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Open Thread: Wedding Rituals


Sometimes you have to create your own

by Lucy Bennett, Deputy Editor

Open Thread: Wedding Rituals | A Practical Wedding

Early on in wedding planning, we decided that the “usual” family ceremony rituals would not fit with our wedding. The unity candle, the sand ceremony…they were all too clean: neat and tidy rituals representing two families coming together into one family. When I think of my family, neat and tidy come nowhere near describing it. To put it nicely, my family is just a mess. A better metaphor for might be a puzzle, but the kind you buy from the thrift store—you have no idea if you have all the pieces, there are probably stowaways from other puzzles, and it might even have dead bugs or legos inside as a bonus.

So we cut all of them out. Since none of the rituals felt like they fit, we opted out. No unity candle, no sand ceremony, no parent blessing, etc. We added in language to our ceremony meant to recognize our families, did a ring warming that included all our wedding guests, and hoped it would be enough. But I did wonder, later, if I had done enough to make our families feel honored and included. We’d largely planned the wedding by ourselves and I worry incessantly about other people, so I wondered.

And the more I wondered, the more I remembered things we’d done with our family in mind. Our hippo cake toppers were bought because of a family joke. I illustrated our guest book tree, modeling after Bryan’s mother’s favorite tree in their yard. We wrote notes to our immediate family members to open the day of the wedding, letting them know how much we appreciated all their support. Because our family was a puzzle, we adapted our own little rituals to fit all the different pieces.

So this week’s open thread is for all of you planning weddings and working through what rituals to include in your own ceremonies, and which to leave out. Are you sticking with tried and true rituals, or inventing your own?

Lucy Bennett

Lucy is the Deputy Editor of APW and a freelance designer/writer hybrid. When not coming up with weird self-challenges, she can be found marathoning TV shows or playing board games. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, her moderately internet-famous pup, and two cats. She takes herself very seriously.

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  • Amanda L.

    We did a wine ceremony instead of a sand ceremony or a unity candle. Knowing my parents unity candle sits in a dusty box in their basement helped nix that idea for us. And knowing another friend’s wedding sand art had been destroyed by a clumsy cable guy helped nix that one.

    But wine… wine we could get behind. To us, it represented relaxation, purity, and a sense of normalcy. We have some of our best times together discussing our day over wine. So I googled incessantly, did some tweaking, and voila! Something that was totally us.

    Oh, and we also did away with the garter and bouquet tosses. My single friends can thank me now.

    • scw

      what did the wine ceremony entail, exactly?

      • http://pinterest.com/katerees711 kate

        I’d read somewhere about a wine ceremony, and loved the idea. When I tried to find the idea I loved again, none quite fit, so we cobbled together a couple and it worked very nicely. Everyone I’ve talked with was very impressed.


        As you can see by the decor it is completely natural for Matt & Kate to have chose to drink during their ceremony. They will also be sealing a special bottle of wine and letters written to each other and in five years they will look back fondly at this time and joyfully drink to all of you. Now the drinking part:

        As we raise this cup, we affirm the joy that is here: the gifts of this union, the blessings of this love, and the delight of all who are gathered here to celebrate this happy occasion.

        and now please drink to the love you’ve shared in the past. drink to your love in the present, on this your wedding day. drink to your love in the future and forever more. may your soul be as brave as your people {drink}. may pure be the joy that surrounds you {drink}. may true be the hearts that love you {drink}. may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward {drink}.

        We probably could have done with two less points of drinking, although we did finish our glasses of wine so we would have drank it anyway? May I suggest doing a test run to see how tipsy it might make you and factor it in to your drinking plan for the night. ;)

        Shout out to APW commentators Marina and Melissa for sharing their wine ceremonies, the ones we use to cobble ours, back in “Open Thread: Wedding Vows”

    • Jessica B

      We did something similar to the wine thing, but with a bottle of tequila.

      Also no garter/bouquet toss. Nobody missed it (as far as I’ve heard).

      • http://pinterest.com/katerees711 kate

        tequila! we would have been under the table before we finished the wi-tequila ceremony!

    • ELLABYNIGHT

      We did a similar thing with wine and chocolate. The language we used talked about how the wine represented the sweetness of our future together and the dark chocolate represented the bitterness we might face. I really liked it because it felt personal to us–especially because we’re big wine drinkers–and because if the bitterest moments of our relationship can compare to Godiva dark truffle chocolates, then we’re not doing too bad. ;-)

      • Alyssa M

        ooooh! I love that! I know this is a couple months late, but if you ever see this I’d love more info on what you did! I think we might borrow that!

    • Keakealani

      On not doing garter/bouquet – instead, hubby and I tossed big plushies at our wedding party. We figured everyone loves an adorable stuffed animal, and we chose tossing an owl and a whale to even more represent the whole sky and the seas depth of our commitment. No icky connotations about tossing undergarmets, no gendered nonsense about who was getting married next (especially since our guest list had a total of maybe two unmarried eligible women anyway), just fun and a gift for a lucky guest. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone appreciated things being a little more carefree.

      • Caitlin D

        Keakealani, that is SO ADORABLE. Might have to steal that. And truly, who doesn’t love stuffed animals? Or, as MIL to be calls them, loveys.(Loveies? Lovies?!)

      • C R

        We did a different spin on the garter/bouquet toss — we had a ton of kids at the wedding, so we did a kid’s toss first, with the winner receiving a plush toy but everyone getting a handful of candy (I was going to do dollar-store toys, but ran out of time and ended up doing a big bag of candy instead). We got some great photos and the kids had fun, then we did adult tosses (for everyone, not just singles) — still using the bouquet and garter, but the ladies’ prize was a bottle of wine and a giftcard to a craft store, and the men’s prize was a six-pack of local brew and a card to Home Depot. Then we all joined the winners for a dance to a cheesy favorite of mine, “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” – it kept it light hearted but still within the traditions that got people involved and out on the dance floor, and it made for some great photos :)

        • Kate C

          I’m so stealing this idea! I’ve just added it to my list of must-haves. Thanks so much for posting this!

          • C R

            Awesome! I hope you have fun with it!!

    • Sharon Gorbacz

      We’re doing a LEGO heart – if it gets knocked over, we can put it back together again. :)
      I’ve also nixed the garter and bouquet tosses. And the Chicken Dance.

  • HeartvsBrain

    I know this is family month, so I hope its not inappropriate to post a response regarding those of us (like me) who have little to no family and how I handled this situation. APW is great at tackling ways to include family and make them feel important, but not everyone has a good family and I often read posts like this one and thought, “But what if your family sucks and you don’t want to honor them?”

