What to Include in Your Wedding Ceremony

norman and gloriaA wed­ding cer­e­mony is the offi­cial start of your life together, a first rit­ual, a time of trans­for­ma­tion. This is the cer­e­mony that sets the foun­da­tion for your life together. Many cou­ples may have attended a wor­ship ser­vice together, or a fam­ily hol­i­day rit­ual. If you come from dif­fer­ent faiths, or the same back­ground, this will be your first cer­e­mony together – a cer­e­mony about your uni­fi­ca­tion and a cer­e­mony that unites your lives. Your wed­ding cer­e­mony is the first rit­ual that rep­re­sents who you are as a cou­ple, and speaks about you and the life you are cre­at­ing together.

Your wed­ding cer­e­mony is a time set aside for solid­i­fy­ing your rela­tion­ship and giv­ing your mar­riage a mean­ing­ful send off. The wed­ding cer­e­mony cre­ates the foun­da­tion for the new fam­ily being birthed by this mar­riage. Whether it’s a reli­gious or human­is­tic rit­ual, wed­dings are a sacred rite of pas­sage. As I say in many of my cer­e­monies, “Through the power of the spo­ken word, some­thing amaz­ing is going to hap­pen.” It is up to your officiate/minister to craft the sacred words, to hal­low the time, and add the spark. Your offi­ciant is the voice and the reflec­tion of your love and the love of the fam­ily and friends.

Elements of a Wedding Ceremony

Like all rit­u­als, wed­ding cer­e­monies con­tain many ele­ments. As I tell cou­ples, the law requires just three things:

1. Couples make a promise to one another of their own free will.

2. The cou­ple is pro­nounced hus­band and wife by some­one legally sanc­tioned to do so.

3. The cou­ple presents a valid license and it is prop­erly signed and returned to the county clerk.

The rest of the cer­e­mony is filler. But the filler is the stuff that makes the cer­e­mony spe­cial, unique to the cou­ple, and cre­ates sacred space.

img001A good cer­e­mony will help you set the tone for your lives together. The words that are said are the pub­lic state­ment about the lives you intend to lead together. It is a rit­ual that truly trans­forms you and your lives. And it is quite amaz­ing that a few words from you, the min­is­ter, are the cat­a­lyst that makes this all hap­pen!

Below is the basic order of a cer­e­mony. This is not etched in stone, but is offered here as a guide­line. As a wed­ding cel­e­brant, I cre­ate for you. The cer­e­monies I write for each cou­ple do not come straight from an ancient text or a book of prayer. These cer­e­monies are based on the cou­ples I serve. Your cer­e­mony will rep­re­sent you accu­rately on your spe­cial day and to give you a cer­e­mony that is authen­tic to you and your beliefs.

Order of a Wedding Ceremony

Below is the basic order of a wed­ding cer­e­mony. Know that this is not set in stone. Each cer­e­mony has its own flow, and I adjust the order as needed, par­tic­u­larly mov­ing around read­ings and rit­u­als as they make the most sense. I will some­times com­bine ele­ments such as per­sonal vows with ring exchange or can­dle light­ing with vows, etc.

Welcome – Welcome the bride and groom and acknowl­edg­ment to those

attend­ing.

Invocation – Calling in a higher pres­ence. Create sacred space.

Remembering Loved Ones Passed – Spiritually invit­ing those who have passed to the cer­e­mony, and/or men­tion­ing those who could not attend, but are very spe­cial to the bride and groom.

Reading or Sharing – Friend or fam­ily mem­ber shares a reflec­tion on the cou­ple, a read­ing on mar­riage or love.

Minister’s Address –A short ser­mon about mar­riage, love and/or a per­sonal story about the cou­ple.

Blessing

*The Intent – “I do.”

Personal Vows – Promises made to each other.

Blessing and Exchange of Rings

RitualsWine cer­e­mony, can­dle light­ing, Satapadi, incense, rose cer­e­mony.

*Pronouncement

Kiss

Benediction – Blessing the cou­ple.

*required by law

Keep Your Love Alive — Keep Your Vows Alive

erika & steve kissAs a mar­riage offi­ci­ate who has worked with more than 700 cou­ples, I find that brides and grooms write the most won­der­ful per­sonal vow state­ments to each other. And for many their amaz­ing words become a one time deal. Stated on their wed­ding day and then never looked at again.

To keep your love alive, let your wed­ding vows be alive in your mar­riage.

I like to give cou­ples home­work. I sug­gest that if your wed­ding is on a Saturday night, that every Saturday night for the first year of your mar­riage you re-state your vow to each other. Take the time to recon­nect to the moment of your unit­ing. Let your vows remind you of the love that is so present on your wed­ding day. Let this vow time be the moment you recon­nect if you have had a busy week. Look your part­ner in the eye. Speak the words of love and com­mit­ment. Let your vows stay alive in your mem­ory and be a part of the DNA of your rela­tion­ship

Then in those moments (and those moments will come) when your rela­tion­ship feels strained or you even have for­got­ten why you mar­ried this per­son — your vows will be right there ready to remind you of what has brought you together.

Try it and leave a com­ment here. I would love to hear from you.

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A Small Intimate Wedding — Lisa and Dave’s Fabulous Wedding at Ici, Brooklyn, NY

Slide Show Lisa SizeRender-4 copyOn a warm sum­mer evening in August, 2015 two amaz­ing peo­ple joined their lives in a small cel­e­bra­tion at ICI in Brooklyn NY. Parents were deservidly highly hon­ored in their cer­e­mony for the love and the role mod­els that they have been. Three adorable nieces served as flower girls in their white dresses with sparkling shoes, for­get­ting to throw the flower petals as the walked down the aisle. But all was per­fect for Lisa and Dave and wish­ing them great bless­ings for their life together.

A small restau­rant like ICI can be a great choice for an inti­mate wed­ding. The gar­den was the per­fect place for the cer­e­mony. The fresh sum­mer air enhanced the expe­ri­ence for bride, groom and every­one in atten­dance. And the love that was present for these two was pal­pa­ble. This is a good rea­son to have a wed­ding, rather than elope, Something amaz­ing hap­pens when you gather together every­one that you love. A sacred space is formed from that love and it per­me­ates the wed­ding rit­ual. This is usu­ally a once-in –a-life-time gath­er­ing and you can feel the excite­ment when fam­ily and friends unite to wish a cou­ple well.