These days, it seems as though many couples hurry through their wedding ceremonies and the reading of their vows in order to get the reception started faster or as a convenience for their guests. The truth is, the ceremony should be the most important part of your entire wedding day. When the party is over and all of your guests have left, it’s great to have fun memories from the reception to talk about, but what truly matters is the words spoken and the promises made. If you put time and effort into creating a ceremony that is meaningful, your guests won’t be looking at their watches, they will be more attentive and engaged.
When my husband and I were married, we put more focus on and more thought into our wedding ceremony than any other part of our big day. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful reception, but what we cherish the most is the intimate ceremony we shared to start our life together. Every element of our ceremony had special meaning for us – every song that was played, every word that was spoken, every promise that was made, every reading that was shared. We hand-selected every piece of music, we wrote our entire ceremony by incorporating traditional elements as well as our own unique messages, and we wrote our own vows. We didn’t want to speak the same words that many other couples have spoken, we wanted to use our own words. My advice to couples who are looking to personalize their wedding ceremonies is to combine both old traditions and your own personal touches to create a ceremony that is perfect for you. Here are some tips on how you can personalize every element of your wedding ceremony as well as some inspiration from our recent wedding.
How to Incorporate Music Into Your Wedding
Music is an easy way to add a personal touch to your wedding ceremony. Consider using some of the favorite songs you share as a couple to walk down the aisle to. We had a pianist play songs that had special meaning to us.
For the prelude, we chose Closer to Love by Mat Kearney, one of our favorite artists. This song represented our own journey towards love. For the processional, we selected the traditional Canon in D by Pachelbel. For the bride’s entrance, we chose a song that was very special to us: A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. This was played as a piano and flute duet. My hubby and I heard this song performed as part of a show in Las Vegas. Later that night we exchanged those three little words for the very first time. For the recessional, we walked out hand-in-hand with my two little children to Best Day of My Life by American Authors. Our first dance song was My My Love by Joshua Radin. This was also the song we used as the soundtrack for our wedding video. We heard this song for the very first time at a Joshua Radin concert. My hubby and I found each other a little later in life and this song told that story perfectly. Here’s a copy of our wedding video.
How to Personalize Your Ceremony Script
Work with your pastor or officiant to customize and personalize your ceremony from start to finish. Search the internet and find examples of ceremony scripts you like, piece sections together and add your own elements until you have a ceremony script that really speaks to you and your future spouse. If there are certain traditions that you want to incorporate, by all means, include them. If there are other traditions you want to do without, such as the unity candle, consider skipping them or coming up with your own unique unity ceremony in lieu of the traditional unity candle. When writing our own ceremony we found it extremely helpful to look at examples of other couples’ ceremonies online so here is a copy of our ceremony script. Hopefully it give you some inspiration for your wedding!
Example of Ceremony Script
Good evening family, friends, loved ones, and guests. On behalf of Jessi and Chris, I’d like to thank you all for being here.
Today is a celebration. It’s a celebration of love, commitment, friendship, family, and these two people standing before me. I’d like to start off by sharing a quote with you about love that has a special meaning for Jessi and Chris.
The quote states that, “Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you.”
So what does this mean, exactly? Simply put, the quote implies that you can’t go out looking for love, it has to come to you. Some would say that the most successful relationships are ones that have happened by chance when least expected. Maybe “love” will find you while attending college. Or maybe “love” will find you a little bit later in life. Or perhaps, “love” will find you while you’re at the Carlson Real Estate broker broomball tournament on a cold February day in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
This was the case for Jessi and Chris. Although they had crossed paths numerous times over the years it was different this time. The timing was right. And all of the choices and decisions they had made throughout their entire lives led them to one another on that February day. And they are here today because they are making a choice. They are choosing to join together in marriage and spend their lives together.
Jessi and Chris have invited all of you here today to share this special moment and to celebrate their love. Because, despite all of our differences, love is something that binds us all together. It’s the great unifier — our one universal truth. No matter who we are, where we’ve come from, or what we believe, we all know this one thing called love. We have all loved in our lifetimes, and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love and be loved, is one of the very best parts of our humanity.