    If you’re like me and making your family feel included or important does not jive with the relationship you have with your family, then eliminate what you choose for your own sake. I respectfully asked my MIL if we could please not have an officially announced mother son dance because I was concerned it would upset me as I had no father there nor any father I’d want there, to do a similar dance with. In a brief and shining moment of unselfishness, she told me of course, that she would dance with my husband at our wedding but did not need it to be a spectacle which I so appreciated. The lack of tradition and rituals and the expectations those rituals can bring with them, made for a very relaxed and laid back wedding atmosphere which made me feel good, especially when guests commented on how relaxed our wedding was and how nice that was!

    • incognito

      I don’t think it’s inappropriate. Peoples’ families are different, and that includes having families that you’d frankly never want to see again in your life *cough like mine cough*.

      TBH I think I ended up including them more that I was really comfortable doing even though I didn’t really include them THAT much. I got total crap for not letting my dad walk me down the aisle, but ended up having a father-daughter and mother-son dance anyway because my husband thinks family is super important. But honestly, sometimes I wish we hadn’t even invited them. The wedding was great and fun but sometimes it feels tainted by the memories and images of people who hurt me deeply for years.

      I just wish there wasn’t this stigma about needing to care about or stay in contact with your family. I wish that I could explain why I’m not seeing my family when visiting my husband’s, or why I haven’t talked to my family even if there’s a natural disaster in the area, without feeling like people are judging me. It’s so isolating, and I feel like people think YOU’RE a bad person or that you’re exaggerating.

      • CLAIREKFROMTHEUK

        I totally get this, I actually quite like most of my family but we don’t live in each other’s pockets and we’re not the call each other every day types. Sometimes I don’t speak to my mum for months which some people have a really hard time accepting. Why? Its literally nothing to do with them!!

        Rant over :)

      • HeartvsBrain

        If the relationship you have with your family currently works for you (i.e. almost never see them but technically “have a family” so you’re cool) then there’s no need to feel ashamed. Simply responding to queries with, “I don’t have a relationship with my family” can usually shut down the conversation in my experience.

        It took me a long time to learn this, but if we’re doing the best thing for ourselves we don’t need to feel badly about our choices. We’re supposed to take care of ourselves. We’re supposed to survive. What that looks like is different for everyone. For you, protection seems like it means keeping your distance. Wear it as a badge of honor, please.

      • http://www.esphixiet.blogspot.ca Whitney

        For what its worth, there are those of us who do not judge you, yet who have a good relationship with their own families.
        Everyone is different, be confident that you are doing what is best for yourself.

    • Jess

      I don’t think it’s inappropriate at all! I am thinking through all the posts I’ve read about how to deal with families that AREN’T great and close and wonderful, and think that it’s a conversation worth having. If I were a better writer, I’d put in an article all about trying to pretend family means something to me.

      I’m struggling to figure out a way to involve my family to keep the peace for the day and still avoid all the emotional manipulation. I’m still not at the point of being able to say, “I don’t effing care if you like it!” a la Rachel and Amy Poehler to anybody in my family or soon to be family yet. One day, but not now.

      Although it may be deeply hurtful to them, I really want to elope and have a ceremony later. So at least we can have one day that truly was about us and our commitment, not who we offended or made unhappy.

      • Kate C

        EXACTLY how I’m feeling. I love my family but we rarely see eye-to-eye on things, and my fiance is another of those things. His family is a little nuts and mine are less than supportive. We are paying for this wedding and the party afterward. I’m not comfortable with many of the family honoring ceremonies that I see in a lot of weddings. They just don’t feel authentic to us. As we are not that close to our families of origin, we are not having father/daughter, mother/son dances, or toasts or speeches. I’m just trying to find a way to keep the peace without trying to force feelings and appreciations that aren’t there. I have another year + to figure out the best way to accomplish all of this, but it is a struggle for me. I won’t be content with planning until it feels honest and real and… us. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I need it to be real and unstrained.

        • http://heartsvsbrains.tumblr.com/ Heartvsbrain

          For what its worth, I spent a lot of useless time worrying about what other people would say about me cutting out a lot of traditions and for eventually not having much family representing me. Turns out, no one said a darn thing. All that worrying was for naught. If there were expectations on anyone’s part that we did not meet, it really didn’t matter to me. When my MIL asked if we were doing this or that and I’d say no and she’d argue, I’d simply smile and say it wasn’t my style. I got away with denying a lot of stuff (and still do) by simply stating it isn’t my style. Good luck!

  • http://texancountess.wordpress.com KendraD

    The ritual we’ve decided on for our ceremony (which will be a vow renewal on our 4th anniversary) is the ring warming. The unity candle and sand ceremonies didn’t feel right personally to me as we will have been married four years at that point. I was also struggling with how to reexchange rings that we’ve both been wearing for so long.

    What we’re going to do is have the rings on display at the back of the ceremony area with a table and sign explaining the ring warming. Then, during the actual ceremony, we’ll have the rings brought forward and warmed by our parents, grandparents, and bridal party before we exchange them.

    • Ariel

      A ring warming is one of the only rituals I want at my wedding. I love how you are having the rings on display at the back of the ceremony and then having them brought up during the ceremony. I was struggling with how to do this with 100ish people. This makes so much sense! Thank you!

      • Lauren

        We did a ring warming! We had 150 people and actually passed the rings from person to person. What we did is have our mothers (all 3 – my mom, my step mom, and his mom) come forward. My step mom held the ring bowl (with a ribbon threaded through) while my mom tied his ring onto the ribbon and his mom tied my ring onto the ribbon. We included in the text of our ceremony the following:

        C&L would like you to share in a special part of their wedding called the ring warming. This reminds us of how importance the support of family and friends will be in their marriage.

        I ask that C&L’s mothers come forward to help tie these rings to their bowl. As Lauren’s stepmother, holds the ring bowl C’ mother, will tie on Lauren’s ring and Lauren’s mother, will tie on C’ ring. Let these acts symbolize the unification of the families that we are bringing together today.

        We now ask that you give C&L your love and support in a very visible way. As these rings pass from person to person please take a brief moment to warm them with your wishes, a prayer or your blessing for their union. When these rings return, they will contain something priceless – the love, hope and spirit of their community.

        We did this at the very start of our ceremony and they got all the way around by the time we exchanged vows (granted, our ceremony was on the longer end). Then we had 3 people from the bridal party help pass them through the crowd (1 person at the end of each row to pass from 1 row to the other and 1 person in the center aisle to pass across the aisle).

