Shannon and Darryl were married at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12. Their ceremony took place at the Cocoa Beach Pier.
We used the rain backup location even though the approaching storm wasn't immediately presenting any problems. Darryl and Shannon decided at the rehearsal that inside on a covered patio was just more comfortable than sandy feet in sparkly new bridal shoes. I'm inclined to agree. And they were awesome shoes!
The couple was attended by three bridesmaids, three groomsmen, a ring bearer with an escort and a flower girl with an escort. Their flower girl was their 8 month old daughter. Adorable! She was passed out cold until moments before, but awake and cheerful during the ceremony. I think it was the googly facial expressions daddy was giving both her and mommy.
Photo Attributes: Deneale's Photography
The bride and her friends made the bouquets themselves and they were gorgeous! New business opportunity for these creative ladies?
The wedding, which included a sand ceremony, went very smoothly except for one small catch. I sincerely hope no one noticed. For the first time ever, I got that weird sensation deep in your throat/chest that feels like you just swallowed a handful of sawdust. It hit right as the ceremony began. I spent the next twenty minutes struggling against a coughing fit. On the other hand, it brought tears to my eyes which is always appropriate at a wedding. I sincerely hope this never happens again.
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. ~ Oscar Wilde
Photo Attributes: A guest took the portrait of me with Karen and Christopher. I took the other two pictures.
Kristine & Sergio's Wine & Letter Box
I suspect many of those who stumble upon this blog by searching for "wedding time capsule" might be looking for information about the Wine & Letter Box ritual. It is a fun ritual I have seen done with both professional and homemade kits. One couple made a beautiful hand-crafted box with a nail for each guest to hammer, thereby including everyone present in the ceremony. While ideal for a small gathering, it would probably get a bit tedious with more than twenty guests or so.
A box, a bottle of wine, and love letters are all you need to assemble. I have seen professional kits that also include the glasses and a corkscrew. Some boxes are sealed with a key while others use hammer and nails. Non-drinkers can modify this ritual with a non-alcoholic beverage or use just the letters and perhaps a cherished item reminding them of their courtship. The beverage should be something that can hold up after a number of years of storage and the couple should take care to store the box well. Otherwise we could be looking at the Vinegar & Letter Box ritual.
The most common version is as a ritual of reconciliation.
Officiant: (Bride and Groom) have a view of marriage as realistic as it is romantic and have chosen to demonstrate the strength of their commitment and dedication within the context of their wedding ceremony. This box contains a bottle of wine and a love letter from each to the other. The letters describe the good qualities they find in one another, the reasons they fell in love, and their reasons for choosing to marry. The letters are sealed in individual envelopes and they have not seen what the other has written. (Bride and Groom), should you ever find your marriage enduring serious hardships, you are to open this box, sit and drink the wine together, then separate and read the letters you wrote to one another when you were first united as a couple. By reading these love letters you will reflect upon the reasons you fell in love and chose to marry each other this day. Our hope is, however, you will never have reason to open this box. If this is the case, you are to open this box to share and enjoy on your tenth anniversary. Please seal the box.
<Bride and Groom seal the box>
Our prayer for you today, is you shall have no cause to open it until (tenth anniversary date)!
A wedding with both the Wine & Letter box and a Sand Ceremony.
Conflict is inevitable in every marriage, no matter how stable and healthy the relationship is. But not every couple wants to think about that during their wedding ceremony. I used the alternative below for a couple who preferred the ritual reflect another view of marriage.
Officiant: (Bride and Groom's) wine and letter box serve as a beautiful reminder that the love between a husband and wife always has a past, a present and a future. At this time, I invite (Bride and Groom) to place their envelopes in the box. They have each written a letter to one another. Neither has seen what the other has written although they know they speak of their shared hopes and dreams. May they see their dreams fulfilled when next they read these words. I now ask that they seal the box.
<Bride and Groom seal the box.>
(Bride and Groom), you seal this box as two individuals. When you open this box in ten years, you will have grown both as individuals and as a couple committed to one another’s happiness and well-being as husband and wife. May the memories remind you of a beautiful past, the fun of opening the box together bring you a joyful present, and the anticipation of sharing call to mind the potential that is your future together.
Either way, this ritual is a beautiful addition to the wedding ceremony. Guests love it and the box makes a fantastic keepsake... and heirloom. How lovely it would be to see your own child begin his or her marriage with your Wine and Letter Box. Gives you goosebumps, doesn't it?
Above left: Barbara Sheridan of Luv Luv Photography
Right: Amber Ryan Photography
I receive a lot of questions regarding the cost associated with weddings. The nature of these inquires has spiked with respect to the frustrations of planning a simple affair. One bride recently responded, "Oh you have to blog this!" Which was a bit of a relief since what I told her was something she didn't really want to hear. So without further ado, let's proceed to the Q & A.
Q: I don't understand why our vendors are not willing to give us a price break since we're having a small wedding. Why do we have to pay the same as someone with twice the number of guests?
