For a more detailed print version on how to perform your first wedding ceremony, we recommend that you check out our book...
Now that you understand the basic wording and structure of a wedding ceremony, you are in a better position to tailor the ceremony script to reflect the couple's needs. On this page we will cover:
Apart from the Invocation (the “Dearly Beloved and Honored Guests, we are gathered together here…” part), the Declaration of Intent (the “I do” part), and the Pronouncement (the “I now pronounce you…” part), you have creative license to craft a truly unique ceremony! One effective strategy is to start is with the couple, and then work backwards towards the ceremony. That way, you’ve established the feel and tone before you start putting it together.
Before you put pen to paper, take a few minutes to consider the following – what characteristics define the couple, and which ones will define their marriage in the years ahead? Is their relationship built on a profound faith, a commitment to social justice, a love of nature?
Seizing on these themes early does two things: it creates a narrative backbone for the ceremony, while also eliciting inspired moments that can be added to the ceremony.
Let’s say a couple bonded over their love of nature and wilderness backpacking, building on that theme, the officiant and couple can intersperse anecdotes and things that the couple learned about each other through their experiences into the ceremony. An obvious place in the ceremony to insert these themes is the couples story. The ceremony script can include how their mutual love of nature drew them together, how it featured into their engagement, and how they hope to continue to make their love of nature a part of their lives together.
Having covered how to identify and incorporate prominent themes into the ceremony script, it’s worth considering ways to communicate the couple’s values and beliefs to the guests in attendance. Here are some tips:
It’s tempting to obsess over grammar when writing but the reality is, you’ll be speaking the lines out loud, even if you’re reading from a script. In addition to the boilerplate – but crucial – speech writing rules such as use short words and write short sentences, it’s important to emulate the couples voice when communicating their thoughts and feelings.
As you collect anecdotes, make note of the way in which the couple express themselves. If the bride favors certain expressions, work them into the script and attribute them to her. That means saying things like: “Monica used to have serious FOMO, but when she met Chandler…”
When you are writing parts of the script that communicate thoughts and statements of the couple, stick to editing for grammar and clarity and keep their mannerisms in place.
When you sit down with the couple ask yourselves, what story or stories are we trying to tell? Like any good book or TV show, your wedding ceremony should have a narrative arc, which becomes apparent as the ceremony transpires. Remember, stories draw your guests into the ceremony and make them feel like they are a part of the experience. While one strategy is to start with a warm-up, move to a substantive middle, and end with an inspirational conclusion, work with the couple to tell their story in whatever way feels natural.
Before you start writing, take a moment to consider the significance of the impending wedding. What is the couple is experiencing? Then, write something that feels true. While the wedding is a public event, a personal story can help the couple find their voice and connect with the guests.