        We thought about putting them at the entrance to the ceremony site but worried people would miss them.

        People really took this to heart and so many came up afterward to mention that they loved being able to bless our rings. I also get such a happy feeling when I look at my ring and know that it truly represents the support of our entire community. I would totally encourage doing a ring ceremony – even though it can be somewhat tricky (logistically).

        • http://texancountess.wordpress.com KendraD

          I’m thinking of having someone designated to stand with the rings at the back of the ceremony area to direct people to them. I do love how you had it passed through. We’re looking to have roughly 100, and my MIL (only person to have seen the ceremony site in person) was worried about how far across the aisles are, but having someone there to pass them could definitely work. I’ll have to consider that. Thanks!

        • Myranda

          I really love the wording you used, this would work for blessing stones too!

      • Mezza

        We did a ring-warming too! The rings are really special to us because we made them (with the help of Stephanie at http://www.withtheseringshandmade.com , whom I can’t recommend highly enough), and we wanted to show them off and have them be a really important part of our ceremony.

        We had about 60 people at the ceremony. Before anyone got there, we ran a string along each row of chairs, so it would be at everyone’s feet as they sat down. Right before the ceremony began, a designated friend started the rings along the string at the back of the audience and they worked their way to my wife’s father as the short ceremony went on. Our officiant said a few words to explain it first thing, and then a groomsman (we called them bridesmates) collected the rings from the first row when it was time for us to exchange them.

        I come from a very non-demonstrative family, so I really liked the idea of giving each person in the audience a moment to think about the rings and us and what it all meant, without other people staring. We were concerned that it would be confusing, but it went off without a hitch and I think a lot of people enjoyed it.

        • JSwen

          I have been looking for a way to describe my parents’ discomfort with “emoting” as I called it but I like the way you describe your family as “non-demonstrative”. For example, my SO and I have lived together for three years and owned a home together for the last year. We have two dogs. Engagement shouldn’t have been a surprise. My mom clutched her chest and gasped for air while my dad sat with a shit-eating grin for a good 30-45 seconds. They like my SO and are happy for us but they don’t provide the, “we love you both so much!” outpourings that my SO’s parents verbal-diarrhea’d all over us.

      • Kelly

        We’ve been trying to figure out how to involve all 100 or so guests in a ring warming, too. We aren’t having a wedding party, so what we might do is have someone welcome everyone 10 minutes or so before the ceremony starts, explain the ring warming, and get the rings started passing around. That way people will be “in the mood” when the ceremony starts and we walk in with our parents. Hopefully when it’s time for ring exchanging they will have made their way around.

    • Lizzie

      We did a ring warming too, though we kept it on a smaller scale: just our parents and siblings, for the sake of time and logistics. Our celebrant suggested it because we had eloped earlier, and our parents had been upset with that decision, so we wanted to make them feel included in the ceremony. As a bridesmaid played piano, my maid of honor (my sister) took the rings from the celebrant and passed them to my brother at the end of the family row, and they were passed all the way down to the other end, where the best man brought them back to the celebrant. It worked flawlessly, and the photos of our family warming the rings are some of my favorites from the whole day. Plus, both our wedding bands are relatively plain and inexpensive, so knowing they were blessed by our family makes them feel special.

  • Moe

    Because we had eloped before our wedding, and because I read about it here on APW and really liked the spirit of the gesture I added a Congregational Affirmation. The wedding we had was for our families to witness, it was to make public the declaration we had already made previous, and the 2nd ceremony was really for all of those people who were most important to us. It was for them to show their support for us.

    Our pastor asked our guests if they would love us, encourage us, pray for us and support our marriage…he then went one step further asked guests to stand and respond with “Yes, we will” if they were in agreement.

    Not only did all our guests stand and respond, a few characters responded with “Si se puede!” (Yes we can!)

  • ART

    I have to say, the deeper I get into wedding planning, the more relieved I am by how un-burdened our families are with expectations of “traditional” things at weddings – to the point that beyond taking some vows and saying “I do,” I have no idea what is considered a traditional ceremony element (we’re not religious, so that may explain a lot of it). The fact that I’m planning to wear a white dress and we’re planning to have an actual aisle and a mismatched-but-obvious wedding party will make our whole wedding substantially more “traditional” than most weddings my family has seen in my lifetime.

    Aaand once again I’m just left wondering – when did sand ceremonies become a “tradition”? I’d never even heard of that until I joined Pinterest. They seem very bizarre and new-fangled to me! But maybe I just haven’t been to enough weddings? We will not be having a sand ceremony, candle lighting ceremony, paint mixing ceremony, water mixing ceremony, or other blending-of-inanimate objects ceremony – unless you count the exchange of rings, but we’re not making the alloy on site, so I don’t ;) I figure our unity ceremony is the part where we get married.

    • Vee

      I admit, I had NO IDEA what a ‘unity candle’ was until after seeing it today for the nine millionth time on APW I Googled it… :) I’m so surprised that I think it sounds *lovely*. I know a lot of people have commented that they’re a bit naff..

      • ART

        ok, now I googled it, and I’m SO GLAD I did because I found this gem on wikipedia:

        “The lighting ceremony may be accompanied by special music, an explanation of the symbolism, or just some period of mutual gazing by the happy couple.”

        I am now rethinking my ceremony approach – it may need a lot more mutual gazing.

        • Carly

          “More mutual gazing”

          Ha! LOVE IT.

          • Debra

            A pastor in one of the Catholic parishes I attended noted that the use of a unity candle was first popularized in the US by a soap opera, General Hospital, during the wedding of two of its most popular characters, Luke and Laura. I know some US Catholic churches don’t allow the unity candle lighting for this reason (some do, though). I’m not partial to it, but if my Mom really wanted to do it at my wedding, I would secretly think it was fabulous because my brother and I used to watch General Hospital with her every day after school ;)

        • Vee

          Too funny! I chortled at the same line… :)

    • Anne

      I have done a little bit of research into the whole idea of unity candles, sand ceremonies and the likes… They originate from the 1970’s from what I can tell. They were brought about by the wedding industry who were looking to better absorb the hippy culture and their values into the traditional white wedding model. And of course I’m sure they didn’t mind having another product to sell to us.

      • Jacky

        I was surprised to read this, as well as the idea mentioned above that unity candles were popularized by General Hospital, because my parents’ Catholic wedding included it as a Filipino tradition. I always assumed that Filipino Catholics had been doing this for ages. But then I read that Catholic churches in the Philippines adopted it from American protestant culture, which perhaps adopted it from hippie culture or General Hospital or both!

