July 2009


For all of the brides and grooms who are having a friend officiate their wedding – here are some tips and ideas, from a professional wedding celebrant, to make sure that your day runs smoothly.  Feel free to print this out, and hand it to your officiant, and it may help to look it over yourself as well!

  • Be prepared! Read through the ceremony a few times, and feel free to make notes on your version of the script.  Make sure all of the props are set up, and that you have copies of the vows and the readings.

  • Format it! Format the script in a way that is easy for you to read – perhaps color coding or highlighting important elements or directions.  Make sure to take page turns into consideration, and format it so it is easiest for you to read, in an easy to read, large font.

  • Plan where you are going to stand! For my ceremonies, I prefer the couples to face each other, or slightly face out – not facing the officiant (I am sure the bride’s dress is beautiful in the back, but everyone wants to see their faces!).  Find the best place for you to stand – perhaps in between them, or maybe slightly to the side, with the couple in the middle.

  • Get amped! Using a microphone and amplification is a must – you want everyone to be able to hear you, the readers, and the bride & groom during their vows.  The DJ, venue, or ceremony musicians can often provide a wireless mic to use.  Pass it to the readers and the couple for the readings and the vows.

  • Keep the love! When readers or other participants come up – feel free to have a moment, and give the bride and groom some love (a big hug!) afterwards.

  • Bring tissues!

  • Communicate! If you have any questions, ask the bride and groom – keeping communication lines open can really make everything much easier!

  • Make sure it’s legal! Check with your county / state to make sure you can legally officiate at weddings.  Fill out the wedding license completely and fully, and be sure to get it mailed in and filed in the proper amount of time after the wedding.

  • Protect it! I use a black, leatherette 8.5 x 11 three ring binder for my ceremonies – I slip the script into matte page protectors.  A thin black three ring binder is a great, easy, and cheap solution for holding the ceremony script as well.

  • Have fun! Don’t be afraid to laugh or be emotional – that’s what weddings are all about!  Prompt the bride, groom, or bridal party quietly if they need to be doing something (rings, readings, vows, etc).  Take deep breathes, and stay calm!  Whatever happens, it’ll be a wonderful and beautiful day.


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No, seriously.  You have to watch this!  Even my fiance loved it!

(And I TOTALLY cried at the end, when she danced down and he met her half way…)

So much more details (including how I wrote their Love Story, and their surprise readings!) will be coming up about Sarah & John’s wedding, but for now – take a look at this wonderful highlights reel that Kenneth Stillman put together to share at the wedding brunch the next day! Ceremony wise, you get to hear some of Sarah and John’s beautifully written vows, a shot of their tree sapling planting ceremony, and a few of their readers! Her photographer was the awesome Cindy Patrick, and I can’t wait to see the pictures and tell you ALL about their ceremony!

Click Here to View The Video Titled: The Wedding of Sarah Schulte & John Gilleeny at The Chesterwood Museum
The Wedding of Sarah Schulte & John Gilleeny at The Chesterwood Museum By Kenneth Stillman
View in HD Download 360p Version Visit Kenneth Stillman’s ExposureRoom Videos Page

I had some time between meetings and weddings this weekend, and found myself at one of my favorite places: the craft store.  I had no particular items or needs in mind (a dangerous way to enter, to be sure! That’s when the yarn leaps off the shelves and into my basket), when I spied that faux flowers were 50% off, and I had an idea!

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I picked up two already arranged bouquets, some corsage pins, and a wide satin ribbon that coordinated with the flowers.  When I got home, I taped (yes, with packing tape!) the stems together, then wrapped with ribbon, pinning and tucking with the corsage pins to hold it.

And voila – a rehearsal bouquet!

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I’ve noticed that many of my brides don’t bring a rehearsal bouquet (you know – a paper plate with all of the ribbons from your bridal shower taped on it? or some lovely flowers a friend gathered for you outside?), and it’s a good idea to have one.  You can practice holding the bouquet as you walk down the aisle, holding hands with your fiance when one is occupied, and the hand off of the bouquet during the ceremony.  I’ve had a few brides recess out WITHOUT their bouquet, as they forget to collect it after the kiss, and, though it’s not a major problem, we want to get you as many lovely photo ops with that bouquet of yours as possible!

