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Friday, May 31, 2013

Wedding Ceremony...Part Deux

Planning your wedding now turns to the more intricate details of the wedding, readings, unity ceremonies. A wedding ceremony is a symbolic event which portrays the beginning of a lifelong love and commitment.  Therefore, you as a couple want your aspects of your ceremony to have meaning to you and reflect your personality, style and love for each other.


Music helps set the tone for the entire event, whether it is religious, traditional or contemporary.  Many couples already have a favorite style or level of formality in mind for their wedding, but often struggle to find exactly the right music.  To make the planning for your music go more smoothly, approach it by breaking it down by the parts of the ceremony.  You can choose one or two songs for each section.  


The prelude is the first thing people hear as they enter the ceremony site and take their seats so it sets the tone.

 Here are some popular prelude options:


One of the most important scene-setting decisions you can make is the song or songs you choose for the processional. Some people choose just one processional piece that's played while the bridesmaids and the bride enter the venue, with the music paused momentarily or growing louder just before the bride enters.  Others choose to select multiple processional pieces; for the mothers being seated, for the bridesmaids and for the bride.  Either way the processional announces the beginning of your ceremony. (I personally prefer multiple pieces for each part of the processional.  But as with other parts of your wedding the choice is totally the couples preference.) The joyful, accompanying music played during the processional reflects the pride and joy by parents, family and friends on the couple's special day.  Remember to walk slowly and smile.  It is your special day and all eyes will be on you!

Here are a few popular processional options:


Music during the ceremony can express how you feel about each other as perfectly as your vows.  Some couples choose traditional pieces and others prefer contemporary music.  

Here are some selections to consider for the ceremony:


Finalize your wedding ceremony with the perfect recessional music that expresses your happiness.  You will be bursting with joy for your grand exit...all the nerves will be a thing of the past. Recessional music is the culmination of the entire ceremony and is often fast-paced and upbeat.  The music you choose for the recessional speaks to your relationship going forward together.

Options to consider for the recessional:

Classical Choices:

Contemporary Choices:

  • Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
  • When I’m 64 - Beatle
  • All You Need is Love – Beatles
  • How Sweet It Is – James Taylor or Marvin Gaye
  • Love & Marriage – Frank Sinatra
  • This Will Be An Everlasting Love – Natalie Cole

These have only been suggestions of music and the sections of your ceremony in which to use for your wedding.  Whatever songs you decide for your ceremony, if the music is meaningful to you is the most important thing.

Go to the following website and listen to other samples of music:


Readings at your ceremony can add meaning to the day.  They are by no means necessary or a legal part of the ceremony.  Readings can enhance your ceremony and allow things to be said in a very special way.  They are also a great way to involve family and friends in your ceremony.  If your are having a church ceremony, your clergy may also include the reading. Readings are a wonderful way to emphasize the importance of your special day by articulating the values that speak to your decision to marry.  

If you are having a church wedding ceremony, you may want to choose a suitable religious reading.  But you may also have the option of including a secular (non-religious) reading too.  The choice of Bible texts is up to you but clergy are always happy to provide guidance.  

Here is a selection of popular New Testament wedding readings:

  • Matthew 5:  1-10  The Beatitudes
  • Matthew 6:  19-21  Where your treasure is, there will your heart also be
  • Matthew 22:  36-40  The Greatest Commandment             
  • John 15:  9-17  Love one another as I have loved you    
  • Romans 12:  9-12  Let love be genuine                                
  • 1 Corinthians 13:  4-13  Love                   
  • Ephesians 3:  14-19  May you be grounded and rooted in love                                
  • Ephesians 5:  21-33  Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives                              
  • Colossians 3:  12-17  Put on love, which binds everything together in harmony
  • 1 John 4:  7-8, 12  Beloved, let us love one another

If you have decided for a non-religious or civil wedding ceremony, you can choose readings that are suitable for your special day.  

Some options for where to find readings for a civil ceremony:

  • Romantic Novels - authors like Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tolkien, Toni Morrison or Hemingway
  • Poems - Tennyson, Byron, Rossetti, Brian Patten's Love Poems
  • Songs - "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion, "At Last" by Etta James or "Wonderwall" by Oasis

Before your final decision, here is a checklist to make sure you get the right reading for your wedding ceremony:

  • Does the reading meet the approval from the minister/officiant?
  • Is the text really about marriage?
  • Will it fit with the rest of the order of service?
  • Is it a self-contained piece that needs no further explanation?
  • Is it free of any material that might offend your guests?
  • Is it the right length?

Ideally, all your readings should sincerely reflect to everyone how much you love your husband or wife-to-be.

Unity Ceremonies

The Unity Candle:  This is one of the most common ceremonies.  The bride and groom take a lit candle and simultaneously light a third "unity candle".  They may blow out their individual lights, or leave them lit.  A variation of this, is to have the mothers/parents each light a candle representing the joining of two families.