        • Britni

          Yea, I read a study from … The popes minions (I don’t know what they would be called, I’m not catholic). But they found there was no religious root or religious meaning behind the unity candle. So I would definitely do it if you want to, but don’t do it because you think you need to!

          • StillSmiling

            One note on the symbolism of the unity candle: many Catholic churches don’t allow it because of concern over the symbolism of blowing out your candle once the unity candle is lit. Catholics (And I would imagine many in this APW community) don’t think marriage “snuffs out our individual identity,” even as we become one, and so we worry about a symbol that could suggest such a thing. I’m big on symbols and thinking them through, so I thought I’d share…

  • Liz

    We did a congregational affirmation, which I really loved.

    We also met in a martial arts class years ago, so instead of a sand ceremony or unity candle, we each broke a board with a hand strike. I held the board for him and he held it for me. It was a surprise for everyone except our officiant! It was so much fun and exhilarating and made for great photos!

    • Stephanie B.

      The unity board-breaking is the best damn thing I have ever heard!

    • jashshea

      Please tell me you have and are willing to share these photos. You are my hero.

  • Emmy

    We both come from pretty nonreligious, nontraditional families, and when we were planning our ceremony, all those rituals felt forced or contrived to us.

    We ended up choosing to have a Quaker ceremony, a decision that was in large part a tribute to his Quaker upbringing. Each of our parents and brothers shared thoughts during the open worship, and referenced family history and grandparents.

    I decided not to have my father walk me down the aisle, but he and his brothers played music before the ceremony began, as they did at my parents’ wedding. I also honored my family through my something old and something borrowed.

    Also, though it wasn’t quite an honor, our families contributed to our planning and worked together to set up and breakdown our wedding. It really felt like a rallying of our community, and it was lovely.

    Finally, though it seems a little silly, we chose to get married in front of a Japanese maple in my in-laws’ yard. That’s my father’s favorite tree, and the sapling for it came from my husband’s grandfather’s home. I believe in a lot of the myths surrounded trees and hold them in high regard. It’s our tree of life.

    • Lauren

      That sounds very lovely. As someone who is also non religious, I think everyone gets decide what symbols are meaningful to them. Nothing has meaning unless we decide it does. It may seem silly to others, but if it makes your world and experiences more beautiful and full of life, I think it holds some truth. Like loving your partner is a choice. When things are unwritten and uncertain, the divorce rate, normal doubts, difficult fights, long standing issues, you choose to love and that’s not silly at all.

  • TeaforTwo

    My partner and I are having an Anglican wedding ceremony, so there’s lots of ritual there, but also not really any room for new rituals like a sand ceremonies or unity candles. (Which is perfectly fine as far as we are concerned – both of them feel pretty newfangled and empty to me.)

    My father will be performing our wedding ceremony, and we are having his parents read some of the prayers. The Anglican liturgy already asks “do you, the families of X and Y give your blessing to this marriage?” and then asks everyone present if they will do all in their power to support and uphold our marriage.

    In terms of the non-formal stuff: my great-grandmother has a famous recipe for butter tarts (actually famous – her cookbook was at one point the best selling cookbook in Canada), and last weekend my aunt and I spent the day making a quadruple batch of them to put on a dessert table with our wedding cake. Last weekend was the anniversary of my mother’s death, and so to spend the day with her sister, baking a family favourite felt like a nice way to honour all of the women in our family.

    • http://www.thankyouredball.com Alyssa

      We had an Anglican wedding, too. We split the prayers section into 8 parts among our parents and (small) wedding party.

      Our biggest deviation from tradition was that we didn’t offer communion in the service. Anglicans offer communion to anyone who’s been baptized, but that didn’t describe everyone in our wedding party, much less our guest list, and we didn’t want them to feel pressured or left out.

      Still, it was very important to my husband that we take communion together as part of the wedding day. We compromised by sneaking out of the reception for 10 minutes to take reserve sacrament (bread and wine that was blessed earlier in the week) with just our parents and the celebrant.

  • http://leahj.tumblr.com Leah

    I’m a wedding officiant and have included the congregation affirmation a number of times – which people really love.

    At my most recent wedding, we were mixing Jewish tradition with secular choices, so we also remixed the kiddush. The groom made flavored vodka, reminiscent of their 2nd date, and the groomsmen served shots to everyone (of age) in the congregation. We then had people shout wishes to the couple, a hearty L’chaim and everyone took a drink.

    Additionally, most of my couples have done a family welcome instead of “giving away the bride.” I ask the parents to come forward and ask who is welcoming a new son or daughter into their family. The parents all say, “I am,” and then everyone hugs and kisses.

    • MK

      I love the “family welcome!” That’s the first time I’ve heard of it, thank you.

    • Crayfish Kate

      I LOVE this idea!

  • Myranda

    We’re doing blessing stones as part of our ceremony. We’ve collected stones from some of our favorite/most important places for the year we’ve been engaged. My favorites are from the houses we both grew up in, the parks we both proposed in, and the place where we found our 100th geocache. We are placing a stone on everyone’s chair for the ceremony. We are also handing out programs with a section entitled “Why is there a rock in my chair?” We’re asking all of our guests to hold on to them, and during our ceremony we will take a moment for our guests to think of any good wishes, hopes for our marriage, and just general good juju. At the end, guests will place the stones in a bowl for us to hang on to. That way, we will have a tangible, hold-in-your-hand reminder of the love and acceptance from our family on our wedding day. That’s the hope, anyway!

    • jashshea

      This is awesome.

    • Erin

      I LOVE this! I wanted to do a ring warming ceremony but, I have 200 guests coming. I didn’t want to wait forever. This rock idea is great!

    • Heather

      We did something similar. We had guests write a blessing, wish, prayer or whatever they wanted on each stone with gold and silver paint pens. We then had the stones collected during the ceremony into two baskets. We each received a basket of stones and transferred them into one container together. I felt it provided a way to incorporate the support of our whole community, not just family members and provided a symbol of the blending of our two lives, families and extended community. Every so often I take the stones out of the vase and read them when I need perspective.

  • Amanda

    We exchanged a single long-stemmed rose each, rather than light a unity candle or perform the sand ceremony. The idea behind the roses being that we could take them home and dry them (we did), place them together in a vase on the mantle in our home (we did) and then go to that spot in our home in time of trouble/fighting/etc. (we haven’t tried this yet). I loved that we would have a visual representation of our day, beyond just photos and our rings. Plus, most people don’t realize the dried roses in our home are from our wedding ceremony (most have forgotten), so it’s a special secret that we share.