Rev. Ann Fuller: Let's break down two components of this question. First of all, the definition of small is relative. I consider a small wedding to be one that has less than about 20 guests. I have encountered oodles of couples who seem to think small means less than 100. Eighty guests comprise a hefty gap in our mutual understanding. Keep in mind that what you consider small may be a medium-sized, or even large, wedding to someone else. Here's my general guideline....but mine alone.
Next, consider the type of wedding vendor. For some of us, the amount of work involved is roughly the same no matter how many guests you invite. I have made concessions with my officiating fee for private and intimate weddings that do not require much coordination with other vendors on site and are virtually guaranteed to start on time. However, I pour the same amount of effort into the preparations for a private ceremony that I do for a massive wedding.
Smaller wedding festivities that are short in duration may enable you to save money with the vendors who charge by the hour. Since economies of scale are lost, you may end up paying more per guest than someone with a longer guest list for some things. Overall though, inviting fewer guests still remains one of the best ways to reduce wedding expenditures.
Please don't be offended when wedding vendors cannot accommodate discount requests just because you consider your wedding to be small. The size of your wedding may have little to no impact on the degree of work necessary for them to be part of bringing your dream wedding to reality. Even if it is a modest affair.
Q: We just want it short and simple, can you cut us a deal?
Rev. Ann Fuller: This question also contains vague and relative terms. What is short and simple to one person isn't necessarily so to someone else. You can indeed find wedding vendors who charge less for shorter wedding celebrations. Hiring a photographer for an hour to shoot just the ceremony and take a few portraits is less expensive than hiring one to photograph you for eight hours from getting ready to last dance.
As far as offficiating goes, most couples who tell me they want a short ceremony have in mind a fifteen minute wedding. It doesn't sound like a long time, but this is actually about the length of an average ceremony. Even many religious Rites of Marriage in a house of worship rarely exceed twenty minutes or so. Therefore, "we want a short ceremony" is virtually meaningless to an independent officiant because they are almost all "short" by this standard.
For me personally, the difference between an "average" and a "short" ceremony is perhaps a reduction of 5 - 15 minutes of my time over the minimum of at least six hours of work that go into officiating a typical wedding.
Q: I'm only planning just a small, short, and simple wedding. I'm trying to find vendors, but no one seems to be returning my emails or phone messages. Am I not worth their time or courtesy?
Rev. Ann Fuller: Contacting vendors with that sentence as your opening line could be the problem. I love small, short, simple weddings and most vendors do too. The emotional energy of these occasions is generally a little more relaxed than larger celebrations.
However, I have long since realized people who inquire about my services with "just a small, short and simple..." are uttering code for "I'm not prepared to pay you what you are worth, so get ready for me to try to beat you down in price." I do sincerely apologize if that sounds a bit crude, and I promise I never let an email or voice mail message go unanswered, but time and again this has proven to be the case. Often times, further conversation reveals the wedding in question is actually not what I would personally consider small, short, or simple.
When you make initial contact with vendors, just tell them you are planning a wedding and inquiring about their availability and services. The resulting conversation will allow both of you to arrive at a mutual understanding of your expectations and enable the vendor to provide you with a realistic quote.
A truly Small, Short, and Simple Wedding is spot on perfect for many couples, but some considerations need to be made. While they are less expensive as a general rule, they can take the same amount of planning (i.e. stress!) as the average wedding. Particularly if you are maintaining all of the common traditions, just inviting fewer people.
As for cutting deals because you have a 3S Wedding, think of it this way: You are paying the same for your dress whether twenty people or two hundred get to see you in it. By contrast, you're going to pay a lot less for twenty dinners than you would for two hundred. Your other vendors operate under the same conditions, it just may not be as readily apparent. By all means inquire if your prospective vendors have price breaks depending upon the scope of your festivities. But please do not be frustrated or disappointed if they do not, keeping in mind their overall effort may not be dependent upon the number of people in attendance.
Photo Attribute: Shannon Perez of Florida Beachside Weddings
Memorial table photographed by Jana Martin
There are many lovely ways to honor absent loved ones in the context of a wedding ceremony. One of the simplest may be an absentee statement during the Words of Welcome. This particular approach can seamlessly include loved ones who are not in attendance because they cannot travel, are unable to take time off from work, are too ill or have passed away.
"At joyous occasions such as this, it is right and fitting to honor those who have been important in (bride) and (groom's) lives, but are unable to be here this day. We hold their absent loved ones, especially (names), fondly in our hearts at this hour of commitment."
I do offer two pieces of advice for couples who feel an absentee statement would be appropriate in their ceremony:
1. Sometimes losses and absences are so raw they can introduce unwelcome emotions in the midst of the normal emotional upheaval already associated with weddings. The mention of a particular name can potentially result in wracking sobs rather than engender a poignant smile.
2. The absentee statement works best when including just a few people by name. Listing more than about four or five names can get a bit tedious and bogs down the gracious eloquence of the absentee statement.
I recommend couples in the above situations simply omit the clause with individuals' names from the statement or explore other ways of honoring their loved ones.
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.