Too long? Too short? Or just right!

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When I meet with couples, many tell me about weddings they attended (generally at churches) where the ceremony took forever. Many wedding planners and venue coordinators have told me about weddings (always with a first-time officiant) that lasted all of 3 or 4 minutes (which really screwed up the timing of the cocktail hour or whatever was taking place immediately after the ceremony).  

Now I have nothing against church weddings but I know that some ministers not only are long-winded but also want to include many liturgical elements in a wedding ceremony.  If you are thinking of getting married at a church, talk with the minister about what’s included in the ceremony.  There are ways to pare down the liturgy but still be faithful to religious tenets and practices.  Some ministers would be willing to do this.

If you are having a friend or relative as your officiant, chances are they’ll search “How to officiatea wedding” and find plenty of sites offering generic information.  If they go with that information, your wedding ceremony will be 3 or 4 minutes long (including the processional and recessional).  If that’s what you want, hey you’re set.  If you’d like something more personal and memorable, Wed by a Friend can help your officiant design a great ceremony.  How long should it be?  I’ve found that a ceremony that lasts right around 20 minutes to be the perfect length.  Personal touches can be added; the ceremony won’t seem rushed (Wed by a Friend can help weave the various elements together so there’s a good flow); and your guests will be engaged throughout the ceremony.   And you will have great memories of a wonderful wedding day!


Just say “No” to wedding photographers?

We all know about people getting ordained online so that they can officiate their friends’ weddings.  There are the weddings where a relative bakes the wedding cake.  And there are the DIY weddings where various people take part in making decorations, flower arrangements, etc.  Well, the New York Times had an article this week about “going no-pro” when it comes to wedding photography.  The rationale is that all the guests have smartphones that take fantastic pictures plus the fact that one or two professional photographers can’t be everywhere at all times.  Take a look at this article—what do you think?  To be honest, I’m leery of this…

BTW--The above photo obviously was taken by a non-professional photographer!

A Cautionary Tale

As an officiant, I like to arrive at wedding rehearsals a half hour early so that I can check out the venue and speak with the venue coordinator. Well, I was on my way to a wedding rehearsal today when I ran into a major traffic jam a couple miles from the venue.  I texted the bride to let her know that I wouldn’t be arriving as early as I had planned.  Traffic was barely moving—eventually I found out why.  There had been a bad accident and all cars were being re-routed off the the road.  When I finally arrived at the venue, the bride and groom knew about the accident.  Besides their rehearsal, there also was a wedding taking place at the venue. Shortly before that wedding ceremony was to start, the best man realized he had forgotten the rings.  He and another groomsman thought they could quickly drive to the hotel where they were staying, retrieve the rings and zip back to the venue.  They didn’t expect to be involved in car crash…but they were.  

There are wedding disasters (rain, arguing relatives, unfortunate toasts, etc.) and then there are real wedding DISASTERS!  This forgotten rings/car crash incident falls into the second category.  What’s so unfortunate is that it could have been prevented.  A good wedding planner will make sure the rings make it to the wedding site.  A good officiant will arrive at least an hour prior to the ceremony and will confirm that the best man or ring bearer has the rings.  

What should you do if you discover that the wedding rings were somehow forgotten?  If they are at a hotel/home that is less than a 10 minute drive AND it’s at least an hour before the ceremony start time, you can send some one to retrieve the rings.  (Tell them not to rush!)  
If the rings are a further distance or it’s less than an hour before the ceremony, then it’s time to improvise.  Ever see Four Weddings and a Funeral (the old Hugh Grant movie)?  In the first wedding, the best man forgot the rings so he borrowed a couple.  Wacky as it seems, it’s not a terrible idea. (And it will make a great story!)  OR after the ceremony, send someone off to retrieve the rings—then have the ring exchange at the reception.  (Act like this was something you had planned all along.)  OR you and your spouse can have a private exchange of rings after the wedding reception--just the two of you...

There’s a major lesson that arises from this cautionary tale:  Think about what you really need on your wedding day. Flowers, candles, signature cocktails, the perfect cake, the perfect dress and even rings are not essential.  Here’s what is essential: exchanging your vows of love, saying “I do” and hearing the pronouncement of your marriage.

Wedding Weather Woes -- Tips You Need to Follow


If you are planning on having an outdoor wedding, undoubtedly you’re hoping for a beautiful, sunny 75 degree day with just a few wisps of clouds in the sky.  But you know that there’s no guarantee for perfect weather on your wedding day.  I don’t want to be Debbie Downer but I do want you to think ahead just in case.  Here are some tips:

Have a Plan B   If it’s not absolutely perfect outside—a cloudy day or a bit cool outside or a little hotter than you’d prefer—you can still have your wedding ceremony outside.  But if it’s pouring rain all day, you’ll need to have a sheltered place.  This could be your reception site.  A tent may or may not work.  Talk with your wedding planner (if you have one) or with the venue coordinator.  They know all about Plan B’s and will have good suggestions.

Passing thunderstorms     Summer days can be schizophrenic.  It can be nice outside and then clouds roll in and there’s a huge storm and then it turns nice again.  If you are ok with delaying the start of your wedding while a storm passes through (and this delay will work with all your vendors), just start your ceremony a little late.  A good wedding planner or wedding officiant can track the radar and coordinate with the other vendors. As long as your guests have a place to hang out, they’ll understand the delay.

Oh no, it’s cold   You were hoping for beautiful weather on your spring wedding day but a cold front moved through and the high temp will be about 60 degrees.  2 words—Patio Heaters.  These are surprisingly effective.  Check ahead with your venue to see if they have them.  If not, find a local rental company that has patio heaters.  Let them know how many square feet you would need to heat and they’ll know how many heaters you would need.  It’s best to be prepared.

Oh no, it’s SO hot!    If you're having a summer wedding, there’s a good chance that it might be a hot day.  I’m talking 90’s plus humidity.  Be sure that your guests have a cool place to gather prior to the ceremony.  Don’t make them sit outside at the ceremony site waiting for the ceremony to start for more than 10 minutes.  Provide cold bottled water—lots of it!  Pass out hand fans to your guests.  If your ceremony site is out in the open with no shade, you could also consider using a tent to keep the sun from beating down on your guests, your wedding party and you.  I understand that you really want to have your wedding outside but seriously consider moving the ceremony to your Plan B location if the temp is in the 90's.  Your guests will be comfortable, no one in your wedding party will faint and you won't be dripping sweat as you get married. 

It’s best to be realistic about potential weather woes and to plan ahead.  Here’s the good news—even if you have to go with your Plan B location, you’ll still get married and your family and friends will love the celebration no less!

Photo by Ideal I Do's Weddings Florida

Salt Covenant Ceremony

During ancient times promises were sealed by a salt covenant.  Each person would take a pinch of salt from his salt pouch and place it in the pouch of the other.   It was agreed that one person’s promises to the other could not be broken unless he could retrieve back his own grains of salt.  This, of course, would be impossible…and so, the salt covenant represented a promise that could never be broken.  
Today’s salt covenants at weddings create a symbol of unbreakable promises of love. The bride and groom may each have a small pouch of salt or each could have a small container of salt.
As they combine their salt together in a bowl, they create a symbol of their unbreakable promises of love.
During the Salt Covenant Ceremony the bride and groom should be reminded that salt is a good preservative. It will help them remember that their love for one another should be preserved for all time.  Also, salt adds flavor—we all need a little spice in our lives!  Salt is easily dissolved.  When problems arise, they should dissolve their differences and learn to work together.
The couple may actually use their wedding salt for cooking until it is gone. Each time it needs refilled, they can refill it together and remember what their marriage is about!


Repeat After Me—5 Tips for Stress-free Vows

First-time Officiants -- One of the most important parts of the wedding ceremony is the Exchange of Vows.  Here are 5 important tips to help it go smoothly.

If the couple has written their own vows and they are longer than 5 sentences, the repeat-after-me style just won’t work.   The flow of words will be disjointed and the prolonged repetition of vows won't keep guests engaged. Instead, the couple should read the vows to one another.  

