside should you end up in your backup spot.
5. Write Your Own Vows
Interested in writing your own wedding vows? Start by writing two sentences about when you met, two sentences about your relationship and why you’re at this point now, and two sentences about what your hopes are for the future. Those six sentences are a great start that you can then add to. One to two minute vows are perfect for saying what you want to say without going too in depth. Send your officiant your vows so they’re informed and can help if needed.
6. Have a Unity Ceremony
A unity ceremony is a ritual symbolizing two people coming together as one. You may have seen this done at a wedding with lighting candles or pouring sand. You can celebrate your union however you like! Your officiant can help orchestrate pouring wine, burning sage, even making a pizza! You don’t need to have a unity ceremony, but if you choose to, the best thing you can do is pick something that’s representative of you as a couple.
7. Choose Your Readings
You can plan scripture readings, literature readings, or song lyrics to personalize your wedding ceremony. Who should give your readings? Perhaps a beloved family member or someone who didn’t make the bridal party cut but is super important to you. Just make sure they know and practice the reading beforehand! Your officiant might suggest a reading to add a little “meat” to the ceremony, but it’s ultimately your choice whether or not you’d like to have any.
8. Check Legalities
Want your friend or family member to officiate your wedding? Check the legality – in some states, getting ordained online won’t fly. Be sure you convey your expectations clearly. Are you picking this friend or family member because they’re going to be good at the job or because they’re the one with the most personality? Personality doesn’t always translate properly into a ceremony. Therefore, after confirming they can legally marry you, spend some time with the person and do some practice runs to make sure they’re the right choice for you.
9. Pick Some Tunes
Music can liven up your wedding ceremony! Chat with your musicians or DJ about the tunes you’d like to hear. The music you choose will set the tone for how your guests view the ceremony. The song that you hear in the car that immediately makes you think of your partner should probably be the song you walk down the aisle to! What will play during your walking out after being announced as married? You want a song that will say, “This is our relationship. This is our vision for this day.” Make it upbeat and fun!
10. Blend Your Family
Your marriage not only unifies the two of you together – it also unifies your families! If you both have children, a sweet idea is to incorporate them into the ceremony. Your officiant can help you plan this in a fun and memorable way. Maybe you’d like to do special vows that the kids recite. And hey, pets are part of the family, too! If your venue allows them and your pet is well-behaved, you can have them as part of the ceremony, walking down the aisle then sitting on the side. Just make sure someone is in charge of Fido for the day, so you don’t have to worry about him!
11. Acknowledge Your Loved Ones
Honoring loved ones can also be a special element of your wedding ceremony. You may choose to list their names in the program or put a spray of flowers on their chair. For those who have passed on, displaying their photos is also a beautiful act of remembrance and love. If the passing is recent and photos would be too emotional for your guests, your officiant can help acknowledge them in a more appropriate way.
12. Change Your Name for Free
You will have one free name change on your marriage license. Some people choose hyphenated last names, husbands might take their wives’ names, and gay couples may choose to create a combination of both person’s last name. It’s your choice and totally legal. Just make sure you get a marriage license in your own state, even if you’re having a destination wedding!