Have you Pinterest-ed every detail of your wedding reception, but feel totally lost when it comes to planning your wedding ceremony? If so, this checklist will cover everything you need to consider.
1. THE LEGAL STUFF
First and foremost, the absolute most important part of your wedding ceremony is making sure that you obtain a Marriage License — after all, signing this document during your ceremony is crucial to ensuring that your marriage is legal in the Province of Ontario (Canada). You can obtain your Ontario Marriage License at an appropriate city hall, town hall, or municipal office, and the license is valid for 90 days from the date it was issued. I always recommend that you download and fill out the application form in advance so the processing wait time goes by in a flash. To learn more about everything you need to get your Ontario Marriage License, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/getting-married.
2. YOUR FAVOURITE LOVE QUOTES
One of the main aspects of a wedding ceremony that puts your own personal flair on the occasion is the inclusion of readings that are meaningful to you. This doesn’t have to be traditional wedding verses or biblical poems. Why not include quotes from your favourite movies, television shows, novels, and songs? Addicted to the comedy “The Office”? In between all of the Dwight pranks, Jim Halpert actually has some great insights about what it takes to make a relationship last. And the same goes for many stories that you know and love: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and even Kung-Fu Panda have quotes that are applicable to weddings. Typically, wedding ceremonies have one reading at the beginning and one reading at the end, but your officiant should be flexible if you want to include more or less in your ceremony.
3. YOUR UNITY CEREMONY
Do you want to incorporate an additional fun detail to your wedding ceremony? Then you might want to consider a unity ceremony. Unity ceremonies take two elements (representing each person’s individuality) and unite them together to symbolize two lives becoming one. The most popular ceremony of this kind is the sand ceremony, but I challenge you to get creative and choose ingredients that are representative of who you are as a couple. You may want to blend wine together (one glass of white and one glass of red to create a custom rosé blend), or beer, or tea, or even bread and cheddar to make a cheese sandwich! The possibilities are endless, and they almost always inject some entertainment into the ceremony.
4. YOUR WEDDING SOUNDTRACK
Wedding ceremonies typically include 3-4 songs: processional music, register signing music, and recessional music. I am personally an advocate for couples choosing music that reflects their personalities, so really anything goes. That being said, if you are looking for some guidance on where to start, there is a ceremony music formula that works quite nicely in almost any wedding environment.
This is the moment that generally has the most suspense in the wedding ceremony. If couples have opted not to do a First Look, this will also be the first time that they see each other on their wedding day. That initial walk down the aisle can be emotional — happiness, excitement, and surrealistic feelings are all compounded into one moment — so it’s only appropriate that the soundtrack matches its significance. When looking for Processional Music, try and find something that has a slow tempo, romantic lyrics, and is meaningful to your love story. Do you have an epic karaoke-sque track that you would like to use? Try and see if someone has covered it in an acoustic version so the story behind the lyrics can be amplified. For example, Sleeping at Last has a beautiful cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”.
The second question regarding Processional Music is whether or not to use one or two songs to differentiate the wedding party from the bride’s walk down the aisle. This all comes down to personal preference, but in my experience the answer to this question lies in how large your wedding party is. For example, if you have a small wedding party (six people or less), there is a good chance that everyone (including the bride) will be able to walk down the aisle to one full song and the effect can be beautiful. That being said, if you have a large wedding party, you will definitely want to opt for two songs so no one is left scrambling.
Register Signing Music:
This is the moment that the couple and their two witnesses sign all of the legal paperwork, so it’s considered to be a bit of a break within the ceremony. Since no one will be speaking to the audience during this portion, try to pick a song that will keep your audience entertained. Look for light-hearted music that plays off of writing puns (like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder) or playful music that has a funny cultural context (like the “Jeopardy” the theme song). Whatever you choose, if it brings a smile to the faces of your guests, you’ve picked a winner.
This is the moment where your wedding ceremony has concluded and you and your wedding party skip gloriously back down the aisle! The recessional walk is a time for celebration, good cheer, and hilarious dance moves, so look for music that is energetic, upbeat, and will get your guests in the mood to get their groove on. One of the most popular? “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness.
5. YOUR VOWS
This is, by far, the portion of the ceremony where couples become the most stressed. Should you repeat classic wedding vows or write your own? The answer to this is so individual, but there are a few things you should consider before you make a final decision.
Do you get anxious speaking in front of crowds? Do you have a hard time being vulnerable in front of people who aren’t your partner? Do you find it difficult to articulate your thoughts on paper? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should probably opt to repeat classic vows. Your wedding day is supposed to be fun, and adding the pressure of reading your own vows in front of an audience can create a lot of unnecessary stress. If you would still like to make your partner feel special, I suggest exchanging letters of appreciation the night before your wedding so that you can both privately read them as you get ready for the ceremony.
Alternatively, if you love writing, excel at public speaking, and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in front of a crowd, writing your own vows can be a beautiful way to express your love and commitment to your partner — it also creates a written keepsake that you can look back on and read for years to come. If you do decide to write your own vows, make sure you and your partner agree on the length that you would like your vows to be. The last thing you want is one person reading a detailed two-page letter, while the other only has a short paragraph! Discussing vow logistics in advance will save you from stressing about the little things and will allow you to focus on expressing what is most important: the love you have for each other.
I hope you found this checklist helpful in preparing for your wedding ceremony! For more wedding inspiration, be sure to connect with me on Instagram @theweddingfaerie.