Creating a ceremony that’s uniquely you.

Trends these days tell me that most of you reading this haven’t been dreaming of a church or ballroom wedding. You’re hip. You want something a little different. That rocks. And because of that, we’re going to cover the best ways to tweak the traditional wedding ceremony to fit your vision without losing the focus of why you’re gathering together: for you and your special someone to say, “I do.”

These days we see wedding ceremonies under a big oak tree, in the backyard of someone’s home, or on a rooftop along a skyline. We don’t have the traditional elements of an aisle, back rooms to prepare in, or trained officiants for performing the ceremony. This allows us to refresh tradition and embrace innovative ways of doing things — the freedom!

The Processional

Having a blended family or preparing for a same-sex wedding can cause a lot of anxiety when it comes to the traditional process of a processional. The processional is the opening moment of your special day, when your guests see you for the first time, and it sets the tone for the entire celebration to follow.

That makes it important that everyone be comfortable. One thing to consider is whether to include parents in the processional. Are there too many relationships to manage? It’s OK if there are — let them be ushered naturally into the ceremony rather than organized to music. Do you want an aisle? Are two aisles better than one? Does entering from each side work best? These are things to consider based on your vision for the ceremony. Remember: This day is because of two people only, not everyone and their mother.

Staging before the Ceremony

If your venue does not provide a place to “stage” prior to your ceremony, I have two alternatives. The first is to budget for oversized transportation. I’m talking a 30-plus passenger bus. Locally, I suggest MO-X. This will give you a room on wheels to hang tight on-site without being seen.

Second, consider arriving to your wedding on time. You’ll arrive and walk right down the aisle. I know it sounds scary, right? I only suggest this to my Type-A couples (who are just like me). If you can be trusted to arrive on time, then do it. It’s actually best to be five minutes late, to accommodate for your notoriously late guests. I will add that I only make this recommendation if you have a wedding planner — otherwise there are too many unknowns in the ten minutes before your ceremony to risk not being there.

Officiants and Wedding Planners

As traditions go by the wayside, I find that the officiant is most often a hired professional, an uncle, a best friend, or a public figure. Many times, it’s their first time officiating, and while they love the couple, they have no clue what they’re doing. If you find yourself in this boat, my best piece of advice is to hire a day-of wedding planner. If that’s not in the budget, appoint a friend.

Here’s what the wedding planner needs to oversee: guest arrival experience, ushers, programs, processional order (organizing and facilitating); ceremony elements (unity ceremony and readings); music order and queues; sound equipment; pinning personal flowers; and your vendors (photographer, videographer, and venue). All these items must be aligned to ensure your trip down the aisle is a smooth one.

Tweaking traditions is a given in weddings today.  More than anything, the most important thing is to make sure your wedding is just that — yours! Do what the two of you want and make your opinions the deciding factor.

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