Time for another round of (relatively) short answer questions. I bet you can guess which question I get asked all the time.
Q. I want to include both the unity candle and a bell of truce in my wedding. Is that possible or do I have to pick one or the other?
A. You can certainly include both! The unity candle is a ritual symbolizing the coming together of two individuals in a partnership. The bell of truce is a reconciliation ritual providing the couple with a repair attempt they can use later in their marriage when they experience conflict. These two rituals work quite well together within a wedding because they convey quite different meanings.
Q: What are some of the easiest ways to save money when planning a wedding?
A: I am not a wedding planner so this is not my area of expertise. Oddly enough, hiring a budget conscious wedding planner can actually help you save money. They can help you prioritize the must-have, want-to-have, and can-do-without. Here are a few tried and true cost-saving measures though.
1) Make a budget and record every dime you spend to make sure you don't blow it.
2) Schedule your wedding during an off peak season, day and time.
3) Cut your guest list.
Q: My fiance and I are not drinkers and would prefer a dry wedding. He's an EMT and has seen too many bad examples of what alcohol can do. We're getting a lot of pressure from friends and family. Are we obligated to serve alcohol at our wedding?
A: Absolutely not! The bride and groom should be able to choose the refreshments served at their own wedding.
Alcohol has come to be associated with celebrations, almost expected in many cases, but it is by no means a requirement. You are no less gracious as hosts for having a dry wedding. Your friends and family should care enough to celebrate with you on your special day and not worry about whether or not they are going to get to drink alcohol at the same time. They are wrong to pressure you into doing something that goes against your values and convictions.
Q. My dad wants to say a few words during the ceremony, but I think that would be more appropriate at the reception. What do you think?
A. Tricky one! I think it all depends upon what your father wishes to contribute to your wedding. If he would like to say a prayer, offer a blessing, read a poem or something he has prepared in writing, it can be a very lovely touch. I do try to steer people away from including extemporaneous speaking during a wedding for a few reasons.
1) Even the most accomplished speakers can ramble when overcome with emotion. I have seen it lead to awkward moments and disturb the rhythm of the wedding as a ritual.
2) If you and your officiant have created a thematic flow to your ceremony, an extemporaneous speaker can interrupt that by including concepts you may not wish to emphasize at that moment.
3) You hit on a very good point. I have seen many speakers during weddings express sentiments that seem more appropriate as a toast.
This is going to be a delicate negotiation because of the father daughter relationship. You don't want to hurt his feelings, but you also want him to understand what would make you the happiest on your wedding day. I would suggest you follow your instincts. Make sure he knows his contributions are truly welcome, but that you would prefer he take center stage at another moment during the festivities.
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings
Elizabeth Anne Designs
If you are wondering what the hottest trend is with respect to wedding rituals in the English speaking world, look no further than the Wedding Time Capsule. This is extremely popular in the United Kingdom and Australia and spreading rapidly in Canada and the United States.
The time capsule is not just for saving cherished keepsakes from the wedding day anymore. Couples are creating new and fun rituals for filling and sealing time capsules during their ceremony!
In my opinion, the ritual really should be personalized for each and every couple. It lends itself well to capturing who the couple are, their regard for one another and their hopes and dreams for their marriage. I included examples of a time capsule ritual in each of these two previous blog posts linked below. But it is so delightfully flexible, I would hate to convey the impression the examples are standard or even representative. I am always happy to help colleagues or couples write a unique time capsule ritual, you need only ask.
Wedding Time Capsule: Part I Wedding Time Capsule: Part II
I wish I had made a time capsule when I was married. Not just as a ritual in the ceremony, but as an organized collection of mementos from my wedding. The odds and ends from my wedding day are long since scattered. Many of the things I would love to show my children and wish I had kept most likely do not exist anymore!
What are some of the things you can include in a time capsule? Well, anything really. Some of the more obvious items to include might be:
Invitation Fabric Swatches Dried Flowers Photographs Wedding Favors Letters to the Future
Depending upon the size of your capsule, you can include such things as a description of the proposal, newspapers and magazines from the day, week and month of the wedding, a printed copy of your wedding ceremony, keepsake marriage certificate, cork and/or label from a champagne bottle, text transcriptions of the toasts at the reception and/or a list of who spoke, dining place cards and/or seating chart, pen and guest book, and predictions from friends and family. Consider saving crystals or sequins from your headpiece, gown, shoes or bouquet. The garter and bride's handkerchief are fairly standard time capsule fare. Toss in the guest list, honeymoon itinerary. copy of the menu, and cards from the shower and wedding. I know one bride who kept all her receipts and vendor contracts so she can show her own children how much mom and dad's wedding cost "back in the olden days."
If you ask other people to participate in a wedding ceremony time capsule ritual, consider having them pick out something on their own that will be a complete surprise to you when you open the time capsule in 5, 10, 20 years.
Many wedding mementos are not available until after the reception, or even the honeymoon. Such items obviously cannot be included in a time capsule assembled ritually within the ceremony, but they can certainly be added later.
As you plan your wedding, make a running list of potential time capsule items as they occur to you. Set aside any samples or extras you think might have a place in your time capsule. You can look at it with a more critical eye the week before the wedding if you are including the ritual within your ceremony. Consult your list one last time when you feel you are ready to place the final seal on the capsule.
There is no right or wrong way to assemble a time capsule. These are your wedding memories and only you can decide what you find meaningful and worth keeping. Whether you include it as a ritual in the ceremony or seal it months after the wedding, have fun! You won't regret the effort.
I cannot wait to see some of the professional photographs from Jana Martin Photography. Unfortunately, the amateur shot with my camera does not capture the spectacular backdrop for Tod and Megan's wedding. The tree behind us is a beautiful old oak just dripping with spanish moss. I am sure Jana managed to capture some breath taking photographs.
