Who says your reception is the only fun part of your wedding day? There's no reason why your ceremony shouldn't be as exciting, meaningful, and inventive as your reception, right?! We think yes, and that's why we enlisted the help of planners from around the country to talk about the wedding ceremony—and specifically, how to personalize it. After all, they're there for the tears and the laughs, and they know what works (and what doesn't) from first-hand experience. That's why it's lucky for you that we picked their brains on everything from cocktails to vows to the final applause. (And, yes, you can have cocktails at your ceremony—this is a celebration, after all!)
Now, to get you going, start by visualizing yourself in your guests' shoes. When this is all said and done, you want them to walk away from the ceremony—which should be no more than 30 minutes, btw—saying, "OMG, that was totally Kim and Jeff!" So how do you do that? For starters, you want to design a program (and print it!) that is personal to you as a couple. Include fonts you love, fun facts about your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and also readings and song selections that are special to you. Walk down the aisle to your favorite song. Have your sister read an excerpt from a children's book you both love. (You get the picture!)
But seriously, keep reading to see 25 tried-and-true ideas for personalizing your wedding ceremony. It's time to decide what you like, talk to your partner about it, and start planning the best (and most personal!) half hour of your life.
Todd Fiscus of Todd Events in Dallas suggests sprinkling your programs with personal details, like factoids about your VIPs ("Father Don baptized Steven" or "Beth's mom makes the best pralines west of the Mississippi!"), photos from your engagement shoot, a hand-drawn map illustrating your adventures together—anything that sets the tone for the wedding ahead. (Also, how fun are these programs that double a fan?!)
Start the celebration as soon as guests arrive by hosting an hour-long cocktail party before the ceremony. This will give everyone a chance to mingle and ensure that even your chronically late college roommate will get there in time for the main event. Keep it simple by serving one festive cocktail or champs. You'll have more time for cocktails later!
Make guests feel welcome from the moment they arrive by writing them personal notes and leaving them at the ceremony entrance, recommends Lauren Geissler of San Francisco's Downey Street Events. Another plus: By giving cards, you can skip the receiving line, giving you more time for photos and the reception.