Include Your Heritage Into Your Ceremony

America is made up of many cultures and nationalities. Why not spice up the traditional American celebration by adding elements of your heritage? Here are a few ideas that will help you incorporate your culture into the festivities:

* In the days of slavery, African-American couples would declare their love in front of family and friends by jumping over a broom. This act symbolized the new home they hoped to enjoy together. Many couples today choose to add this to their ceremony in remembrance of their forefathers.
* Pass on traditional attire and opt instead for brightly colored robes. This dress code can also be extended to the guests.
* Hire drummers or dancers who can add a cultural flair to the ceremony or reception.


* Go with traditional Chinese wedding attire and wear a red dress down the aisle. This beautiful color symbolizes love in Chinese culture.

English or Irish

* Get rid of your tiered wedding cake. The traditional wedding cake for these countries is a dense fruitcake soaked in spirits and wrapped with fondant icing.


* Wear a crown of flowers instead of a veil. In Greece, both the bride and the groom wear flowers, which are placed there by an honored male guest.


* Add a touch of Italy to your reception by asking your band or DJ to play “The Tarantella”, a traditional Italian folk dance.
* Give sugared almonds wrapped in tulle as favors to the guests. In Italian culture, they symbolize both fertility and the bitter and sweet moments in life.
* Release a pair of doves after the ceremony, which have come to signify a couple’s love and happiness.


* As a reminder of the bride and groom’s changed life, many Jewish brides have their husbands break a glass wrapped in cloth at the end of the ceremony.


* To symbolize your union, have a white rope or rosary wound around you and your mate’s shoulders in the shape of a figure-8 as you say your vows.
* Use three bouquets – one to leave at the altar in honor of the Virgin Mary, one to walk down the aisle with, and the last one to use for the bridal toss.


* Hand out silver horseshoes and bells to the women at the wedding. These signify your luck in marriage.

For other ideas, talk to your relatives or do some library research on your own. Also, be sure to let your guests know the significance of any cultural traditions included in your wedding, through a brief explanation of the tradition in either a wedding newsletter or in your wedding program.

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Adding Candlelight to Your Ceremony or Reception

Incorporating candles into your ceremony or reception is a great way to provide a more intimate and romantic atmosphere. It makes the room appear smaller and provides a warm glow that cannot be reproduced through electricity. Here are some tips for using candles:
A Few Things to Check

* Make sure that your ceremony site allows candles and check the fire restrictions carefully.
*Contact your photographer and let him know that you will have low lighting, so he can adjust to your setting.
* No matter what style you use, check the burning time. If the ceremony or reception isn’t long, and you are planning on using the same candles into the night, they might burn out before your guests leave.

Candles at the Reception

* You can use floating candles, pillars or tapers, depending on your personal style. Floating candles reflect off of the water they are placed in and can have a beautiful effect.
* Highly decorative can take away from the beauty of the flame. If you are looking for simple beauty, keep the candles plain.
* Be cautious of strong, scented candles at the dinner table. They can interfere with the enjoyment and taste of the food.
* You can accent candles with petals, small blooms or seashells.
* For safety purposes, enclose votive candles in appropriate containers and anchor tapers in a suitable holder.

Candles at the Ceremony

* Upon arrival, have ushers give each adult guest a candle. The candles can be lit before the processional, during the unity candle ceremony or whenever you would like.
* Indicate in the program when candles should be extinguished, especially if it is before the end of the ceremony.
* Remember that candles drip! If you choose to give them to guests, include a holder that will protect their hands and clothing.

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Planning a Religious Ceremony

Many religions have rules and traditions surrounding the wedding ceremony. Below is a list of major religions and some of their customs. Your Officiant will be able to provide you with a much more specific list, but this is a good start if you are unacquainted with the wedding practices of your faith.
Protestant Weddings

* Often portrayed in movies, the Protestant wedding is the most familiar ceremony to Americans.
* Most denominations allow a couple to get married outside of their place of worship.
* After the processional, the service begins with a greeting and call to worship by the minister. Readings, a short sermon, the exchange of vows and the lighting of a unity candle follow this. The ceremony concludes with a prayer of Thanksgiving, the benediction and finally, the recessional.

Roman Catholic Weddings

* A wedding ceremony is one of the seven sacraments in the Catholic faith.
* Before getting married, the couple must attend marriage counseling, called “pre-cana programs”.
* The Bride and Groom get married at her parish.
* The ceremony must include the nuptial blessing, prayers and at least three readings.
* As the vows are being exchanged, the entire congregation stands.
* Mass is often included in the ceremony.

