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 Your Wedding Minister/Officiant

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 memorable days of your life. You want to choose someone who is experienced in all aspects of the wedding ceremony, someone who specializes in writing and presiding over wedding ceremonies, not someone who will just show up in time for the service, say a few words and leave before the pictures are taken.

Your best choice for your wedding 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 whatever you want in your ceremony, unless it’s against church doctrine or their beliefs. 

You as a couple must decide whether or not you will have any type of religious expression in your ceremony or if you want it strictly secular. Most couples consider themselves spiritual rather than religious and most 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 your love and commitment without any mention of a deity.  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.

Meeting with your Officiant: Most ministers require an initial consultation if you live locally. If not, a meeting can be accomplished by Skype, FaceTime, or phone conference. This is the time to describe your vision for your ceremony and find out the minister's process of creating your ceremony and how much input you will have, ask questions, review their contract, and decide if you are a good fit. Once you hire your officiant, you will likely not need to meet in person again until the rehearsal because everything can be done via email. 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.

Planning Ahead

Photography: Typically couples forget to ask the minister’s view on photography during the ceremony. You do not want to choose a minister who has a lot of rules, especially about photography, after all, professional wedding photographers are expensive and you are paying them to record your special day in images. Some ministers will not allow any type of photography during the ceremony. This is ridiculous. You want your 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: It is trendy these days for some couples to 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. There are several ways to accomplish this: ask your minister to process in before the processional begins and make an announcement, put your unplugged request in your wedding program, and/or make a sign to put by the guest book.

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 providing music for your ceremony, he should provide a lapel microphone for the officiant and handheld microphones for any readers and/or vocalists in the ceremony so that your guests can hear them. 

If you have musicians providing music for your ceremony, be sure and hire an officiant who can provide her own amplification. 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 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, get them lined up in order of entrance, and cue them in for the processional. 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 for the processional music to 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. When all have arrived, turn off the cell phone or leave it in the dressing area during the ceremony.
  • 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! Smeared lipstick 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 will cause fainting. The wedding party will be standing for about 20 to 30 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!
  • No cell phones, chewing gum, sunglasses or hats for wedding party during the ceremony!