Wedding Ceremony Details
At this point in your planning process you've already decided if you are going to have a church ceremony or have your ceremony at your venue. You will work with your officiant to develop the details of your actual ceremony, but we wanted to address some of the topics that we get the most questions about in terms of the ceremony. [Photo by Suess Moments Photography]
If you are having a church ceremony, make sure you figure out your arrival plan with the church coordinator or your wedding planner. Some churches have a space where you can hang out until it's time to line up while others it makes more sense for the women to arrive closer to the start time.
For a venue ceremony, you'll want to figure out the bridal suite options. Most venues have something available, but the hours that you are able to access it vary. If you already did a first look, everyone can hang out together in a designated area prior to the ceremony. Just remember that guests do start to arrive early so you'll want to stop your photos a little in advance to get tucked away before they begin to arrive.
As we've said before, these are totally up to you! If you do have programs though, you are going to want to think about how they are being distributed. Will they just sit in a basket at the entrance? Will someone hand them out? Will they be placed on seats? If you are having your ceremony outdoors, think about the wind too- you don't want your programs blowing everywhere.
Some people chose to have Ushers, especially when having a church wedding. We don't really find it necessary, but it's up to you of course! If you are having ushers, you can appoint groomsmen to help or close friends or family members so that they can have a wedding role.
While most guests know that the first row is reserved for immediate family, a sign on the aisle seats doesn't hurt. You can even do this for more than the first row if you'd like, just make sure you inform the people who you are reserving it for that those are their seats!
A common sign that we are seeing a lot lately and loving is an Unplugged Ceremony sign. The request is that guests leave their phones in their pockets and purses and leave the photo taking up to the professionals! Nobody wants to be the one who ruins the couples photo with your camera phone in the picture, yet people still seem to need a gentle reminder of this. If you don't want to put up a sign (or even with a sign) your officiant can always make the request before the ceremony begins. [Photo by Havana Photography]
This is one area we get asked about the most. You have a lot of choices here and all of them are great! Sometimes your church or venue might have an opinion, so don't be afraid to ask them what works best in their space. Here are a few options to think about:
- The groomsmen can walk up the side right before the processional
- The groomsmen stand at the alter area before the processional begins
- The groomsmen can be paired with the bridesmaids and accompany them down the aisle
- Grandparents and parents can walk in the processional
- When the bridesmaids walk up, the bridesmaid who is standing FURTHEST from the couple will walk down the aisle first
Who stands where in the wedding party order?
Besides having the Maid of Honor and Best Man closest to the couple, there are no rules here. Height is often the go to because it is easiest and most aesthetically pleasing. You can put the people you are closest to or have known the longest in closest proximity to you but just be careful not to offend anyone. You can also do this by age or by dress color (if your bridesmaids are in different dresses and you want the colors to follow a certain pattern).
What does the officiant need?
Talk to your officiant and find out exactly what they need for the ceremony. Some want a podium, some need a little table, some like a hand held mic with a mic stand...everyone is different! Once you find out what they'd like, talk to your venue about that and who is supplying the sound for the ceremony. You may need to get it through your DJ or Band.
This may seem like an obvious one, but if you have anyone doing readings, make sure they seat themselves on the end of the aisle so that they have a clear path to the alter. Also, ask them to print a copy of their readings and plan to have extra copies on hand just in case theirs gets lost or they forget it.
On the way out, your wedding party can link arms and head down the aisle in pairs once the couple has completed their walk down the aisle. It is important to discuss ahead of time where your wedding party should go after and also to think about your own plan.
Some couples chose to do a receiving line or a grand exit if it is a church wedding. A receiving line is where the couple stands in the foyer area and each guest can say their congrats. We typically don't see these much anymore. A grand exit is where guests congregate outside of the church, often down the steps. Once everyone is out of the church, the couple comes out for some cheers before heading off to their next spot.
If you aren't doing a receiving line, you'll probably want to head to a secluded area so that people don't bombard you. If you are doing a grand exit from a church, you can work with your photographer, wedding planner and church to figure out where you can go until all the guests have exited. Often photos are the next step so you can work with your photographer and planner to figure out a location that everyone can walk over to immediately following the ceremony (again, ideally one in which guests won't stop you to talk).
Another thing we want to mention is that if you plan to have your guests throw anything (petals, confetti, rice, blow bubbles, etc) make sure you speak to your venue before you order stuff. Some places have strict policies with this stuff. A safe options is to have guests wave ribbon sticks or blow bubbles if you definitely want something.
If you are doing family photos right after, make sure your family knows:
1- they are part of the photos
2- where to meet for them
Is there any decor from the ceremony that can be used for reception? Often flowers can be used as fillers somewhere in the reception space. Something like flip flops for a beach wedding can be moved for use on the dance floor. If so, make sure your planner or venue coordinator are away so that they can move them to the next location.
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