“Apache wedding blessing” isn’t even Native American *

“Apache wedding blessing” isn’t even Native American *

A horse ranch wedding with a horseback ceremony and DIY for days
Photo by Northfern from this wedding.

If you’re looking for wedding readings, you may have come across this one in your searches. It’s often referred to as Apache wedding blessing or sometimes a Navajo wedding blessing, or Native American wedding prayer, or any number of other similar names. All of these names are inaccurate, but I’ll get into that later:

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now there is no more loneliness.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May your days together be good and long
upon the earth.

While this piece of writing expresses a lovely sentiment, and you’re totally allowed to love it and use it at your wedding… you do need to know this: the reading has nothing to do with Apaches or Navajo Native American culture at all.

The reading is from a 1950 Jimmy Stewart movie called Broken Arrow, based on a 1947 novel called Blood Brothers. The words have no indigenous roots at all — they’re a mid-20th century white dude’s fantasy. This is what’s known as “Fakelore.”

To be blunt: this reading has nothing to do with Native American culture at all, other than that it’s something that a cisgender white dude imagined Native Americans might possibly say.

Now, do you want to use a poem from an old Western movie in your wedding? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. If you do, that’s cool!

But if you don’t, but you want something with a similar sentiment, lemme see what I can do. I’m just some lady in Seattle, but I’m not going to create some fakeloric myth to make this reading seem like anything more than what it is. I don’t believe in pretending to be anything that I’m not, so let’s just call this…

One human’s hope

Now the raindrops will not sting your skin,
for you can each be the soul umbrella the other seeks.
Now the cold will not chill you,
for your love can warm each other’s bodies and minds.
Now that very human experience of loneliness can ease,
For while you are still two people,
you’re sharing this path of marriage as one being.
May your time together be united in gratitude and grace
for as long this walk may last.

There. FIXED IT.

Dark And Modern Neutral Palette Wedding Inspiration Shoot *

Dark And Modern Neutral Palette Wedding Inspiration Shoot *

Whoever thinks black isn’t a wedding color is sadly mistaken. Black, when included with a stunning neutral palette, can act as a pop of color, or the perfect accent color of a wedding. This dark and modern wedding inspiration shoot is proof of just that. By choosing a modern neutral palette for this wedding shoot, the details in the table decor, florals, and stationary looked sleek and detailed.

And yes, we have to talk about the two wedding gowns paired with beautiful pink, white, and black bouquets. Both gowns are long and flowy, but have their own personality—a sleek white off-the-shoulder dress and a black v-plunge neckline with a long train. If you’ve been searching for a wedding with a dark aesthetic, then here’s the inspiration. Keep scrolling to see this dark neutral palette wedding inspiration shoot, styled by Julia Luckett Photography, and be ready to fall in love with the color black, if you haven’t already.

Dark And Moody Inspo

If you are loving this dark-vibe wedding inspiration, then you’ll definitely want to take a peek at this dark and moody western-style wedding shoot

Black Wedding Gowns

Shop similar black wedding gowns: Montreal Crepe Maxi Dress ($220); Wtoo by Watters Clarinda ($1,100); Off The Shoulder Satin Ball Gown ($599)

Adding Black To Your Color Palette

Want to add black to your wedding? Make the vibe all your own by creating a mood board and choosing your perfect color palette!

The Talented Team:

Photography – Julia Luckett Photography
Event Planning – Jaclyn Watson Events and Chickadee Hill Events
Venue – Waterworks
Floral Design – Nectar & Root
Cake – North Country Cakes
Videography – Wood & Ether
Invitation Design – Christa Alexandra Designs
Makeup Artist – Makena Couture
Wedding Dresses – Tara laTour and Vagabond Bridal
Bridal Accessories – Rackk & Ruin
Wedding Dress Boutique – Everthine Bridal
Models – Alex and Aja
Rentals – Vermont Tent Company and BBJ Linen

A huge thank you to Julia Luckett Photography for sharing this wedding shoot with us—and major shout out to the entire team for bringing this whole wedding to life. Digging the dark vibes? Take a look at this romantic dark aesthetic wedding and this dark wedding with a black bridal gown!  

 

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“Apache wedding blessing” isn’t even Native American *

How to have a more gender-neutral wedding *

seattle wedding inspiration Lab at Ada's
Photo by Jenny GG, from this genderfluid wedding photoshoot.