Jewish Weddings

* Wedding cannot be held on the Sabbath day or on major holidays.
* The couple is allowed to have their wedding ceremony outside of the synagogue, but the ceremony must take place under a Chuppah. This symbolizes a husband bringing his wife into their home.
* The highlight of the ceremony is the exchange of rings. Other memorable elements are the blessing of the wine, the reading of the Ketubah and the breaking of the glass.

Muslim Weddings

* The ceremony is the signing of the wedding contract. It lasts only for about five minutes.
* The public celebration can last for days afterwards.
* The celebration begins with a Walima, which is a feast where chicken, fish and rice are served.
* Toward the end of the festivities, the bride is often lifted like royalty and “displayed” for the crowd to see. Afterwards, she is given to the groom and the public celebration is considered over.

Buddhist Weddings

* Ceremonies are usually designed by the couple and are quite simple.
* An O jujo, a 21-bead strand, is used to offer prayers and incense to Buddha.

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Quotes About Love For Your Ceremony Program

Quotes can come in handy when you are designing your wedding newsletter or program. They can also be recited during a toast or read at your ceremony. Below are some noteworthy sayings on love that you can use as part of your celebration:

* “There is no remedy for love but to love more.” – Thoreau
* “Where there is love there is life.” – Mahatma Gandhi
* “Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts; always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
* “Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.” – Unknown
* “Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.
Or bends with the remover to remove
O no! It is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” – William Shakespeare
* “Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” – Robert A. Heinlein
* “Til a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will love thee still, my Dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.” – Robert Burns
* “Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” – Jean Anovilh
* “True love is the greatest thing in the world…except for cough drops…everyone knows that.” – Excerpt from The Princess Bride

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Instead of a Guest Book…

The feathery pen and the lacy book…after the wedding, these pretty materials are often condemned to the attic or closet, never to be looked at again. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something more memorable and unique than that traditional guest book? Below are a few ideas to remember your guests by….

* Purchase a Polaroid camera and plenty of film. As guests come in, have one or two people take pictures of them. Then have them sign their names along the bottom of the picture and stick it in the photo album.

* Cut squares of material and purchase fabric crayons. Have guests decorate and sign a square. After your wedding, bring it to a seamstress for the creation of a decorative wedding quilt.

* Enlarge a picture of you and your fiancé. Many couples use their engagement photo. Have the guests sign the picture or a mat that will go around the picture. After the wedding, frame it and hang it in your home.

* Create a wedding scrapbook. Glue in pictures of you and your fiancé, as well as any other creative and memorable stories or images. Leave plenty of space for guests to write little messages to you within the book.

* Print a poem about love in the middle of a large, decorative piece of paper. Have your guests sign around it. When it’s done, frame it and hang it up in your home.

* Have your guests sign an unfinished ceramic platter. After the wedding, bring the platter to a ceramics place or even a place that holds such crafts classes and have them glaze it and bake it. You could either hang it in your home or actually use it for serving meals.

Weddings are more special if they are personalized to your tastes. If you don’t mind breaking with tradition, put a twist on the old idea of guest books. It will be more fun for you to look at through the years, and more interesting for your guests as well.

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Decorating Your Church with Pew Bows

Decorating the church with pew bows can be both beautiful and expensive. When purchased from a florist, pew bows can range in price from $6-$15 each (or more). So, here are a few less expensive alternatives:

Decorate every 2nd to 3rd pew with LARGE bows. This looks beautiful and when you consider how long your guests will actually be at the church or ceremony site — it’s much more cost effective.

Combine your pew bows with greenery. It will make them look more elaborate and greenery is very inexpensive.

Now, if you to want to splurge, then combine your pew bows with flowers and greenery on every pew or every other pew.

You can also use tall candles and candle holders (usually done with hurricane globes) as your pew decoration.

You can add ribbon and flowers spiraling up the end posts. This can make a really elegant and romantic setting. Often, these are just used on every 2nd or 3rd pew.

Make your own pew bows! Go to your local fabric or craft store. They typically have several easy styles and patterns available. They also have “bow making devices” so that each bow will look perfecto! And, pew bows are usually made from tulle — which is a very inexpensive fabric.