    • Lauren

      I love the idea of a ceremonial wedding object marking a safe spot for times of trouble. It somewhat reminds me of the fight box that has been circulating pintrest.

      I think there is something to that, acknowledging and preparing for times of trouble. No relationship is perfect and I think the idea that true love means harmony all the time, just creates self doubt. All couples butt heads occasionally (or frequently depending on your relationship).

      In my head this safe spot has a pouffy two person bean bag for pondering, crying, snuggling, making up. And a little self over it, with this wedding object to help you remember how much you love each other and channel all of the positive energy from the day you were wed.

  • M.

    Like Art above, we are having a secular wedding that will not include many of the rituals or traditions we’ve seen at lots of other weddings. We haven’t found personal meaning in many of them. I considered a ring warming, but the one we did at a wedding this summer didn’t have enough time to finish (I know this could be avoided, but…sadface). Like Lucy, we are most planning alone and I’m from a puzzle family.

    My dad is our officiant, so my mom will walk me down the aisle, which is incredibly fitting because I grew up with just her and me. My step-mom is crafting us a wedding crossword (she has a published crossword book!); fiance’s Lithuanian grandma has already begun prep for a Raguolis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0akotis) and there will be Krupnikas, which are hallmarks of all big get-togethers on his side. I’m excited for my family to join in that tradition.

    We are also entering our reception to our college fight song and peppering the playlist with some cheers — my whole family + fiance + most of our friends root for a rival team from his family, so it should bring everyone together for a laugh. And my dad & step mom are donating a game from their 20th anniversary art show/experience (long story) to the reception – so part of their wedding is in ours. Maybe it will become tradition in our newfamily :)

    • http://www.esphixiet.blogspot.ca Whitney

      This sounds entirely awesome!! Please tell us how it goes!!

  • ErinF

    We got married at the courthouse first and then a few months later had a family and friends ceremony. So to make exchanging rings for the 2nd time special we did a ring warming.
    I didn’t like the idea of a sand ceremony, I was afraid it would get shaken up if we ever moved. So we did a paint ceremony. We put a canvas in a tray on the table and then had two bottles of paint with our wedding colours. It took over a week to dry with the thick layer of paint, but now we have a nice ‘abstract’ painting on the wall.

  • Mallory

    There were two rituals we included that highlighted not just immediate family, but also our definition of family as the community of people who have raised and supported us (individually and as a couple) over the years.

    1. A unity candle (insisted upon by my MIL) – and we reimagined it to fit us. We identified major periods of our lives and then picked a person or 2 people to represent each one of us from each period. Our officiant narrated the entire process and started with, “The union in which you are about to enter here today is not just about the joining of two families, but your two communities which have been developed over the years of your lives. Family extends beyond the immediate family we have here today, it includes people all over who have shaped your lives at various points. As a symbol of this union, Mallory and Michael have asked representatives from various communities to stand and acknowledge the merging of two communities to create one large, unified family that vows to love support them as they grow their marriage. The two candles making their way to the back of the room represent both your lives in this moment and those communities which you have developed. They are two distinct lights, each capable of going their separate ways. These lights have journeyed to where we find ourselves today.” Our fathers stood at the beginning of the aisle (back of the ceremony space) with candles lit, then passed the flame down to childhood friends, then college friends, family friends, god-parents and coming full circle to our moms (everyone having their own candle and our mom’s holding the candles that would go in the stands next to the unity candle). Our moms passed us the candles which we then used to light the unity candle.

    2. We had given all of our guests noisemakers upon arrival to the ceremony and asked them to use them at the end to bless and support us. Here is how we framed it: “Often times during ceremonies the officiant will ask the guests if anyone objects. Michael and Mallory wanted to do a little twist on this in order to celebrate the support of all the loved ones here. So, using the objects provided for you and the gifts of your voice and hands, I ask you to express your support for this couple by making as much noise as you can in a moment. So now, who among you present here today support this marriage between Mallory and Michael?” It was AMAZING, seemed to go on for hours, and it one of the highlights of the ceremony for me since I can clearly remember looking out into the room and literally being cheered on by our very own support system.

    • M.

      LOVE the noisemakers!

    • Libby

      This sounds totally amazing!!! Did you all do it within the ceremony? You mentioned the end, but was it after you kissed? just trying to get a picture of logistics and when you would announce it like you quoted. What a great idea!

      • Mallory

        We did it in between the exchange of rings and the kiss! Once the cheering died down, our officiant transitioned right into, “Then by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss one another.” So people were already warmed up with round one of cheering and launched into round two! It was rowdy. And epic. And so full of love. :)

        • Libby

          Thank you so much for clarifying, this sounds so awesome and perfect for us! I hope you don’t mind if we steal your idea :)

          • Mallory

            Hell no! Use away! We found all the noisemakers at cheap party stores, dollar stores, etc. so it was really reasonable and we got a great assortment of shapes, sizes, noises. Best of luck to you in the rest of your planning!!!!

    • Vee

      Insane… INSANE! I LOVE THIS!!!!!

    • Jo

      We did kazoos, and asked them to “sing” along to the recessional march song, because we wanted something fun in addition to all the meaningful.

  • M.

    Forgot to add: We have friends whose first anniversary is the next day, so I thought maybe give my bouquet to her. No throwing for sure.

    Also, fiance’s aunt is turning 50 the day of our wedding – we’re both close with her and she’s been a huge support for us, so we will likely get her a cupcake with a candle, make a little toast to her and have everyone sing. <3

  • Brigid

    We’re having a Catholic ceremony, so there aren’t many traditions we could adjust there, but instead of a unity candle we’re having our mothers light a memorial candle as part of the procession, and we invited a group of musically talented friends and family to sing one of the hymns. I have three brothers, and only one of them is a groomsman. The other two are ushers, and after they escort my grandmother and mother down the aisle, they’re going to walk back to the entrance so that they can open the doors for me and my dad. I think it’s going to be a really special moment to share with them.
    At the reception, we decided that we’re going to ask any other father/daughters and mother/sons to join the respective parent dances halfway through. We are also doing a “longest together” dance instead of the “longest married” dance.

