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Designing Your Ceremony

Facing Your Guests (Modern Format)
Backs Turned (Traditional Format)
Examples of Wedding Vows
Effective Seating
Aisle Runner or Petals
Children in Wedding Ceremonies
The Escorting of a Bride
Taking Parental Vows
The Use of Music
Using a Pedestal
Using a Wedding Carriage
A New Role For Grandparents
Wedding Ceremony Readings
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Ceremonies in Special Places
Ceremonies in Theme
Taking Your Ceremony to Others
Staying in Character
What Name Should I Use?
What if it Rains?
Fibbing Your Start Time
Ceremonies in Candlelight
The Reception Line

The Order of Events

Primary Options:
Read this First
The Unity Candle
Champagne Sharing
The Sand Ceremony
The Blessing Tree
Tying the Knot
Tasting the Elements
Using a Photomontage
The Giving of Roses

Options In Finale:
Butterfly Release
Dove Release
Balloon Release
Tossing Petals
Bubbles in a Wedding Ceremony
Applause Walk

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Understanding The Use Of Primary Options.
Wedding Ceremony Primary Option
Paul and Robin use the Primary Option Wine Sharing during their ceremony at Lincoln Park - Chicago, Illinois.

Or how to create your ceremony's greatest visual and emotional expressions.


The use of a Primary Option should be the centerpiece of your wedding ceremony experience. Yes, the exchanges of vows are right up there at the top too, but they're a only a close second to the performance of a primary option. This is largely because, whereas your vow exchanges speak of love, a primary option performs it, often with the effective use of symbolism and music. Your guests get to experience your first date, or appreciate your value of married and family life etc. A primary option can bring all of this to life, and do it in a theatric format that can be riveting for your guests. Each primary option conveys a different meaning. Here are primary options that I am very familiar with and have seen used many times in my ceremonies. Remember, each option has a page dedicated to its explanation, so just click on its title. All images and video are from my ceremonies.
Unity Candle Lighting. The unity candle is the oldest primary option and has been on the western wedding scene for over 40 years. When used correctly in a setting appropriate for it, it can create a near religous experience. Couples typically take taper candles and light a large pillar candle. The tapers could have been lit at the beginning of the ceremony by the bride's and groom's mothers or other VIPs. Not for outdoors. (CLICK HERE).
Unity Sand Joining. The bride and groom join sand, or beads or pellets to a transparent vase. The elements joined can be of different colors (creating artisitic designs when poured). The bride and groom often receive the sand, or other element they will join, from VIPs in the first row. They then move to their vase and join these elements. Alternately, several people (including their children) may join the element to the vase along with them.
The Blessing Tree. A tree, sometimes an actual sapling, or simply an artistic substitute for one, is placed somewhere near the bridal party. After the bride and groom exchange their vows (by reading their personally written ones which are on index cards) they take those cards and affix them to the tree with a loop string. The blessing tree is later moved to the reception site. Each guest has a similar blank index card with a loop string at their place setting on which they write loving notes to the couple. During the evening they will affix their card to the tree which fills up with these cards throughout the reception. Ultimately, the cards and their notes, alongside the photos of those who wrote them, are all place in the couple's photo album. (CLICK HERE).
Champagne Sharing. Easily the most romantic of all primary options. You need only two champagne flutes, a bottle of the good stuff, and a pedestal. You will recreate images of your first date! (CLICK HERE).
Tying the Knot. A brand new option for the modern wedding ceremony. The both of you will tie a fisherman's knot while I read a commentary on what that knot, and marriage, have in common. Your guests have never seen this in a wedding. (CLICK HERE and see video of this).
Tasting the Elements. Without exception, Tasting the Elements is the most entertaining of all primary options. Taken from the Yoruba Culture, the bride and groom are asked to taste four different elements ranging form bitter, sour, hot and sweet. The bride and groom animate the effect each taste has on them (face pucker to yum, yum!). A brief commentary is read as they taste each element. If you are a couple that possesses showmanship, and who want to use it, this primary option is for you. Your guests will salute you with loud applause at the end of your ceremony for having so entertained them with this! (CLICK HERE and see video of this).
Using a Photo Montage. You treat your audience to seeing the both of you as children, then in your school years and finally your courtship. You will need a set of photos, of each of you, taking you through the years. You will also need some form of projection equipment such as a slide projector or large monitor assisted by a DVD player or laptop. Audiences are enrapt watching the two you grow up and ultimate find each other (the dating sequence). Your presentation plays out accompanied by great music, typically three themes (childhood, school, dating). Each theme you choose conveys a different sentiment- Childhood should be (innocence), School (transition to adulthood) and Dating (romance). (CLICK HERE and see video of this).

The Giving of Roses. Although not a primary option, every couple should follow their primary option with the giving of a long stem roses to their mothers and grandmothers if present. Other VIPs may be so honored as well. It's criminal not to give a long stem rose to some family member at this most appropriate time of your ceremony!
Imagine the photography that results from this! (CLICK HERE).