When my partner and I were planning our wedding last year, we decided right away we wanted to skip the wedding traditions that didn’t feel like us. We love the beauty of passing on traditions from generation to generation but one of the traditions we didn’t love was the constant gender expectations. We wanted a more gender-neutral wedding approach.

The gendered traditions began almost immediately after we got engaged. As a woman engaged to a man, I was bombarded with questions almost daily from family and friends about planning while my fiancé went unnoticed. No one acknowledged the fact that he was the one who wanted a wedding in the first place. My fiancé did more than half of the planning and still vendors would contact me instead of him regarding wedding plans and details. This was just the beginning of a very, very gendered wedding experience.

Now, as a florist in the wedding industry, I work daily to make all couples feel included. I see that many people feel uncomfortable with the gendering in weddings and I think it’s time to make un-gendered weddings not just acceptable but commonplace.

Addressing Invitations

]The gendering traditions start long before the wedding festivities. For my partner and I, we noticed the awkward tradition of invite address etiquette right away.

Traditionally:

  • The man’s name is listed first on the envelope
  • Each name has a prefix: Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

I was not a fan of either of these traditions. Why does gender or marital status need to be specified? And It’s pretty sexist. The term “Mrs.” stands for Mr’s… As in, any married female is owned by her husband. It’s also not very inclusive to folks that don’t identify as male or female.

If you still crave the formality of including prefixes, consider Mx. (pronounced “Mix”) which is an all-encompassing title that includes everyone but still gives a touch of formality. Or save yourself the hassle and just address with first and last names.

Using the terms “Bride” or “Groom”

The term “Bride” is an archetype with so many negative stereotypes. A pure, virgin ready to be given away by her father into marriage. Or a psychotic Bridezilla who crumbles under pressure. Nothing about the term “Bride” felt like me. And I was shocked by how many people just address me as “The Bride” rather than trying to learn my name like would in any other situation. Whenever possible, I asked to be called by my name.

For those that want a nickname but don’t resonate with “Bride” or “Groom” consider “Celebrant,” “Broom,” “Gride,” or “the Couple.”

It also enrages me how many vendor contracts still us the term “Bride and Groom.” As a vendor myself, I encourage all vendors to use the term Partner A and Partner B. Or simply just the names of the couple!

The Gender-Neutral Wedding Party

Traditional weddings have bridesmaids and groomsmen, a best man and a maid/matron of honor. (Side note: why is it that women always need titles that signify if they are married or not… ugh, it’s gross).

At my wedding, I tried to refer to our chosen people as The Wedding Party as much as possible. When we talked about each side I would say “Adam’s Side” or “Megan’s Side.” Nowadays the sides of the wedding party aren’t always split by gender. I’ve heard some couples refer to their chosen person as The Best Man, The Best Women, or The Best Person which I think is really cute.

Bachelorx Parties

Bachelorx (pronounced: bachelor-ex) is a gender-neutral wedding term to replace bachelor and bachelorette. Replacing gendered language with an “x” is growing in popularity due to its ease. A similar idea can be used for hen and stag parties.

I’m not going to touch on the activities that occur at these parties because it’s a Pandora’s Box of stereotypes and gendered activities that could be its own book. But I will say that changing the name is a good start to make the event inclusive for all, regardless of gender.

Attire

ASOS makes this cute set — check the cut-outs on the side of the blazer!

The white dress, the long veil, the black suit… traditional weddings force couples into a very specific box. But what do you wear when you don’t fit into any box? It’s up to you to decide what’s going to make you feel the most like yourself on one of the most exciting days of your life.

Choosing an outfit is a struggle, especially if you don’t see yourself as a traditional white dress or suit person. We recommend starting with this story I’m a combo platter of femininity and masculine traits: where’s my wedding suit? By Emily James, an amazing writer who successfully went through the process herself.

Give your wedding party attire options, too. So rarely do we get to pick how to dress as members of the wedding party. We need to normalize options.

Flowers

As a wedding florist, the most popular question I get is “who gets corsages, bouquets, and boutonnieres at a wedding?” This is a tough question because most of these accessories are gendered items, and couples typically assume what to order based on tradition. But not every female wants a corsage and not every male wants a boutonniere.

