Before we met to discuss their ceremony, Sarah sent me a basic outline that included the elements and people that she and John knew they wanted to include in their ceremony. I melded this with my basic outline for structure, and so, going into our first meeting, I had a very good idea of what their ceremony was going to be like.

Here is the outline Sarah sent me:

Processional.

Circle of Love:

The bride & groom’s siblings and their family members will walk down the aisle, and place a flower along the edge of the circle, forming a Circle of Love that the couple will be married in.

Groom will enter with his parents.
Bride will enter with her parents.

Welcome Message.

Readings.
Three total.

Tree Planting Ceremony.

Handfasting.

Blessing & Exchange of Rings.

Closing Remarks, Declaration of Marriage, & Kiss!


And here’s the outline that I brought to our meeting:

Welcoming of Guests.

Circle of Love.

Processional.

Introduction.
Explanation of Circle of Love
Welcoming of the Couple
Thanking of Family & Friends.

Love Story.

Reading #1.

Tree Planting Ceremony.

Vows & Ring Ceremony.

Reading #2.

Handfasting.

Reading #3.

Closing Remarks.

Declaration of Marriage.

Recessional.

We talked through the outline, and made some decisions – who would be involved with what, how certain elements would work – and talked through some ideas, so we were on the same page, especially with rituals I had never done before.  I’m excited because they have many friends and family members involved in the ceremony – it’s much less about me standing up there and talking (not that there is anything wrong with that!), and much more about me leading the ceremony, guiding everyone through these steps and creating the ceremony together!

For the tree planting ceremony – I believe that instead of a seeds, they are now going to plant a seedling (a little more visual, PLUS more likely that it’ll be able to grow well!).

Their Circle of Love is my favorite! I think it’s a fabulous way to incorporate a larger group of people in a very intimate way. I suggested this to another one of my couples who had a beach wedding in early May – as each of their guests entered, they were presented with a shell by a groomsmen stationed at the start of the aisle. The guests came to the front, and placed the shell, created a circle of shells and of love that the couple was married in. It was really cool, beautiful, and very personal.

I broke up the readings, and will place them in the ceremony based on their specific context.  I don’t like to have all of the readings come one right after the other in my weddings… I think it helps to keep everything interactive and moving along to break them up and create a narrative flow with them, based on their context.  Sarah & John have asked three of their friends to choose the readings they will be sharing, and we’re keeping them a secret from the bride and groom till the big day!  So I can’t post about the readings until after the ceremony is over!

I also got to talk to Sarah and John a little bit, and tried to get a sense of their personality and their relationship. I love to hear stories straight from my couples, so I asked them how they met, and took a lot of notes!

I walked away with a very clear picture of their ceremonony, and I hope Sarah and John did too! We had both gone into the meeting a little more prepared and planned out than normal, but for such an unusual ceremony – I think it really helped us to figure out what they wanted!

Coming up next: creating their Love Story!

Follow Along Ceremony.
Part 1: Meet Sarah & John!

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Meet Sarah and John.

<img src="http://www.cpatrickphoto.com/">Photo by Cindy Patrick</a>Photo by Cindy Patrick

They’re getting married at the Chesterwood Estate & Museum in Stockbridge, MA, in July (take a moment to check out their venue – isn’t it cool?).

I always say that the coolest people find me and ask me to lead their wedding ceremonies – and Sarah and John are no exception.  In fact, I found Sarah – she’s a pretty awesome photographer, and I contacted her about photographing my wedding in October of 2010.

We met in January, and discussed weddings – both of ours (that’s the Celebrant in me, I guess, even when I’m supposed to be talking about my own wedding, I need to know about other bride’s ceremonies!).  She and her fiance had a lot of really cool ideas of different rituals, ceremonies, and traditions to incorporate into their wedding, and it sounded like their wedding was going to be a blast!

So, a few months later – my fiance and I had decided that Sarah is the one to photograph our wedding.  And then I get an email from her, asking me to officiate HER wedding!  I didn’t have to hesitate before absolutely saying yes!

sj2Photo by Cindy Patrick

Sarah and John came into the whole process with some great ideas about what they wanted to include in their wedding ceremony.  Some of the rituals and traditions I was familiar with and love (handfasting, readings), some I had heard of and am totally excited to do for the first time (seedling planting ceremony), and some that I had never even heard of before (Circle of Love with flowers, presentation of the ring by the moms, with a “blessing” by the parents).

They chose not to have a traditional wedding party, but are having their siblings and their significant others take part in the processional, and are each being walked down the aisle by their parents (in the vein of the Jewish tradition).  There are even some surprises in store – they’re having three readers and letting them each choose the readings they’d like to use… but we’re going to keep them a secret from the bride & groom until the wedding ceremony!

I’m so excited to begin putting their wedding ceremony together – I think it’s going to be something really amazing when it all comes together, something that really reflects Sarah & John’s commitment to each other, to their families, and to love 🙂  ‘Cause when it comes down to it.. isn’t it all about the love?

I’m going to be blogging my process on Sarah and John’s wedding, so you, my lovely blog readers, can follow along at home and see all of the fun research, prep, emails and planning that goes into creating and writing a wedding ceremony, and hopefully get some great ideas for your own ceremonies along the way.   So, we’ll start from the beginning – with their outline and our first meeting and end in Western Massachusetts in mid-July.  I can’t wait!

PS: Sarah recently did a wedding update on her blog, if you want to hear more about her current wedding plans! Loving the orange!

Photo by Cindy PatrickPhoto by Cindy Patrick