Obviously the most important part of your wedding day is the wedding ceremony itself (the part that actually makes you married)!  There are many types and styles of wedding ceremonies, and these days couples are essentially designing their own.  My husband and I did that.  We had already selected a beautiful outdoor venue but were denied by the Catholic Church to be able to have a priest perform a Catholic ceremony outside of a church.  So we decided to do our own thing in the venue we wanted, which we think turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened because it allowed us to completely personalize our ceremony and made it more meaningful for us.  At first we wanted to have someone we knew well marry us, but we also weren’t 100% comfortable with asking someone who wasn’t experienced in performing weddings to marry us just because they knew us.  In the end, we chose someone recommended to us by our venue, who turned out to be wonderful and just what we wanted in an officiant.

We then went to work deciding on the ceremony content.  We knew we wanted it to last about 30 minutes, not too long but not over in a flash.  We wanted a couple of meaningful readings.  We didn’t want to write our own vows (too many nerves, emotions, and pressure!) but didn’t want to say the traditional vows either.  We wanted to incorporate ideas that set our ceremony apart from the countless weddings we see on TV and have all been to…we wanted it to be more “us.”  And we wanted to include our guests.  And after it was all said and done (literally) we had a beautiful, emotional, and sincere ceremony.  Isn’t that the point?

Anyone who tells you that you can’t do or say something you want to do or say in YOUR wedding should, in my humble opinion, be ignored.  Listen to what your heart tells you that you want to do and say.  It is your wedding, after all…

Here is a basic outline of what our ceremony consisted of, which was combined with our officiant’s remarks:

Warming of the Rings (Also called a Ringwarming Ceremony.  This was done during the prelude music prior to the ceremony.  Our rings were passed around all of our guests in a bird’s nest and guests were asked to place their good thoughts and blessings on them)

The wedding rings are the strongest and most visable sign of the bond these two people are about to make. As these rings are passed amongst you, please hold them and give them your personal blessings. The ring warming means the rings will not only be a gift from the bride and groom to each other, but will be given with the love, support, and wisdom of all present.

-Prelude Music
-Welcome Remarks and Opening Prayer (written and said by our officiant)

-First Reading:  “Why Marriage” by Mari Nichols-Haining, read by a family friend:
Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person,

With all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body…
Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me,
Who won’t hold them against me,
Who loves me when I’m unlikable,
Who sees the small child in me, and
Who looks for the divine potential of me…
Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night
With someone who thanks God for me,
With someone I feel blessed to hold…
Because marriage means opportunity
To grow in love in friendship…
Because marriage is a discipline
To be added to a list of achievements…
Because marriages do not fail, people fail
When they enter into marriage
Expecting another to make them whole…
Because, knowing this,
I promise myself to take full responsibility
For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness
I create me, I take half of the responsibility for my marriage
Together we create our marriage…
Because of this understanding
The possibilities are limitless.

-Group Declaration of Support for the Couple: (Guests respond by saying “We Do”)
As family and friends,

You form a community of support
That surrounds ________ and _________
Each of you, by your presence here today
Is being called upon
To uphold them in loving each other
Always stand beside them, never between them
Offer them your love and your support
Not your judgment
Encourage them when encouragement is needed
And listen to them when they ask for advice
In these ways, you can honor this marriage
Into which they have come to be joined today
Do you offer your love and support
To strengthen their marriage
And bless this family created by their union?

{We Do.}

-Exchange of Vows:
I, bride/groom take you, groom/bride, to be my husband/wife, my constant friend, and my love from this day forward. I vow to be your faithful partner, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy as well as sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, and to cherish and respect you. I will love and honor you all the days of my life.

-Exchange of Rings:
Groom, take Bride’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

Bride, take Grooms’s ring and place it on his finger and repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

-Second Reading:  A poem written for the couple and read by a family friend 
-Priestly Blessing
-Introduction of the Couple

Music is another important element (I think) in your wedding ceremony, so I am going to devote a future post just to the music itself.

 And because every post is better with a picture, here is one of our dear family friend and adopted grandmother Norma, reading the poem she wrote for us during our wedding: