Personalizing Your Ceremony

Amid the endless formalities and rigid rules, there are many ways to put your own personal stamp on this very special occasion. Each element of your wedding ceremony is an opportunity to express something personal and meaningful about your beliefs, relationship and your heritage. The most important day of your life should be a beautiful blend of your personality and your fiancé’s. After all, it’s that very combination that will mould your lives together. Below are just a few of the thoughtful ways you can express yourself on your wedding day. If you are planning a religious ceremony at a church or temple, be sure to discuss all ideas with your officiant.

1. Personalize Your Marriage Vows.
There are ways in which you can personalize your marriage vows to make them more meaningful for you. As with all your ceremony plans, be sure to discuss your ideas for marriage vows with your officiant. Make your wedding vows truly your own by reciting a favourite poem or reading to your groom. You may even choose to write all of your vows yourselves.

2. Light a family candle to symbolize your two lives joining together as one.
In most weddings, two taper candles (representing each family) are lit at the beginning of the marriage ceremony. The candle is often lit by both mothers (bride and groom) and another member of each family. These candles remain lit throughout the ceremony.

After the exchange of vows the bride and groom use the family candles to light a larger pillar candle – the unity candle, symbolizing the emergence of a new family. Some couples choose to then extinguish the
family candles to emphasise the commitment they have just made. While others may keep them burning to symbolise the inclusion in each other families.

3. Incorporate poetry and/or literature into your ceremony readings.
There are a seemingly infinite number of poems, song lyrics, scriptures and other readings that you can incorporate into your ceremony. Start with personal favourites. If you love 19th century English novels, include an excerpt from one. Or you might ask the person you have chosen to read the scripture to surprise you with his own words. Just have him run it by someone you trust such as your maid of honour or parent to ensure that it is suitable.
As a general rule limit the number of readings at the ceremony to no more than three or a bout minutes each. Discuss with your officiant the readings you would like incorporated into your ceremony.

4. Incorporate your family heritage into the celebration wherever possible.
One way to honor your past is to include traditions that reflect your families’ heritage. You need not limit yourself to the customs of your fore bearers however. Feel free to borrow from another culture that resonates with you.

28 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

1. Invite the groom’s parent to be part of the processional.

2. Ask friends and family members to perform special readings.

3. Change places with the officiant and face your guests duringthe ceremony.

4. Release white doves or balloons into the air after being pronounced “husband and wife”.

5. Burn incense to give the ceremony an exotic feeling.

6. In the months before your wedding, create an “email- news letter ” for the members of the wedding party, updating them on times and locations of specific events, and reminding them of their duties. Keep the mood light by disclosing your thoughts, as the day grows closer, and by including accounts of those funny little incidents that happen along the way.

7. Plant a tree or a seedling on the day of your wedding to grow along with your marriage. With its reputation as the eternal flower of love, a rose bush is a perfect choice, or plant the sprig of ivy that you carried in your bouquet.

8. Present your guests with favours as they leave the reception, such as ribbon-tied package of sugar-coated almonds, representing the bitter and sweet of marriage, or a tulle sachet of fragrant potpourri. If the budget allows an even more personalized favour might be a Polaroid picture of each guest, snapped as they enter the reception.

9. For a seated meal, mark each place with an elegantly engraved place card and menu.

10. In place of a solid white tablecloth, consider using a coloured cloth or one made from the same fabric as your bridesmaids’ gown beneath a white lace overlay. Decorate napkins at each place in coordinating
fabric ribbon.

12. Embroider an elegant pillow for your ring bearer to carry down the aisle. Your names and the dates artfully stitched at thebottom will be a lasting reminder of your loving union.

13. Fill the flower girl’s basket with petals from the flowers in your mother’s or grandmother’s garden.

14. Incorporate your favourite music into the prelude before the ceremony.

15. After you’ve selected your wedding rings, arrange to have them engraved with a personal message.

16. Delight your parents, or his, with a nostalgic look back at their own wedding day. Surprise them by displaying their wedding portrait at your reception.

17. Invite the clergy who knew you as a child to participate in the ceremony.

18. For your first dance as husband and wife, have the band play the first song the two of you ever danced together or the song that was playing when he proposed to you.

19. Give your attendants a silver frame engraved with your wedding date and later present them with a
photograph from the day to proudly display inside it.

20. Send your fiancé a romantic telegram /sms/ even a hand written note the morning of your wedding.

21. Make it a family affair; include members of both your families in the wedding. Consider asking a brother or cousin to give an inspirational reading at the ceremony, making it a family affair.

22. Make your favourite flower the center of all the floral arrangements at the wedding and reception.
Then set the mood in your new home by having similar arrangements delivered the day you return from your honeymoon.

23. As an alternative to traditional bouquets, let your bridesmaids carry the flower of their choice. Tied with matching ribbons, the varied look will be colourful and refreshing.

24. Hire a professional calligrapher to address your wedding invitations in a flowing, romantic script.

25. Design an elegant printed program to pass to your guests before the ceremony begins. Include the order of service, your attendants’ names and perhaps a personal message of thanks from you two.

26. Just before you enter the church, have the organist sound the chimes of the hour. Follow that with a trumpet salute as you begin your processional down the aisle.

27. Take the time to select a romantic gift for your groom such as a book of poetry or an engraved silver pen.

28. Compile a small photo album of favourite pictures from your courtship to surprise him with on your honeymoon.