One of the best compliments Nate and I received in regards to our wedding was how great our ceremony was. We tried with every aspect of the wedding to make it our own, but we really spent a lot of time on the ceremony. Neither one of us are religious or very traditional so we knew it was going to be different.
Typically the ceremony is perceived as the part of the wedding guests just want to get through as fast as possible to get to the reception. But we really wanted ours to reflect us as a couple and to be special. We didn’t want it to just be over in 10 minutes and no one remembers it. So we broke it down to every part of the typical ceremony and planned every piece of it, down to the words and music.
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Nate and I knew from the beginning we wanted our officiant to know us. I wanted it to be a friend of ours and someone who’d be professional about it, someone who’d done that sort of thing before. Well, of course, Nate knew someone perfect for the job, a fellow high school football coach who also happened to be a notary/non-denominational officiant nicknamed Tex. When I met him there was an instant connection and the three of us had so much chemistry. It was such an easy decision.
Tex was used to doing small weddings with traditional legal language, so that’s another reason we really had to break it down. I feel like most officiants take the reins and steer the ceremony, but in our case, it was all us. We wrote the entire script for Tex and that was a big part of what made it unique for us.
Like I said, we planned pretty much every part of the ceremony, down to the words. We chose a poem for Tex to read called “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. But there was one aspect we didn’t plan and that was the readings. We asked two of our friends, a bridesmaid and a groomsman, to do special readings of their own upon condition that they choose it themselves and keep it a secret from us. Nate actually got the idea from a Youtube video where the speakers read songs like poems and it was really funny. But in our case, it ended up being a lot more sentimental.
My bridesmaid Arielle, who we’ve both known since high school but recently moved to Australia, came back to be in the wedding and I knew she’d be perfect to do the reading. She was really nervous at first and almost didn’t do it. But she ended up reading the lyrics to popular Nsync song (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You ending with the rest of the bridesmaids singing along. We were all crying by the end. Then Nate’s Groomsman Will, another traveler from Colorado and longtime Dave Matthews Band concert companion, wrote a montage of Dave Matthews Band lyrics and read them in poem form. Both readings were so thoughtful and so personal to us in different ways. I couldn’t have asked for a better surprise.
Adding any kind of reading, handpicked by the bride and groom or even friends, really adds something extra special to the ceremony.
We always knew we would write our own vows, that was a no-brainer for us. I think that when you write something from the heart, with all the little jokes and references, it just makes guests feel even more connected to the couple and be able to feel their love for each other.
The unity ceremony was a huge thing I’ve always wanted to do and make it our own. I did so much research and no matter where I looked I could not find a Harry Potter themed unity ceremony. So I wrote one for us. (I’ll do another post more in depth on that.) I just knew we had to throw something nerdy in the ceremony but nothing too over the top.
Even if you don’t write something yourself, I think the unity ceremony is a really great way to show a reflection of the couple. Whether you build something together, write letters in a time capsule, or water a tree – there are so many cool ways to represent you as a couple in a unity ceremony and that really makes a ceremony unique and personal.
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Music was another big one for us because we both love music so much, and it’s such a huge part of our lives. The first thing we talked about when we started planning was the music. We knew we wanted musicians, so we asked a groomsman and a friend, both professional musicians, to be a part of the ceremony. Joe, the guitarist and groomsman, played Sunshine on my Shoulders by John Denver as I walked down the aisle, a song I’d always known I wanted to walk down to. But there was a lot of debate on what the family and bridal party would walk down to. Eventually, we came to our nerdy conclusion of the Outlander theme song for family and Concerning Hobbits from Lord of the Rings for the wedding party – all on keyboard. For the recessional song, All Along the Watchtower on both keys and guitar.
It was definitely a different musical sequence, entirely unique to Nate and I. Which proves my point that making the music something that you as a couple love can make it really special.
Lastly, we chose to do our “exit” or “send off” at the end of the ceremony instead of at the end up of the reception. Usually, people light sparklers or throw confetti at the end and it makes for a really cool photo. The number one reason we didn’t do the typical sparkler exit was because of timing. We didn’t book the photographer to stay until the very end so instead, we chose to do something at the end of the ceremony as we walk up the aisle as husband and wife. We had dried lavender for the guests to throw (perfectly biodegradable and environmentally friendly).
I liked the idea of doing this because it felt very reminiscent of when people would throw rice over the bride and groom when they’d exit the church. If you plan on doing something like this be sure to have someone hand out the lavender and tell guests when to throw it. You could do something like this with other dried flowers or biodegradable confetti (if it’s outside). This aspect is totally optional but a cute little touch to the end of the ceremony.
There are a lot of ways to make the ceremony unique and personal but you don’t have to do them all. Even choosing just one of the above aspects and making it your own will show a reflection of you both as a couple.
What have you done to make your wedding ceremony unique? Let me know in the comments below!
Christina is a twenty-something living with her beagle, Mash, and husband, Nate in their van. She loves traveling, shopping, art, and photography. She’s also a vegetarian, pop-culture enthusiast, book-lover, and Dave Matthews Band fanatic. Catch her somewhere around the country in a converted camper van or at home in Florida for a visit.