Wedding Vows & Ceremony Discussions

Personalizing/Customizing Ceremony?

Our officiant just sent us the PDF of the ceremony template that he usually follows. He told us that we can customize it and personalize the template in any way we want, except for the legally binding phrases of intent that must be said.

We are just starting to look at it, and don't even know where to start. It is a pretty "standard" ceremony that he sent us, and we were wondering, to all of those who wrote their own ceremony, how/what did you do to pull it all together and make it coherent. 

Our officiant mentioned a unity candle, for instance, and I never heard of that before he told us. So, to say that we are out of the loop and could use a little bit of help/direction is an understatement. Anyone care to share their "personalizations" that they incorporated in their ceremony?
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Re: Personalizing/Customizing Ceremony?

  • We are going to write our own vows- working on them this coming weekend actually. We also opted to sign our marriage license during the ceremony instead of doing a unity candle or sand ceremony since I found them a little cheesey. This is not a super common thing in my area so it will be unique for that reason alone.

    If you don't want to re-write everything yourself don't. Let the professional do his thing. If you do decide to change it up, I'd say pick 1-2 places to put your touch on it and don't worry too much about being overly creative. As long as it's meaningful to you then nothing else matters. You're there to get married, not impress guests with your creativity.

    Keep it simple and you won't get bogged down. Also start early so you're not doing this at the last minute. That gives you time to think and then rework things a bit without being rushed.

    Good luck.
    [Deleted User]loro929
  • ElcaBElcaB member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    We spent some time researching different ceremony scripts, then talked about what was important to each of us. We pulled bits and pieces from scripts we liked and edited them to make them our own. 

    We also did a ring warming in which our guests had the option to "warm" our rings as they entered the ceremony space (with the idea that metals contain precious energy). We did a salt ceremony right before or after our vows. 
    image
    loro929
  • We just got our officiant's three ceremony options, too. We particularly like one of them, but we'll probably change some of the wording around, add bits from the other two options and online sources, and swap the unity ceremony for a couple of readings. I keep crying every time I read them, so editing is probably going to be difficult, but worth it.
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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    Some advice I would give about "personalizing" your ceremony is as follows:

    1) Don't overdo it on the "romance."  Don't recite the history of your relationship (or have your officiant do that) or say how much you love each other without making actual promises to each other.  You can put this into letters that you read to each other in private, but don't make your vows sound like verbal PDA.

    2) Your ceremony also isn't the time for stand-up comedy and cutesy references.  Save that, if you need to include it at all, for the reception.  Also, by way of inclusiveness, don't include too many "inside" references that other people present are not going to get-whether humorous or not. 

    3) Make your vows promises to each other that you can realistically keep.  Don't promise, for example, that you'll always remember to put the toilet seat down (or up) or that you'll never go to bed angry with each other.  On the other hand, it is reasonable to promise to love each other and to be there through whatever life has to offer.

    4) This is me, but I wouldn't overdo the "unity" rituals either, like a ring warming, unity candle, sand ceremony, etc., because the whole wedding ceremony is itself a "unity ritual."  Too much of this can become tedious for guests to observe.

    [Deleted User][Deleted User]
  • loro929loro929 member
    500 Comments 250 Love Its Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 2015
    Thanks for all of the great advice!

    We definitely don't want to go cutesy or anything - but the whole text of what the Officiant sent us would have been about 7 minutes, if we don't include any "customizations". 

    We are going to be saying our own vows (have to start working on them, I am sure that will warrant another post on its own), so that should take up 2-4 more minutes.
    I like the idea of signing the licenses during the ceremony, I will see if that is something the Officiant wouldn't have a problem with (I don't see why he would). I also think that I will try to find one or two readings about love in each of our languages (we are a bi-lingual couple) and that could be a nice way to honor both sides of our families.

    I don't really want the ceremony to go over 20 minutes, it's just that the template that we were sent seemed almost too dry and impersonal, that a little bit of a loving touch was necessary.

    I think the next step is just to do a little research on some excerpts that could work for us, and see where to fit them in.

    I might be back in a few weeks for feedback on the draft when we finally get to it ! :)
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    [Deleted User]
  • My fiance and I are taking a traditional ceremony (minus the obey part, yuck) and adding a few personal touches.
    The unity candle is a fairly common representation of leaving your old lives behind and starting your life as one. We're putting a spin on that and doing a tree planting ceremony. Basically, we'll have a tree already in a planter and our mother's will be bringing up soil from where each of us grew up for us to put over the roots. We'll be planting it in the back yard of our new home and it will grow with our marriage.
    We're also doing a family prayer. I grew up going to new year's eve parties at my church. Everyone would gather around in a circle and pray at midnight so we could start our year in prayer, something that is of great importance to us. My fiance and I are taking that idea and turning it into a focus of our ceremony. Our parents will come up and lay hands on us while our officiant (my uncle) prays over our marriage. It's the first thing we'll do after we exchange vows so we can start our marriage in prayer.
  • I was so overwhelmed by the ceremony, until our officiant basically ordered me to work on it a few weeks before the wedding. Some of the personal touches we added to the script our officiant provided were to add a few quotes from some court opinions about marriage (I'm an attorney, so it wasn't totally random), we added a beer ceremony (we brew and collect rare beers, and ordered a wooden lock box on etsy with our last name carved into, and during the ceremony stuck some letters we wrote to each other in the box with a barrel aged beer that is supposed to age more over time, and locked them in). We also wrote in a place where each of our sets of parents stood up and took a "vow" of support and vowed to take their new son/daughter as a member of their family. We did include a story of how we met (but it was only a few lines). 

