With all the details that go into planning a wedding, it can be easy to forget what the day is actually about: the marriage of two people. KC and I had both been to weddings where it seemed that so much of the focus was on getting to the reception, that the ceremony almost felt like an afterthought. We had discussed what we wanted for our own ceremony; and while we wanted to keep the ceremony somewhat brief, we wanted it to still be personal and meaningful.
Planning a wedding ceremony can seem like a daunting task, in that many people may feel that it can be overly serious, or even too personal. Expressing your deepest feelings for the person that you love in front of your nearest and dearest may not be your cup of tea, but don’t let this deter you from putting some thought, time and energy into crafting your ceremony, as it’s likely to be one of the most memorable parts of your day.
KC and I are not the type to gush over our feelings for each other in public, so navigating the ceremony was a bit tricky at times. We found, though, that through some careful crafting, we could make the ceremony meaningful, weighty, and still very personal, while avoiding the things which we were uncomfortable with.
Here’s a little breakdown of what we chose and why:
Music: To start, we asked my uncle to play the piano for our processional, and chose songs which were meaningful to our relationship. While “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” and “Chasing Cars” may not be typical wedding-fare, they’re songs which mean something to us and actually sounded beautiful when instrumentalized on the piano. In fact, at the rehearsal the night before, my uncle was a bit late, so we had been running the ceremony sans-music until he arrived. Up to this point, everyone had been laughing and joking while practicing the procession and figuring out spacing. We all lined up to start again when my uncle arrived, and then the music began. Suddenly the entire mood changed — no one was talking or joking, and the emotion of the room was palpable. I took a deep breath and found myself tearing up as I readied myself to walk in, then was met with the misty eyes of parents and the bridal party as I made my way down the makeshift aisle. While there’s plenty of other songs which would have been beautiful for our processional, the two that we chose made the ceremony that much more personal and meaningful for us; and having them played by someone we loved simply added to the importance.
Readings: When choosing readings for our ceremony, we found that picking one reading was fairly easy, but choosing the other was not. I had found “LOVE” by Roy Croft early on, and liked the message of loving someone for who they are, faults and all, and helping them better themselves simply by loving them. This was an easy choice for KC’s sister to read, so we’d had this set months before our actual wedding day. Picking the reading for my brother to do, however, wasn’t quite as simple. We went back and forth over readings, trading poems, quotes, excerpts from novels, you name it. Nothing seemed quite right. Finally, on Thanksgiving day (yes, less than a month before our actual wedding day), we decided to walk to a nearby coffee shop before heading off to family obligations to hash things out. We sat in front of a rainy window at Peet’s, passing cell phones back and forth, reading passages we’d found online. We found the Ogden Nash quote first, and while I didn’t want our ceremony to be “funny” (as I felt like sometimes people insert humor into their ceremony as a way of relieving some of the tension of it being such a serious occasion), I thought the message was very apt for our relationship, given that KC and I thrive a bit on stubbornness and a quick remark. KC then came across the Mr. Rogers reading, “I Like You.” I was a little worried that people would think it was a bit silly and childish, but we chose it anyway, because those three little words had such a big significance early-on in our relationship. Also, it echoed the message that I wanted to convey throughout the whole ceremony: I love you for you — not because of what you do, what you wear, or what you’ve done — I love you for who you have been, who you are, and who you’re going to be.
Wine Box Ceremony: Given that our ceremony was non-religious, I knew that it would be fairly short; and while I wanted to keep things brief, I wanted to give adequate time and attention to what I felt was the most important part of the day — the part where we actually got married. I started searching for non-religious ceremonies that we could perform, but wasn’t really taken with anything until I came across the wine box ceremony. In the traditional wine box ceremony, the bride and groom place a bottle of wine into a box, along with letters to each other. They then seal the box with a hammer and nails, and it is to be opened on a specified later date (an anniversary), or in the event that the marriage hits a rough patch before then. (The idea being that you drink the wine together and read the letters about why you fell in love and married each other before taking any drastic measures.)
I liked this idea because both KC and I had agreed that we were not comfortable writing our own vows and performing them in front of everyone (like I said before, we’re not great at expressing emotion in front of others). The wine box ceremony allowed us to write vows to each other, in a sense, without having the pressure of proclaiming these personal thoughts aloud, in front of 170 people + catering staff. We opted not to seal the wine box with a hammer and nails (because we felt it would be a bit awkward, not to mention our $20 wine box likely would have crumbled under the weight of a hammer), so instead, we asked our parents to write a letter to us to include in the box as well, and had our mothers come up and close the box at the ceremony, after including their letters. I liked that this showed the unity of our two families, as family had been an important part of our individual lives, and continues to be a priority in our marriage.
Vows: I spent a lot of time researching traditional vows and ring vows; and after much discussion with KC on the subject, we determined that we wanted to have traditional intent vows (where you answer “I do”) and ring vows which we would repeat during the exchange of the rings. I spent the majority of the time crafting the ring vows, pulling together bits and pieces of things I had found scouring the internet. Though it was just a mere couple of sentences, I loved the short and simple message that, with the exchange of rings, we were pledging love and faithfulness to each other in our new roles as husband and wife, and joining our lives in marriage.
While I don’t know how the ceremony came across to those not directly involved in our day, I felt like our ceremony was innately personal and very “us.” I loved that each part reflected us as a couple, and the showed the values which we hold close in our relationship.
Finally, ending the somber ceremony was the recessional, set to “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates, a song we’ve loved for ages. I wanted to end the ceremony with something upbeat, as the wedding was meant to be a celebration, after all! Looking out at the sea of smiling and cheering family and friends as we made our way back down the aisle was the perfect cap to the ceremony, and perfect beginning to the reception.
Post on that coming up tomorrow!