Rose Ceremony: This is a simple unity ceremony where the bride and groom exchange roses.  Other variations:  the families exchange roses, the bride and groom exchange roses with their mothers/parents/families, the bride and groom exchange roses, then present their mothers with the roses, the bride and groom each present a rose to each mother.

Wine Ceremony: The bride and groom each take a carafe of wine and pour it into a single glass, which they both drink from.

Water Ceremony: The couple each pour a different color water into a single glass container, creating a third color.

Sand Ceremony: It is similar to the water ceremony.  The bride and groom both pour different colored sand into a glass container.

Breaking Bread Ceremony: In this ceremony, the bride and groom tear off pieces of bread and then each eat a piece.  Sometimes the bread is also shared with family and friends.  It symbolizes their future together as a family.

Garland or Lei Ceremony:  In this ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands of flowers. This is a common part of Indian weddings called varmala or jaimala.  It represents a proposal by the bride and acceptance by the groom.  It also represents their new unity which is blessed by nature.  In Hawaiian weddings, the bride and groom typically exchange leis.  The families may also exchange leis with the couple.  Leis represent the love and respect you have for the person you are giving it to and the unity of the new family.  

Broom Jumping:  An African-American tradition that has its roots in slavery times when slaves couldn't marry.  Typically the family places the broom on the ground.  The bride and groom hold hands and jump over it together.  The broom can later be put in a place of honor in their home.

I hope this blog has helped to answer some of your questions and concerns about your wedding ceremony.  Have you chosen the wedding music for your ceremony?  Are you planning on using a reading during your ceremony? Are you and your fiance incorporating a unity ceremony in your wedding?  Please share your ideas and plans for your very special day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wedding Ceremony

In all the excitement of planning your wedding; finding a dress, finding a location, and so on, sometimes the details of the ceremony itself get lost in the shuffle or forgotten totally until the last minute.  When this happens, decisions are often made on the spot by the officiant, parents, friends or others.  This blog will be things you need to consider beforehand, to ensure your ceremony reflects what you really want and goes off without any problems. 

Wedding Planners are experienced in coordinating and directing the ceremony. As wedding planners, we are able to take your ideas and wishes and pull it all together to bring your vision for your dream wedding. We take a lot of the stress of the wedding day off of the couple and their family members.  As wedding directors, we will take care of all the details of the correct sequence of events, etc. during the rehearsal and the day of the wedding. 


Decide ahead of time the order in which the wedding party will proceed down the aisle, as well as who will be escorted, and by whom.  The order and escort choices for the processional are many.  Discuss with your wedding planner your options before hand.  For example, while it has been a tradition for the father of the bride to escort her down the aisle, it is perfectly acceptable to have both parents escort the bride.  If the bride and/or groom have children, their children sometimes escort them down the aisle.  It is also acceptable for the bride to walk down the aisle unaccompanied.  If the father of the bride is deceased, her mother, brother, uncle or special friend may escort the bride.


Before the procession begins, the officiant takes his or her place, with the groom to the left, and the best man to the groom's left. The Groomsmen may stand at the front, or they may start the procession as shown here. The bridesmaids follow, with the maid or matron of honor next. The ushers and bridesmaids may enter together, in pairs, with the best man and the honor attendant. The ring bearer and flower girl are last before the bride, who is escorted by her father, on his left or right depending on where he would like to stand at the front.

You also do not want the parents and grandparents to get lost in the shuffle.
  They are all escorted and seated before the attendants and bride walking down the aisle.  The order for them to be seated; the groom's grandparents, bride's grandparents, groom's mother and/or father, bride's mother and/or father.  You may want to choose family members who are groomsmen to escort them.  We have also done weddings where the groom escorted his mother to her seat. Ushers/Groomsmen should escort all guests to their seat on their right arm. The mothers usually sit on the first row with the grandparents directly behind them. All of this needs to be decided before the rehearsal and wedding. The mother of the bride is the last person to be escorted to their seat.  This signals that the ceremony is about to begin. No guests should be escorted after the mother has been seated.  Late comers should quietly take their place at the rear of the venue. As wedding directors, it is our job to handle any late comers. 
Ken Seating Bride's Grandparents
Seating at a Christian Ceremony
Row 1. Bride's Parents
Row 2. Groom's Parents
Row 3. Bride's Grandparents and Siblings
Row 4. Groom's Grandparents and Siblings
Row 5. Bride's Special Guests
Row 6. Groom's Special Guests

Make sure your ceremony starts on time.  While you may want to wait for latecomers, a delay will throw off everything else and be disrespectful to people who arrived on time.  Some guests will always be late so do not base your timing on them.  This will be a part of the job of the wedding director.  We always have a timeline for every wedding we direct to assure that everything runs smoothly and on time on the day of the wedding. 
The processional can begin several different ways.  It is the bride's preference. The mothers may be seated at the ceremony time, the attendants may start at that point, or the bride may enter at the wedding ceremony time. This should definitely be decided before the day of the wedding.

