Tips for your Wedding

This page is a compilation of tips from our ministers to help you have a smoothly flowing beautiful wedding ceremony.

Choosing a Wedding Minister

When a couple becomes engaged there are many decisions to be made: wedding date, location, how many attendants, who to invite, what type of flowers, what kind of food to serve, etc. But wait a minute…. The most important detail is missing. In North Carolina the wedding ceremony cannot take place without an ordained minister, rabbi, priest or a court appointed magistrate to conduct the service.

First of all, this is one of the most important and romantic days of your life. You want to choose someone who is experienced in all aspects of the wedding ceremony, not someone who will just show up in time for the service, say a few words and leave before the pictures are taken.

An interfaith/non-denominational minister is someone who honors and respects your personal beliefs and will work closely with you to create a ceremony that best reflects your love and commitment. Your wedding minister should be agreeable to do whatever you want in your ceremony, unless it’s against church doctrine or their beliefs. Just another reason to have a beautiful outdoor wedding!

You as a couple must decide whether or not you will have any type of religious expression in your ceremony. Most couples consider themselves spiritual rather than religious and at the very least want to have some type of blessing or prayer during the ceremony. However, it is not necessary and personal ceremonies can be prepared that focus on love and commitment.  If you meet with a minister who insists on some type of religious ritual or condemns your lifestyle (living together, being divorced or already having a child) this is not the person to marry you.  This is your wedding and should reflect who you are and what you believe.

Typically couples forget to ask the minister’s view on photography during the ceremony. You do not want to choose a minister who sets rules, especially about photography. Some ministers will not allow any type of photography during the ceremony. This is ridiculous. Of course, you want the photographer to have the freedom to take beautiful candid photographs during the ceremony. Your wedding day is the day you have been waiting for, and your wedding photographs will be a most treasured possession.

Unplugged Wedding: On the other hand, some couples request that their guests put away their cell phones and cameras and truly be with them during the ceremony and let the professional photographer capture the images.

Because of e-mail, text, Skype and the telephone, it is often not necessary to meet with your wedding minister in person before the ceremony. Even so, a close relationship will develop and you will form a special bond that will be evident during the ceremony.

Your wedding day is the day you have been dreaming of. Choose a wedding minister who will always honor your wishes and desires.

Tips for Writing Your Wedding Ceremony  

 (It’s not as hard as you think!)

Your ceremony is the most important element of your wedding day. It is the first event of the day with your guests and is the reason for the celebration that follows. The ideal length of a ceremony is 20 to 25 minutes, the attention span of your guests.

What type of ceremony you want: religious, spiritual, civil, or themed?
Discuss your desire to personalize your ceremony with the minister/officiant.

The script of your wedding ceremony typically includes The Presentation of the Bride/Couple, Welcoming Words, Prayer/Blessing, In Memoriam, Tribute to the Parents, Reading (optional), Wedding Address, Vows, Ring Exchange, Unity Ceremony, Closing Blessing, Pronouncement of Marriage (required by law in NC), the KISS, Presentation of the couple. Your officiant will have examples of different wording for these sections and may include your love story and what you love about each other.

Your VOWS are the promises you make to each other. There are three different styles to choose from:

  •  The “I do” style where the officiant asks you a series of questions (can be traditional or contemporary) to which you answer “I do” or “I will.”  People who are shy and don’t want to say much in front of their guests choose this style, or people who don’t think they can emotionally make it through speaking their vows to each other.
  • Writing your vows and reading them to each other during the ceremony.
  • It will also be okay to stick with tradition and repeat your vows after the minister but avoid long tedious vows and sentences that are difficult to break into short phrases and still retain their meaning. Remember your guests will hear the vows four times if you are saying the same to each other!

Writing your own wedding vows allows you to speak directly from the heart.  Your officiant can give you many examples to inspire you or you can tweak some vows to fit you. Or you may choose to write from scratch.  Ideally they should not be more than 150 words. Remember, you cannot possibly say everything to your mate during your ceremony.  What you don't get to say you can put in a love letter for him or her to read on the wedding day before the ceremony.

Here are some things to consider when writing your wedding vows:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Don’t write your vows in one day. Ideas will come to you over time.
  • You need to plan a time when the two of you will be together, uninterrupted (cell phones turned off).
  • Decide if you’re going to write individual vows to each other or will you say the same things?
  • What do you promise? Ask your officiant for some sample vows if you have not already gotten them.
  • Be sincere.
  • Have a thesaurus handy. 
  • Keep your vows to each other short; anything over 1 minute or 150 words is probably too long.
  • Read your vows to a trusted friend.

