Is it OK to Skip Having a Wedding Ceremony?

Throw out the wedding rule book and do what's best for you as a couple

<p>Bride and groom at ceremony</p>

Photo by Judy Pak Studio

As you start thinking about everything you want to have at your wedding, it may be tempting to follow trends just because you feel you have to. You’ll immediately say yes to having a cocktail hour, party favors, or even a donut wall, just because you’ve seen it at other weddings. But the truth is, your wedding should be filled with decorations and traditions that represent who you are as a couple and not what people in the past have done.

Take the ceremony, for example. There’s no rule that you have to have one at your wedding. You can instead invite guests to a reception and either completely skip having a formal ceremony or do something a bit different. If you’re looking to get rid of doing a 30 minute or even hour-long ceremony, here are four things you can do instead of having a wedding ceremony.

1. Come Up with a Plan

When it’s decision time, sit down with your fiancé and discuss what your ideal wedding day would look like. Write down the structure that you feel works best for you and not just what you’ve seen other people do. When you are thinking about whether or not to have a ceremony, think about the timing of the rest of the wedding. Will you do a longer party instead or just make your formal wedding an hour shorter and throw an after party?

2. Consider Doing Something Private

Before anything else, you might want to evaluate what kind of couple you are. If you’re both naturally very private people or people who don’t love attention, the idea of having a public ceremony might be too much to handle. Instead, you can do a secret ceremony between the two of you and an officiant, or just a little celebration after you sign your marriage license.

3. Have a Ceremony for VIP Guests

If having a ceremony seems tempting but having a huge crowd of people there seems scary, think about doing a ceremony before your wedding, whether days before or on the same day that’s only open to VIP guests. Plan a small ceremony and only invite your closest family and friends to come to it. When you create invitations, make that distinction so guests you want at your ceremony know where to be and guests you just want at your reception know when to arrive.

4. Make it Clear to Your Guests What’s Happening

Since most people heading to a wedding do expect a ceremony, make sure it’s very clear to your guests that there won’t be a ceremony happening. If you’re doing a cocktail hour, let them know that and what time to arrive. If you’re jumping right into the party, let them know that so that they know they shouldn’t arrive 30 minutes late because they’ll miss dinner and the beginning of the set list from your band or your DJ. Expect that your guests will want to know why you and your fiancé have decided to ditch the ceremony aspect of the wedding, so prepare an answer ahead of time. That way, you won’t be caught off guard when relatives and friends ask you on your wedding day.

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