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So this will go into my giant Celebrant emergency bag, and make its way to my wedding rehearsals, just in case the bride wants to practice with them!

[Please excuse the Maeby cat – she is certainly in love with these fake flowers! I had to put them in a cabinet to store, because she kept on attempting to eat them – apparently, they’re really enough to fool her!]

This wasn’t my usual wedding.

MJ contacted me a few weeks ago – she and her fiance wanted a simple, quick, and personal wedding, but weren’t sure of the location or the date yet.  When we met up, she told me her idea, and it was awesome: have the wedding, with just a few friends as witnesses, at a tattoo parlor on a Saturday afternoon… and follow it up by getting each other’s initials tattooed on their ring fingers.

I didn’t hesitate before saying yes!

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MJ and Steve wrote personal vows, that were funny and touching.  They had two readings – one of which was the lyrics to “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascall Flatts, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been cooler.  We did the ceremony right in front of this crazy altar they had set up in the parlor (Jinx Proof Tattoo in Montclair, NJ).

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They each chose personal ring vows, and didn’t share them before hand (most of my couples choose to use the same ring vows).  And MJ’s were hysterical:

I give you this ring, not as the proverbial symbol of my love, rather a blatant BACK OFF BITCHES, HE’S TAKEN.  It is a gesture to mark my territory and stake my claim.  Take it off, lose the finger.  THE END

It was definetly one of the most unique wedding ceremonies I’ve ever done, and I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of it!  It was true proof that your wedding ceremony can and should reflect who you are – from the traditional to the not-so-traditional and everything in between.

Not to get all mushy or cheesy, but it made me really think about why I got into this whole marrying people officiant business – so I can help everyone have their perfect wedding.  So people have big poofy white dresses, and some people get married in killer silver heels and a bright blue cocktail dress in a tattoo parlor – but everyone gets the perfect wedding for them!  And I just love that I can be a part of it.

MJ & Steve – whenever you want to renew your vows, give me a call!  Thanks so much for letting me be part of your crazy nutso tattooed wedding.  You guys rock!

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A processional is an important element of any wedding ceremony.  It helps to separate this special moment from the every day, as most people don’t get grand entrances, complete with music, escorts, and flowers, too often.  It also helps to honor special people in your life who have contributed and supported you, by giving them a special moment as well.

Typically, anyone who you would give flowers to (corsage, bouts, etc) is involved with the processional.  This usually includes:

  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Bridesmaids
  • Groomsmen
  • Ring Bearers
  • Flower Girls
  • Bride
  • Groom

It does NOT usually include:

  • Readers
  • Ushers

Which isn’t to say it can’t.

Sometimes the officiant is part of the processional as well, usually as the first person to enter.  With my ceremonies, I usually enter at the very beginning, a bit more casually, prior to the music beginning, and make an announcement, cuing the actual processional to start.

In more traditional ceremonies, the groom, best man, and groomsmen are already standing at the front, having entered from the side with the officiant, or they were already milling around prior to the ceremony, greeting guests and perhaps acting as ushers, and casually make their way to the front, prior to the music and seating of honored guests.

And then the music begins.

If the groom is planning to enter as part of the processional, he can enter at this point, to stand a the front and watch the rest of the processional.  If the bride and groom are not seeing each other before the ceremony, I recommend the groom enter now, so there’s not a chance of them spying each other.

The honored guests are seated next, in the following order:

  • Groom’s grandparents
  • Bride’s grandparents
  • Groom’s parents
  • Bride’s parents

Usually, any women without an escort can be walked down by an usher or a groomsmen.  Often times, the bride’s mother will not have an escort, because the bride’s father will be entering with the bride – an usher, groomsmen, or sibling of the bride and groom can escort her, or she can walk by herself.

Next, comes the bridal party:

  • Groomsmen, with the Best Man last (if not already standing at the front)
  • Ring Bearer
  • Bridesmaids, with the Maid of Honor last
  • Flower Girl

Sometimes, my couples will choose to have the bridal party walk in together – bridesmaids and groomsmen paired up, to escort each other down the aisle.  This is an option as well, and one that I really love.  I think it shows how your friends are there to support you, since it’s the two sets of friends coming together.  If you choose to go that route, you can also have the ring bearer and flower girl enter together, or separately, if you choose.

