Nowadays, more and more couples want to personalise their wedding ceremony. If you’re skipping the religious, humanist or HSE celebrants and planning your own ceremony, with a friend or a family member as the celebrant or MC, then a cookie-cutter ceremony template just won’t do. Soon we’ll be sharing lots of alternative wedding ceremony templates here on One Fab Day, but first, we wanted to give you some tips on how to write your own wedding ceremony.
1. Talk To Your Other Half
Different people have very different ideas of what they want their ceremony to be. For some, it’s about being short and symbolic, for another couple it’s it’s about celebrating your relationship to date, and for some couples it’s a chance to show off the talents of creative family and friends. Do you want it to be romantic, emotional, or fun? Figuring out what you want your ceremony to be, the general tone or theme, will make the rest of your decisions so much easier.
2. Get Cracking on the Legal Bit
Unless your celebrant is a legal solemniser (in Ireland that means religious, humanist or HSE), your ceremony won’t be legally binding. You have a couple of options here, you can have a registry office wedding another day or ahead of your ceremony, or have a HSE celebrant do the legal ceremony with your guests present, then have your own self-planned ceremony afterwards, or you can head off on honeymoon to Vegas or New York and do it there. Either way, make sure you plot out the legalities as well as your personalised ceremony.You’ll find a full and current list of legal solemnisers here.
3. Choose a Celebrant
A celebrant isn’t totally necessary, you and your other half could lead proceedings, you could ask a duo of pals to do it, or we’ve even seen ceremonies MC’d by kids. The whole point of planning your own ceremony is that there are no rules!
There are a couple of traits that make a great celebrant though:
- Someone charismatic and confident who won’t be nervous
- Someone who’s happy to do it and will work with you to put something together
- Someone who knows you well
- Someone who’ll put your guests at ease and guide them through the ceremony – this is particularly important if you have older guests or anyone who’s a little reluctant about the idea of a non-traditional ceremony
4. Create a Structure
Whether you have songs, prayers and readings, just vows, some form of speeches, a hand-fasting ceremony, a unity candle, or you ask your guests to wish upon the rings, the structure is up to you. But it is always a good idea to have some kind of structure. It will put both you and your guests at ease, and give a flow to the ceremony, rather than having lots of stops and starts.
We’ll share some ceremony template samples soon, but generally, including welcome remarks, a reading, a song, vows, and a final song – is a basic one to get you started.
5. Keep It Short
No one likes a long ceremony! 15-30 minutes is plenty of time to declare your love, make it personal, and have a big smooch at the end!
6. Choose Music, Readings and People who are Personal to You
From what is read to who does the reading, these elements really make a ceremony – so don’t pick ceremony readings because they seem lofty or romantic, choose readings because they resonate.
Likewise with the music, whether you hire ceremony musicians or ask a pal to sing, look to songs that are loaded with meaning and that won’t leave a dry eye in the room.
7. Get Creative with the Location and the Set-Up
The joy of a self-plan ceremony is that you can have it anywhere. Here in One Fab Day, Naoise got married on a bridge, Joanna got married in a theatre, and I got married in an old milking shed with no roof. Whether it’s on a cliff or in the woods, you can do it your way and really have some fun with it. Check out our guide to the most beautiful places in Ireland for a wedding ceremony.
You can also get creative with your seating and set-up too, you could have a standing ceremony (keep it short though), you could sit everyone in a circle, maybe people could lie out on bean bags or picnic blankets – it all adds to the personalised vibe!
8. Have a Unifying Element
Our celebrant told me this, and I totally agree. There’s something to be said for having one unifying element of “we’re all in this together” that eases people into the idea of a unique ceremony, gets everyone laughing, and sets the tone for the rest of the festivities. Whether it’s a group song, a call and response, or some kind of game, find some way to bring your guests together within your ceremony.
Looking for more ceremony ideas?
Check out our Real Weddings and get our essential Ceremony Readings Download