If you will be doing the vows in a repeat-after-me style, break the vows into short, logical segments.  The couple you are marrying will be very appreciative!   
Here’s an example:   I __ take you__,   (BREAK)   from this day forward and into the long forever(BREAK)   to be my wife/husband.

Practice ahead of time.    Do this at the rehearsal and/or the day of the wedding.  This will help de-stress the wedding couple tremendously.

Tell the bride and groom to look at each other during the vows.   You’re thinking, “Of course, they’ll look at each other.  Who else would they look at?”  The answer is YOU.  You’re feeding lines to the bride and groom—it’s logical (and common courtesy) to look at the person who’s talking to you.  Give your wedding couple a heads up on this natural tendency.  

Pause if emotions arise.   This is a poignant moment and it’s common for a bride or a groom to get emotional during the vows.  If this happens, just pause and let the bride/groom wipe away the tears and compose himself/herself.  It’s a tender moment and the photographer will capture it beautifully.

Want to give the couple you’re marrying some ideas for what vows to say? Check out Wed by a Friend for an array of vows!

Photo by Phil Richards



Grandparent Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

If you don’t have any young relatives to be the flower girl and ring bearer at your wedding, go a completely different route and have your grandparents toss the petals and carry the rings!  Your guests will be surprised (to say the least) and your grandmas and grandpas will be so honored to be part of your wedding. Charm galore! Check out this video and see for yourself.


In Memoriam

Whether you’re having a big wedding or an intimate one, chances are there will be a special person (or two) in your life who will not be there to witness your special day.  Here are 4 ways to remember and honor your loved ones during your wedding ceremony:

A ring bearer or flower girl may process down the aisle carrying your loved one’s Bible which will then be used in the ceremony.

The officiant may read the names of deceased loved ones and then ask for a moment of silence.

The couple may light a candle in memory of loved ones.

The couple may place a flower on an empty chair.

That said, keep in mind that this will be an emotional day for you.  Some couples would like to include an In Memoriam rite as part of their wedding ceremony but are worried that it would result in them emotionally breaking down. You know yourselves best.  Instead of having an In Memoriam rite as part of your ceremony, you might want to consider including loving words about departed family members in your wedding program.  Also check out this Wedding Wire article with severalmore ideas of ways to remember loved ones in various ways on your wedding day.


Don’t Do These 3 Things During Your Wedding Ceremony

Brides and grooms, there are so many things to do on your wedding day.  Here are 3 things you should NOT do during the ceremony:

Don’t look at the officiant during your vows   If you’re going to say your vows in a repeat-after-me style, it will be tempting to look at the officiant as he/she says the words for you to repeat.  After all, it’s common courtesy to look at someone who’s talking to you.  Reciting your vows is an exception to the rule.  Focus on that wonderful person who you’re marrying!

Don’t force the ring on  Fingers swell on wedding days.  When it’s hot, they’ll swell even more.  If, as you exchange rings, the ring only goes to the knuckle, leave it there.  We don’t want any broken bones at your wedding!

Don’t panic if you start getting emotional   Heck, this is a big event in your life.  It’s only natural that you might get teary-eyed as you say your vows (or listen to the vows of your beloved).  If you feel your eyes welling up or your voice getting shaky, take a little pause…wipe the tears from your eyes (which will make for an amazing photo) and then carry on when you’re ready.

One bonus “Don’t” — Don’t forget to enjoy your big day and genuinely celebrate your wedding and your love with family and friends!

Photo buy helenchanchan

Tiny House Wedding? Seriously???

We’ve all heard of home weddings—you know the ones that are held at the estate of the bride’s parents (la-di-dah) or in the backyard of groom’s brother and sister-in-law.  In case you’re considering having your wedding at your own home but think you wouldn’t have enough room, think again.  There’s this couple from Venice, CA who had their wedding at their 362 square foot tiny house.  If you can’t imagine living in a tiny house let alone having a wedding in one, take a look at this article and get inspired!