Tips to Create a Personalized Wedding Ceremony

Caribbean CeremonyPhotography by Elisha Orin

some new twists for your wedding ceremony

Although your wedding day is filled with significant moments, the ceremony is the pinnacle of the entire celebration. It's the reason everyone has joined together, and it's more than just a formality. Whether you're having a religious or secular service, your ceremony is your chance to express who you are as a couple; you can personalize your readings, add rituals that have significance for you, or even infuse your love story throughout the service. Here, we share some of the most creative touches some couples have been adding to their ceremonies lately. 

tell  your love story

The ceremony is your opportunity to share your personal  story with your guests. You can choose your words carefully.  These words are your promises to each other.  Why not include some personal reflections on your relationship.  What it is that made you fall in love with each other?  This is YOUR time to share your thoughts and promises to your beloved and to your guests.

love letters from far-flung guests

 If your families live all over the world, it can be nearly impossible for everyone to come together for the wedding. To include your distant loved ones, encourage them to write letters, which can be woven into the ceremony.  Some couples ask that each guest send them their wedding wishes.  This can be especially poignant as well wishes from an elderly grand parent can be included in your ceremony.

private intimate ceremony on Trunk Bay, St John, USVI

create a wedding time capsule

Writing letters isn't just for guests who can't attend the wedding; you can also invite any guest attending to write you a note that'll be read on your first anniversary. The letters can include well wishes, advice for married life, favorite memories of you two together, or anything else they'd like to include (you can either include a card about this with your invitations, post about it on your wedding website, and/or have nice stationery and pens available at the venue).

Pass around a box during the ceremony for your guests to drop in their notes. Then, seal it up until your anniversary! "What could be better during an anniversary than to read the blessings of loved ones at the time of the wedding?"

Another twist is to craft a special marriage box. Before your big day, gather a wooden box, a bottle of wine (or the alcohol of your choice), and two glasses. Write love notes to each other, explaining your feelings as you prepare to start your new life together as husband and wife. Seal your letter without letting your soon-to-be read what you've written.

During the ceremony, place the love notes inside the wooden box with the wine and glasses. Take turns hammering the box shut, one nail at a time, until the box is sealed.

Agree to keep the box sealed until a special anniversary, like your 10th or 20th, unless you hit a rough patch. Then, break open the box, pour the wine, read the letters, and remember what it's all about!

family mementos

 One groom was in possession of a Bible that had been passed down through the generations, dating back to his great-great-grandfather in 1870. "Every couple in the family has, at some point, signed the Bible, and we incorporated this ritual into the ceremony." Don't have a family heirloom like that? Start the tradition now! Ask all of the married couples in your family sign a sacred book, and you'll add your names during the ceremony. 

Villa Wedding on St JohnBlueglass Photography

the new vows

These days, it's not just you and your betrothed who get to make promises at the wedding. Some couples have been asking their parents or guests to join in on the vows. One example is after the couple makes their promises to each other, the officiate ask the parents the following: 

Do you, ( the grooms parents)  and (brides parents), who have nurtured and raised these two give your blessing now to Bride and groom, as they enter into this new relationship, and do you aspire in the days and years ahead to give them your deepest love, understanding and support during both good times and bad?   If so, say “We do.” 

For blended families, making vows to each other's children has become a heart warming part of the wedding day. One of my favorite’s is the joining of the family:

“Often, marriage is viewed as the union of two individuals.  In reality, however, marriage is much broader.  As we celebrate the love that brings the two of you  together, so, too we celebrate the joining of a family.  We ask that your union become a source of security, comfort and an example of a loving marriage for (children).”

If you would like to include the children further, they can create their own vows, responding "I do" to each question:

"Do you promise to love your mother and her new husband?" or "Do you promise to love your father and his new wife?" "Do you promise to support their marriage and your new family?" "Do you promise to accept the responsibility of being their children and to encourage them, support them, and accept them?"

communal blessing of the rings

During many religious ceremonies, the officiant typically says a blessing over the rings before the couple exchanges them. But if you're not having a religious ceremony, consider have your family and friends bless your rings (this works best at smaller weddings).

 "The ritual is simple but powerful. Place the wedding bands in a lovely box or decorative pouch to be handed from guest to guest before the ring ceremony begins or during a period of music and reflection. Each guest holds the rings and silently offers a prayer or wish for the couple. In essence, the rings are warmed by the hands and hearts of the guests. 

sand ceremony

Instead of the traditional unity candle ceremony - where each mother light a candle, then you and your fiancé use these candles to light a larger candle together – we  recommend switching it up: Do a sand ceremony.  It is impossible to light a candle on the beach and keep it lit!

The VI National Park has strict rules regarding glass on the beach so nix the glass and use two shells for each person and a decorative wooden box to pour the sand into.

 

blending faiths

If you're marrying outside of your own faith, you're certainly not alone.  We have performed Christian/ Hindu ceremonies, Jewish/ Christian ceremonies and Persian ceremonies.  In one wedding, the bride's Jewish father blessed the wine in Hebrew, and the groom's father read the English translation, giving the wedding an inclusive feel 

make it your own

We provide our couples with a wedding workbook full of beautiful readings, and many pages of verbiage to assist you in creating a ceremony that is specifically theirs.  We encourage you to take the time to really reflect on what you want to say.  Remember, 20 years from now these words will be much more important than what color scheme you chose for your wedding.

Have fun with it! Make your ceremony reflect your personalities as individuals and also as a married couple