If after reading this you have any other questions about how we did this, why we chose to include or exclude certain elements, or want our advice or help writing your own ceremony – comment below or send us a message – we’d be more than happy to pass on our ideas and experience. After all we borrowed a lot of this from the web and we’d be thrilled to give some of it back!
For those who….
are curious about what goes into writing your own wedding ceremony
need inspiration for writing their own
wish to borrow pieces of ours or are just in need of a sample ceremony
or for those who just want a refresher of what went down on Saturday (Sept. 17, 2011) in case you couldn’t hear through all the tears and/or laughter :)
from the moment we started planning this wedding I knew I wanted something different, something unique. When two people get married I feel that the ceremony is a highly personal affair and should completely reflect their spirituality, lifestyle, and belief of what a wedding means to them. For most people, particularly those who choose a more religious option, writing their own vows may fulfill this goal. But for me I just wanted/needed a little extra. It was important for me to tie the knot with Mr.C in a meaningful and memorable way.
I was growing tired of trudging through traditional ceremony after traditional ceremony online and in the blogosphere so soon I started searching out more “off beat” wordings and ceremony orders. There are so many amazing options out there! Don’t like the usual unity candle ceremony? Why not try the Love Letter Box ceremony? Or even the Bitter/Sweet – Chocolate & Wine Ritual? Or even Handfasting (like we did)? Want to use a bit of alternative music but still be “wedding-y”? Use a cover of your favorite rock or pop song by the Vitamin String Quartet. If you want more traditional but desire a little personal flair there are thousands of great ideas out there just waiting for you to put them to good use. Want to leave the ceremony in style but cringe at the thought of using the usual bird seed toss or bubbles? Use sparklers or mini flags/streamers. They make for some great photo-ops.
Bottom line is – don’t give up on an idea if you have one! If you love it then your guests will be sure to love it too. Who knows, it could prove to be the most memorable part of the day!
Anyway, back to the process of creating our own ceremony.
I scoured the internet searching for sample ceremonies, readings, and vows. I mostly used google.com which led me to some pretty interesting sites but the ones I found most useful were: weddingbee.com, www.indiebride.com, offbeatbride.com, 2000dollarwedding.com, pinterest.com, and a few random others that I cannot remember at the moment (sorry!).
After stock piling dozens and dozens (almost 60 pgs full in Word!) of ideas and samples I realized that I could not put my finger on just one that was perfect. It was then that I decided to compile all of my favorite parts into what I was sure would be the best fitting ceremony for us. I worked for weeks on it off and on between work/school until I had two different options. I then sent them both off to our Master of Ceremonies/Officiant, C., who tweaked things and returned them with his notes and changes. It was all very collaborative.
Finally, after piecing everything together, reworking the transitions to be smooth, and getting the okay from Mr.C, we rolled out our very own, 20 minute long, very unique to us wedding ceremony.
Below is the ceremony as was presented on Saturday. The portion written by our officiant, C., is in italics as neither Mr.C nor I had anything to do with it. It was C’s surprise to us! And we will treasure it always. Now, without further ado…..
The Wedding Ceremony
Mr. & Mrs. C
Before we get started, let me introduce myself and explain a little about the ceremony.
My name is Officiant C. and I have the privilege of performing this marriage ceremony today.
You are not here to simply hear words uttered in ceremony, or just to witness the first kiss between husband and wife.
Your participation in this ceremony is as important as your participation in their lives.
And toward the end, I will ask you to join me, in pronouncing them married.
(pause) and so, let us begin…. (music starts)
[enter wedding party, music is playing “Perfect Two” by Auburn, link to song is below]
Everyone, please be seated. (if people are standing)
You’re gettin’ married!
Before we start, take a breath and take a look around you.
Your family, your friends, have all come to your home town of Mt. C to share in this with you.
We’ve come from Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, here in Mt.C, and so many places in between.
We have friends from childhood, high school, college, and work.
We have brothers, and sisters and cousins, aunts and uncles. grandparents, and,dearest of all, moms and dads.
Thank you all for coming.
[Bride & Groom turn & say thank you]
To start us off, Brides’s Brother will do a reading from the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.
Calvin: What’s it like to fall in love?
Hobbes: Well… say the object of your affection walks by…
Hobbes: First, your heart falls into your stomach and splashes your innards. All the moisture makes you sweat profusely. This condensation shorts the circuits to your brain and you get all woozy. When your brain burns out altogether, your mouth disengages and you babble like a cretin until she leaves.
