After we got engaged, we really wanted to create a wedding ceremony that would be meaningful to us and our love story. So often, we come across engaged folks who don’t really identify with the way wedding ceremonies are traditionally run. But because they’ve only seen them done one specific way (or fear what others will think), they believe they don’t have any choice but to stick to the status quo.
That’s why we really wanted to write this blog post to demonstrate that you *can* step outside of the box! Not only will your wedding ceremony feel more special to you and your partner if it’s done your way, but your guests will feel the magic too. And, no matter what anyone may say, your wedding day is all about honoring YOUR unique love. Anyone who disagrees doesn’t deserve to be there! So, if you’re like us and want to create a wedding ceremony of your own, here are five ways you can customize it for yourself and the love of your life.
Consider Having More Than One Officiant
Four months before our wedding, our plans with our original officiant fell apart. So, we started brainstorming for an alternative. We only planned on inviting 15 people who were important to our relationship and with whom we shared a deep connection. The more we thought about it, the more the obvious choice seemed to have everyone officiate!
Soon after, we organized a Zoom call with everyone to ask if they would be comfortable acting as “co-officiants” for our ceremony. The response from all was an enthusiastic YES! It’s important to note that we had a destination wedding in Colorado, a self-solemnize state, which allowed us to take this route. However, there are plenty of other states which fall into this category as well. As for our home state of New York, while it is not included in that list, multiple individuals can still perform a marriage ceremony there. As long as one person performs the majority of it and signs the marriage documents, the marriers can invite as many guests as they’d like to perform readings and other ceremonial rites.
After receiving our guests’ consent to participate in our ceremony, we put together an outline that felt right to us. Then, we assigned each section to one of our loved ones according to their personalities and our relationships with them. From there, we asked each of them to put together a narrative for their section. We didn’t want to know what they wrote so that it would be a surprise on the day of—and that leads me to our next tip!
Incorporate An Object to Use as a Memento
Both of us love to journal, and we wanted to be able to re-live our ceremony for the rest of our lives by documenting everything our loved ones said. So, we purchased a leather-bound journal with beautiful handmade pages to incorporate into our day. Once our guests arrived in Colorado, we passed it around so that everyone could write out their part in order of the ceremony. Then, on the day of, each speaker read from it, then gave it to the next officiant once they were finished.
Now, we have a journal filled with the loving words of our friends to cherish forever! We also plan to write in it every year on our anniversary. So, we recommend thinking of something you and your partner have in common, then choosing a related object to be a memento of your special day. Whether that’s a journal, a record, a piece of art that all your guests contribute to, or something else, take this opportunity to create something all your own.
Choose a Location That’s Special to You
Neither of us is religious, so we wanted our ceremony to emphasize spirituality and energy. Breckenridge is obviously a stunning place for a destination wedding, but we chose it for a more specific reason. Mark’s family spread his father’s ashes there, and we wanted to be near to his spirit and the memories the family has made there over the years.
Sara’s ring has sapphire in it, so we chose Sapphire Point as our ceremony location. Plus, it’s one of the highest points in Breckenridge with panoramic mountain views! We called upon the earth and its energy at the beginning of the ceremony, and it felt right to be in a place so meaningful to us.
Incorporate Unique Ceremonial Elements
Because we were creating our own ceremony, we wanted to use that freedom to incorporate rituals that would be significant to our family and us. We decided to have a ring passing ceremony where our wedding bands were passed around to all of our guests. As a song composed by Mark’s brother played, each person imbued our rings with their love and energy before passing them on to the next person. It was such a beautiful way to set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, and it’s something we’ll always remember when we look at our rings.
In addition, we devoted a section of our ceremony to family to honor our three wonderful kids. During that time, a sweet friend surprised us with a braiding ceremony to symbolize the five of us individuals uniting as one family. It blew us away to witness their loving care for us and our kids to incorporate something so special into the day!
Write Vows for People Other Than Your Partner
We think this is a great way to honor your family and include them in your love story, especially if you have kids. Mark wrote vows to our three kids that he read during the ceremony, and it was one of the most emotional moments of the weekend. So, if there is someone to whom you want to make a promise besides just your partner, write vows for them! Maybe that looks like a promise to your partner’s parents to always care for their child or a promise of love and protection to your own children. Whatever it is, we promise that it won’t take away from the celebration of you and your partner. In fact, it will add layers of beauty and significance to it!
We hope that these tips have inspired you to create a wedding ceremony all your own—one that honors you, your partner, and the love story you’re writing together. You can read more about our wedding day here! Or to inquire with us about your Finger Lakes wedding, fill out our short questionnaire.
Videography: Jay Worsley
Florist: Foote Florals
Catering & Dessert: Harvest to Home
HAMU: The Beauty Designer (Melissa Campbell)
Sara’s apparel: Ever After Bridal
Mark’s apparel: One Custom Clothier
Rings/Jewelry: Bethany’s Jewelry and Design
Hair Extensions: Donna Bella Hair
Hair Vine: Etsy
Invitations/Calligraphy: Paper Truly
Custom Signage/Lettering: Etsy