  • Kelly

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all the threads yet (I’m jumping in during a very short lunch break), but this is just the open thread I’ve been hoping for! We are definitely including a ring warming ceremony (I had always envisioned wanting something like it, then when I learned it was an actual “thing” I was thrilled), but I’m feeling a bit conflicted about honoring family in other ways. My extended family is very close. My parents have been married 30 years and other aunts and uncles (including those in very long-term partnerships) have been great models of marriage and commitment for me. I had always envisioned displaying the wedding photos of family members and ancestors as a way of honoring at my wedding. My fiance has a very different relationship to his family. His extended family is a bit “messy,” he doesn’t necessarily have very close relationships with them. They aren’t estranged or anything, they’re just some people he feels kind of obligated to have around but who aren’t very important in his life (except for his mom). Our mutual friends helped us build our relationship and they are “our” family. We’ll be honoring them with special roles in the ceremony (readings, toasts, etc.).

    I feel like displaying photos and honoring his family members in similar ways to what I’m envisioning would feel disingenuous. I don’t fully have time to flesh out my thoughts, but I would love some input about how to honor different family relationships without things being one-sided or “fake.”

    • Kate

      I’m in a very similar situation. I have a large, close extended family and my girlfriend does not. I did readings at two of my cousins weddings and was a flower girl in another’s, but we’re not really doing any readings or much of a wedding party. I had thought that displaying family wedding pictures would be a nice alternative way to involve our families, but she’s not so sure. I’m afraid that if we ask people for photos, my family will all send them, but hers won’t, and it will be unbalanced. We’re already having the wedding in my hometown, where we and my parents live, and her parents, who are hundreds of miles away, are feeling a little left out, so I don’t want to do anything else to make them feel excluded. Blerg.

      I’m also struggling with how to involve my mom in the planning process. We have a good relationship, but she’s fairly reserved and so she’s doesn’t really ask many questions about what we’re doing or ask to be involved in any way. When we do talk about the wedding, she seems really excited, though. I would love to have some mother-daughter bonding moments leading up to the wedding, but I don’t know how to make that happen. I’m buying my dress online and most of the vendors are friends of ours, so there are no appointments to go to and I don’t think anyone is planning a shower or anything like that. What are some other nice ways people have involved family in planning?

      • Hannah B

        Just a quick thought on the dress part…maybe your mom could go with you to your fitting? Even though you are buying online, you’ll most likely need some alterations and that could be a nice way to share some time with mom and the dress. If not, maybe just go over and try it on so she can see it before hand? Or ask for mom’s input on what to register for (if you’re doing that). Another thing is to actually straight up ask her if there is anything important she’d like to see in the ceremony etc…if she’s reserved, she might not volunteer the fact that she was really hoping you or your gf borrow her veil or that she has a family sixpence for your shoe or that she would love it if she could help craft the centerpieces or something. Who knows!

        If all else fails, I think simply sharing plans makes people feel included, even if they are not influencing decisions. My SO’s family is in a similar situation to your gf’s..the out of towners who will be out numbered. His mom has been really appreciative of me just keeping her in the loop about the decisions we’re making, whether that just means sending her pics of the venue or a pdf of the invite suite.

        I think the wedding picture idea is really nice! and if no one on her side sends them in, then just edit it down to the pics of your immediate families on display and work the others into a slide show or something that’s filled with pics of friends and families so the disparity isn’t as obvious.

        N.B. If you wanna go real Pittsburgh with your wedding, do a cookie table and have the moms and aunts bake and freeze cookies as to fill a table with them for your guests to take home. Nothing like 200 dozen cookies to bring families together. It is a thing!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cookie_table.

  • Laura C

    Unity candles and sand were among the first things on my Not at My Wedding Pinterest board, and the idea of a ring warming ceremony had never registered on me enough to find out what it was until I read this thread, and we won’t be doing that either. (Aside from that it feels a little woo-woo to me, we’re having 250 guests and it just doesn’t seem practical.)

    So we’re really lucky that my parents are profoundly uninterested in weddingy stuff at all and my fiance’s mother seems not to care about the ritual bits — she’s from India originally and at one point I asked if there was anything her mother (who is an observant Hindu) would really want to see included and she said “we’re not encouraging that.” I guess the vows etc feel like ritual enough to me.

    • ENGINEERINGMYWEDDING

      I just glanced at your pinterest board. Hilarious!

    • Lindsey d.

      Ha! Love that board!

    • Tiffany

      I love everything about your Pinterest board! LMAO and following it now!

  • Rachel

    We’ll be jumping the broom at our ceremony…and I’m still confirming this, but…I’m quite certain we’ll be bashing the shit out of a piñata at the reception!

    • Lizzie

      We had a pinata at the reception- it was a gift from two bridesmaids who know I LOVE pinatas. The only problem was that I got the first swing and hit it so hard it fell to the floor without breaking, so I stomped on it with my formal heels to bust it open.

  • SamiSidewinder

    We made a Battlestar reference in the beginning, asking everyone to respond with “So say we all” in response to a promise to continue to love and support us individually and in marriage.

    We also had everyone pronounce us husband and wife at the end. Then we high-fived.

    We did our ceremony in the round to do away with the my side/your side business and make us all one big family. Plus hopefully some strangers met.

    And because the heavens opened up on us and our carefully laid chair circle, everyone stood around us in a fairly tight circle indoors with no amplification for the majority of the ceremony.

    • Rebecca

      SamiSidewinder writes:
      We made a Battlestar reference in the beginning, asking everyone to respond with “So say we all” in response to a promise to continue to love and support us individually and in marriage.

      LOVE IT! We may totally steal this for our ceremony! :-)

      • SamiSidewinder

        We stole it from here: http://offbeatbride.com/2012/12/california-interfaith-wedding

        The full wording that they used is in the comments, but we changed it in our ceremony to:

        It is not by accident that Samantha and Andrew have asked you to share this day with them. For the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which they bring to their life together had their roots in the love, friendship and guidance you have given them. If, in the days and years ahead, you wish to continue that example; to support them, individually and together, that their love may bring warmth to all those it touches, please respond, “SO SAY WE ALL”

  • Laura

    We are having a totally secular (humanist) ceremony, but we are incorporating 2 Jewish traditions in honor of my upbringing and my Dad’s side of the family: 1) Both of us will process accompanied by both of our parents (delightfully egalitarian); 2) The breaking of the glass after the marriage pronouncement (possibly accompanied by noisemakers or something fun in place of “l’chaim”s). We thought about both breaking glasses, but I’m super uncoordinated and don’t want to risk it in a long dress and heels.

  • JESSICA

    This is perfect timing! We’ve just started thinking about our ceremony. We aren’t traditional or religious, and neither are our parents.
    And we won’t be exchanging rings, so we’re racking our brains for what to include in our ceremony.Especially ways to honor our families. Looking forward to seeing what other people include in theirs!