All of us here today have our own love stories. Some are short, others long. Some are yet unwritten, while others are just getting to the good part. And that brings us all here. It’s a time to pause, to look back, and to smile at all the moments that brought us here. It’s also a time to look ahead at all of the moments that are yet to come.
I’m here — we’re all here — because we want those moments for Jessi and Chris. We’re here to encourage them, support them, and to remind them that love isn’t happily ever after, love is the experience of writing your own story. It’s not one moment. It’s every moment. Big ones like saying I love you, moving in together, getting engaged, and getting married — but mostly a million little ones that come in between these big moments. Making dinner together, running races together, quarreling about the radio station when you carpool together, having pizza and movie nights with Kennedy and Cade…. These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience. And even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try and explain it. That’s just the way it is with love — it’s meant to be experienced, not defined.
But trying to describe love is one of our favorite pastimes. We use words to write stories, poems, and songs about love. And even though we describe love in different ways — and even though love can look different from one person to the next — we all know it when we see it. And we see it here before us.
So today, we have some words about love and marriage from Chris’ sister Casee and niece Danica.
What is Love?
What love is depends on where you are in relation to it. When you are secure in it, it can feel as mundane and necessary as air – you exist within it, almost unnoticing. When you are deprived of it, it can feel like an obsession; all consuming, a physical pain. Love is the driver for all great stories: not just romantic love, but the love of parent for child, for family, for friends. Many say love is more easily experienced than defined. It seems remote until we encounter it, immersed, so to speak, in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice. The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than anything else on this earth. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot conquer; love is life’s greatest blessing.
When I wake up in the morning
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And something without warning
Bears heavy on my mind
Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way
Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
Declarations of Love
In addition to the spoken words they will soon share with one another, Jessi and Chris have also chosen to commemorate this special day by documenting their love in the form of the written word. This box in front of me contains a letter from each to the other and a bottle of their favorite wine. The letters describe their thoughts and feelings as they begin this new chapter in their lives. The romantic sentiments include their declarations of love, the good qualities they find in one another, the reasons they fell in love with one another, and their reasons for choosing to marry. The letters are sealed in individual envelopes and they have not seen what the other has written. After the ceremony they will also place inside, a copy of their wedding vows. They plan to display the box in their home as a constant reminder of their love and commitment to one other and plan to open the box on their 5th wedding anniversary. Jessi and Chris, If there comes a time that you are not seeing eye-to-eye, let this box remind you of all the reasons you chose each other and all the things that helped shape the life you have created together.
There is only one other reason the box should be opened before your 5th wedding anniversary. If there ever comes a time when you find your marriage enduring insurmountable hardship, open the box together, sit and share the wine, then read the letters you wrote and the promises you made when you were united in marriage. By reading your declarations of love and the vows you made, you will be reminded of the many reasons you fell in love and chose to marry one another here today.
Statement of Intent
And now, before your children, families and friends, I will ask you to confirm that it is your intent to marry here today. Please face each other and join hands.
Jessi and Chris, you’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises. You’re vowing to always be there. Through the good times and the bad times. Through sickness and in health. In times of prosperity and decline. Through all of the challenges that life may bring. You’re promising to honor your love and commitment to one another.
Do you, Jessi, accept Chris as your partner in life? Do you promise to laugh with him, seek adventure with him, support him through life’s toughest moments, grow old with him, and find new reasons to love him every day?
Jessi: I do.
Do you, Chris, accept Jessi as your partner in life? Do you promise to laugh with her, seek adventure with her, support her through life’s toughest moments, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?
Chris: I do.
Do you, Jessi and Chris, agree to always be on the same team? Do you promise to challenge one another, bring out the best in one another, and love each other unconditionally — for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?
Jessi and Chris: We do.
Jessi and Chris have chosen to write their own vows. Jessi, please share with us, the vows you have written for Chris.
Jessi: Read vows
Dawn: Chris, please share with us, the vows you have written for Jessi.
Chris: Read vows
You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of the vows and promises you have made here today. Jessi, as you place this ring on Chris’ finger, please repeat after me: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
Jessi: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
Chris, as you place the ring on Jessi’s finger, please repeat after me: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
Chris: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But we all know that these rings did have a beginning. Precious metals were dug up from the earth, liquefied, then molded, cooled, and thoroughly polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements.
Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, and through a combination of serendipity and effort, imperfect beings shape it into something extraordinary. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. As you look at these rings over the years, I hope you remember that you’ve created something invaluable. And just as I know you’ll honor and protect these rings, I’m confident that you’ll honor and protect the commitments and promises you’ve made here today.
Throughout this ceremony, Jessi and Chris have vowed, in our presence, to be loyal, loving, and committed to one another. They have formalized the presence of the bond that exists between them with words spoken and with the giving and receiving of rings. Therefore, by the authority vested in me by the state of Minnesota, it is my pleasure to now pronounce them husband and wife.
In lieu of the typical celebratory kiss, Jessi and Chris have decided to include Kennedy and Cade by inviting them up for their traditional family group hug. Kennedy and Cade, please join your Mom and Chris.
Ladies and Gentlemen, family and friends, it is an honor to present to you, the new Mr. and Mrs., and family!
How to Write Your Own Wedding Vows
Some couples choose to read traditional vows while others choose to write their own. My husband and I really wanted to write our own vows even though it meant stepping outside of our comfort zones a bit due to the fact that we would be reciting them in front of 140 guests! We were both a little nervous but when the time came, it seemed as though we were the only two people in the room. We laughed. We cried. It was truly magical and I highly recommend writing your own vows if you have the opportunity. I promise you won’t regret it. My hubby and I wanted our vows to have the same kind of format so I wrote my vows first and then provided him a simple outline to follow so they would be similar. Again, it was super helpful to read examples of vows others had written so I wanted to share our wedding vows with you. Hopefully this gives you a little inspiration when writing your own.
Examples of Wedding Vows
Chris. When we met, you renewed my inner spirit and gave my heart hope. You accepted me and my children, my past experiences, my flaws and my weaknesses, all of my pieces. You reaffirmed my capacity to love, and be loved, and gave my heart a place to call home.
So today, before Kennedy and Cade, our families and our friends, I pledge my love and commitment to you. I promise to honor you, respect you, remain faithful to you, be truthful with you, and give forgiveness where forgiveness is due.
I promise to always be your biggest cheerleader and your greatest fan. I will continuously challenge you to be the best version of yourself, but I will never try to change who you are.
With that being said. There are times when family priorities will take precedence over “fun.” But I will always encourage you to participate in all of the pastimes you love and enjoy. Such as… hockey, broomball, baseball, softball, volleyball, billiards, tennis, golf, fantasy football, hanging out with the guys, and watching football on Sundays. Did I miss anything?
Today, tomorrow, and forever, I am committed to being your best friend, your partner in life, your lover, and your devoted wife. From this day forward, I will be your designated co-pilot and together we will navigate this journey called life, and whatever may come next. And last of all, I promise to always be on the same team. So despite my competitive nature, I promise to never keep score. Even when it’s obvious, that I am totally winning.
My Hubby’s Vows
Jessi. It seems like only yesterday that we met for the first time by those beautiful mounded broomball rinks you made. We talked that day, amongst our colleagues, as if we knew each other for years. So easy and so heartfelt. Honestly, I knew deep down that something special had just happened.
And now a few years later, we talk as if it was the first day we met. With excitement and passion, hanging on every word, even when you don’t think I am listening. I believe this is the ultimate sign of something special, turned something forever and great.
So today, before Kennedy and Cade, our families and our friends, I pledge my love and commitment to you. I promise to be there for you whenever you need me. I promise to stay faithful and true to you, through the good times and the bad times, no matter what challenges life brings our way. And I promise, whenever it is humanly possible, to keep my #Kubing to a minimum.
I will always tell you the truth, even when it is hard to say. I will always be your furnace, when you need to be warmed. You will always get my full attention, even during hockey playoffs.
And I also extend my promises to the two other bonuses that fill my heart with joy. Kennedy and Cade, I will always be your “Dad Bonus.” I will always be there for you.
From this day forward, I will be, and will continue to be, the man you have grown to know, and to love. Your best friend and your number one supporter. And forever your husband.