Unity Ceremonies? Do I need one?

All you need is love and … a unity ceremony?

 

A unity ceremony is an act you can incorporate into your wedding ceremony which symbolises the joining of two separate lives, the idea is that as individuals you are both special and just as important separate, but when joined together you create something unique and beautiful. A unity ceremony  can also be used to symbolise the joining together of two families, if one or both of you already have children, either together or separately.

You do not have to do a unity ceremony, and you should (in my personal opinion) only include one if it is something that absolutely speaks to you.

There are a few different options, that I’ll outline below, and by no means is this the complete list, and there may be a suggestion on this list that sparks an idea with you and your loved one for something completely original.  Go for it I say!

Wine/Beer Ceremony – You each choose a wine (red and white work well), but obviously two that work well together, and you each pour a small amount from your individual glass into a centre glass and then both take turns taking a sip (or a gulp) from the center glass. This also works extremely well with beer if you’re not a wine fan.

Love Letter and Wine Box – You choose a bottle of favourite wine (or beer) and both add love letters to each other (that you have previously written) into a box, to be opened on your one year anniversary.  It’s a nice reminder of what you were both feeling on your wedding day.

Elephant Toothpaste – It’s a funny sounding science experiment, involving you both adding chemicals together to create a pretty spectacular explosion of types.  Awesome to add for a bit of drama to your ceremony.

Unity Candle – Use a large candle and then both the bride and groom light the candle using their own individual candles. This is probably the most common unity ceremony performed at weddings. Important to remember to use hurricane lamps if you are having your wedding ceremony outside, to protect your flame from going out.

Reverse Candle Lighting – The reverse candle lighting ceremony starts with the bride and groom lighting their individual candles from a single/joint one and then proceeding to then light candles held by their bridal party, who then help to light each guests candle.  You would end up with a beautiful sea of candle light, each lit from the same candle.

Sand Ceremony – Both the bride and groom (and children if they are being included) pour different coloured sands into a central vessel, creating a pretty pattern. Each different coloured sand represents a different person. If both the bride and groom are from different areas, you could use sand from your hometown beaches.

Hand Fasting – Hand fasting is a Celtic tradition which involves binding the hands of a couple with ribbon or cord either before, during or after reciting your vows, it is used as a way to symbolise your commitment and devotion to one another.

Tree planting – All about the environment and everything green? Then you may want to include a tree planting as a way of symbolising your union.  You can choose any type of plant/tree you like, and then the tree can be displayed in your home afterwards.

Unity sandwich – You like peanut butter, and he likes jam, perfect, use these two spreads (or any other favourite sandwich fillings) to create the perfect sandwich.

Jumping the broom -Jumping the broom is a time honoured tradition where the bride and groom actually jump over a broom.  The act symbolises a new beginning and the sweeping away of the past.

Hand washing ceremony – You and your groom wash your hands in a large bowl of water. The washing of your hands symbolises the fresh start that you are embarking upon in your marriage, while having your hands dried by your spouse symbolises the act of being vulnerable to each other, and letting yourself be cared for by another.

Mixing Oil and Herbs – If you’re both foodies, then you could mix herbs and oil together as part of your unity ceremony.

Creating art together – Purchase a large canvas, and then each of you choose a colour that represents you, and then you create a painting together using the two different colours. The upside is you now have a meaningful piece of art work to display in your home after.

Lock unity – Each of you choose a lock with a key, you both place your wedding band on the lock and use the key to lock it before the ceremony.  This symbolises your separate and individual lives, during the ceremony, you use the keys to open the locks, exchange your wedding bands and then entwine the two locks and lock them together, symbolising your commitment forever.

Unity hour glass – Very similar to a sand ceremony, you use a decorative hour glass to pour your separate sand into. Plus side is that you now have a useful item to use in your home.

Brand – For those of you farmers, or those getting married on a farm, you could have a brand made of your initials, either as two different brands that you could join together on the day or one brand with both your initials together, that you can brand a piece of decorative wood together. It would be a pretty impressive part of your ceremony.