The best thing to do would be to ask the person their flower accessory preference. But when you have 1,000 things on your to-do list it’s a task that easily slips through the cracks. At Silk Stem Collective, we recommend getting boutonnieres for everyone. The strategy is not only inclusive, but it will look cohesive in pictures. Plus, boutonnieres are far more comfortable than traditional wrist corsages.

Correcting People

People will get it wrong. They’ll call you “Bride” or “Groom.” They will assume the Ring Bearer is a cute little boy. Tradition is very strong and has formed somewhat of expectations or habits among us. Don’t feel bad about correcting them and do not tolerate those that do not support your choices.

No matter what you do at your wedding, people will find something to judge. So give up pleasing people now and focus on what it is you really want out of your event.

Walking down the aisle

My dad walked me down the aisle and “gave me away” to my fiancé. This was a very sexist, gendered tradition I was ok with because I knew how much it meant to my dad. I overlooked the troubling context of it for the sake of tradition. But that’s not the right choice for everyone.

For those that don’t love the tradition, talk to your partner about adjusting the processional order. There’s nothing wrong with walking in as a group, escorting both parents, or even walking in as a couple.

Ceremony wording

Traditional ceremony wording is riddled with gendered language. Here are a few easy substitutions your officiant can use to for a more gender-neutral wedding ceremony:

  • Ladies and Gentlemen Honored guests, family and friends
  • Bride Celebrant, or just their name
  • Groom Celebrant, or just their name
  • Wife Partner or Spouse
  • Husband Partner or Spouse
  • “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” “I now pronounce you married.”
  • “You may kiss the bride.” “You may kiss”
  • “Now presenting, Mr. and Mrs. West!”
  • “For the first time as a married couple, Alex and Taylor!”

Bouquet toss

The bouquet toss has always made me uncomfortable. It’s a tradition originating in the 1800s from a time when marriage was the only way for women to move up in society socially and economically. Single women desperate for the good fortune of marriage would touch the bride in hopes of rubbing off her good luck. The story has it that to avoid crowding, the bride began throwing elements of her outfit as tokens of good luck.

Some people love the tradition but I always felt called-out for being an older single woman. To avoid the awkwardness, I would wait in the bathroom or conveniently need another drink during the bouquet toss. When our wedding came around, we just did away with the whole tradition nobody missed it.

Like the rest of wedding planning, it all comes down to personal preference.

Recent Comments

  • David Wilkins: Interesting post and thought provoking as much of the industry is geared towards traditional couples [Link]

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“Apache wedding blessing” isn’t even Native American *

So you’ve been invited to a pagan wedding *

A 13-color handfasting and fire dancing at this Quebec wiccan wedding
Photos by Lexa One Photography

Hooray! You’ve been invited to a pagan wedding! We’re so excited for you. That said, depending on your background or your beliefs, you might feel a little confused. What’s in store? Why is everyone standing in a circle? Are we talking about gods?

Well, first thing’s first, I highly recommend reading the Offbeat Bride guide to Pagan Weddings. That post will give you some ideas about what’s going on.

But today, I want to talk about aspects of a pagan wedding that could feel unfamiliar to guests who’ve never attended one before…

Wedding in the round on @offbeatbride
Wedding in the round on @offbeatbride

Folks tend to stand or sit in a circle for Pagan rituals

So don’t be surprised to find this sort of seating arrangement. While standing is common, if you need to sit, don’t be afraid to ask for a chair before things get started (or better yet, when you RSVP). It’s likely that you won’t be the only person who needs a chair.

A common practice is the blessing of the space wherein the ritual is being held

This could be done by burning incense, ringing bells, banging drums, sprinkling sacred water, walking around the space to “cast the circle,” or tossing flower petals and herbs. The purpose of this is simple: the ancient marble temples are now crumbling tourist traps. So, modern Pagans often hold their rituals where they can, and make the ritual area holy or blessed as needed. It can also be done to drive out any negative energies from the area, including those that people may bring with them, such as wedding planning stress.

There may be a mention of something along the lines of “our/the gods”

Which you can consider to be including your own, if you have any. Keep in mind that no-one expects you to join in on any prayers.

The elements of earth, air, water, and fire may be invited or spoken of

These are symbolic of the basic building blocks of life and creation. The air we breathe, the water in the oceans, and so forth. The elements can also symbolize certain concepts: earth for the physicality, air for intellect, water for emotions, and fire for passion.

