Co-ordinators and ministers can be helpful, but the only ones who can fully translate your love and joy is you. Annie Wilkinso gives insight on how to make your wedding your own.
There are few life changing moments, if any, that are more important than the day you marry. Standing before family and friends, you declare your love and commitment to each other, as you promise to go forth as husband and wife.
As an occasion of such great celebration and significance, it is a shame to leave the planning of your nuptial service to someone else. A wedding co-ordinator or minister can be helpful in making the most of your ceremony but they cannot possibly translate your love and joy fully - only you can do this.
"But how?", you may ask. Quite simply, in fact - it starts with both of you agreeing to participate equally. You expect life after the wedding to be a partnership, right? Well then, why should one of you spend more time and energy in preparing the occasion which brings you together? If need be, break up the tasks: one of you research music and printing ideas, for example, while the other looks after readings and prayers. Schedule meeting times to exchange information and make decisions.
Find someone special to solemnise your union. Most Irish couples marry in the parish of the bride's family and one of the local ministers officiates but this general rule doesn't necessarily have to apply. If your appointed minister is uninterested or scornful of your ideas or involvement, keep looking until you meet someone who shares your excitement and enjoys your enthusiasm for shaping your ceremony. If you know someone who you'd like to have perform the service, find out if they are available, then make arrangements with the parish where the wedding will take place to bring in someone from outside the area.
Don't slavishly follow tradition. Your wedding is a celebration of the love you share and as such it should reflect your individual spirit, family traditions, and heartfelt feelings. If, as the bride, you wish to have both your parents walk you down the aisle, then by all means do so. If one of you is from another country, incorporate elements from your heritage or consider using your native language, if different. Ask your celebrant if you may write your own vows. Be creative.
Choose readings which mean something to you. Don't limit yourself to passages specifically about love and marriage ~ try joy, faith, family and life. In addition to scripture verse, consider poetry, lyrics from a song, or an appropriate story. Ask your clergy for his or her ideas. Look at different translations of the Bible until you discover a version you particularly like.
Write your own Bidding Prayers. Typically they are made for the benefit of the newly married couple, their parents and friends, and for the world at large but there's no reason why you can't shake it up a bit. If a guest at your wedding has recently given birth, then this is the perfect place to wish a life of happiness and good tidings on the baby. Similarly if a loved one has passed away, remember them during this part of the service as a way of bringing their memory to the day.
Invite family and friends to participate. There are a number of jobs which need doing, including: flower arranging; acting as bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, altar servers, readers or ministers of the Eucharist; reading Bidding Prayers or the wedding Readings; playing an instrument or singing; even acting as witnesses (traditionally the job of the chief bridesmaid and best man, but not necessarily so).
Last, but certainly not least, use music to convey your feelings. If you absolutely love gospel music, hire a group to sing at your wedding. If you're planning a traditional white wedding with all the trimmings, then an organist or string quartet are your best bet. If you plan to surround yourself with only forty of your nearest and dearest, consider a harpist or two electric guitarists - the ambience will be mellow and light.
Other Pointers for Making it Personal
- If you haven't been to church in a while, start going: there's nothing more embarrassing for guests than a bride and groom who don't know what to do and when.
- Make time for the two of you to organise a booklet for the ceremony. Include poems or sayings which are important to you both but that won't necessarily be read aloud during the ceremony.
- Curtail the work of an over zealous photographer or videographer. Don't let their busy work detract from the joy of your ceremony or be distracting to the celebrant and guests. After all, this is a wedding, not a movie production.