Calvin: THAT’S LOVE?!?
Hobbes: Medically speaking.
Calvin: Heck, that happened to me once, but I figured it was cooties!!
This is the part in a traditional ceremony where the holy man offers advice and words of wisdom.
Well, I’m no holy man and I don’t consider myself particularly wise.
But, I am your friend. And as your friend, there are a few things I’d like to say to you both.
[enter officiant’s personal thoughts here]
Now I’ve been around from the beginning of your relationship and through high school, which we obviously knew would be the most important time in our lives!
Where everything was a life or death event and the wrong choices were world shattering…during this time, the two of you chose to weather it together.
And many of your friends had the pleasure of watching the fireworks from Bride’s backyard, getting together for movie nights, and taking turns becoming the ultimate Euchre champions.
Then we graduated and prepared to head away to college
Now, I cannot tell you the number of times throughout the years people hear that ‘long distance relationships’ never work. But, I am happy to say, that as you stand here now, you’ve proved them dead wrong
Because as our worlds grew larger and the distance farther the two of you remained steadfast throughout the years.
And we all found that we still enjoyed a good movie night, prime seating on the 4th of July, tubing down the Grant river, and of course showing each other our mad euchre skillz.
I would also like to say that I am grateful to be considered your friend.
These are all fantastic memories of fantastic times, and as much as I wish more of the same upon you, I know there will be challenges.
But, I said before, I am no wisened, holy man. And for these future challenges, I can offer you no solutions, no particular advice.
But what I can offer you is something perhaps more valuable: a promise.
I am here for you.
Look around you.
Many have come from far and wide, not just for a great party, which we’ll have, but to pledge their support for you, to say not only “yes, I am here for your wedding”, but also “yes, I am here for your marriage”.
I am your parent, your brother, your sister, your dear friend. I’m here for the both of you.
If you need my advice, a different perspective, or just someone to listen.
We are all here for you.
And, let me speak for everyone here today, when I say, I love you both.
And now that we have pledged our support to you, it is time for you to declare your love and promise to each other.
Declaration of Intent:
Do you, Groom, take Bride to be your wife and your partner in crime? Do you promise to love and trust her, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death or zombies do you part?
Do you, Bride, take Groom to be your husband and your partner in crime? Do you promise to love and trust him, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death or zombies do you part?
May I have the rings please.
For thousands of years,
Lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows
Let these rings be a sign that love has a past, a present, and a future
Through you and within you
Bride, please take the ring, place it on Groom’s finger and repeat after me:
“Groom, with this ring I give you my heart. I promise from this day forward you will not walk alone. May my arms be your shelter and my heart be your home.”
Groom, please take the ring, place it on Bride’s finger and repeat after me:
“Bride, with this ring I give you my heart. I promise from this day forward you will not walk alone. May my arms be your shelter and my heart be your home.”
(Officant holds up engagement ring)
The engagement ring is a symbol of a promise and intention. Now today, the intention is realized and the promise is fulfilled. So Groom, would you please place the engagement ring on Bride’s finger over her wedding band, symbolizing that the love that brought you together will protect and sustain you.
SECULAR HANDFASTING ***do the handfasting, facing the audience so they can see our faces, a friend or family member wraps the cords/ribbons around hands
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love,
that are holding yours on your wedding day,
as he promises to love you all the days of his life.
Now Groom, please take Bride’s hands, palms up,
so you may see the gift that they are to you:
These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young, and carefree,
that are holding yours on your wedding day,
as she promises to love you all the days of her life.
Now, please join hands so that they may be fasted in the ways of old.
[Cords are held aloft]
The love already shared by your hearts
Has been strengthened by the vows you have taken
You will be bound by your love as you are bound by your clasped hands
From now until the end of your days
[As the following is recited, the couples hands are wrapped with cords]
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you build your future together
These are the hands that will hold you whenever illness, fear, or grief may find you.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children
These are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours
[Binding is finished and cords are knotted]
Bless these hands that you see before you this day.
May they always reach out with love, gentleness, and respect.
May they build a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime.
May they always be held by one another.
If you follow these words and heed this binding,
your hands will heal, protect, shelter, and guide.
Now, you may remove the cords,
but remember the knot as a lasting symbol of your binding and commitment
[Cords are removed & stowed]
Today, you have received the blessing of your family and friends, made vows, and exchanged rings.