You may hear Pagan phrases you’re unfamiliar with

Some common Pagan phrases include:

  • “blessed be” and “hail,” which are similar to “amen” or “cheers.”
  • “Merry meet” and “merry part” are greetings that are often used at the start and end of rituals.
  • “So mote/may it be” is an affirmation and indication of agreement.

Paganism is more family-friendly than most people may think

It’s not uncommon to see children (and even dogs) moving about the ritual space, sitting on the ground, nursing in mother’s arms, and joining in as is age-appropriate.

The actual tying of hands using ribbon or cords

In its simplest form, a handfasting is the binding of a couple’s hands or wrists together as a unity ritual within the ceremony. This can be done a variety of ways: the couple may tie the knot themselves, it may be tied by the officiant, or by friends and family of the couple. This is typically the main section of a Pagan wedding and can incorporate the exchanging of rings, speaking of the vows, or the blessing of the union. How long the cord remains physically tied is entirely up to the couple (a few brave souls even remain bound until they retire to their honeymoon suite).

Cecily&Robert-51
Robert and Cecily decorated their broom using handmade cords from their handfasting. Photos by Naomi Wong Photography

Jumping over a broom is also a common practice

The wedding broom can be called by its old-timey name of “besom.” The broom symbolizes a few different things and the couple may choose to place emphasis on one or more for their ceremony. Brooms are often stored by the front or back door of the home, and thus a broom can symbolize a threshold, the line between the old single life and a new married life. This is similar to the tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold of a new home.

As brooms are used for cleaning and sweeping, it can symbolize the sweeping away of the old dirt of your past to start fresh. The handle of a broom is somewhat phallic in shape and the brush is shaped somewhat like a woman’s skirt, so these two things combined can symbolize fertility and union. A broom also symbolizes the daily grind of marriage; that is, cleaning the floors, taking out the trash, making dinner, and caring for one another.

[Note from the editors: there has been some debate online about whether jumping the broom is a cultural appropriation of African American traditions. Based on our research, the tradition has several complex histories, including African Americans, Romani people, and Welsh roots. Ultimately, it’s complicated — it’s up to each couple to decide what feels right to them.]

J&S Wedding
Sheila and Jason doing the maypole dance at their Medieval handfasting. Photo by Kari Bellamy.

There may be a Maypole Dance

This is another European folk tradition that has ancient Pagan roots. It is a tall pole with strings or ribbons attached at the top, and people dance or move around it, winding the ribbon around the pole as they go. It’s usually a lot of fun and is accompanied by music, singing, and laughing when you realize that you’re getting the steps wrong. The symbolism of the Maypole is a bit of a mystery even to historians.

To Pagans it can be a sacred tree, being dressed up and decorated. It can signify the “axis mundi,” the pillar that connects the heavens and the earth. It can have the meaning of union and fertility, in that a hole is dug and a pole is planted into the “womb of the earth” and it is then wrapped in beauty. It can be a symbol of marriage, as the pole is wrapped in colorful ribbon, similar to how the hands and wrists are bound during a handfasting.

The vows sworn may not be what you are accustomed to

Often, they are personal vows written by the people getting handfasted. (Here’s one great example!) Such things as love, honour, or cherish and obey, may not be mentioned. The phrase “’till death do us part” may not be used, but instead replaced by the more realistic and modern concepts such as “for so long as our love shall last.”

What else I should be prepared for at a Pagan Wedding?

The Ceremony Begins
Asatru priestess, Johanna, from Alison and Matt’s Icelandic wedding.

The officiant might be a woman, and a priestess at that. Even if this is not what you are used to, please treat her with the proper respect such a title deserves.

There is a good chance that among the guests and wedding party there will be people of every background. Expect to meet wonderful folks of many different gender identities, sexual orientations, races, social and economic backgrounds, and abilities. Equality, open mindedness, and inclusiveness are important values to Pagans.

Chances are good that the event will be held outdoors, so dress for the weather and leave your stiletto heels at home.

Please don’t worry about people running about naked. This is a wedding! While Pagans do have liberal and open views on the human body and sexuality, most people will NOT want to get naked in front of their grandmother at a wedding. This is one of those things that is made much of by media and Hollywood, but in reality is rather different.

