Personalizing Your Ceremony

Great ideas on how to personalize your wedding ceremony with music, readings and prayers, wedding vows, wedding programs and lots more!

Ceremony Music
1.Hire musicians for your ceremony such as a trumpeter, violinist, flautist or harpist. You could also use a string quartet, bells, chimes, or even bagpipes.

Hint: You can hire musicians without it costing a fortune – check with your church and at the local colleges.

2.If you hire a trumpeter, there are a few pieces that are written especially for the trumpet and the organ, such as “Trumpet Voluntary” and “Trumpet Tune” by Jeremiah Clark. It can make for a truly majestic and grand entrance.

3.Walk down the aisle (the recessional) to the same song as your mother did. This is a nice tribute to your parents and can be a real sentimental “tear jerker”.

4.Sing a hymn during your ceremony. This creates a feeling of “unity” and gives your guests the feeling that they are participating in your ceremony. It also may help to ease any jitters before the actual ceremony begins. A nice hymn suggestion… “For the Beauty of the Earth”.

5.If you’re having a receiving line after the ceremony, you might want to ask your musicians to play while you greet your guests. It makes for wonderful background music.

Down the Aisle

1.Traditionally, the bride’s father escorts the bride down the aisle. Today, there are many other variations. Some brides are being escorted by two fathers (father and step father) each holding one arm of the bride. Some brides are even walking down, hand and hand with their mother.

2.Give a rose to your mother and groom’s mother as you walk down the aisle. Talk to your florist and have them place the two roses in your bouquet (unfastened) and then pull them out when you reach the front of the church.

or, prior to the ceremony, place a personalized handkerchief and a rose at both mothers’ seats. The handkerchief will be a wonderful keepsake and remembrance.

Wedding Vows

1. Many couples are personalizing their wedding ceremony by writing their own vows. You may want to pick up a book about wedding vows to help you get started. Read over a large selection of vows and pick out words and phrases that “feel right” and incorporate them into your own vows. One good rule – keep your vows short, simple and from the heart.

If you’re having a religious ceremony, check with your Officiant first to see if you are allowed to deviate from the traditional wedding vows.

2. You can choose to memorize your wedding vows and recite them to each other. A word of caution – you’re likely to be a little nervous before and during the ceremony, so you may not want the added pressure of trying to remember your vows.

An Alternative: write out your vows and bring them with you. You can hide them in your glove or hold them with your bouquet.

If you do choose to recite them from memory, make sure that either you or the Officiant has a copy – just in case!

Candle Lighting

1. Lighting the unity candle symbolizes the union of two lives into one. To include others into your ceremony, you could ask the mothers, grandmothers or other guests to go to the altar to light the two candles that you and the groom use to light your unity candle.

2. Have a candlelit service. The bride and groom light their candles and then the ushers walk down and light the candles of everyone sitting at the end of the pews and then those guests turn and light the candle of the person sitting next to them and so on. Next, the lights are dimmed and the entire church is lit by candle light and the most warm and romantic glow transcends over the church.

Many churches have restrictions about candlelit services due to the potential fire hazard, so be sure to check with your Officiant, before you start buying any candles!

Children in Weddings

1. Including children in your wedding always adds a special touch. Generally, it’s best (or at least more predictable) to have children ages four and above, but it always depends on the child too.

2. If the bride or groom already have children, vows can be written to include them in the ceremony. It’s a nice way for any children from previous marriages to feel accepted, loved and part of the new family.

For an example of a wedding vow written especially for a child, check out USABride’s Interview with Diane Warner.

3. Another way to include children from previous marriages is to have them take part in the candle lighting ceremony. After the bride and groom light their unity candle, the children can participate by lighting a candle too.

Read more tips about children in weddings.

Reader Tip: I have 2 children from my previous marriage and we wanted to include them in our ceremony to show that we are all in this together and that we are (will be) a family. Instead of a unity candle that just 2 people light, I found a large candle with 4 wicks that we can all light. I think the kids will understand the symbolism in this the best. (Soon to be, Mrs. Madsen)

Wedding Program

1. Design your own wedding program. You can have them printed or you can make them at home on your computer – just buy a nice stock of paper and tie with a pretty ribbon. Inside, write the names of all the members of the wedding party and the music played. Be sure to include the names of your musicians and names of any readers and passages read.

2. As part of your wedding program, you can include special poems about love or family or write a special message to your guests. Here’s an example of a special dedication to a bride and groom’s parents:

“We would like to dedicate this ceremony to our parents. They have taught us our values, and shown us how to laugh, love and appreciate all that life has to offer. Their generosity, support, and love is unending.”

Readings & Prayers

1. Readings, prayers or passages always personalize a wedding ceremony. Ask special family members or friends to do a reading. Be sure to check with your Officiant and ask if you are allowed to use “non-religious” readings.

2. Ask your Officiant to include the names of your parents or family in a special prayer. Many times family members that have recently passed away may be mentioned in a prayer, but it can also be used for anyone you want mentioned in a special way.

New Trends

1. A new trend now is for the bride and groom to face each other when exchanging their wedding vows versus having their backs to the congregation. This allows your guests to feel they are much more a part of the ceremony.

2. Instead of tossing birdseed or rice, try blowing bubbles or if you want to be a little bit more extravagant, try releasing doves or butterflies.

3. More brides today are doing without aisle runners. It’s not always easy to put down the runner properly and there have been instances where the runner has gotten caught up underneath a wedding dress. Not a pretty sight!