Fishermans Knot – The Fishermans knot is also know as the ‘lovers knot’ It is made from two cords which represent you as individuals, as you fasten the two cords together this act represents the joining of your two lives in marriage. Once the knot is completed then this represents your future strong, and only becoming stronger under pressure.

As you can see there are a multitude of different options if you are thinking about including a unity ceremony as part of your wedding ceremony, and maybe this list may spark some ideas for something original to you as a couple.  The options are endless.

 

 

 

 

 

Date Nights

All you need is love and … date nights.

So you’re in the throes of wedding planning, it’s stressful, time consuming, expensive, he’s not agreeing with you, Great Aunty Fanny is trying to tell you what to do! You’re getting a bit overwhelmed, you have a job, maybe some kids, a mortgage and a wedding to plan, aaaargggh!

It’s time to remember who you’re planning to marry and why!

It’s time for a date night.

Date nights are a great way to re-connect with each other, and remember that you guys had fun together, before the wedding planning and the kids, and Great Aunty Fanny. And the good news is they don’t have to be expensive, (which is awesome if you’re saving manically for a wedding) it is after all about just spending time together. You don’t even have to leave the house (which is great if you don’t have a babysitter for the little people) And while a dinner and movie, is cool, if that’s what floats your boat, there’s heaps of other ideas for some different date nights.

Here’s a list of ideas

  • Learn to dance together – you could include this as part of your wedding planning, but learning a dance for your first dance, or try something completely different, hip hop any-one?
  • Night classes – great opportunity to learn a new skill/language together.
  • Walk – just go for a stroll around your neighbour-hood, it’s free!
  • Go out for dessert/coffee – a way less cheaper option than a full meal.
  • Cook a new meal/dish together – choose an interesting/new/yummy sounding meal off the internet, or a magazine/cookbook. And prepare the meal together, put on some music, pour a glass of something nice, and enjoy each other’s company. Bonus is you actually have a meal to share together at the end of it.

 

  • Do something touristy – is there something in your town/city that all the tourists visit, but you’ve never been, check it out.
  • Head out of town – just jump in the car and drive, stop along the way for fish n chips or an ice-cream.
  • Picnic – prepare a picnic and head to a local beach or park.
  • Coffee and a walk on the beach – grab a takeaway coffee and head to the beach for a stroll.
  • Board game at home – dust off the old monopoly game (or whatever game takes your fancy), even a card game. Grab some snacks, a bottle of something and enjoy the game.
  • Visit the local pet shop or SPCA – take some time to play with the animals.
  • Pot luck dinner – organise a pot-luck dinner, that way you don’t have to do all the work, and it’s cheaper and have a adult dinner with adult conversation.
  • Star gaze together – super cheap and super romantic. Lay a blanket on the ground and gaze at the sky. Of course there’s an app for making sure you actually know what you are looking at (Nightsky)
  • Surprise – One of the couple is in charge of organising the date night.
  • Share items on your bucket list – it may inspire future date nights.
  • Brunch – Brunch may be easier to wrangle a babysitter for, and will generally be cheaper than a dinner out.
  • Karaoke – You either love it or hate it. If you love it hit the local karaoke club and sing a duet together.
  • Hire a kayak – Take a trip around your local harbour together. You can usually hire kayaks by the hour reasonably cheaply.
  • Quiz night – Check out your local bar for when their local quiz night is. Form a team with others and be amazed at the obscure general knowledge your partner has.

 

In the midst of wedding planning, or just life in general, it’s so easy to get caught up in just getting through the day. It is so easy to unintentionally disconnect from each other. We live in a society where FOMO (fear of missing out) means a lot of us are glued to our phones/laptops and not paying attention to the person sitting on the other end of the couch.

Who says what at the wedding.

All you need is love and … a run down on wedding speeches.

 

Wedding speeches can scare the beejezus out of even the most confident person, and it can be the part of the wedding day that stresses people out the most.

There is a list of who traditionally performs speeches at a wedding, but this is really just a guideline and many couples choose to add extra people to the list, or lots of couples do away with the speeches altogether, knowing that sometimes people just want to get into their dinner and dessert and then the dancing part of the wedding. Fair enough I say.