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Double Weddings

Are you considering a double wedding? Maybe you and your sister are getting married at the same time… maybe it’s together with close friends… or maybe it’s your fiancé and his brother. Double weddings, while unusual, definitely occur. There aren’t any hard and fast rules for them, but here are a few ideas to keep things smooth:

* Invitations: Consider going with an invitation that has three panels. The middle panel should list the location, date and time. The two side panels should be reserved for the individual couples.
* Processional: If you and your sister are the brides, have your dad walk both of you down at the same time. Your wedding party can be interspersed in the processional, with the wedding program denoting the relationship of each member of the wedding party to each of the brides. Another idea is to have two separate processionals. The oldest bride should go first, followed by the youngest.
* The Kiss: When your Officiant says, “Now may you kiss the brides”, kiss simultaneously.
* Bridesmaids: The bridesmaids of each bride do not have to wear the same thing; they merely have to complement each other. Choose different complementary colors or shades of the same base color. If you want the same color, think about having different styles.
* Cake: Buy two different cakes, and have the option to cut the first piece at the same time. If the flavors are posing a problem and you can’t afford to buy two separate cakes, get different flavored layers.

Double Weddings can be a beautiful thing. However, they take work and can mean a lot of compromise. Before you and your fiancé decide to do this, make sure this is a couple that means enough to you that you wouldn’t mind sharing the spotlight for such an important day.

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Unity Candle Readings

Here are some great ideas for Unity Candle Readings:

Looking for just the right Unity Candle?
Meg and Paul’s Ceremony

The following ceremony was adapted by Meg Richardson.

[Name] and [Name] are going to light their Unity Candle, a symbol of their marriage relationship. The candles from which they light it have been lit by their mothers to represent their lives to this moment.

The lights, representing the faith, wisdom, and love they have received from their parents, are distinct, each burning alone. [Name] and [Name] will light the center candle to symbolize the union of their lives. As this one light burns undivided, so shall their love be one.

From now on, your thoughts shall be for each other rather than for your individual selves. Your joys and sorrows shall be shared alike. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of your unity. May these candles burn brightly as symbols of your commitment to each other, and as a tribute to your parents’ lasting and loving marriages.
Cross and Double Rings Ceremony

Today, [Name] and [Name] make a loving commitment to follow the greatest Commandment of all: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” They do this in the hopes that their union will become a symbol of God’s promise to merge two lives into one.

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Tired of Tossing Rice?

Leaving your wedding in a shower of rice is the traditional grand exit. However, many brides are creating other options – something more dramatic, or romantic, or environmentally friendly. Whatever you choose, remember this is your guests’ (and your) last impression of your wedding. Make it amazing!

Bird Seed

Pros: It’s organic and if the birds eat the free meal, no one has to clean up.

Cons: Think how hard it will be to pick little grains out of your hair – not how you imagined spending your wedding night, huh?

Colored Confetti or Paper Streamers

Pros: Pretty and relatively cheap.

Cons: Rather wasteful (unless you recycle) and lots to sweep.

bubble wedding send off

Blow Bubbles

Pros: Gives an affect of childlike innocence and fun. Also, if you decorate the bottles with your names and wedding date they can double as favors. It’s lots of fun for kids and it’s environmentally safe.

Cons: None!

Release Butterflies or Doves

Pros: Very dramatic.

Cons: Live animals can be unpredictable. They may not fly as you wish them to and there can be accidents, if you know what I mean.

Throw Rose Petals

Pros: To be super-romantic, use petals from flowers your finance gave you during your courtship.

Cons: Can there be anything bad about roses? Perhaps their expense can be prohibitive and there is some pick up and sweeping later.

Wave Sparklers

If you are going all out, this option is particularly effective for a late summer evening. Light up the night with fireworks in the background too and exit with a bang and flash.

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Honoring a Parent That Has Passed Away

Many brides and grooms want to include some type of remembrance during their wedding ceremony of a parent (or parents) that have passed away. It can be done tactfully and without making it too sad at the same time; here are some options:

* A Lighting of candles can be done at the very beginning of the ceremony or during the lighting of the unity candle.
* Presentation of single stemmed flowers for each parent at the altar.
* A special reading which mentions their name) could also be done.
* Have the clergy say a prayer mentioning their names and possibly have the congregation bow their heads in a moment of silent remembrance.

Before you decide, speak with your clergy and see what he or she thinks would be best. They know you better and are in a better position to make suggestions.

One final and important point: Don’t get too sentimental during this time. This is your wedding day and you know your parents would want you to enjoy this celebration without becoming so choked up that you couldn’t go on with the ceremony.

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