Please do not handle or touch the wedding altar, any shrines, or any obvious sacred objects. Treat such things as you would an altar, shrine, or religious paraphernalia of any faith. Looking and admiring is perfectly acceptable. If you see folks lighting candles or making offerings (such as pouring wine into a dish) and you think that you may like to participate, simply ask what the etiquette is first. People will be happy to explain what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how you could too if you desire to do so.

If someone is obviously in prayer or meditation, please do not interrupt them.

Please do not invoke or call upon any god(s) out loud without first asking if that is acceptable. It’s just good manners. Most Pagans are quite friendly towards other religions. Some may come from an abusive family or background of a certain faith, and not wish to hear prayers or invocation from that faith. You can pray with your internal voice as much as you wish, of course.

There is usually someone designated to mind any fires that are lit and to ensure that the wood for the evening’s fire doesn’t get used too quickly. Please ask before placing a log into a bonfire. If the “Fire Keeper” asks you to move a chair or do anything for safety reasons, do so immediately. Some fires are considered sacred as well, so do not throw any trash or cigarette butts into the fire until you know if that is acceptable or not.

Pagans love to give toasts. Expect a lot of them.

Final thoughts

Pagans know how to throw a great party! Even if the ceremony itself seems very serious, you can expect good food, good people, and a lot of laughter during the reception. In truth, the ceremony is likely to be laid back, happy, and shorter than you might expect. Keep in mind that you may be offered food or drink, but you may politely turn anything down that you do not want.

It’s just a wedding. Relax, sit back, and remember why you were invited in the first place: the people who invited you care about you and want you to be part of their special day.

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Ceremony *

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding Ceremony *

Image by Raw Shoots Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Planning your wedding ceremony can be one of the most daunting but also the most rewarding parts of the entire wedding planning process! You get to choose readings, music, florals, seating options, backdrops, and everything in between — all to craft the perfect environment to profess your heart to the love of your life. Is there anything better? If you already feel overwhelmed or just aren’t sure where to start, take a breath and rest assured that you’re in the right place! We’ve rounded up all our best ceremony planning resources, guides, and inspirational posts to walk you through every step.

Image by Rachel Rowland. See more of this real wedding here.

Setting The Foundation

There are few things more special and heartfelt than writing your wedding ceremony with your partner. This is the reason for the entire celebration in the first place, so take extra care in crafting a ceremony that speaks to you as a couple. There are so many different ways of creating the perfect wedding ceremony — and so many different tips and opinions. So, start with these 3 basics to set a good foundation, and let the rest of the pieces fall naturally into place.

Order

Unless you’re having a religious or cultural wedding ceremony for which the order is set, the first step will be to figure out the order of your ceremony. Traditionally, a non-religious wedding ceremony would include these moments:

  • Processional
  • Welcome
  • Introduction and/or remarks on marriage
  • Readings
  • Vow exchange
  • Ring Exchange
  • First kiss
  • Unity ceremony
  • Final remarks + announcement of the newlyweds
  • Recessional

There are some obvious moments you absolutely cannot leave out, such as the vows, ring exchange, and first kiss. But most of the other moments can be changed, moved around, or removed entirely depending on your style and preferences. Think about what’s important to you, about what kind of ceremony will be most impactful to you, and plan the order to fit that vision.

Themes

Your wedding ceremony should focus on at least 3 important themes: your past, your present, and your future as a couple. When planning your ceremony with your officiant, be sure to give them insight into each of these areas of your life so they can integrate those into the overall story they will tell with their opening remarks, prayers, and/or advice. Keep your readings focused on those themes to continue that story throughout the entire ceremony. Give thanks to the people who have gotten you where you are, to the blessings you’re enjoying in the present, and be optimistic about what the future holds.

Timing

The sweet spot for a non-denominational wedding ceremony length is between 20-25 minutes. If it’s shorter than 20 minutes, you’ll likely feel rushed and your guests might leave feeling confused and disappointed. If it’s longer than 25 minutes, you run the risk of losing everyone’s attention. Try to stay within that sweet spot, and you’ll be golden.

Image by Arielle Teft Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Personalizing Each Moment

After you’ve set the foundation by figuring out the order, how to integrate your themes, and the timing, it’s time to personalize each moment of the ceremony. This includes the vows, the readings, the unity ceremony, the music, and even the grand exit. Most of these personalizations will be easier to implement in non-denominational weddings, but they can also be added to religious and cultural weddings. We’ve also provided some religion- and culture-specific tips to add some personalization the rules from your church or family are more strict.

