Personalizing your wedding ceremony

It is such a delight to welcome Anita Vaughan from AnitaWeds as our guest blogger this week. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Anita for five years. We first met when she was producing Under a New Moon, where we celebrated the first legal day of civil unions in the state of Illinois. At midnight on June 1, 2011, we united the first six, same-sex couples, in the state. It was a tremendous occasion and one that I was honored to have been part of. Anita has such an easy way with couples and really makes every ceremony extra special. She helps people celebrate every other aspect of life, not just weddings and even performed the blessing ceremony for my youngest daughter. 

This post is full of useful information and is a must read for everyone planning a wedding ceremony. Anita is an expert on personalizing life’s special ceremonies. 

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Photo by JLP and Associates


The Perfect “I Do” for You- How to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

You’ve picked the flavors for your cake and the colors for the flowers. Your favorite foods will be served and the band leader has a list of your favorite songs. The reception has you written all over it.

But what about your ceremony? Shouldn’t that be a reflection of the two of you? Of course!

As a professional Life-Cycle Celebrant, my goal is to make my clients’ wedding ceremonies completely personalized. But, no matter who officiates your ceremony, there are many ways to add your personal touch to your wedding ceremony.

MUSIC Let’s start with the music. Who says you can’t walk down the aisle to Led Zepplin? Having officiated over 200 weddings, I’ve heard just about every type of processional and recessional song. Of course, many couples love the traditional “Wedding March.” But I’ve also heard some really unique choices, ranging from Kanye to Guns N Roses to the Beatles. And, yes, one of my brides walked in to an instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

Whether your music is being provided by a DJ, a string trio, or your Uncle Bob will be hitting “play” on your iPhone, look for music that suits your style. And the good news is that, if you’re worried about keeping Grandma happy, you’ll be able to find instrumental versions of many of your favorite tunes. She won’t even notice that you’re playing the Imperial March from Star Wars.

TIP: Be sure to visit Vitamin String Quartet’s website for tons of instrumental options.

Another way to personalize your ceremony and make it memorable is to include your friends and family. You invited your loved ones because they’re important to you, so let them be more than just witnesses – get them involved.

SAY THANKS Have your officiant thank your guests. This can be a very simple “thanks for being here,” or you can choose to mention special people by name. A shout-out to the friend who introduced the two of you would be a great way to open the ceremony. Acknowledging people who’ve traveled from out of town for your big day would make them feel pretty special. And a few words of gratitude for parents, grandparents, or other important people in your life would add a warm, heartfelt touch to the ceremony.

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Photo by Chad Husar

INVOLVE YOUR GUESTS There are also great ways to include the whole crowd, such as asking the guests to bless your marriage with a community vow of support. Another idea is to include a ring blessing. Before you exchange your wedding rings, they are passed among the guests (either in a box or a pouch) so each person has a chance to hold them while making a wish or saying a prayer. Typically, two people are designated as being in charge of passing the rings, which gives you the opportunity to give two more people a role in your ceremony!

UNIQUE RITUALS Another way to personalize your ceremony is to think about the activities you and your future spouse enjoy doing together. Do you share an interest in history and ancient traditions? Try a handfasting ritual. Are you into gardening? Consider a planting ritual. Do you enjoy brewing your own beer? Then a beer tasting ritual might be perfect for you. Do the two of you cook dinner together? A food sharing could be a nice element for you. Love making things with building blocks? You can have a unity ritual with Legos!

TIP: Have fun! One of my couples got engaged at the Shedd Aquarium. In honor of that surprise proposal, the ring bearer (as carefully orchestrated by the groom) had a surprise delivery of the rings – they were presented by a helium shark! I’ve also had clients that met in a bar, create a custom cocktail during their ceremony and then have their attendants pass it out to all of the guests.

READINGS One more way to get creative and show your personal style is with your choice of readings.  There are countless sources for great wedding readings, including children’s books, song lyrics, and classic literature.

Are you a dog lover? Look up a poem called, “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. Math nerd? I would suggest you find a poem called “The Square Root of 3” by Dave Feinberg. Music fan? Look into a letter written by Johnny Cash to his wife, June Carter Cash – it is truly lovely.

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Photo by Chad Husar

As you can see, there are many ways to personalize your wedding ceremony. So, don’t be afraid to get creative. And, most importantly, make it true to YOU.


anita-vaughn-angel-eyes-photographyAnita Vaughan is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and owner of AnitaWeds. In addition to creating wedding ceremonies, Anita also works with clients to celebrate other life events, such as baby welcoming ceremonies. She works closely with other Celebrants as the Facilitator for the Illinois Celebrant Association and serves as faculty for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute. When she’s not officiating a ceremony or teaching future Celebrants, she enjoys baking cupcakes, reading graphic novels, and listening to 80’s music. Anita can also be found rescuing animals with her children and being obsessed with octopuses. Photo by Angel Eyes Photography

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