  • alyssa

    Even though we got married on a non-traditional day, (NYE), we actually ended up nixing things like the unity candle because, to us, they didn’t seem traditional enough. I mean, I love General Hospital as much as the next 80’s child who watched every day at 2pm with her mom, but that wasn’t going to happen at my wedding!

    The tradition that I’m still SO glad we did, was communion for the entire congregation. I’ve seen weddings before where it’s just the bride and groom – that’s how my own parents did it, but G and I really wanted to involve everyone present at the wedding. We phrased it so that those who weren’t religious wouldn’t be uncomfortable, and invited everyone who wanted to, to participate. It was beautiful, and very sacrede, and I am so glad we went with our gut. Plus, it allowed for some extra music during the ceremony, FTW!

  • Mezzanine

    Between the two of us, we have six nephews and one niece – and we really wanted them all to be involved in our ceremony.

    My niece was a flowergirl. She walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with a bridesmaid, sat near the front with her parents, and then, when it was time for our vows, she got up and took my flowers. Then she held them during the vows / register signing, and gave them back to me afterwards.

    My nephews all had bells – the musical ones that chime in tune with each other. They stood at the door waiting for me to arrive, and when our cars pulled up, they let loose with some pretty spectacular bell ringing. They also “rang us in” to the tea and coffee area after the service.

    • Hannah B

      I love this! Also, why does the term “flower girl” seem to make much more sense the way you did it? The MOH already has a bouquet to hold! Give your bouquet to the flower girl! DUH *face palm*

  • Jo

    We created our own version of the sand ceremony, which anyone is welcome to use. Being very water-baby types, we asked our parents (my two divorced ones and the hubby’s one set) to bring to the wedding ceremony a jar of sand/dirt from the water bodies where we grew up – my two coasts, Pacific and Atlantic, and hubs’s river he grew up fishing on. We didn’t tell them why.

    At the beginning of the (outdoor) ceremony, the pastor asked them to each come up and pour their sand down on the ground between where he and I were standing. Once they had all poured the sand, he and I took off our shoes (a reference to both holy ground and my wish to be barefoot on the beach despite being in Arizona) and stood on the sand. After saying our vows, we scooped up some of the sand into a glass bottle to keep. The pastor gave a nice homily about how we were now united and could not be separated.

    It worked for us. And let me tell you, any stress at being up on stage and the center of attention melted away when our bare toes sunk into that sand!!!

    • Kara Davies

      My husband and I got married barefoot too. Our reasoning?

      A) Hubby was raised in Africa as a missionary kid and didn’t wear shoes much.

      B) I fidget in heels (mine were kitten heels) and you couldn’t tell under my gown that I wasn’t wearing any.

      C) I wanted a tippy toe first kiss. And I got it.
      D) Marriage is holy ground. God told Moses to take off his shoes at the burning bush as he was on holy ground. So, why not us?
      E) It ticked off my mom big time. ;)
      How we did it: When hubby was escorting his mother down the aisle, he told her not to worry as H. was getting his shoes. She had no idea why shoes were being talked of. Once hubby had seated his mother, he slipped his socks and shoes off and put them under his dad’s chair, then he went and stood with our pastor and waited for the rest of the processional. ***All eyes were on hubby and all cameras were too. As such, nearly 6.5yrs later, my mom is STILL pissed as there aren’t any photos of her being escorted in by my brother.*** Dad eventually walks me down the aisle and I kick off my cute red kitten heels. Dad gives me away, we nailed the hand off handshake and up to the altar we go. Later I did wear my shoes but being barefoot helped to ground both of us in the emotion of the day I think. Plus, it bugged my mom. :p There’s also a great shot of all our parents arm in arm walking up the aisle…. carrying our shoes.

  • K.A.

    We are going to be blending family traditions as well as ethnic traditions. Polish weddings are basically 3-day-long tradition-fests so we’ve had to really pick and choose. I already nixed the traditional public wedding haircut and the group singing in rounds (both seem like they would be disastrous after all that vodka). We will be doing the familial presentation of bread and salt, but it will be our attendants doing it instead of family (see above conversation about “what do I do when I don’t want to directly honor my family”).

    And every time I second-guess our decisions I just channel Amy Poehler and Rachel: “I don’t #^#$(@ care if you like it!”

  • Courtney

    In my family, my grandmother carried a prayer book down the aisle instead of a bouquet. My aunt and mother did the same, and (hopefully) so will I some day if I get married. It’s unusual but meaningful for us–and all three marriages have been happy, so that little book been consecrated by happiness now!

  • Mezza

    We did a couple of unusual things to honor/incorporate family. Aside from the ring-warming, which I wrote about above, we incorporated a Filipino tradition of exchanging necklaces of coins and I wore a really special piece of jewelry.

    My wife’s mother is Filipino and she asked if we’d build one Filipino tradition into the ceremony. She sent us some options and we picked the exchange of coins (arras). My MIL took some old Filipino currency that no longer had value and strung it on two chains, each with a charm corresponding to one of us. We exchanged them much like the exchange of rings, saying a few words about sharing resources and finances and taking care of each other.

    I was very close to my mother’s parents, both of whom died in the last 3 years. As my mom and I went through her jewelry box to see if there was anything I wanted to wear, one piece was an absolute must for me. It was a simple gold chain bracelet with a gold disk, engraved with my grandmother’s name on one side and my grandfather’s on the other, and the date – 1946. It was his wedding present to her. One of my favorite wedding photos was captured by a friend – it’s just my hand, holding my bouquet, with my rings showing and the text on the bracelet clear.

    We struggled a bit with other traditions, though. My family is quite shy, and though I knew my father would hate it, I asked him to walk me down the aisle because my wife really wanted her father to do so for her. We all survived, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite part – or his. Also, my dad’s parents attended the wedding and were clearly uncomfortable with two women marrying each other – but at least they attended, whereas my dad’s brother and all his kids did not.

  • Elizabeth

    We didn’t have a unity ceremony but we did have a few family traditions. The main one was my something borrowed was a horse shoe on a ribbon that my SIL received on her wedding day in Scotland from family there. My mother and grandmother also carried horse shoes with their bouquets. This was a nice connection to my family and I was very honoured that she let me borrow it.

    Family is really important to us but we didn’t want a lot of people involved in our wedding. In the end that was the best decision we made since our Best Man (my husband’s brother) decided about a month before our wedding he couldn’t be our Best Man due to a family quarrel. (In the end he did show up to the ceremony but didn’t participate.)