Now only one step remains,
If I could ask everyone to please pull out their program and join me in this pronouncement,
All (reading from program):
“We, your family and friends, now pronounce you married! You may kiss the bride!”
[Bride and Groom *kiss*! Everyone else *cheers*!]
[Bride and Groom turn and face the audience]
Conclusion & Recessional
And now, without future ado,
I am very happy to introduce,
for the first time as a married couple,
Mr. and Mrs. C!
A Few Notes:
Song #1: “Perfect Two” by Auburn is one of my favorite songs. It’s catchy and upbeat, but slow and sweet enough to work at a wedding. It’s a little fun and quirky so perfect for those who want an alternative music choice. We used the beginnings of verses and choruses to signal our wedding party of when to walk down – and toward the middle/end of the song it slows down and Auburn sings about “…can see me walk down the aisle” and that is when I stepped out and headed toward Mr.C. It was great because we all could walk to the same song, it’s long enough to get everyone where they need to be, yet there is still a moment in there where the Bride can make it her own – and it was a song that was meaningful for Mr. C & I.
Song #2: We love The Office on NBC. What can we say! We own almost all the seasons and are like addicts when it comes on on Thursday nights. We’ve been watching it since it first started in high school and continued to watch thru college. We have a weird little bouncy dance we do when the Theme song comes on (haha nerds!) and it makes us happy so we figured it was a fun way to celebrate as we headed back up the aisle.
Zombies: I fought hard to slip this little gem in there. The moment I read it in a few other couple’s vows I knew I had to have it. I love Zombies & have ever since sophomore year of college when I was Resident Assistant and my two male coworkers got me hooked on Zombies movies. We used to watch some almost every weekend. I’ve seen tons of them, from the popular “Dawn of the Dead” to the more obscure “Dead Snow” (Nazis…Zombies…where can you go wrong?!) And recently, I finished reading a fantastic book, “World War Z” – highly recommend this for zombie enthusiasts. Anyway, Ryan kept going back and forth on it – until a few weeks before the wedding when we bought a new card/board game “Munchkin Zombies” (google it! lol). He loves this game…and now apparently Zombies. We joke about what we’d do if there was a Zombie Apocalypse and how we’d survive. Nerds I know! And it goes without saying we love “The Walking Dead” show. So, that’s how “…until death or zombies do you part” came into being in our ceremony. We knew we’d strike a cord or two with our college friends and even some zombie savvy adults.
Handfasting Ceremony: Basically – I was bored by the usual unity candle, we didn’t want to do the Love Letters box because Mr.C isn’t a huge fan of writing letters and his would be the size of a post-it while mine would be a freakin’ novel (obviously!) so we passed on that. I stumbled on the Celtic Handfasting ritual which I liked because it was more spiritual than religious which fit my views a bit more, I had never seen it done at any weddings I’d attended, it talked about the future which I liked and how we were equal partners in this ‘ol marriage thing. I dunno it just really stuck with me the first time I read it and I knew I wanted it to be a part of our big day.
Pronouncement: When we first decided we wanted our friend, C., to officiate and essentially “marry” us I thought he’d be the one pronouncing us married – until I stumbled on a sample ceremony where the couple’s families did it. I liked the idea, decided to make it include everyone, all the guests, wedding party, family etc. We printed what they would need to say in the program (or in our case, on ticket stubs…we did get married in a theatre after all!), made sure our officiate reminded and prompted them when to say it…and I have to say it was one of my favorite parts of the ceremony. Looking out into the crowd of all the people we care about and hearing them pronounce us married – it’s just plain awesome! You can really feel the love and excitement vibes of everyone in the room.
Engagement Ring Ceremony: Not so much a ceremony but rather an addition or extension of the usual ring exchange. It is becoming more and more popular in the wedding world. It is a neat way to incorporate the piece of jewelry that started it all and a quick way to get that ring back on your finger, instead of just sneaking it on after the ceremony. We also chose to add this because we got engaged on that stage so it only seemed fitting. We also liked that it talked about how the engagement ring is a symbol of a promise and intention and that on your wedding day that intention is realized and that promise fulfilled. Not sure where the exact wording came from, I just found it through google.
Well…that’s about it folks! If you have any other questions about how we did this, why we chose to include or exclude certain elements, or want our advice or help writing your own ceremony – comment below or send us a message – we’d be more than happy to pass on our ideas and experience. After all we borrowed a lot of this from the web and we’d be thrilled to give some of it back!