The wedding ceremony is a very personal matter between the bride and groom. One of the first things you must do is determine whether you want your wedding to be religious or civil, and then find someone to marry you. Depending on the type you decide will determine where you will look. You need to consider that this person should connect with you in terms of your beliefs and values and that they will contribute to the type and tone you desire at your wedding.
If you are looking to get married in a church or place of worship then you probably already have a minister, rabbi, priest, deacon, or leadership figure that you will need to speak with. You need to contact this person as soon as possible and set up a meeting. Both the bride and groom should attend the meeting so that you both feel comfortable with this person since they will be conducting the liturgy.
Your first order of business:
When meeting with the clergy determine if they have your date open and what time they would be available to perform the service, as some faiths only perform ceremonies at particular times or on certain days of the week. You should also bring a formal list of questions that you prepare in regards to any religious rules that they may have. For instance, you may ask that if one of you is not of the same faith will they still marry you, and can other members of your family or wedding party perform portions of the ceremony, such as readings? You should also inquire about the fee for performing the service. This is important in the budget planning.
Many couples today are opting to choose special settings where they may combine the ceremony and reception. You need to check with your clergy to see if they will perform ceremonies outside of the church if that is your wish. If not, and the church or place of worship is what you want, then you will need to ask questions like what can be included in the formalities and what type of music is allowed; even what type of decorations are allowed. Some churches and places of worship frown upon elaborate decorations as they feel it detracts from the religious venue. You will want to understand this ahead of time if you plan on having floral arrangements on chairs, pews, doors, arches, alters, or entrance ways.
On the other hand, if you decide that you want to be married by a justice of the peace, then you will need to contact your local town or city hall to acquire the names of available justices. Again, you should contact them personally and set up an appointment to see if they have the date open, and what things you might want to include in the wedding. Typically justices are more flexible with the rituals, but you will still need to discuss the location, their fee, and any items you want to include in the ceremony and then agree upon the content.
For either type of ceremony, you will need to meet with them a few more times prior to the actual date so everyone understands what is included in the ceremony and the layout of the events that will take place during the ceremony.
What should be included in the ceremony?
Of course, the exchange of vows is a given, validating the legality of the marriage of the bride and groom, but there are many other traditions and events that can be included to make the ceremony more personal or traditional. This will depend on the faith or uniqueness of the bride and groom and varies among culture and religion.
A popular aspect in the ceremony is, of course, the exchange of rings symbolizing the band of marriage. See what the symbolization of the wedding ring means. See the ring link to the left.
There are a number of traditions performed today that add special touches to ceremonies such as religious readings from the bible or poetry readings. These readings are popular as they offer the opportunity for family members or the bridal party to become more involved in the ceremony. Often times several readings will be performed. If you are looking for specific religious readings.
Ceremony readings. Poetry is often used as well.
Other ceremony aspects that are quite popular are the exchange of roses to the mothers or family members of the couple. Typically there will be a reading, and the couple will each present a rose to their mother, or the opposite. I have seen this done in various ways such as the bride and groom exchange roses during the reading and then present those roses to their mothers or family members.
Another very popular tradition is the unity candle. It is meant to symbolize the unity of the couple as well as the family. This can be performed in various ways as well. The tradition began with the bride and groom lighting a candle and then together lighting the center candle to signify their unity. An alternative is that each mother lights a candle, and then the bride and groom light from each candle and then the center candle, again signifying their unity. An alternative for unity candle lighting involves the entire congregation where all guests are given a candle. It begins with the mothers and fathers each lighting a candle, they then in turn light a guests candle and return to their seats. As the guests, in turn, continue lighting each other’s candles until they reach the back of the congregation. At this time the maid of honor and best man go to the back and light a candle from the back and return to light the bride and groom candles. The bride and groom then in turn light the center candle symbolizing not only the unity of their marriage but of the family and an entire community. Although this takes a few more minutes, this is quite beautiful, very moving and a perfect opportunity for an appropriate song during the ceremony.
Prayer is given during a religious ceremony and will be included throughout. This is orchestrated according to faith. Prayer may also be included in civil ceremonies and requires planning ahead for what prayers that will be presented and who shall lead the prayers.
Music included in the service is certainly desired by most couples and can set the tone for the ceremony. Music throughout from the professional to the recessional can have a great deal of impact on the mood. Music takes on many forms from religious, cultural, or today’s popular songs that have special meaning to the bride and groom. Music can be sung, played by an organist, a trio, or quartet, or even solo instruments such as flutes or guitars can be very beautiful. Music can even be pre-recorded and have someone playing at the appropriate times. Choosing music for your service is personal and can depend on the tone you are trying to set. If you are looking for ceremony music, here are some listings for ideas that may help you get started. Ceremony Music List
Below please find a link to Christian Music that may also help in making decisions for music at your wedding.