Since Sam and I are not getting married in a church, we needed to find an officiant on our own. We weren’t thrilled by the idea of hiring a random person to orchestrate the most important moment of our relationship. Luckily, Sam has a friend from childhood who is ordained.
Amanda currently lives in Arlington, Virginia, so we set up a Skype call for me to get to know her better and talk about the basics of our ceremony—what do we want her to say about our relationship? Do we want to include any readings? What kind of vows do we want to do?
I feel like many brides do not put as much thought into the ceremony as they do the reception. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good party, but in reality, the reception is just icing on the cake. The ceremony is what the day is all about: making a legally binding commitment to your spouse in front of your loved ones. I want our love for each other to come through in a thoughtful, personal wedding ceremony.
While many couples write their vows, Sam and I were given the option to write our entire ceremony. Amanda was more than happy to do this for us, but me being an editor, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to craft the most meaningful words Sam and I will ever say to each other.
I’m not going to lie—when we first started, it felt daunting. How do you sum up eight years together in a 30-minute ceremony?! To get the creative juices flowing, Amanda sent us a handful of sample scripts she had written, and then we began browsing the Internet and our personal archives—photos, notes we had passed each other in class (we are high school sweethearts), gifts given over the years—piecing together readings, vows, and songs until we came up with a ceremony that completely reflects us and our relationship. It was a fun exercise for Sam and I to do together, and when I saw a huge smile spread across Sam’s face as he read the first complete draft, I knew we had achieved that.
Here are some elements of our ceremony I’m particularly excited about:
Ring warming: Sam and I want to make each and every one of our guests feel like they’re a part of bringing us together. I read about ring warming ceremonies online and immediately fell in love with the idea. Basically, while the ceremony is going on, our rings will be passed through the crowd (on this adorable pillow!) and everyone will have a chance to quietly bless them before they are exchanged.
Readings: Sam and I will each choose a reading, to be read by relatives, that we think describes our relationship and feelings about one another. The best part? Neither of us will know what the other chose for the reading until the ceremony.
Signing of our marriage license: When we were browsing the Internet for ideas, none of the traditional unity ceremonies (tree planting, sand, handfasting, foot washing, etc.) felt like “us.” Instead of trying to force something that felt inauthentic, we decided to simply sign our marriage license in front of everyone (rather than sign it before/after the ceremony). I'm so excited that every single one of our loved ones are going to witness the exact moment we officially, legally become husband and wife.
How are you personalizing your wedding ceremony? I would love to hear your ideas!