Creating the Perfect Ceremony
Ask a Planner is a series of wedding related blog posts that we love to share with brides and grooms who may be looking for advice on particular topics, have questions they want to ask (email us at [email protected]), or information that we feel every couple should know and consider before they say “I do”!
In this blog we will focus on the Ceremony and offer tips to help make your ceremony a success!
One of the first impressions that guests have on the wedding day is the Ceremony… As they arrive they are taking in the surroundings, looking at the beautiful flowers & decor, and saying hello to family and friends as they excitedly make their way to their seats.
The best way to ensure that this portion of the wedding goes smoothly is to take into consideration a few things:
1. Aisle Width – Ensure that the width of the aisle can comfortably accommodate the number of people walking down together. Often it’s the bride and her father (or another special person) who will escort the bride down the aisle. And sometimes the bride and/or groom will be escorted by both parents, their children, etc. Keep in mind the width of the bride’s dress and any decor that may be lining the aisle. A typical width for a ceremony aisle is 5-6 feet, but could be as wide as 7-8 feet.
2. Chairs – It’s best when possible to set the number of chairs on each side in even numbers as most people attend the wedding as a couple or in pairs. It can be awkward to have to separate couples who might have ideally preferred to sit together. You will also want to ensure that your chair lines are clean as it won’t be until you get your photos back that a crooked ceremony chair line could ruin that perfect “pronouncement and/or first kiss” photo!
Lastly, be sure to leave enough space up at the front to accommodate the wedding party! Otherwise some of your guest’s views may be impeded. The proper amount of space can be determined during the rehearsal.
3. Reserved Seating – Having Ushers on hand to greet and direct guests and/or “reserved” signage displayed on the chairs are very important to ensure that the right people are seated in the right spots. There are many cute and creative ways to display Reserved Signage from hanging cards tied with ribbon to simple signs placed on the seat of the chair (plan for something to weigh it down if the ceremony is outside so it doesn’t blow away). Without offering at least one of these options it can create confusion and lead to some awkward shuffling minutes before the start of the ceremony.
Having to move guests elsewhere because they sat in spots needed for family or the wedding party is never fun. And on the flip side, having to ask guests to move closer to the front because they were too shy to sit in the first few rows assuming they were needed for family isn’t ideal either. It can also look strange in the photos to have a whole bunch of empty spots near the front. So moral of story here is be sure to include reserved signage to avoid any awkward moments.
4. Music – There is no doubt that live music is the preferred option for a ceremony. It allows the musicians to work around the number of people walking down the aisle and accommodate any slow or fast walkers. Often with recorded selections the music will need to be stopped at a strange moment in the song when the last person walking in arrives at the front. A good DJ can fade the music out if that is the preferred style of music.
The other thing you should keep in mind is if you choose to provide and manage your ceremony music yourself ensure that a proper test of the music is conducted beforehand. Also, be sure to designate a specific person to be your “music manager” to be responsible for its success and troubleshoot any issues during the test run and live event! I can’t tell you how many times DIY music plans have gone awry due to the wrong songs being listed in the lineup, poor connections, and bad speaker output, etc.
And a word to the wise, although including all your favorite music in the ceremony processional might seem like a great way to personalize the union, you should try and keep your processional songs to a maximum of two including the bride. Stopping and starting different songs in short “1 person up the aisle” spurts is awkward and distracting.
5. After the Ceremony – Once the “I Dos” have been shared the energy is high and it’s a good idea to play off that momentum! Keep the guest flow from ceremony area (or venue) to the cocktail reception space easy and informative. If guests are headed to a different venue it’s always nice to have the address and start time listed in a ceremony program. Or have ushers or attendants ready to share this information with guests as they depart. The last thing you want is for guests to head to the reception venue immediately following the ceremony IF the start time is not until later in the afternoon or evening. They could potentially walk in on the setup taking away from the magic of it all.
If the ceremony and reception are at different locations and there is to be a lull in between you might consider offering guests a coupon for coffee or ice cream at a local hot spot. Or arrange for a city tour or other casual activity like a scavenger hunt for guests to participate in. If the reception is at the same venue as the ceremony then keep guests entertained with delicious signature cocktails or a bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, live music, a Photobooth, lawn games, or an interactive guestbook.
Signing Off ~ XOXO