Giving meaning to the moment – Think Wedding Chapel!

Wedding traditions come and go, evolve and change. There are some staples most would probably never want to forgo — in both ceremony and celebration. I would never advocate leaving out the “I do” part of the ceremony (and in some states, it’s a legal requirement.) The idea of the couple voicing their agreement to marry is essential to the entire meaning of this milestone; the exchange of vows as well.

A toast to the couple is another age-old tradition that is fantastic, and not to be skipped. And there are countless more traditions that just feel so right. Traditions and rituals connect us to the past and give meaning to the moment.

Remember, that’s ‘just how it’s done’ is never a good reason in my book. Maybe there’s another way. Or you can simply skip it, if it’s not for you.

Here are a few of my personal pet peeves and suggested alternatives.

Long receiving lines — It can go many ways, but receiving lines sometimes feel like they take forever, especially after sitting for the ceremony, no matter how wonderful it may have been. Please know it’s OK to forgo a receiving line, and instead,make sure the newlyweds visit every single table at the reception and share a few words of thanks with absolutely every single person. Remember the receiving line gives each guest a chance to personally interact with the couple.

Cutting the cake late — As someone getting a little older (ha!) I’m not always up for staying late. But it’s bad form to leave a reception before the couple cuts the cake. Regardless of this fuddy-duddy, if the party is already rocking and everyone’s on the dance floor, it breaks the mood to stop and cut the cake, so please try to do this immediately after the meal.

Long readings and mumblers — Readings can add a lot to a wedding ceremony. I like that there is so much wisdom to draw from in the world, it is powerful to bring in ideas and inspiration from different sources. Whether religious, spiritual, literary, poetic or even movies and pop culture, we can find great words to inspire and share. But if your reader is not comfortable performing the reading, or the reading itself is too long, it can fall flat. You can always include a reading in a program, or just be sure to choose the right person to read. It’s fine to skip readings when there is no one appropriate.

The ceremony/reception gap — Have you ever been all dressed up with nowhere to go? I recall a family wedding a few years back when my husband and I attended the ceremony in the church, about an hour from our home. The reception was yet further and wasn’t scheduled for a few hours after that. We would have had time to go home, turn around, and go back to the reception, or just kill some time. Obviously, we didn’t want to go for a meal, so what to do? This is why many couples are choosing to have their ceremony and reception in the same location. But if this isn’t possible, take a long and hard look at your time line.

The wedding program — I’m not against a program, but please try to give it some ‘added value.’ To simply outline the service does not really add to your guests’ experience, but rather encourages them to simply follow along and check-off each section. Let the ceremony unfold, and give them something good to read in a program booklet. Or, again, it’s OK to skip the program booklet all together.

When you plan your wedding, besides your own vision, try to see it through the eyes of your guests. And remember what you liked and disliked about weddings you have attended. These insights will guide you in creating your big day, in the best way!


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