Organising your Ceremony

Weddings today are not just about the joining of two people who love each other, it can also be a statement of their lifestyle or beliefs.  The ceremony should be the most significant part of the wedding day.  Whatever style of ceremony you choose it should signify commitment and love.  Therefore you need to jointly decide what it represents to you, do you want to witness your marriage before God or incorporate your own individual or cultural beliefs.  This may mean a hybrid style or even two ceremonies.  Basically you need to chose between a religious or a civil ceremony.

Each religion will have its own views and rulings on marrying people who have been married before.  If you hit some hurdles, don’t give up, get creative, there are many ways to achieve what you want.

When planning your ceremony, decide if you want to write your own vows, include a special ceremony for the family, participate in any symbolic acts, traditions or customs, include your guests, remember loved ones (but it is not etiquette to reference any deceased spouses), showcase any music, readings or prayers.  Do you want your ceremony to tell a story about you as a couple.

Think of your guests as your audience, involve them, inform them and let them share in your experience.

Make sure you are across all the legal requirements and notice periods required to marry in your choice venue and location.  This includes the registrar requirements and any venue permissions that need to be sought.

Arranging your Reception

There are a huge amount of options available for holding receptions.  The style will reflect your budget, lifestyle, location, interests, number of guests you want to invite, time of day, season, weather and general age of guests.

If the theme is for a family wedding, then this can be carried through to the reception, with the children having their own friends, style of food, entertainment, special cake etc.

Decide what style you want to go for, decide which of the five basic reception food styles suits your wedding plans.  Link this to the time of day, season and size of wedding. Follow the tips provided in the eBook Plan2Organise if you are using professional staff.

If you are going for a ‘sit down’ style of reception, you will probably have the same challenges as first time couples, some things won’t change!  You may have a higher number of sensitive situations as well, so be aware of divorced couples, elderly aunts and large numbers of children.  Never have tables just for children (think food fights).  Grandparents are often more than happy to help supervise.

Work and communicate well with your venue management so you have exactly what you want, not what they ‘normally’ do.

it is also an opportunity to do some unconventional things.  Maybe you cut the cake first? or dispense with the formal announcements and meet your guests as they arrive, or have canapés with your guests before the ceremony begins. Have fun, make it your own, and make it special.

Speeches are still relevant, but can be tricky and should not be left to chance.  The father of the Bride speech may be redundant, as is toasting the bridesmaid’s by the Best Man.  It may not even be possible to have a Best Man speech if your 10 year old boy stands up with his father.

Supporting Cast

Organising some supporting staff will help to make your day run more smoothly. Decide if you would benefit from having a Wedding Planner or Day of Wedding Coordinator.  The benefits can far outweigh the costs if you live busy and stressful lives, or do not want to be creative. They may even save you money in the long run by getting several quotes and using their knowledge to get value for money.

Wedding Planners will either charge a flat rate, hourly rate or percentage of the total cost of the wedding. A Day of Wedding Coordinator is cheaper and allows the Bride and Groom to relax and enjoy their day.  This role can be either a professional or a well organised and willing friend.

No matter how informal your wedding is, having a designated Master of Ceremonies (professional or a willing friend) will help to keep the function moving and means the Bride and Groom don’t have to worry about timings, introductions etc.

The Celebrant is a key supporter, as they have responsibility for the most important part of your day.  Make sure you select someone who fits well with both your personalities and the style of your wedding.


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