It is not necessary to memorize your vows and it is less nerve-wracking to read them. It’s nice to be able to hold hands and look each other in the eye when making your vows. If you decide to read your vows the minister can have them in her book printed upside down so they are facing you and you can look at your partner and make eye contact by looking up from time to time. The minister can follow along the words with her finger as you read so you can look up at your partner then when you look at the words again, you will know where you left off.
The most important thing….. Don’t panic – whatever you write will come from your heart and therefore will be perfect.

Planning Ahead for your wedding

All outdoor weddings should have a "Plan B" in case of inclement weather, usually the reception site, if indoors. The most efficient way to notify guests is to put a phone number on your invitation (or an insert) for the guests to call if it is raining on the wedding day to listen to a recorded message instructing them where the ceremony will be. Be sure to have the cell phone numbers of everyone in your wedding party so you can communicate any changes at the last minute and ask everyone to have their cell phones with them and turned on and then turned off once the ceremony has begun.
Aisle Runners can be treacherous unless you use a heavy fabric such as canvas or carpet and tack it down.  Any breath of wind can wrinkle and twist the flimsy runners sold as wedding runners and can cause the wedding party to trip—especially the bride whose dress is usually too full for her to see her feet—she doesn’t want to be looking at her feet anyway.

Runners do not work on concrete surfaces unless you are a genius and can figure out how to fasten them to the concrete. Flowerpots can be used to hold them down but that narrows the passageway for bride and her escort. Runners do not stay flat on carpets either. If you use a runner on grass, the grass should be mowed very short and white golf tees used to pin the runner to the ground along the edges of the runner prior to the ceremony. Otherwise it is like walking on pillows. Shoes with sharp heels can also puncture and snag the runner and yank it out of place. A better idea than a runner is to sprinkle flower petals thickly in a row on each side of the aisle. Looks pretty in pictures as well as being biodegradable.

Sound system: If you have a DJ who will play music for your ceremony and you have readers and/or vocalists as part of the ceremony, please ask the DJ to provide microphones for these people so that your guests can hear them. The officiant should be given a microphone as well if she does not provide one herself. What is the point in creating a beautiful ceremony if it cannot be heard?
Candles outdoors: It is not a good idea to do a unity candle ceremony outside. Invariably there is some air movement that blows out the candles and symbolically it is not a good omen for your candles to blow out. Plan to do a unity candle ceremony at your reception if it is indoors or later in private.   The sand ceremony is a good alternative and the symbolism is much the same.

Orientation of your ceremony site: When checking out a location for your wedding or planning the orientation of your ceremony site at your location, take into account what the background of the ceremony will look like for all your wedding photos. Better to have an uncluttered natural landscape rather than a cluttered look with buildings, cars, telephone poles, portraits of people you don’t know, exit signs, air conditioning vents, etc. that you will see every time you look at your wedding pictures in the years to come.

Wedding Rehearsal

Bring your marriage license to the rehearsal and give it to the minister; then you don’t have to keep up with it on your wedding day. 

If you are not hiring a professional wedding director or coordinator, ask a close friend or relative who is organized, responsible and is not in your wedding party or immediate family member to serve as your wedding director.  He/she should come to the rehearsal with pencil and paper to take notes (while the minister directs) on the order of processional and recessional as well as who will usher in and out the grandparents and parents of the couple so he/she can gather them together and cue them in on the wedding day. The minister is usually the first one to enter and cannot be there to cue them on the wedding day. This person will also cue the musicians as to when the ceremony will begin. 

The Day of the Wedding

It is a good idea to have your cell phone (or designate someone with a cell phone) with you and turned on until everyone in your wedding party has arrived on your wedding day so that you can be reached if something delays someone. Be sure that everyone has that cell phone number and you have theirs.  
Brides—use the bathroom before you put on your dress!
Brides—please use an all-day lip color that will not smear the groom’s face during the kiss! It does not look pretty on either of you in your photos!
Hang your veil with your dress so that it is not left at home on your wedding day.
Bridesmaids, groomsmen, bride and groom should all remember to stand with “soft” knees. Locked knees take a lot of energy and can cause fainting. The wedding party will be standing for about 20 minutes for the typical wedding ceremony.
It is a good idea for the wedding party to have something light to snack on and non-alcoholic beverages to drink just prior to the ceremony as hunger or dehydration along with nervousness and standing can contribute to fainting. Hot weather and an outdoor wedding make the chances of dehydration greater.  A growling stomach is quite distracting as well!