Most first-time wedding officiants find themselves asking, "what pieces or parts are necessary in a wedding ceremony, and what else can be added to make the ceremony special?"
You’ve probably seen hundreds of wedding ceremonies by now -- both in the real world and on television -- including some that you remember years later.
What’s the secret?
Well, there isn’t a “secret” because every couple is different, and their ceremony needs to be approached with fresh eyes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a formula though. Don’t worry, we’ve got it down to a science, so here’s what you need to know to start with, and we’ll be with you right up to the ceremony:
The only thing that is “required” by most states are some vows and a pronouncement. Yes, it’s that simple… the ‘vows question’ is asked of each of both partners, to show their intent to be married, and the ‘pronouncement’ is a sentence or two pronouncing the couple as married, and voila, they are married.
But with guests travelling from around the world to these events, there’s a certain expectation beyond just saying those words.
So, what can you add to a ceremony to make it personal, meaningful, and memorable?
What was it that made your cousin's wedding so memorable?
We recommend that you start with an introduction, add a reading or two within the ceremony, and maybe some personal words/stories about the couple (nothing embarrassing, though).
That way, you’ve introduced some personality into the ceremony. A strong introduction gives the ceremony a sense of purpose, lets guests see into the couple’s life together, and it’s a nice lead-in to the more formal vows.
A ring exchange is almost a given as well, but here again, there’s plenty of opportunity to add character. We cover these options at length in our bestselling book on ceremony creation Asked to Officiate. But just to give you an idea, there are lots of ways for guests to bless the rings, pass them around, and space for meaningful readings.
Finally, we recommend a closing statement that mirrors the sentiment of the opening words. And you can’t forget the required pronouncement (that’s the “by the power vested in me…” part) and finally you can have the couple kiss (not necessary, but almost always good).
After that, all that's left is the presentation of the couple, that’s the part where the officiant says, “I present to you…” and it’s a wrap!
Do you need to do everything mentioned?
Of course not. Depending on the length of ceremony you are aiming for, and the personality of the couple, you should select pieces that fit them as you work through creating the ceremony. For example, some couples aren’t comfortable with the level of PDA required for their first public kiss. That’s why you should discuss these components well in advance.