Megan and Tod were married in a private ceremony at the fifth hole of the Viera East golf course near sunset on Saturday, September 22. Megan had noticed the location when playing the course and always thought it would be the perfect setting for a wedding ceremony. She was absolutely right!
Tod and Megan decided on a private ceremony with just their officiant and the photographer. It was a lovely intimate affair in a gorgeous location with beautiful lighting thanks to the setting sun.
We must have been quite the sight with our caravan of golf carts heading out to the hole. This was my first time ever driving a golf cart if you can believe it. What fun! The gentleman from the club who guided us out to the ceremony spot took me on a scenic tour when he escorted me back to the clubhouse in his lead cart. I can see the appeal of golf - well, the appeal of the course anyway.
Congratulations Tod and Megan! Wishing you many more rounds in your life together as husband and wife.
As soon as I heard the opening notes of the processional music I suspected the bride and groom were behind it. Sure enough, these brilliant musicians arranged, performed and recorded their own wedding music. Scott plays the trumpet and Tina the flute with the Brevard Symphony Orchestra.
Scott and Tina chose to be married in their gorgeous backyard on Saturday, September 22. We began a few minutes early as the potential for rain loomed on the horizon, but the weather held and the setting was simply perfect.
Not only did they provide the music for their ceremony, Tina and Scott also treated their guests to a reading of “Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms” by Thomas Moore as their recording of the traditional music played in the background. Very few couples are able to speak during their ceremony beyond the exchange of vows and rings simply because of the emotional environment and general anxiety of the day. I was very impressed by Tina and Scott's reading. It was just lovely!
Not only are they members of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, but both Tina and Scott invest in making certain future generations of musicians receive quality training. As I too believe the arts are a vital part of a meaningful life, I cannot resist including links to their websites. Check them out!
The Horn Section Tina Burr
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms
Which I gaze on so fondly today
Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms
Like fairy gifts fading away.
Thou wouldst still be adored as this moment thou art
Desiree and Stewart with Susan at the Suntree Country Club
Florida is one of three states that permit notaries public to solemnize marriages. As my twin sister, Susan Eaton, is both a notary and a superb officiant, I can pretty much be in two places at once - well, okay, sort of.
Like me, Susan is not remotely intimidated about speaking in public and also recognizes the role of an officiant is often a bit more than just functioning as a public speaker. She too wants to provide the couple with as stress-free and enjoyable an experience as possible.
If I have a schedule conflict, or the couple simply prefers a secular (non-clergy) officiant, Susan is a great choice. I work with the couple in the days, weeks and months leading up to the wedding to craft the ceremony. Then Susan takes over as the officiant and legal agent of the state the day of the wedding. I have lost count of the number of weddings she has officiated, but more than enough to firmly place her in the thoroughly experienced and consummate professional category.
Having a back up for your officiant is an important consideration when planning your wedding. I have another minister I can call upon in the case of an emergency, and of course Susan if the couple is comfortable with a notary. While I have only had to make such arrangements twice in six years, Susan has never hesitated about coming to the rescue. She's a gem!
Photo Attribute: Simply Different Photography
Cole and Lacey of Iowa hired Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings to arrange for them a lovely family-oriented destination wedding at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach on September 20. Their wedding began promptly, which was a very good thing as storm clouds and a wee bit of lightning was gathering in the distance on the western horizon. Peals of thunder punctuated a few of my sentences throughout the ceremony.
The minute the bride appeared on the boardwalk, half of the guests burst into tears. You can count the groom among the tearful. A groom with damp eyes is nothing new, grooms tear up all the time. But it is a special treat to see one so overcome with emotion. This is when I have to struggle the most to maintain my composure. Maybe it is being the mother of three boys, but I have to fight the urge to reach out and hug highly emotional grooms. It is so beautiful it makes my heart swell.
The weather held and we did not feel so much as a single rain drop. There was water up there somewhere, because towards the end of the wedding a gorgeous rainbow appeared over the ocean. Behind my back, but I got to see it when I turned around after the ceremony. I am sure Shannon was able to capture it. What a lovely symbol to appear at a wedding.
I will definitely be sharing those photos on my Facebook page when Shannon has the preview up on her Facebook page.
What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life-
to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to
each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.
~ George Eliot
Jennifer and David found me through Victoria, their wedding planner from A wedding to Remember. I'd had a little mishap in Philadelphia earlier in the week which left me a bit stiff and sore, so I was a tad concerned about my ability to get through the evening if anything significantly delayed the ceremony. But with Victoria on hand, I knew everything was going to go smoothly and it did.
The Vero Beach Hotel and Spa is just gorgeous - perfect for a couple that loves the casual lifestyle of Florida, but appreciates the elegant touch as well.
Jennifer and David chose a short, but sweet ceremony that included self-written vows. I offered my microphone so the guests could hear what they had to say to one another, but they preferred their vows to be more private. Between the sound of the waves behind me and the questioning looks on their guests face, it lead me to quip, "I don't know what he just said either, but it made her cry."
As you can see from the picture and guess from my past commentary, the bride wore a dress I absolutely adore. They had a guitarist for their processional and recessional music who was not only great, I thought his look was awesome for the occasion.
Jennifer and David just radiated sheer joy. I love that!
If their flawless wedding wasn't enough, as I was walking back down the aisle two guests leaned over to get my attention. It was a couple who had taken my marriage education class and whose wedding I had officiated two and a half years ago. Which is astounding because I would swear it was just last year. Wow! Let that be a lesson Jennifer and David, time is going to fly by. Enjoy every minute of it.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.