Your wedding ceremony marks one of the most important moments in your life. You have chosen to join your life with the one that above all others, makes you happy, leaves you giddy, still gives you butterflies in the pit of your stomach. In short, the love of your life. It can seem that the lead up to the ceremony lasts a lifetime, while the ceremony itself, to some, happens in the blink of an eye. Here are some tips to keep in mind for your ceremony to make sure that it is your perfectly paced vision.
#1 DON’T RUSH THE PROCESSIONAL
A lot of couples and their bridal parties can get caught up in the moment and want to rush down the aisle. It is important to have at least a couple “dry runs” during the rehearsal to help everyone set the pace for the processional. And if you can play the processional song, that will be even better. In all of my years I have never had to say to a couple or member of the bridal group, “could you speed it up, please?” Never! Having a wedding planner or a close friend in back, telling everyone when to enter and reminding everyone to take their time, will be a wonderful addition to the day.
A special note just for the brides. Odds are you will be having a processional song, as well as a separate song just for your entrance. When the last attendant has entered, wait for them to reach the front where the ceremony will be taking place. Not only will this make for a dramatic entrance, but it will also provide a natural break in time where the musicians or DJ can transition into your entry song. And like the rest of your bridal party, take your time with the entrance… after all, they are not going to start without you!
#2 craft your perfect ceremony
Nowadays, ceremonies come in many different shapes and kinds. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing your ceremony. It should definitely reflect you as a couple and encompass your beliefs, principles and ideals. The length of your ceremony should not be too long nor too short – but only you can be the judge of that.
Your wedding ceremony can be sacred, sweet, full of laughs (depending on your personalities), or all the above. It is important that it be a direct representation of yourselves. Make sure you review the draft of the ceremony before or on your big day. Know when to expect readings, when you will be expected to repeat vows or read your own, exchange rings and know when things are wrapping up. Being comfortable with the ceremony will go a long way towards making this life event memorable and magical.
#3 ADD IN DIFFERENT VOICES
One of the best and easiest ways to create a dynamic and engaging wedding ceremony is to add in different voices. The celebrant or officiant will obvious perform most of the ceremony and will be responsible for setting the tone and the pace for the celebration. However, because ceremonies can last between 20 minutes to an hour, coming up with different ways to incorporated different voices can create a slight pause as well as a change in tone, but can also change the climate and ambience of the ceremony.
What better way to have your nearest and dearest friends and family be part of your special day than by having them read a poem or passage that is special to you two. Whether solemn and strong or fun and even a bit goofy, reading can add so much to a ceremony. If instead, you have a special song or piece of music you would like to incorporate and a talented singer in your midst, why not consider adding this fun twist to your nuptials. Don’t have any musically inclined friends or family? You can always hire a professional to get the job done!
#4 SPEAK SLOWLY and CLEARLY
Remember to take your time and speak slowly during the ceremony. Most celebrants, civil and church officials should already do this by default. Nowadays, it has become quite popular for close family friends or relatives to perform the symbolic ritual. This is a wonderful and special way to commemorate your life event. However, for anyone not accustomed to speaking before a large audience, it is important to make sure, especially if they are naturally soft spoken, to have a microphone on hand.
The same applies for the bride and groom, as well. Having a clean, clear voice the projects, can be a little bit more difficult than you may imagine. Once you get to the front, you might be a bit giddy or nervous. Factor in birds, breezes and wrestling leaves at an outdoor venue, and, well, some may never hear a word you say. So, try to stay centered and present and do your best to (literally) shout it from the mountain top!
#5 PAUSES ARE OK
Everyone has at some point watched a drama unfold on a television show. They are not rushing through their monologue at lightning speed and without any changes in intonation. In fact, it is called a “dramatic pause” for a reason. Like print and digital advertising use white space to make something more impactful, a pause during an oration can do the very same thing. We grow up thinking a pause or break in conversation is a bad thing. In reality, the effect provides moments for the listeners to focus on the beautiful words you have chosen to exchange with each other to sink in.
#6 REMEMBER TO BREATHE
Hopefully by now, you are realizing the key to a perfectly paced wedding ceremony is to slow things down and to try to be present in the moment. Until you are up there, in front of your friends and family, nothing can really prepare you for your nuptials. If you forget everything else on this list, remember to stop, recenter yourself and breathe.
While breathing is in itself an autonomic reflex (meaning, we do not have to consciously remember to do it), it is within our regulate our breathing rate. If your breath is taken away at the first site of your soon to be spouse or if you feel your nerves creeping up… remember to stop, recenter yourself and breathe slowly.
This moment is about celebrating your love for one another and hopefully the rest will just melt away. In all my years of wedding planning, I have NEVER heard a couple say, “well… that lasted forever”! Unquestionably, all of your combined years, months, days and hours have been counting down to this event. This simple and sacred event will join your soul with another for all the days that lie ahead. Take time to stop, be present, center yourself and breathe. No matter how many times I utter these words, it always rings true.