Five Ways to Have a Better Wedding Ceremony

Hey there engaged couples! I find when working with couples in this modern day and age that a main focus for many of them during wedding planning is on the reception. They desire an atmosphere conducive of fun, liveliness, and dancing the night away and long to create memories that their friends and family can share for years to come. I am enjoying this shift from stuffy, ballroom weddings toward intimate and customized weddings and for wanting to have a memorable day, but often people can become so focused on the reception that they nearly forget the ceremony or begin thinking of it last minute. And getting married is the whole point of the day right? Therefore, I believe it is important to be thoughtful and mindful of your ceremony and to give it the proper amount of planning it deserves. Today, I am sharing 5 wedding planning tips that will help you have a better and more meaningful ceremony. 

Go Unplugged

In 2015, pretty much everyone has a cell phone and uses some form of social media. It is fun to see the creative hashtags people come up with for weddings and to be able to follow along with those hashtags on Instagram. However, I highly recommend politely asking your guests to turn off all electronic devices (unless it's for medical purposes) during your nuptials. If you have paid for a professional photographer, you don't need your fraternity brother-from-another-mother taking shots of your bride-to-be walking down the aisle and posting it to social media in the middle of the ceremony. You want your guests to be present for your ceremony, and you also want to minimize distractions. Someone posting photos to their phone, or worse, receiving noisy updates during a ceremony is both distracting and inconsiderate. It's understandable that your loved ones want to take photos, but asking them to refrain during your ceremony allows the ceremony to remain intimate and meaningful. 

Consider making a sign like this one found on Ruffled blog. Photographer: Pinkerton Photography. 

Allow a Buffer

Almost without fail, people arrive late to weddings. It is surprising, but alas it does happen and sometimes there may be a legitimate reason: unforeseen traffic, the transportation is late, they get lost, etc. Whatever the reason, there is a high likelihood that a few people may be late to your ceremony. This is not cause for worry, but due to this fact, I would consider allowing a buffer of 5-10 minutes before starting your ceremony. Late arrivals can be extremely distracting for both you and your guests and starting a few minutes late gives them time to arrive and quietly locate their seats. At some point, however, you do have to start the ceremony even if a few people still haven't arrived (you don't want to keep the guests that are present waiting all day). I would think of having a designated place that late arrivals can wait until the ceremony is over. I was once shadowing a wedding where a few guests arrived at least 15-20 minutes late and in order to get to the ceremony location, you had to walk up a gravel driveway. Instead of waiting, the guests chose to walk up the driveway as the ceremony was well underway. The noise was loud and distracting and you don't want this type of interference picked up on video if you are having the ceremony taped. In essence, have a plan for how to deal with late folks, and always consider having a buffer in your schedule.

Information

Prior to the wedding, provide as much information to your guests as possible. In this generation of technology, there are many ways to keep guests up-to-date on your wedding details. Consider creating a wedding website on The Knot or Squarespace (or you if you are using a planner they may offer this as part of their services). These websites have sections that allow you to add ceremony details that will be helpful for guests and I was surprised to learn that some of my clients still don't know about them. Providing information like an address, map, driving directions from hotels, parking information, and more can help your guests prepare in advance and can prevent potential mishaps. Be sure to include your wedding website on your save-the-dates or invitations so guests can find it easily. 

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An example of a wedding website template on Squarespace

Hire a Day-of Coordinator

I know. I know. Shameless plugging for wedding planners, but hiring a day-of coordinator is one of the best ways to ensure that your wedding ceremony and the whole event runs smoothly. Wedding planners have experience in dealing with logistics, details, organization, and timing and can address any last minute issues that may arise. They will work with your officiant, photographer, and DJ/Band to ensure that the flow and pace of the ceremony is as smooth and seamless as possible. Brides: your nerves may kick up a notch right before you walk down the aisle and your coordinator is there to help keep you calm and give you assurance that you are in good hands. 

Photo by: Annamarie Akins Photography

Be Present

Today is the day. You have been planning for months, and have likely felt a myriad of feelings and emotions in the process. The biggest gift you can give yourself during your ceremony (and the whole day really) is to be present. When I woke up the morning of my wedding, I experienced a sense of peace and calm that surpassed all understanding. At some point you just have to give it over and realize that if some details are not completed by the day-of, that it's probable that they won't be completed and it likely doesn't matter. Whether or not the programs are perfect doesn't matter. Whether or not the centerpieces are extravagant doesn't matter. What matters is the beauty and sanctity of marriage and making a commitment to love and give of yourself to someone else. The wedding is one day: marriage is forever. Allow yourself to be in the moment and let go of worrying about how the day will go. There will likely be some hiccups (that can even be funny and memorable), and things may not be "perfect", but (hopefully) this isn't why you're here. You're here to take a leap and join two lives into one. Consider leaving your phone somewhere before you start the ceremony and challenge yourself to not pick it up again until the end of the night. I did this on my wedding day and when I look back I am so thankful that I did. I wasn't distracted by texts, updates, emails, or anything from the digital world. I was engaged and in the moment. Plus, the people with you are likely the people you care about most in the world. 

Hopefully these wedding planning tips will help you think through ways to have a meaningful ceremony that is representative as you as a couple. For questions, email: weddings@maggiesmisc.com. 

Thanks for stopping by!

~Maggie ♥