Image by May Iosotaluno Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Vows

If you’ve followed us for a long time, you already know that we strongly believe you really should write your own vows. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and even put together a how-to guide and a list of unique tips for writing your wedding vows to make it as easy as possible! After all, the true purpose of your wedding day is to promise your lives to each other, and we think the best way to do that is in your own words.

All that being said, some churches do require couples to recite a standard set of vows to make the wedding official. And, while there’s really no way to get around that, we do have a tip for couples who want a religious ceremony but also want to write their own vows: do both! During your wedding ceremony, recite the standard vows that your church requires. During your first look — or even during your post-ceremony portrait session — read the vows you wrote to each other. If there’s anything better than writing your own vows, it’s stepping away from the rush of the wedding day to read those vows privately with the love of your life!

Looking for the perfect book to write those heartfelt words? Here are 41 wedding vow books to fill with your love!

Image by Lorenzo Accardi. See more of this real wedding here.

Readings

Aside from writing your own vows, adding readings is one of the best ways to personalize your wedding ceremony. Ask 1 or 2 family members or close friends to read passages that reflect your views on marriage or your hopes for the future. These can be totally unexpected wedding ceremony readings, such as quotes from movies or books, or they can be more traditional and classic, like one of your favorite romantic love poems. The key is to choose readings that fit the vibe of your day and the statement you two want to make about love and marriage.

Image by MemoryBox Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Unity Ceremony

The unity ceremony serves as a visual representation of the couple joining their separate lives into one, which is why it usually takes place after the couple has exchanged vows. While this is not an official requirement for a wedding ceremony, it is a beautiful, symbolic way to complete your first task together as newlyweds. Many couples opt for the traditional candle lighting (which we always love), but a lot of couples are going the more non-traditional route with unity ceremonies that range from making a PB&J sandwich to taking a shot of whiskey! If you’re looking for unique ideas, check out these 11 sweet and sentimental unity ceremonies from some of our favorite real weddings.

Image by The Ferros. See more of this real wedding here.

Music

The beauty of wedding ceremony music is that it can be as elaborate or as minimal as you want. You can also keep it super traditional or go out on a limb with whimsical, unexpected tunes. This is your opportunity to create a soundtrack for part of your life, so have fun with it! Here are a few key moments that most couples choose to highlight with music:

  • Parents and grandparents’ entrances
  • Groom’s entrance
  • Bridal party entrance
  • Bride’s entrance
  • Unity ceremony
  • Recessional (see our recommended songs here)

If music is a top priority for you and you plan to include as possible, we highly recommend you invest in live musicians. Even if ceremony music isn’t a high priority, we can’t say enough how special it is to have live music on your wedding day! Of course, if your budget doesn’t allow for it or you’re planning to use just a processional and/or recessional song, a recording is a good alternative — just be sure to find someone reliable to press play.

Image by here. See more of this real wedding here.

Exit

There’s no better way to mark the end of your ceremony and the beginning of the party than with an unforgettable exit! Flower petals, confetti, sparklers, and bubbles are all great options for your guests to literally shower you with love as you walk (or dance) down the aisle as newlyweds. Just be sure to check with your venue to see if they have any restrictions or clean-up fees!

Image by For Love & Light. See more of this real wedding here.

Religious and Cultural Considerations

If you’re planning a religious or culturally traditional wedding, you might think you have no room to personalize your ceremony. But, we’ve seen time and time again that, with a little creativity, most couples are able to find at least one way to make their ceremony their own. If, for example, you’re having a religious ceremony for which you can’t write your own vows and have to use readings from scripture, choose a totally unique and unexpected unity ceremony. If you’re following cultural traditions for your wedding, choose non-traditional music that is meaningful to your relationship. Just because you’re having a religious or traditional wedding ceremony, doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to personalize it. You might just need to get a little creative!

Image by Alineapict. See more of this real wedding here.

Design & Décor

At long last, you’ve made it to the best part of planning your wedding ceremony: the design and décor! From arches and backdrops to welcome signs to aisle markers, there are so many details that go into transforming your venue into your perfect ceremony space. Yes, there’s a lot to consider, but we’ve got this wedding décor checklist to help you nail every detail! We’ve also broken down the key elements of your ceremony décor below.

