Can My Dog be in it? — Designing a Wedding Ceremony with Meaning
There’s been one on the wings of an airplane in flight. There’s been one under water. Even one on a roller coaster! Maybe your ceremony won’t be so extreme, but you would like to include some less traditional items to reflect who you are as a couple.
As an officiant of many years, I can tell you that it’s the more personalized weddings that mean the most – not only to the couple getting married, but also to the guests.
So how do you make your wedding ceremony meaningful? Before you design your ceremony, ask yourselves these questions:
1. Who means the most to you?
I’ve officiated at ceremonies where each partner acknowledged their parents for their love and support. Where children exchanged vows with their new parent. Where the couple sang to each other. Where a candle was lit to acknowledge a mother who had passed on. And where a dog sat at the feet of the couple during the ceremony.
No marriage is an island. Include those you love in your ceremony to add warmth, depth, and appreciation to it.
2. What is unique to you as a couple?
Most couples have a special song, a mutually-admired author, a shared philosophy. What are the landmarks of your relationship? Include these in your ceremony and have the reader/singer explain why they’re meaningful to you.
3. What makes your soul sing?
I knew a couple who met at church, went to church regularly and then felt guilty because they wanted an outdoor wedding. Still, every time they searched their souls, they got the image of a ceremony surrounded by flowers in bloom, leafy trees, and birds singing. Your wedding sets the tone for your married life. If you don’t go for it now, when will you? Be courageous – as this couple was – and follow your hearts.
4. What kind of tone do you want to set?
Do you want a formal wedding or a simple, casual one? A wedding with humor in it or more solemnity? Start with the tone of your wedding and choose everything from there: the music (string quartet vs jazz band?), the clothing, the invitations, the decorations, the ceremony, the officiant. If you know the tone you want, the details follow more easily.
How to begin
When you begin designing your ceremony, brainstorm — and brainstorm big. What is your ultimate fantasy for your wedding ceremony? Start there — you can always scale down.
I consider designing a ceremony part of the “initiation by fire” that a couple goes through when getting married. It can be challenging, but it’s one of those things: the earlier you start, and the more thought you put into it, the more satisfied you’ll feel. Seek help from your officiant — that’s one of the things they’re there for.
You are creating not just an event, but a memory that will last a lifetime. So start now — and have a beautiful, meaningful wedding!