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Facing Your Guests (Modern Format)
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Effective Seating
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Bubbles in a Wedding Ceremony
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Rule 5: Use Effective Subliminal Messaging
Approaching Bride
Kelly, escorted by her father walks down the aisle at St. Paul United Church of Christ - LaPorte, In.

In Wedding Ceremonies - Actions are Louder than Words

Coke AdvertisementOften associated with advertising, subliminal messaging is inherently found in almost every form of communication. This retro Coca Cola poster serves as a good example.  The people at Coke wanted you to associate youth, vibrancy and attractiveness with the use of their product.  These qualities are visually implied in this advertisement.  Interestingly, the  poster gives you no instructions such as "Enjoy Coke!" or "Take home a six pack today!"  The poster doesn't need to; if you associate being desirable with their product you'll buy Coke without being asked.   These messages are said to be "subliminal" - a silent, implied form of communication. Regardless of whom you hire to officiate for you, your wedding ceremony is going to be full of these messages. 

Subliminal messages in a wedding ceremony take place whether we want them to or not.  The good news is that you have a lot of control over what is said directly as well as subliminally in your ceremony.

Let's take a look at a bad subliminal.  The audience is asked to rise as the bride, escorted by her father, walks her down the aisle to the waiting groom.  The father places his daughter's hand on the forearm of the groom and bids them both his love and takes his seat.  Seems innocent enough doesn't it?

Her father escorts herBut by placing her hand on his arm her father is subliminally saying  "You take her now" or "You're the man, you'll be calling the shots," or "The man is the head of the household."  Any way you look at it, this gesture suggests male supremacy.  Insult is added to injury when the minister asks the father "Do you give your daughter in marriage?"-  a question directly implying property rights.

My ceremonies are much different.  The audience is asked to rise as the bride and her escort, typically her father, walk down the aisle toward the waiting groom.  However, the bride and her escort only come as far as the half way point.  There, surrounded by her on looking guests, she embraces her father.  Her groom now comes to meet her- coming half way also. 

The photo at the top of this page illustrates this. Kelly is being escorted down the aisle by her father. Her mother, beaming, looks on from the first row of the right side. Kelly will approach her groom no further. She will embrace her father at mid-aisle after which her groom, Brock, will 'come half way to meet her' - a subliminal. There, with guests all around them, the groom will meet his soon to be father in law. Offering his hand to her, Kelly will accept, and the couple will walk down the aisle together. Her entrance, choreographed in this way, shows that her family has taken her to adulthood, but as adults she and her groom have gone forward together- as equals.

Mothers at taper candleWe can create other opportunities in your ceremony to subliminally send the right messages to your guests as well.  Let's consider the lighting of taper candles to the Unity Candle.  The Unity Candle is lit during mid ceremony by the bride and groom, visually implying that the two have become one (a subliminal).  I ask the mothers of the bride and groom to light the two taper candles at the very beginning of the ceremony.  During the rehearsal session I ask moms to do the following when I invite them to light taper candles during the ceremony:

Walk toward each other first, and then walk together to the Unity Candle setting.  Let the audience see you cordially talking to each other.  Light the taper candles and embrace one another warmly.  Continue talking to each other as you return to your seats.  Above all, take your time in doing this. 

This behavior subliminally suggests that both mothers are delighted their son and daughter are marrying each other. This is an outstanding message to be sending (subliminally) to your guests at the beginning of the ceremony, and it sets the right mood for the rest of the ceremony to follow upon.

Your body language will be the single greatest communicator of your heart and mind during this event (not your words).  I learned long ago that the single most desirable quality in a bride and groom, whom I'm going to present to hundreds of theirs friends,- is poise.  Suggesting calm, displaying elegance, comfortable with showing affection,- poise is clearly the supreme subliminal.

The music you choose for your wedding will carry with it implied messages about you too.  A couple who's choice in music is creative and artistic or flat and predictable will have these qualities associated with them as well.  The same can be said about ceremony wording.

Please understand that these silent implied messages, used throughout your ceremony, are going to speak louder than any words.  And subliminals are particularly potent because there is no defense against them.  Whether you send the right ones or the wrong ones, your guests are going to receive these messages. 


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