    We also wanted to include our little brothers, so I had my brother hold my husband's ring, and my husband's brother held my ring. That way when it was time to exchange rings, the officiant said something like, "Joe, will you please give your sister [XX]'s ring" or something. 

    And we wrote on our own vows. Which I loved. I think those were my favorite part. We wrote them together, and took them together. So after the officiant read each vow we both said, together, "We do." Instead of "I do."
  • We are going to write our own vows- working on them this coming weekend actually. We also opted to sign our marriage license during the ceremony instead of doing a unity candle or sand ceremony since I found them a little cheesey. This is not a super common thing in my area so it will be unique for that reason alone. If you don't want to re-write everything yourself don't. Let the professional do his thing. If you do decide to change it up, I'd say pick 1-2 places to put your touch on it and don't worry too much about being overly creative. As long as it's meaningful to you then nothing else matters. You're there to get married, not impress guests with your creativity. Keep it simple and you won't get bogged down. Also start early so you're not doing this at the last minute. That gives you time to think and then rework things a bit without being rushed. Good luck.
    Where did you add in the signing of the marriage license in the ceremony? We had talked about doing this as well but I'm not sure where to put it to keep the flow of everything moving.

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  • We are going to write our own vows- working on them this coming weekend actually. We also opted to sign our marriage license during the ceremony instead of doing a unity candle or sand ceremony since I found them a little cheesey. This is not a super common thing in my area so it will be unique for that reason alone. If you don't want to re-write everything yourself don't. Let the professional do his thing. If you do decide to change it up, I'd say pick 1-2 places to put your touch on it and don't worry too much about being overly creative. As long as it's meaningful to you then nothing else matters. You're there to get married, not impress guests with your creativity. Keep it simple and you won't get bogged down. Also start early so you're not doing this at the last minute. That gives you time to think and then rework things a bit without being rushed. Good luck.
    Where did you add in the signing of the marriage license in the ceremony? We had talked about doing this as well but I'm not sure where to put it to keep the flow of everything moving.
    @lovemesomemonster, our officiant sent us a draft with the order of things we'd talked about and it is right after the exchange of rings, and just before what is essentially the end of the ceremony.  So, these are the major points, in order:

    Processional
    Greeting
    Declaration of Committment
    Readings (2)
    "Homily" (words by officiant- we're not religious so I don't know what this is called for a secular even; just took it from his outline)
    Vows
    Exchange of Rings
    Signing of license / certificate
    Officiant Reading (some quick poem he likes to do)
    Pronunciation of Bride & Groom
    loro929
  • I have been looking all over the web and I found a couple of cool sites that have ceremony script generators, all you have to do is plug in the names and the type of ceremony you are going for, religious preferences and such. Then voila, it give you a customize script suggestion and we have found it to be a helpful jumping off point. http://www.themonastery.org/wedding-training/wedding-ceremony-script
    lachattefataleloro929
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    loro929 said:
    Thanks for all of the great advice!

    We definitely don't want to go cutesy or anything - but the whole text of what the Officiant sent us would have been about 7 minutes, if we don't include any "customizations". 

    We are going to be saying our own vows (have to start working on them, I am sure that will warrant another post on its own), so that should take up 2-4 more minutes.
    I like the idea of signing the licenses during the ceremony, I will see if that is something the Officiant wouldn't have a problem with (I don't see why he would). I also think that I will try to find one or two readings about love in each of our languages (we are a bi-lingual couple) and that could be a nice way to honor both sides of our families.

    I don't really want the ceremony to go over 20 minutes, it's just that the template that we were sent seemed almost too dry and impersonal, that a little bit of a loving touch was necessary.

    I think the next step is just to do a little research on some excerpts that could work for us, and see where to fit them in.

    I might be back in a few weeks for feedback on the draft when we finally get to it ! :)
    I think what you have decided to add sounds great. Adding much more would probably get over 20 minutes. When you say 1-2 readings in each language, I would probably only do one in each language. I think two in each language (four total) would get to be a bit much. 

    There are two places where signing the marriage license could go that I can think of. The first would be where a unity candle/sand/knot/tree/wine box/digging a pit/sewing each others clothes together/insert-other-unity-thing-here would traditionally go, usually after the vows. The second place would be right before the "I now pronounce you man and wife."  Make sure you're actually in a state where you sign it on the wedding day. In Alaska (and from what I understand, this is the case in at least a few other states), you sign the license when you submit it to the state certifying all the info is true.  Then you pick it up and take it to the wedding and the officiant and witnesses sign it, but there are no more lines for you to sign. If you're in Alaska or another state like that, you can either fake sign it or, the route I would go if I wanted to have the signing included, sign a ceremonial or decorative certificate.

    At our wedding, our pastor gave us three pretty standard scripts to choose from. The main difference between them was the content of the vows. H and I added one reading about love from the Bible. We also had my best friend sing a song. We didn't do the unity candle, because we personally find unity candles, sand, etc. to be a bit cheesy. 

    Also, the pastor usually talks about rings about the symbolism of the circle and the purity of the gold being like your love.  But I joked about how the gold really isn't pure. 24k gold is pure gold.  It does not exist naturally, and rings are far from pure gold. Depending on your ring it is usually, at best, just over half gold.  Rings are commonly 14k or even 10k. Some jewelry is 18k, but I have never heard of a ring being that because rings are probably the one piece of jewelry that gets knocked and banged around the most and gold is super soft. I was joking about it, but he ended up taking the purity phrasing out of it. I internally roll my eyes whenever I hear that.

    loro929
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