    The people that mean the most to us were prominent in our ceremony. We had a slide show of family pictures before the ceremony (I know a bit corny we were married in a theatre so it was very fitting – this also let us include people who couldn’t make it to our wedding in our ceremony). My husband walked his parents down the aisle. My sister’s fiancé walked my step-mum down the aisle. My sister was our Maid of Honour. My dad walked me down the aisle. My husband’s cousin was our second witness. My brother did a reading. Pictures of family members (including my mom) who had passed away were on charms in my bouquet (they were also mentioned in the ceremony). Blue globe thistles from my mother’s garden were in my bouquet. And we had a Congregational Affirmation during the ceremony.

    I was just reflecting on my wedding yesterday and I was thinking that one moment that before the wedding I was unsure about was the third dance. We had our first dance and then we did a combined father-daughter/mother-son dance and then we had what I called a “couples” dance because I didn’t know what else to call it. It consisted of the “couples” who are closest to us dancing (me and my husband, my dad and my step-mum, my in laws, my sister and her fiancé, my brother and his wife, and my husband’s cousin and his wife). What made this moment really special for me was that my brother and his wife also danced with their infant son and toddler daughter as a family, and my husband’s cousin and his wife danced with their son.

    Another very touching moment was at our reception when my father welcomed my husband on behave of my family by naming all of the kids in my family (my niece and nephew, my eight step-nieces/nephews, and all of my cousins kids).

  • InTheBurbs

    Instead of a receiving line or ushering guests out of the church we greeted everyone as they arrived for the ceremony. Our photographer was out there as well and got some great shots of us with our guests as well. We got married at 5:30 on a Friday evening – and knew that folks would be hungry – this way everyone went directly from the ceremony to the reception.

  • http://www.ronmphoto.com Ron Miller

    My all time favs are definitely the wine ceremony and the PB&J ceremony =)

    • Pumpkinpicker

      PB&J ceremony?

      You have my full attention.

  • erin

    My family has no wedding traditions to speak of, but my friends have a wedding RECEPTION tradition. And that is Apple Roulette.

    Apple Roulette began out of boredom during a wedding reception delay many years ago and has since been featured at every friend’s (in this particular friends group) wedding since. It is easy to play: a circle of friends, hopefully drunk, grab an apple. Each person takes a turn bashing the apple as hard as he/she can on his/her forehead. The person who breaks the apple and gets apple guts all over their face is the “winner.”

    I’d take it over a sand ceremony any day.

    • ART

      that’s pretty awesome!

  • http://fabrikatedthings.com Kate M.

    When it came to traditions, and the general WIC day-of expectations, we stripped it all down to the bare essentials. The biggest decision was to only invite immediate family and close friends. O’s family is huge, so inviting all the extended family would have tripled our guest list in a heartbeat. Instead we kept it a nice size of 50.

    Since neither of us are religious, we had a non-denominational ceremony. There was no sand, candle, butterfly, or tree ceremony. Our officiant said a few nice things, we read our vows, I cried the whole time, and that was pretty much it.

    For our reception the only “traditions” we had were the first dance, speeches by the best man and maid of honor, and the pie cutting (which we weren’t going to do initially, but I’m glad we did since that’s the only time I tried any of the desserts).

    Your wedding day should be about the two of you and what you both want out of your day. In the end, the only thing that really matters is that you get married and get to celebrate that. None of that other stuff makes you any less or more married. This is something APW has definitely taught me over the years, and I’m glad I was given this resource after I got engaged. It was definitely one of the best presents I received.

  • Hope

    We did a handfasting. We had a basket with thick, variously-colored ribbons and strips of cloth and asked 6 people close to us that weren’t participating in other ways to step forward during a reading, take a ribbon, and tie our hands together. We held hands, and got a big ribbon knot around our joined hands. I really liked it! (Then we slipped our hands out during a transition to communion).

  • http://uristmcdorf.tumblr.com Bunny

    We’ve got no idea what we’re doing for our ceremony (well, we know a couple of things). We’re Norse pagans, but not from any specific branch (sadly there are a lot of racist Heathen groups, which put us both off joining any). We’re not reconstructionists, but we would like some stuff relevant to our faith in the ceremony. We’re also both feminists, and are trying to work out a ceremony that fits our ideals while still honouring family (my dad REALLY wants to “give me away”). While neither of us are Wiccans, Wicca was our first exposure to paganism and we do appreciate the symbolism of some of their stuff. And of course, our families comprise a mix of Christians, atheists, agnostics and tarot-reading spiritualists – and we don’t want any of them to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.

    So far, we know we will jump a broom. We know we want our hands bound in cord. We know we aren’t having rings. And we know we want to incorporate a mead toast, a small shrine and offerings to our deities into it all, but HOW we do all this we have no idea. Still trying to work out if we can get a gothi to perform our ceremony, if we’d have an easier time finding someone secular who could help us out or just saying sod it and finding a Wiccan priestess open-minded enough to help us craft our unique ceremony. And we’re in the UK, which has an impact on the legal finagling of having a Pagan ceremony.

    • Wildo

      Just have your wedding up in Scotland! I guess that might not be practical for you but worth considering if it is as the laws around wedding ceremonies are far looser north of the border. The celebrant basically has to say one particular line and maybe the couple do too (we haven’t got round to organising this yet) but other than that the ceremony can be anything you want.

    • Sewassbe

      The Viking Answer Lady has an awesome article on historical Viking weddings! http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/wedding.shtml You should totally exchange swords.

  • Lucy P

    We’re struggling a lot in the baby stages of planning with this question. SO is Catholic, very traditional family, I was raised congregationalist but have no specific attachment to the wedding ceremony. Truthfully, we snuck away and got officially married almost a year ago, and are now backtracking to a reception of some kind. We did the basic “i do…i do too” then, and now feel like replicating it for our families is redundant. But we want them to feel included, and loved, and appreciated. We’ve settled on a “First Thanksgiving” for now, that will have lots of toasts, probably games and slideshows, and certainly dancing and good cheer. If you’ve already done the nuts and bolts, though, what sort of ceremony is there to share with your loved ones?

  • Myranda

    We are having some of our closes friends read for us. My oldest friend is reading an excerpt about love from my favorite book in a series that she got me HOOKED on when we were 15. Another friend is reading a poem entitled “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog.” We’re also skipping the garter toss, but we are making a bouquet of flowers made from scratch off tickets and throwing those to all of our single friends. And my personal favorite, we are using three aisles. We are two ladies and will each walk down our own aisles at the same time. We will meet in the middle for our ceremony, and we will walk up the center aisle together. I liked the symbolism.