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


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.


*The Intent – “I do.”

Personal Vows – Promises made to each other.

Blessing and Exchange of Rings

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



 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.


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.