I almost always recommend that kids, when they get to the front, are seated with their parents or reliable friend / relative.  Have them sit in the first or second row, so they can easily get there, with a little prompting from the officiant.  Kids wiggle a lot, and you want to make sure they’re comfortable and not distracting during the ceremony.

And then – the music changes – there’s a moment, and the congregation usually stands up (with or without my prompting!)

And the bride enters, escorted by her father, her brother, her mom, her children, her grandfather, her uncle, or someone else equally important.

Once she comes to the front, her escort lifts her veil up (if she has a blusher), gives her a big kiss and hug, and greets the groom.  Her escort is then seated, the groom takes her hand, and they walk towards the officiant together.

Now – of course – there are near ENDLESS variations and tweaks and changes that can happen with the processional – let me try and focus on a few of my favorites, as they can easily become overwhelming.

I LOVE when the groom gets a big moment in the processional, too.  My favorite is borrowed from the Jewish tradition:  after the bridal party enters, the groom is escorted to the chuppah by BOTH of his parents, followed by the bride, also escorted by both of her parents.  I think this is a great way to incorporate your parents into this important moment in your lives, as well as make sure that the groom gets a bit of the spotlight on HIS big day, too!

Can’t decide between two escorts (maybe – your dad and step-dad? divorced parents that don’t want to walk you in together?)  This usually works if there’s a bit of a walk to the actual aisle, but can be adapted easily.  Have one of them walk you from your entrance point, to the beginning of the aisle, where the other is waiting for you.  They swap, and the second escort walks you to the groom.

This can also work with the groom acting as the second escort – have him enter just before you, and wait at the beginning of the aisle.  Your first escort will walk to the groom, give you a kiss, and the groom and the bride will then walk up the aisle, together.  I love that.

Your officiant will probably have some suggestions and ideas for you as well.  If it helps, you can always sketch out ideas and plans to have a better understanding of the order you’d like everyone to enter.  It’s an important element of your ceremony, and one that can really set the tone for the rest of the wedding!

Today’s Etsy Friday was inspired by a beautiful locket I spied on the front page of Etsy earlier this week.  I love when couples incorporate items that have a specific meaning or memory into their wedding ceremony, and the locket would be perfect to place a small photo in, and pin to the bride’s bouquet – a unique and beautiful way to remember someone close to your heart who can’t be there today.

This Etsy Friday explores ways to remember special people in your wedding, as well as ways to remember your wedding ceremony after it is over!

https://i1.wp.com/ny-image0.etsy.com/il_430xN.77871708.jpgLocket via MStevevsonDesigns

This shop has beautiful enamal lockets in all different colors and shapes – perfect as an accessory with your dress, or to tie into your bouquet with a special photo – perhaps a loved one who has passed on, or simply a favorite photo of you and your fiance – creating a wonderful keepsake for after the wedding.

https://i0.wp.com/ny-image1.etsy.com/il_430xN.78084865.jpgYour Words on Canvas viaGeeZee’s Shop

Print your Love Story, a special reading, or your vows on canvas, to hang in your home, maybe next to a wedding photo?  I love the idea of being able to read a portion of your own wedding, to bring back vivid memories of the special day.

https://i0.wp.com/ny-image1.etsy.com/il_430xN.77626573.jpgCustom Wedding Time Capsule via VonderBerry

Place a few items into this custom time capsule, to be opened and added to on your anniversaries – copies of your vows, maybe some dried flowers, a program, a place-card.. special little items you know you’ll want to keep and remember later.  They suggest adding a bottle of wine, too, to be opend and savored at a later point.

https://i2.wp.com/ny-image2.etsy.com/il_430xN.77347346.jpgElegant Bridal Dress Label via LJO Custom Embroidery & Design

Have a ribbon embroidered with your maiden name, your monogram, your initials, or a special quote, along with the date of your wedding, and sewn into the dress.

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Bridal Keepsake/Memory Purse via Memories Under Glass

This beautiful purse is made from a vintage wedding gown, and accented with a vintage broach!  This is a lovely detail that could be part of the bride’s attire, and then used again after the wedding – something I love about little details, those ones that you can reuse and remember with every day!

What are you incorporating into your wedding, to continue your own memories or remember someone?

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