Welcome back for Part 2 in our series of planning a unique wedding! Now that we touched on how to make your engagement shoot unique, we are moving our focus to planning a unique wedding ceremony. When discussing a wedding, the basic traditional ceremony comes most easily to mind. Keep reading if you are looking to avoid the impersonal, stuffy rigidity of a traditional ceremony, and are ready to embrace new traditions with personalized touches that will make your wedding stand out amongst the rest! The ceremony is typically the introduction of the day, so adding personal touches goes a long way to welcome the celebration in a way that feels just like you!
Ideas to make your wedding ceremony stand out
Remember That It’s Your Wedding Day
This may seem like a given, but the truth is that sometimes, weddings become about everyone but the couple. There’s a lot of pressure, from the wedding industry, from family members, and from all over- and couples can start to feel like they’re being steamrolled when it comes to their day. So, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re the ones getting married, and that’s what matters most! With every decision you make, be sure that it’s what the two of you truly want.
The guest list
One of the first decisions when it comes to making your wedding unique and being intentional in making sure that it really feels like you, is to consider whether a big, traditional wedding is actually what you want! For some couples, having a big celebration with 200 guests is just right – but for others, a micro wedding or an elopement might be more their thing. Typically, the default for what a wedding is “supposed to be” is the traditional thing… a big wedding and hundreds of guests. It’s definitely important to take some time to consider whether that’s truly right for you!
There are a lot of reasons why couples choose to downsize and keep their guest list small. Maybe you’re an introvert, you want to get married outdoors instead of in a venue, or you just want to keep the moment you marry your best friend personal and private.
Choose a unique place with meaning
Another way to make your wedding ceremony unique is to choose a place that has special meaning for you. If you’re not tied to the idea of a church ceremony, you open up your options to personalize your wedding to your own tastes. Do you have a favorite vacation spot, or family vacation home that you frequent, or want to return to the place of your proposal? It can bring a unique element to your day to invite your guests to a place that you feel connected as a couple and share that space with them.
If you’re already choosing an elopement, you probably have this special place picked out. If you choose to bring a small group of people with you, be sure to plan activities around showing them all of the things you love about being there. Bring them to your favorite restaurant in town, or on a group hike to see your favorite view. This will give you all the more reason to love your special place even more.
To first look? Or not?
The old wedding tradition is for the couple not to see each other until the ceremony. For some, this is how they always imagined their day going and that feels right for them! For others, this doesn’t fit as well and a first look is a great alternative! This is the moment you see each other for the first time on the big day and it gives you a more private, intimate way to experience that moment. Plus, it allows you to feel your emotions without the pressure of having an audience.
Personalize your vows
We’ve all heard the traditional repeated vows, but why not embrace the day and write your own? After all, it is a day of declaring and celebrating your love as a couple. Take the time to personalize your vows by putting pen to paper all of things you love about your partner, your favorite stories together, your promises and hopes for the future etc. The reading of the vows will be more personal and memorable when they encompass your relationship together.
On the other hand, if you dread the thought of openly reading your very personal vows in front of everyone, you can choose to do a private vow exchange. Private vows are one of my favorite ways to personalize a ceremony while also taking the pressure off. Before the ceremony, in a private space and just the photographer present, you can exchange your most intimate thoughts without an audience but still have amazing photos of the moment!
Pick unique bouquets for your ceremony
With so many flower choices available, it can be overwhelming to choose what look you want to achieve. Instead, start off the discussion with intention. Maybe your grandmother has a favorite flower you’d love to honor. Or you’d always pick up peonies together at the Public Market, so it feels special to have them in your bouquet. Choose flowers that have meaning to you, your family, or your best friends. Work with your florist to tie in the different flowers while sticking with your vision!
Personally, I customized all my bouquets by picking a different flower to represent each woman in my life. My moms, sisters and bffs all had a unique bouquet with their flower, and mine was a mixture of all of their blooms!
Add unique accessories to your dress and tux
While you may want to stay traditional in your wedding dress and tux choices, you still want to accessorize them with unique but meaningful choices. Your something old/new/borrowed/blue is a good place to start adding small details that reflect you. Wearing your grandmothers veil, gifting a personalized watch for the big day, or lining your suit jacket with a bright print are all unique ways to subtly stand out without looking too flashy.
Ask loved ones to participate in the ceremony
If you are going to bypass the traditional vows and readings, you may want to go the extra step and ask certain friends or family members to speak or give readings during your ceremony. Choose passages to be read that are meaningful to you as a couple, or words on the subject of love that reflect you as a couple. Additionally, you could ask family or friends to speak openly about your love as a couple and giving you their “blessing”. It has also become common to have a loved one ordained online to officiate your wedding. You will want to check the laws in your state but it is a fairly quick process that allows you to have someone important to play an important part in your wedding ceremony.
Honor those who have passed
One of the hardest parts of a wedding day is acknowledging your loved ones who have passed on. While it may be difficult to miss them on your big day, it can be touching to honor them in unique ways throughout the day. It is common to add small photos to your bouquet, or place framed pictures on a table at the reception, but you can also incorporate them into your ceremony in other ways. One bride “saved a seat” for her photographer Papa by placing his favorite camera on his seat. You can also choose readings that they loved or that remind you of them to share with your guests.
However you choose to honor your lost loved ones, choose unique details that speak to who they were as a person, and what they would have brought to your day if they were able to be there. If your late (grand)father had a favorite car, maybe you can use that (or similar) to leave your ceremony. If your (grand)mother wore a tiara or had a specific flower for her ceremony, choose that or similar to incorporate the same look for yourself.
Include a unique ritual within the ceremony
To really make your wedding ceremony unique, you can include a unity ceremony. This can be done with candles, sand, wine etc. It symbolizes the coming together of your two separate lives into one. Generally, you both pour from your single vessel into a larger decorative vessel that you will treasure forever. If you choose a wine ceremony, you might toast 3 times, to your past, present, and future, before blending your wines together as one. If you don’t want to drink at the ceremony, you can always choose a wine (or other spirit) boxing ceremony where you enclose a bottle with love letters to be opened on an anniversary of your choosing. All of these options are special ways to have not only a unique ceremony, but to give yourself a gift on an anniversary that you will cherish.
Include your furry companions
You’ve probably seen the trend of having your fur babies in your engagement shoot, but many couples are choosing to include their pets in their big day as well! While I would love to see a cat as a ring bearer, its more common to see a dog dressed up to walk down the aisle. Choose a friend to pet-sit so your best buddy can participate in the ceremony without you having the added distraction of holding their leash while you say your vows. The added bonus is having them there for your wedding photos too! (Seriously, bring your cat in a bowtie!)
Ready to plan a unique wedding ceremony?
Hopefully this guide has given you new inspiration to help you plan a truly unique wedding ceremony. All the little details that you make your own will help your wedding stand out from the rest. Next up is to start thinking about how to make your reception unique!
It is just as important to choose a photographer who believes in intentional storytelling, that will capture all of your personalized touches and make sure they are highlighted in your photos. If you are ready to talk about your ideas, reach out! I would love to be a part of your story!