Writing Your Own Wedding Ceremony & Traditions to Consider

So after doing way too much research on the topic (like I said before, I likely won’t even be engaged until about this time next year) I found some general guidelines for writing your own wedding ceremony.

I probably should backtrack first. I don’t really have a lot of interest in having my wedding in a church. I’ve never been closely affiliated with a church and neither has Theo. There’s no “getting married in the church my parents got married in” since it is a Catholic church and my parents broke their “promise” to bring their children up Catholic.  The church that my Dad and my new stepmom Dorothy got married in is not my personal style and and we didn’t have my sister or Mom’s funerals in a church (another post about losing close loved ones and grief another day). So overall, I feel no need to have a wedding in a church. Neither does Theo. So that’s settled.

I have thought about getting married in a garden for some time. Theo didn’t mind this idea but suggested the addition of a lighthouse. (Maybe, it’s possible?) I love gardens and since we are shooting for nuptials in late spring/summer that seems ideal. Plus its practical–which I very much am. Why pay for the flowers/lighting/decorative stuff to “transform” a space when you can get one that’s already beautiful? The trouble is just finding the right place with the right amount of space for the people you’re pretty sure you “have to” invite to your wedding (again, another post I promise!).


So non-traditional location could still mean a traditional ceremony you say? That’s true, but again, not my cup of tea; I’ve always been one to exert my own style and ideas even if they weren’t necessarily “popular”. When we’ve been dating as long as we have I’ve had lots of time to mentally prepare details of our wedding. We’re only getting married once and they say it’s your day, so I want it to feel like our thoughts were put into every part of it, starting with the ceremony.

Anyways, I found this super-helpful blog post:


This post gives a really good outline of what can (and should, to some degree) be included in a wedding ceremony. It got me thinking about a lot of things. I definitely want to tell our love story and how we’ve been there with each other through everything (him going to Florida for college, me going to Northwest Ohio. My mom getting cancer and inevitably losing her battle. Many holidays and birthdays, many wishes at 11:11 and his puppy Teddy among many other things). 6 Years is a long time and a lot has happened in our lives during that time so it should be a great story to tell!

Theres also a lot of options for unity ceremonies: some of the fun ones are:
(Uber traditional)

1. Unity candle
2. Sand ceremony/ Dirt ceremony (becoming the popular alternative to the unity candle)
3. Water ceremony (I’ve also heard of this done more chemistry style where it’s not water but two chemicals that make a colored/glowing liquid)
4. Science Fair style volcano (similar concept)
5. (Dutch tradition) sealed wine box with love notes (sealed wooden wine box with bottle and glasses and a love note from you each–to be used on the 25th wedding anniversary or sooner if you hit a rocky point)
6. Tree planting together
7. Blanket sharing/shoulder draping (very cute when the blanket is sewn from scraps provided by the guests)
8. God’s Knot (3 braided cords one for you, one for your love and one for God)
9. Hand tying (where the term “tying the knot” came from!)
(See more options and details here: http://proudtoplan.blogspot.com/2011/05/ceremonies-within-your-ceremony.html)
There are tons more especially related to religions and cultural backgrounds that I don’t fully understand, but feel free to adapt those things and make them work for you!

There are lots of other traditions you can add in, one I like the sound of is the “Ring Warming”. You pass the rings to family/friends/wedding party/entire group of guests as you so choose and they can hold the ring and say a prayer for your marriage. I think to keep it short and sweet we might pass to my parents and Grandparents and his Mom, favorite Aunt and Grandma. Something like that.
rings pre warmingring warming

I also have an obsession with Corinthians 1:13. This is a reading typically done at weddings since it does relate to the idea of the love without being super church-y. I’m very much in love with the King James Version though because it just sounds so pretty, in the more recent versions “charity” has been replaced with “love” and this is what I intend to do.

My friend (and sorority sister) is also obsessed with this excerpt and is one of those people who is friends with everybody. Therefore she’s probably going to be a bridesmaid in somewhere close to 10 weddings since she would not dare turn down that opportunity. Since I want to keep my bridal party small but find it important to include her, I think Theo and I are going to ask her to be our officiant, we would cover the costs of getting ordained online and then she could add that skill to her resume! Ha! I really think she would be psyched and she’s not shy so it would be fun. Plus, it will just make everything more interesting photographically since she’s shorter than I am (and I’m 5’0″) and not sure if I mentioned this before….but Theo is 6’4″. Maybe we’ll get her a ceremonial stool or something hahaha. It will be great, I hope she says yes! I asked Theo if we could ask her a long time ago and it just feels like one of those things that feels really right. If nothing else I totally want her to be the one to read Corinthians. Sentimental story over.

For those you designing your own ceremonies a great place for a reading (often something about love) is after the introduction of the couple/love story (replacing a sermon) and before the formal vows and ring vows.

Being my overachieving self, I didn’t stop there. I’ve also looked into the various types of music you’ll need/want for the ceremony. Here’s a breakdown and some of my personal thoughts on what I might use:

Pre-ceremony music (1-1.5hours worth) Soft music to play while your guests are seated– I’ll probably stick with VSQ (Vitamin String Quartet) or perhaps a real string quartet of talented college students in the local music program!

Processional (1-2 songs depending upon the length of your aisle and how many attendants you have) This is the song(s) your partner-to-be will enter to as well as all attendants/bridesmaids/groomsmen/ring bearer/flowergirls

In my opinion VSQ versions are always classic, check out their version of “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. 

(Bridal Processional) You want a different song for yourself. Since its traditional for everyone to stand for the bride this helps notify the change towards that gesture. Also its your day so do your thing! (This where the traditional “Here Comes the Bride” would go.)

I’m in love with VSQ’s version of “Stolen” by Dashboard Confessional. I’ve always been a huge Dashboard fan and so is Theo and the lyrics (even though they wont be heard) are so appropriate. It has a lovely melody too so anyone not familiar with the song will just find it pretty—which is pretty much why I love VSQ music anyways.

Then comes the wedding. You don’t need music in that unless its something that you want (think: sing along like Becky and Jesse in Full House?  or maybe friends or family who would/should rather sing than do a reading?)

Again, do your thing, it’s your day.

Recessional: (1-2 songs again depending on your aisle and your attendants. This tends to move more quickly than everyone walking in and the music tends to be faster in tempo.) You’ve said I do and kissed and its official. You take your first walk down the aisle as partners and typically this song is a little more fun/spunky/joyous since the next portion begins the celebration part of the traditional wedding.

My Dad and Stepmom did Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah for theirs and it was really sweet.


From there now you’re off to photos and your guests are off to cocktail hour and then dinner and possibly dancing to celebrate that you and yours are now a singular family unit. Congratulations and on to the Reception!