As a couple, you may spend so much time organizing the reception, getting your outfits together, and planning the honeymoon that you forget about the central event of the wedding: the ceremony.
Here’s the thing: The ceremony might not be the funnest part of the wedding (hopefully that’s the reception), but it is the reason you all are there. Neglecting the ceremony is like hosting the Oscars and forgetting to give out awards. It’s like the Superbowl without an actual football game.
Don’t find yourself at the altar with flop-sweat cascading off your brow. Take some time to actually plan the ceremony, starting with these simple do’s and don’ts.
It’s All About You…and Them
Of course, the ceremony involves a deeply personal expression of love between you and your bride. But it’s also–by definition–the public declaration of that love, so it has to make sense to the people gathered there to see it.
Do: Have a ceremony that resonates with you and your fiancé on a highly personal level. Make sure it’s a celebration of your mutual experiences, interests and beliefs.
Don’t: Pack your ceremony with too many obscure personal references or inside jokes. Remember that your guests are there to experience your ceremony with you, so include some universal themes and references that everyone can relate to.
Go For “Awww” Not “Eww”
When it’s time for the big kiss (from your bride, not your best man after he slurs, “I love you, man” at the end of the reception), all eyes will be on you, so be sure to get it right.
Do: Keep it short and sweet—just long enough pictures to be taken and for everyone to feel the love.
Don’t: Swab the decks. Seriously, this is not the time for a round of tonsil hockey. Emotions will be running high, but stay focused. Do not release the kraken.
Ditch The Choreography
The best ceremonies are simple and heartfelt, so let’s shelve those fancy dances down the aisle and high-energy flash mobs. Sure, there are hundreds of videos of this type of thing on YouTube, but there are also thousands of videos that were never uploaded…for a good reason.
Do: Make your ceremony fun. Nobody wants a paint-by-numbers wedding, so be sure to highlight your ceremony with plenty of personal, emotional and memorable moments.
Don’t: Knee-slide down the aisle while your bride does the worm through a human trellis formed by your groomsmen. Save the worm for the reception…or, better yet, don’t:
There Are Many Ways To Praise
Religion (or lack thereof) can be a touchy subject for some couples and their families, especially if they come from different faiths.
Do: Consider the religious backgrounds of your guests, if you want faith to be part of your ceremony. Try to incorporate elements of the different traditions.
Don’t: Turn your ceremony into a lecture on world religions. A welcoming line or two about celebrating all faiths should do the trick.
Time It Right
The length of your ceremony is important: not so short as to seem rushed; not so long your uncle doses off and snores his way through the “I do’s.”
Do: Make sure you check off all the top items from your ceremony wish list—just do it in a reasonable amount of time. A series of brief heartfelt moments is best.
Don’t: Go into overtime. If your guests start shifting in their seats, checking their phones and/or sneaking out for bathroom breaks, you’ve lost them. Their thoughts will start to drift from anticipating your first kiss to anticipating their first drink of the cocktail hour.