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Larry James

What's in a Ceremony?

Here we present a varied view of the entire ceremony based on tradition with a few optional, non-traditional extras.

The order of events is completely optional. Generally speaking, most couples choose to follow something close to the following:

  • Entrance and seating of the grandparents
  • Entrance and seating of mothers and groom's father
  • Entrance of the minister and the groom
  • Entrance of the groomsmen and the bridesmaids
  • Entrance of the bride and her father (or whoever is giving her away)

Often the groomsmen will act as ushers for the guests, grandparents and the mothers and groom's father, then take their places with the bridesmaids as the minister and the groom enter.

Whatever the chosen structure of the ceremony, it is important that both the bride and groom have some agreement and ownership of the words in the marriage rites. A wedding is a distinctly personal experience; a very personal occasion and should define the bride and groom. The entire ceremony is a formula that's made to be tampered with.

  • Processional  -  "Here comes the bride. . ."
  • Music of Your Choice  -  Make your ceremony more moving by creating your own soundtrack, using music to escort you down the aisle and to add a little pazzazz throughout the ceremony. Include creative music in the traditional places:

    • The Prelude  -  Music that fills the room before the ceremony begins should begin about 30 minutes before the ceremony. Use intrumental, vocal or your favorite CD.
    • The Processional  -  March down the aisle by using different selections for the wedding party and the bride.
    • The Recessional  -  This music will accompany the newlyweds back up the aisle and out the door, followed by the wedding party.
    • The Postlude  -  This music will be played as the guests leave the ceremony area.

      Other music possibilities: Solos by friends and family can be performed after the mothers are seated, before or after the wedding vows are spoken or anywhere else you choose during the ceremony. Consider a group song or singalong (with the lyrics printed in the program> by the congregation or musical accompaniments during the unity candle or rose ceremony.

  • Officiant's Welcome and Opening Remarks  -  These words greet the guests and state the purpose of the gathering. They acknowledge the importance of the event, introduce the principle people - the couple and the witnesses - and invite the audience to be attentive to the moment. In this moment you may want an opening prayer or silent prayer to be offered.
  • Relationship Thoughts from the Officiant  -  This moment is unique to Larry's wedding ceremony. Here he briefly shifts into his "relationship coach" persona to define some of the most important aspects of relationships, with the emphasis on effective communication, working together, sharing responsibilities and more.
  • Presentation of the Bride  -  This tradition calls for the families to release their children for marriage. A few select words can be read by the parents.
  • Charge to the Couple  -  The charge is a reminder to the couple and all present that the wedding commitment is among the most serious of all decisions, that is must not be taken lightly or without reflection of all the implications involved. They are asked to declare to one another and those present that they recognize the importance of their pledge and are committed to honor it.
  • Wedding Readings(Scriptual or Otherwise)/Music/Poetry  -  This moment is intended to introduce into the wedding understandings, feelings, and reflections on love and marriage that are choosen by and have influenced and inspired the couple.
  • Declaration of Consent  -  These words serve as preparatioin for the vows. Each declare their intentions, e.g., "Will you take this man/woman to be husband/wife and be faithful to him/her alone, etc."
  • Personalized Vows  -  This is an opportunity for the bride and groom to be creative and compose their own wedding vows that are meaningful to both partners; that say something unique about your love for each other and how they envision their life together.
  • Exchange of Vows  -  Time for your lifelong promise; words that express the will to honor and chersh and the commitment to love and support. This part of the ceremony is required by law and is the agreement of the couple in the presence of official witnesses to take one another as husband and wife. The vows represent the moment of covenant, e.g., "I take you to be my wedded wife, etc."
  • Presentation of the Rings  -  The rings are a physical reminder and symbol of the promises binding two people together on their very special day and in their very special relationship.
  • Pronouncement of Marriage  -  This is the moment when the officiant declares that the purpose for which the couple have gathered is complete and the act of covenant is now fulfilled. "I now pronounce that you are husband and wife together, etc." This is where the bride's parents cry, the groom's family grins a lot and everyone collectively nods their heads.
  • Unity Candle Ceremony  -  A symbolic ceremony that has the bride and groom light a single candle representing their willingness to walk life's pathways together as one.
  • Rose Ceremony  -  In this brief ceremony the bride and groom present each other with their first gift as wife and husband; a red rose bud (a symbol of Love).
  • Blended Family Ceremony  -  When the bride and/or groom have children, it may be appropriate for the children to be included in the wedding ceremony.
  • Affirmation of Audience (Optional)  -  This moment provides an opportunity for the audience to say "yes" to all they have witnessed; a chance to offer their support and to remind everyone of the importance of family and community.
  • Officiant's Closing Remarks  -  This can be a prayer, a blessing (not necessarily a religious blessing) chosen by the couple or especially chosen remarks by the officiant.
  • Seal your promises and begin the marriage with a kiss  -  Kissy, kissy!
  • Recessional  -  ". . . and they lived happily ever after!" Hand me a bag of rice!

Just for the record, some people prefer to use birdseed instead of rice. Contrary to popular belief, it is a myth that if birds eat the rice they will explode or it will hurt them. Not true. Here's proof!

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