Don’t let these ceremony sins derail your wedding.
1. “Nobody could hear the ceremony.”
When you dreamed of your perfect beach wedding, you probably imagined it in color and with sound. Trouble is, many brides dream visually and forget about sound altogether. Unless you amplify your ceremony audio, your guests may never hear whether you do or don’t. When beach weddings are windy, not even the most well intentioned officiant can speak over the wind, so oftentimes, only the couple ends up hearing what is said. We’ve filmed beach weddings with only 25 guests and they still were not able to hear the ceremony because it happened to be a particularly windy day. So no matter how small your wedding ceremony, amplify the audio. It doesn’t cost that much extra, and it’s well worth it so everyone can experience your vision, with sound too. Ask your wedding planner or coordinator to offer some options, whether a DJ sets it up, or your live musicians do.
2. “I felt like I was marrying my father.”
Yep, we’ve actually heard this one too, and felt it as well when the time it takes for the father of the bride to actually give the bride away never seems to come. There the bride stands, next to dad, and the groom awaiting his moment to scoop her into his arms, and the officiant takes the group through twenty minutes’ worth of prayers, advice and other ceremonial duties before he at long last asks, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” The guests sigh, “thank God.” The presenting of the bride to her groom by the father and or mother or guardian is a precious moment. Guard it as such. Ask your officiant exactly what the order of ceremony events is, and ask how long you can expect to stand with your dad before he gives you away. Ask now or forever hold your dad’s hand.
3. “I thought the song would never end.”
Having a song never end can be a problem at any point during the ceremony, but the first place we’ve seen it become a problem is during the bride’s entrance. The bride makes her smashing entrance up to the alter, smiles at her groom, the officiant, her maids of honor, squeezes dad, smiles at mom, takes a deep breath, but the song keeps going. The bride and groom look at each other, and either the groom is striken with nerves wondering how long this song can possibly go on, or the couple may laugh about it, shrug, and I’ve even witnessed the opening song go on so long, I thought the groom was going to bust out and strangle the clueless violinist. The solution to this one is easy. Tell your musicians or DJ to end the song “organically,” as naturally as they can once you’ve completed your entrance. Ceremony music can also become awkward during those times when the couple may be performing a sand ceremony, lighting the unity candle or giving flowers to their mothers, and then the couple must stand face to face taking in the beauty of the special moment together, which is wonderful! Once again, to a point. Because we can usually hear what the groom is whispering to his bride during ceremonies, I can’t tell you how many times we hear the groom remark to her about the song going on and on, and how many versus does this thing have, and so forth. Time the song out, and block your timing for lighting the candle or doing whatever you choose to do during that special time with the song. You may want to use a shortened version of the song. Or decide if you want to give the person in charge of music, whether live or recorded, the power to end the song sooner if needed, upon your nod to them, or some other type signal. If you want to gaze into each other’s eyes for as many minute’s as the song allows, wonderful. Point is, it’s your ceremony, timing matters, yet chances are nobody will ever bring it up, unless you do.
4. “That was quick.”
Ceremonies should flow, however, one big mistake is to treat the ceremony like a rushed obligatatory chore to get out of the way. Call me old school, but the ceremony is the most important part of a wedding! Yet, too many ceremonies are canned 10-minute speeches given by an officiant with staged pauses for the groom and bride to nod, place ring on finger, and we’re outta here. You owe it to each other as a couple to treat your ceremony with the love and respect that you want your marriage to represent to each other. Your guests who have taken time and effort to come also appreciate the fact that you cherish the ceremony, it’s meaning, and that you value their time and participation.
5. “I thought it would never end.”
By the same token, ceremonies can take the extreme opposite turn and become so excruciatingly long, even well intentioned guests doze into catatonic states. It is the verbose officiant who commits this ceremonial clunker of a sin. As esteemed and often godly deliverer of the blessed sacrament, the verbose officiant is not an easy obstacle to overcome. He or she is often a close friend of the family, or a relative, or just a talker, who means well, but isn’t gifted at cutting to the chase. This may or may not be something you can control. And while it would be perfect if an officiant who you knew and loved were also both lovingly articulate and concise, it may be more important to have an officiant who you know and love than one who you don’t know at all or like that much. Sorry, no easy fix here, but every so often, we see ceremonies held captive by talkers, and at least you can consider the consequences when selecting your officiant.
6. “I Do. I Do, and I Do.”
Redundant vows silently kill ceremonies while people aren’t looking. Yes, we’ve filmed many a wedding with multiple versions of vows within the one ceremony. The officiant can ask early on, “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, to love and cherish, in good times and in bad, etc.” Then the couple may again be asked to repeat vows to each other later on, ” I Mary, take you Joseph, to be my husband. I promise to love you and cherish you all the days of our life, etc.” Then the couple has also written personal vows, and so everyone gets to hear the vows from another perspective, “I Elizabeth take you John to be my husband, whether or not you remember to hang your clothes up or not, etc.” Your ceremony should be your ceremony, whether you choose a traditional script or a more personal approach, however, be wary of merging scripts to please all people. Choose one set of vows, and mean them when you say them. Avoid redundant readings or poems or songs. Let each piece of the ceremony have it’s specific reason for being included in your ceremony. Ask your officiant to explain each part of the ceremony. If something feels redundant, ask them to explain why or if that part can be cut or replaced with something else that adds a new meaning or purpose. Obviously many religious customs are set in stone, and often for good reason. Merging scripts can often lead to wishy washy wedding sounding language. Understand your ceremony, which also allows you to relish it as it happens.
We mention these things, because they are for the most part, easy to avoid, yet so often overlooked. And no matter what happens that day, good or bad, all can be overcome if you and your groom focus on each other, remember to be in the moment, and laugh a lot.