Wedding Wednesday: Writing Your Own Ceremony

exchanging rings
Good morning, loves! I hope the first half of your week is off to a great start.

I’ve been home sick for the past two days dealing with a nasty ear and sinus infection. I’m finally starting to feel a little bit better after two days of barely getting out of bed. There’s been a whole lot of ramen consumed and trashy television watched!

I’m hoping to do a full series of wedding weekend recap posts for you soon! We’re just waiting to get all of the photos back from our amazing photographer so you can see all of the details.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some advice for one of the most difficult parts of the wedding planning process for me — writing the ceremony.

James and I knew early on we didn’t want to have a traditional church wedding. Neither one of us is particularly religious, so it’s just not something that was important to us. What was important was having a ceremony full of love. That’s exactly what we got. It meant so much to us to have my older sister, Brooke, officiating.

I loved every part of our ceremony. But, nailing down the structure and wording was extremely difficult. I had a really hard time finding resources for writing non-traditional ceremonies and I hadn’t been to very many weddings that weren’t centered around religion. With the help of some blogs, I was able to get a good sense of what I wanted to incorporate into our ceremony. We were so happy with how it turned out — writing the ceremony ourselves made it deeply personal and moving for us.

Here are some tips if you decide you want to write your own ceremony, too.

Walking out of ceremony

1. Decide what you want your ceremony to be all about.
Your ceremony should reflect your personalities and relationship. Are you deeply spiritual? A constant joker? Hopelessly romantic? Determining what type of mood you want to strike will help you decide how to write your ceremony. James and I love joking around, so we knew we wanted there to be some laughter. We’re also both very sentimental, so we wanted to balance the laughter with language that illustrated just how crazy we were about each other.

2. Determine the structure.
Figuring out how you want to structure the ceremony will give you a loose outline to work from. We knew we wanted to have someone from each of our families do a reading, so we decided on those readings before writing anything else. We chose the fun poem “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali and an excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. Think about whether you want to incorporate any special songs or rituals, such as a unity candle (or something more unique!). You should also decide if you’ll write your own vows or repeat phrases said by the officiant. Here’s how we structured our ceremony:

  • Introduction
  • Processional
  • Greeting
  • Words of advice for couple written by officiant
  • Taylor Mali reading
  • Hand-holding ritual
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin reading
  • Vows and ring exchange
  • Pronouncement of marriage
  • Recessional

3. Do some research.
Once you have an idea of what type of ceremony you want to have, start Googling! I found the Internet was the best place to go for guidance — many wedding magazines and planning books seemed to focus more on traditional weddings. I found this guide by the Offbeat Bride to be extremely helpful. If you’re going for a certain theme, look for wedding ceremonies online that incorporate that theme. I found reading as many sample ceremonies as possible gave me a better idea of what I wanted to include in ours.

4. Put it on paper.
I was so nervous about writing the ceremony that I kept putting it off. I forced myself to finally sit down on a Sunday afternoon and just spit out what I was thinking. It was rough, but once I had the first draft done the writing process got so much easier. Give yourself plenty of time to write and tweak the script — I finished our ceremony about three months before our big day and was still perfecting the wording up until the week of the wedding.

5. Enlist an editor — or two.
After James and I were happy with the ceremony script, I sent a copy to my mom, my sister and my two maids of honor to get their input. They all loved what I had written, but had great suggestions for making the ceremony shorter or more conversational. They told me what worked and what was a little too cheesy. It helped make the final product so much better!

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