Design Your Ceremony

You can select all the words and details for your ceremony.

Designing a wedding ceremony can be simplified by using the various samples in Tom’s Ceremony Library categories. To start, go to the Ceremony Library Button, then click on the Nine Sample Ceremonies – well, really Eight Sample Ceremonies. Sample Ceremony 9 is the absolute minimum, so don’t use that one unless you really want to have the fewest words to start from.

There is also a finished Formatted Ceremony Sample with the Ceremony Library. Some couples use this as a starting point. It’s the top button above all the 22 categories in the Ceremony Library.

This gives you a starting point, then you can delete words and paragraphs, select parts from the categories in the Ceremony Library, write your own vows, select readings and prayers, choose selections from other sources, and add your own words and ideas.

In the Ceremony Library samples, the Groom’s first name is shown as Grm and the Bride’s first name is shown as Bde. After you have made all your selections, just hit Command shift H on Word and change all the Bde to the Bride’s name and do the same with Grm for the Groom’s name. Then all the parts you have selected from the Ceremony Library can be personalized with your names at one time.

Many of the distinct parts to a wedding ceremony are listed below in their usual order. The only required elements of a marriage ceremony are the Expression of Intent or Marriage Vows, and the Pronouncement. An Exchange of Rings, and everything else, is not legally required, but traditional and nice to have in your wedding.

Music, prayers and readings can be added at any point in the ceremony. Unity Candle Lighting, mixing sand, recognition of children and families, remembrance of loved ones, exchanges of flowers, and other personal touches are always appropriate – it’s your wedding. There is no “right way” or “wrong way” – it’s just “Your Way” – because it’s your wedding day.

Think outside the box. There are many website with ideas and information.

Wedding Bee

Humor also goes over well. Tom once said to the Groom, “John, please place this INSURED ring on Mary’s finger.” The Bride had lost their first engagement ring in the Pacific Ocean – it was uninsured – all the guests knew about it. This got a huge laugh because no one expected insurance to be mentioned.

A line about “Sharing your dreams, (slight pause) even if one of you dreams in Polish.” – also got a big laugh because the Bride was Polish – although born in Minnesota, her family spoke Polish at home, but they didn’t know it would be in the ceremony. There are many fun facts to bring out in a ceremony. A wedding doesn’t need to be serious.

But be careful not to choose too much. Your guests will begin to fidget at 25 to 30 minutes. The average length of ceremony that couples select is 15 to 20 minutes. It’s only a few times each year that a couple selects a ceremony over 30 minutes. Tom has performed two ceremonies that were each an hour long – at 30 minutes the guests, and the wedding party, were beginning to get restless. Don’t overdo a good thing.

Too much music can also be a problem. See Music Ideas.


All the parts you can have in a Wedding Ceremony.

Prelude

Music before the ceremony begins. The Guests, Grandparents and Parents are seated.

Processional

Entry of the Bridesmaids, the Groomsmen are either with the Bridesmaids or waiting at the front, the Ring Bearer, the Flower Girl and finally the Bride. Click the Rehearsal Information Button for more on this.

You may want a slight pause, an increase in volume, or a change of music before the Bride comes down the aisle. At some sites, there are entry doors that are shut after the Bridesmaids – and then reopened for the Bride.

The Guests stand for the Bride

Tom never tells the Guests to stand. It must be spontaneous – so just before the ceremony starts, Tom talks to several groups of seated guests and reminds them to stand when they see the Bride, but not to make it look like he told them to – it has to be spontaneous – from the heart – not by anyone’s command.

The Processional Music stops

Presentation of the Bride – Blessing of the Marriage

Traditional wedding – “Who giveth this woman in marriage.”

You can also have:
“Who gives Bde and Grm in marriage?”

OR

Who gives their blessing to this marriage?

Parents: We do.

See the Presentation of the Bride or the Couple samples in the Ceremony Library.

Welcome

Welcome to the guests.

Convocation

Opening remarks by Judge Armstrong.

Readings

Can be given at any point in the ceremony by Tom or anyone else. It’s good to involve family members and friends. A change of voice also keeps guests watching and listening. That’s why there is usually more than one newscaster, and always reporters in the field, – so there is more than one voice.

Music – Unity Symbols

Music is appropriate in the ceremony, but usually some action should take place during the music. Present flowers to Mothers – or Lighting the Unity Candle – or mixing colored sand. See Unity Symbols in the Ceremony Library.

Invocation

Prayers can be said at almost any point in the ceremony.

Expression of Intent

The Bride and Groom express their intention to marry. This can also be the Marriage Vows. An Expression of Intent is an “I do” or an “I will.” This is sufficient for a marriage, but it can also be followed by repeat-after-me vows.

Marriage Vows

The promises made by the Bride and Groom – usually repeat-after-me – but can be just an “I do” or an “I will.” It can also be vows each wrote to the other. Tom can hand these pages to the couple.

Exchange of Rings

Exchanging the material symbol of marriage. It can also be just one ring to the Bride and none for the Groom – or no rings. It isn’t legally required. The Vows and Exchange of rings can all be combined into “With this ring / I thee wed.” Or Tom can say: “Grm, as you place this ring on Bde’s hand, please repeat after me.”

Recognition of Children

If this is a second marriage for one or both spouses, their children can be recognized by name. There are sample in the Ceremony Library under Recognition of Children and Family.

Pronouncement of Marriage

Judge Armstrong makes a public proclamation of marriage.

The Kiss

The Bride and Groom seal their vows with a kiss.

Benediction

The blessing of God and the good wishes of all are requested for the new couple.

Introduction of the Couple

The introduction of the new couple.

Recessional

The wedding party leaves.

Announcement

Announcements can be given as to dinner, receiving line, etc. See Announcements in the Ceremony Library.

Please remain seated. The Bride and Groom will return to greet you row-by-row.

The Bride and Groom will be greeting you at the reception site. The ushers will release you row-by-row.

Postlude

Music as the guests depart.


What about Programs and Invitations?

The web is full of wonderful samples and templates. Google “Wedding Programs” or “Wedding Program Templates” or “Wedding Invitations.”

Try this one for a start.

www.theknot.com/content/diy-wedding-program-basics

Readings and Poetry
Tom has many readings, all used at weddings he has done, under Readings in the Ceremony Library, but there are many more readings out there in the ether world. Here is just a sample of the hundreds of websites that are out there to give you ideas.

Wedding Poems

100 Best Love Poems


Questions?

E-mail Tom at tom@tgarmstrong.com or call at 651-773-4092.

After 500 weddings Tom was an expert, but now after over 4,755 ceremonies, he knows even more, and learns new things with each wedding.

This isn’t something you want to get good at – by getting married several dozen times? – “I’ll get the ceremony (partner) right the next time.” – so call or e-mail Tom with your questions.

Tom knows answers to questions that you haven’t even thought of yet.