Image by Conie Suarez Bravo. See more of this real wedding here.

Arches and Backdrops

Of all the decor you can add to your ceremony, arches and backdrops just might be the most important. Not only are they beautiful stand-alone pieces, but they frame the most important aspect of your entire day: you two! We’ve seen everything from macrame to wood to wreaths to copper pipes and, we must admit, we love them all! We could go on and on about how arches and backdrops make your ceremony look complete and polished, but we’d rather show you instead. Here are round-ups of our favorite ceremony arches and backdrops to help you get inspired:

The 50 Ceremony Arches You’re Going to See at 2018 Weddings

Floral Ceremony Arches for Every Wedding Style

53 Head-Turning Wedding Ceremony Arches and Backdrops

The Best Etsy Macramé Backdrops for Your Wedding

23 Utterly Romantic Ceremony Arches for Your Big Day

See what we mean?! If you just can’t get enough, head over to our ceremony Pinterest board for even more arch and backdrop inspiration!

Image by SASs Photography. See more of this real wedding here.

Seating

When choosing seating options for your wedding ceremony, be sure to consider both form and function. If you’re trying to achieve a specific look, get inspired by these unique ceremony chairs that are as beautiful as they are practical. When planning the space, do your guests a favor and don’t try to pack the chairs as closely together as possible. Give everyone a little breathing room between each other and between the altar and the first row. Also, take into account the people sitting on the furthest sides or in the back row — will they be able to see everything? If not, use a semi-circle or full-circle design rather than a straight-row design to ensure everyone has a clear view of the altar.

Once the chairs are set, it’s time to add some pretty dimension to that aisle! We’ve got 45 beautiful wedding aisle markers to fit any style and any budget.

photo by Kayla Fisher Photography

SIGNAGE

While there is typically much less signage needed for a ceremony than for a reception, there are a few key signs you should try to include in your ceremony décor:

  • Welcome Sign — to greet your guests in style
  • Seating Sign — to let your guests know they don’t need to choose a side
  • Program Sign — if you’re not printing order-of-events programs
  • Unplugged Ceremony Sign — to politely remind your guests to put away their phones

For the full list of wedding signs to include in your big day, save this handy wedding sign checklist.

photo by Nicole Veldman Photography + Video

PROGRAMS

Wedding ceremony programs are totally optional, but they are a nice way to tell your guests what to expect and a bit about the wedding party. If you decide to print programs, they should include your names, the wedding date and location, names of your wedding party, officiant’s name, and the order of events. If you’re including traditions or readings you’d like to explain, this would be the place to do that, as well. Etsy and Minted have lots of beautiful, customizable templates to choose from, and we’ve linked some of our favorites here:

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photo by T&K Photography

LIGHTING

For most couples, their wedding ceremony will be lit by natural sunlight, either outside or through the windows of their venue. That’s why we recommend couples plan their wedding timeline around the sun. When you’re saying your vows, you’ll want to be sure that you’re properly lit, that your photos will turn out beautifully, and that neither you nor your guests aren’t blinded by the harsh sunlight.

If you’re planning an evening ceremony or your venue doesn’t provide sufficient natural light, you’ll need to ensure your venue does have other forms of lighting or you’ll need to add your own. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay! We’ve got the ultimate guide to wedding lighting to help you decide what’s right for you.

photo by Eden Strader Photography

Final Thoughts

We know that we a lot of information, but we have just a few final tips to make sure your wedding ceremony goes off without a hitch:

  • Don’t forget the rings
  • Hand-write your vows rather than read from your phone — it will look better in photos and you won’t risk feedback in the sound system
  • Get to know your officiant ahead of time — it will make you and them more comfortable, and they’ll be better prepared to personalize your ceremony
  • Hire someone to run the ceremony — even if you don’t want a wedding planner or coordinator for anything else, trust us, you’ll want someone else keeping track of all the details and the timeline
  • Stay present — at some point during the ceremony, take a minute to breathe and look out at all the people who showed up to love and support you

We’re certain you’re going to have the wedding ceremony that exceeds your wildest dreams! Now it’s time for the ultimate reward: honeymoon planning!

How to Plan Your Dream Honeymoon

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Use This Honeymoon Checklist to Help You Pack All the Essentials

 

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