There are infinite ways to add tiny touches that will make your wedding feel “uniquely you,” whether it is incorporating a meaningful tradition into your ceremony that has been passed down generation-to-generation by one of your families, or whether it is a starting a tradition that you two are co-creating that very day.
Here are a few simple ideas you can incorporate into your wedding ceremony to help set the tone :
1. Get married by someone who knows you. Fly out your childhood priest or minister if you aren’t getting married in your hometown, or have a friend or family member get licensed so that they can do the honors. It’s not hard to qualify in most states to legally marry people and don’t you think it would be nice to have someone standing up there with you who believes in you and whom you both love and trust implicitly? Plus they can speak candidly about you and add personal stories and antidotes that will make the ceremony much more noteworthy for your guests ;-)
2. Write your own vows. Write them together, write them separately, borrow the vows recited by your best friends, or take the same vows your parents did when they got married 30 years ago. Chose carefully the words that will define how you intend to stand by and support one another for all the years to come… And after your wedding have them framed in your home to remind you!
3. Incorporate family and cultural traditions. Asking your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or other loved ones about their weddings and any cultural or family traditions they chose to include in their ceremonies is a wonderful opportunity to facilitate deep and meaningful conversation, and picking a few of them to include that resonate with you is a perfect way to honor your lineage (as a side note, if you do incorporate a religious or cultural tradition such as breaking a glass or jumping a broom, be sure to explain its significance so that your guests that are not aware of its cultural implications can fully appreciate its meaning.)
4. Include music or a performance. Asking one of your talented guests to perform is always a welcomed treat. But even if your friends and family are not musically inclined or are without a talent they are comfortable sharing, simply hiring a musician to play some beautiful live music that speaks to you or having them sing a favorite song of yours can be very powerful.
5. Do something symbolic. Anything.
Make a time capsule (write heartfelt letters to each other and bury them with an exceptional bottle of wine to uncork on a milestone anniversary.)
Pot a plant. If you want to get really fancy add some soil from each of your hometowns (your moms will feel special providing it for you :-) Water the plant together and then plant it someplace where you will see it everyday or where you can come back to visit it on special occasions and see how it has flourished.
Light a unity candle (not recommended for outdoor ceremonies!) or a vintage gas lamp from your grandparents summer cottage to represent your new combined flame.
Have a ring warming (I’ve seen a number of versions of this, but basically you slip the rings in a small bag and pass it along to each guest prior to the ring exchange so that they can bless the rings or say their own version of a prayer for your union.)
6. Share your love story. Join forces together and write a poem that you recite alternating line by line (or have a friend recount the story for you) of how you met or where you got engaged or why you chose to get married where you did (including all humorous and touching side notes of course.) If you are blessed with theatrical friends, there may even be room for an reenactment here (I haven’t seen that yet, but I’m looking for volunteers!) Your guests that might not know the details of your courtship will feel more connected to you if you share a sweet story or two. Or if you are apprehensive about revealing those intimate details, a beloved poem or a passage from your favorite book can be equally touching.
Just remember, your ceremony can be your own unique balance of tradition and personal expression.
P.S. Be sure to check out part one of my blog series on crafting a meaningful ceremony — Arguments against a Five Minute Ceremony.