Creating a Memorable On-site Ceremony

You've chosen to have your wedding ceremony held just before your reception, at the same venue. Congratulations! More couples every year are foregoing the traditional church wedding and choosing a simple secular ceremony.

It makes sense for many reasons. Your guests will already be in attendance, which saves them driving time from the church. Scheduling is always easier; trying to coordinate the church and reception schedules could be a nightmare (church ceremony at 2:00, reception at 6:00... what will your loved ones do for three hours in between?). You'll even save money, as you only have to hire a limousine for the trip from home to the venue, and the flowers will be waiting for you!

The ceremony is most important, and should always be treated as the main event; you're getting married, and celebrating that union! With a little effort, the onsite ceremony can be just as memorable as the reception.

1. Don't Rush it! Remember how important the moment is; you're not paying by the minute, so take your time and plan a beautiful ceremony. Everything you include will be memorable - readings, traditional events, music, and even the scent of certain flowers will help create the atmosphere. Too many brides tell us that the ceremony will only last a minute, then the party can start. But remember - you'll always have time to party later! Give the reason behind the party some attention.

2. Find a good Justice of the Peace who will sit with you and share her/his experience. She/he's been there, and will be indispensable when lending you advice and ideas. It's his/her responsibility to write and create a truly personalized wedding for you. Hire a caring officiant with a great personality who will get to know you both, and who will share those insights with your loved ones during the ceremony.

3. Music - imagine a ceremony without music! The music choices will always personalize your wedding and create a wonderful atmosphere for your guests. If you're a traditional gal or guy, it's always very romantic to include Pachelbel's Canon when mom and the Bridal Party are entering, then Wagner's perennial Entrance Music, and Mendelsshon's rousing fanfare as you walk out.

However, some brides choose to play music that holds personal meaning (some of last year's wedding recessionals included Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" and Izzy's "Over the Rainbow"). The more creative you are with any aspect of the wedding, the more memorable it will be! Can you imagine steel drums for a beach wedding, or Asian drums pounding away before the processional? The most fun recessional song we played by far last year was the Star Wars theme (the bride, groom and guests were all avid Star Wars aficionados)! Be creative!

Also, don't forget to choose the proper genre of mood music for seating your guests. I prefer to play Mozart and Bach, but again, popular music works well to set a mood, and make it your wedding. And to really allow your guests to participate, you might print the lyrics to the main songs in the programs so they can follow along.

Though only an overview, these points should demonstrate that your onsite ceremony is important, and can be made beautiful with just a bit of attention. Make it a grand event on a smaller scale, and your guests will remember you for it.