Order of the processional,  the officiant, groom, and best man will enter and take their place at the front of the site before the attendants walking down the aisle. 
There are several different ways that the processional of the attendants may happen. The groomsmen may enter one at a time from the rear. They proceed down the aisle and take their position beside the groom. Followed by the bridesmaid and maid/matron of honor who stand on the bride's side.

Or they may proceed down the aisle in couples and either stand to gather in pairs or men on grooms' side and ladies on bride's side. 

You may also alternate the groomsmen and bridal attendants taking their place.
Pause for a moment, then the ring bearer enters after the maid/matron of honor.

The flower girl enters right before the bride.  
The groomsmen should stand with their hands same way...front looks best or holds hands behind them. The bride, bridesmaids, and maid of honor should carry their flowers at waist height.

You and the wedding planner may decide how you would like the wedding party to enter and stand according to your own preferences and what looks the best for the ceremony location.  As wedding coordinators, It's Your Party has directed weddings with different styles for the processional. All turned out beautiful.

If the location has 2 aisles, the wedding party proceed down the left side aisle and leave up the right aisle.  You could also have the groomsmen enter on the right side, and the bridesmaids come down the left side.  The ring bearer, flower girl, and the bride would enter on the left side, and she and the groom would exit up the right side.  After the flower girl goes down the aisle when possible, we close the doors before the bride enters. 
The music for the bride begins to play, and we open the doors with the bride and her father standing. Her father then escorts the bride down the aisle on his left arm to her future life! This is one of our favorite moments of the ceremony.
 Guests may stand or remain seated during the bride's entrance.  Either way is appropriate. Proper etiquette is for the guests to go by the mother of the bride's lead.  If she stands, the guests also stand. If she remains seated, the guests should also.


For the recessional, the wedding party always exits in the reverse order which they entered.  The bride and groom lead, followed by the flower girl and ring bearer, honor attendants, bridesmaids and groomsmen walking in pairs.  The parents and grandparents are also escorted out in the opposite order in which they entered. Then the other guests are then released by the officiant.  At larger weddings, it is appropriate for groomsmen to stand and release the guests by rows beginning with the rows at the front of the venue.
If you have children from a previous relationship or have other young family members, you might consider making them a part of the ceremony.  There are many meaningful ways for a child to be included.  But since they can be unpredictable, you will want to make sure they are playing an appropriate part for their age.

Older Children
Junior Bridesmaids/Groomsmen will wear similar to the other members of the bridal party and fulfill many of the same roles as they do. 
Younger Children
Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
For a child whose parent is getting married, be sure to include them in the ceremony.  This may mean asking the officiant to mention their names, participating in a unity ceremony or ring ceremony, or including them in the wedding party. Having a part to play in the wedding ceremony can often make a child feel less anxious about the marriage.
This blog has only highlighted a part of your wedding ceremony. 
The next blog will deal with the vows, unity ceremonies, wedding music and more!

I hope you have found some useful information that may help you in planning your wedding ceremony. Please share any comments or questions that may help others in planning their ceremony.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unique Guestbook Ideas

Are you looking for a creative and unique alternative to the typical Guestbook? There are lots of creative ways to remember who helped you celebrate your fantastic wedding day and record all the guests who came to share the joy of the celebration. Here are some wonderful ideas you might consider using.

For those couples who have a timeless vintage or travel style wedding, using old postcards as guestbook complements it. 

Instead of having a book to sign the couple hung a wooden swing from a tree for guests to write on.

A couple's monogram for the guests to sign and hang in their new home. 

Instead of a guestbook, have each guest highlight their favorite Bible verse and sign their name beside it.The couple will use this as their family Bible for years to come.

Guests signing wine bottles is a perfect idea for the couple who are particularly fond of a glass of wine. This also makes a lovely keepsake to open on their first anniversary.

If you have a photo booth at your wedding, you could use the photos to add to an album for guests to leave a message.

Turn your engagement photos into a book and have the guests sign it for a special keepsake.

Use a thumbprint guest book at your wedding! And after the event, you can frame it – it’d be perfect wall art in your home! 

As an alternative to the thumbprint style, your guests could bring this art print to life by autographing each leaf. This guest book print is the perfect way to capture your wedding memories and doubles as a beautiful piece of art for your home for years to come.

If you have a band or love music, you might want to repurpose one of your guitars into a guest book. Or if there is a particular member of your family such as father or grandfather who has passed away and was a musician, it is a special way to honor their memory. Then it could be displayed on the wall.

An old typewriter to use for guests to leave special messages for the couple.

Set out rocks on a table with a sign that explains, "Instead of a guest book, please sign a rock for our garden and put it in the tray."

For a unique idea for a guestbook, use letter-writing paper sheets in the style of vintage hankies.  Guests can pick them off a line to write little notes to the newlyweds and then hang them back up for display.

Custom made map guestbooks are from Totally Salinda and add a personalized touch to your wedding and offer a perfect place for your guests to leave words of love and congratulations.

I hope these unique guestbook ideas have inspired you.  If you have an idea that would make an awesome guestbook, please share it with us.