Here’s a brief description of the traditional list of wedding speeches.

It is your Master of Ceremonies role (among others, see that list here The role of a Master of Ceremony) to seemlessly introduce the speech section of the evening, and to introduce each speaker, and then thank them afterwards.

 

Father of the bride – (or whoever gave the bride away, not always the father)

  • Welcomes and thanks the guests for coming.
  • Expresses how proud he and his wife, are of their daughter.
  • Welcomes the groom into the family.
  • Possibly shares one or two stories about the bride.
  • Shares words of wisdom and good wishes for the couple.
  • Proposes a toast to the couple.

Groom

  • Thanks his father-in-law for his kind words and the toast.
  • Thanks the brides parents for all their work raising the woman of his dreams (his new wife) and all their help with the wedding
  • Thanks the guests for coming and for the wedding gifts.
  • Acknowledges his best man for all his help, and any other helpers.
  • Acknowledges the bridesmaids, and thanks them for all their help with the wedding, and proposes a toast to them.

Best Man

  • Adds to the comments about the bridesmaid, lamenting how great they look today.
  • Congratulates the groom, on his good fortune, in marrying his new wife.
  • Possibly shares a story about the bride and groom, maybe about how they met.
  • Reads any messages to the bride and groom, from guests that couldn’t make it. Traditionally this was in the form of telegrams, and letters, these days it’s most likely to be texts and/or emails.

Invited guests

  • There may be other guests that have asked before hand to speak, or who you would like to include. Make sure that you have a general idea of the content of their speech, and that you communicate to them how long they have to speak. I would not recommend the Master of Ceremony, ask if anyone else would like to speak, on the fly, it opens you up to Great Uncle Barry, who’s had one too many beersies ramble on, or say something inappropriate.

This is by no way an exhaustive list, and it is very common for couples to include mother of the bride/groom, the bride herself, and a bridesmaid/maid of honour.

Make sure all your speakers know their time limit, say 5 mins, so they can tailor their speech accordingly.

I would not recommend forcing any-one to speak if they absolutely loath public speaking, it will either cause stress for the person, possibly stress your relationship with the person and probably lead to a bad speech, better to address everyone before hand, asking them if they are comfortable doing so (don’t assume, they may not have even thought they had to speak)and if they are not comfortable, then ask someone else or not have them speak at all.

Who’s walking down the aisle?

All you need is love and … someone to walk down the aisle with or not!

The whole wedding process is steeped in so much tradition, and one of the traditions is the father of the bride walking her down the aisle and ‘giving her away’. It is said that the custom dates back to a time when the daughter was considered to be property and the groom had to pay a price before he was permitted to marry his intended. Another theory is the ‘giving away’ symbolised the transition of authority from the bride’s father to her husband as she moved from the family home into her married home. Today the act of ‘giving away’ the bride is seen more as a symbolic blessing by the parents of the marriage to the groom.

If the idea of walking down the aisle scares the bejesus out of you, or just doesn’t sit right with you, either because you don’t want the attention, or the traditional father/bride relationship or non-relationship does not fit the circumstances, then there are a number of alternatives to the whole ‘walking down the aisle” Instead of the traditional view of ‘giving away’ you could think of it as the person is supporting you through this life transistion.

Someone else

It’s extremely common for a bride to choose someone other than her father to walk her down the aisle: mother, grandparents, siblings, good friends, both mum and dad, own children and even the family dog.

 

Walking down together

I have seen this done at a wedding, one of the reasons being that the groom was very shy, and didn’t want the focus before the ceremony to be on him. There is something very sweet, and I imagine, reassuring to walk into your wedding ceremony hand in hand.

Go Solo

If you feel confident and comfortable enough, just mossey up the aisle yourself.

Meet your groom halfway

Start the journey by yourself, or even with someone else and meet your groom halfway up the aisle.

Make a bouquet as you walk

Have someone give flowers out to your guests either the guests sitting on the end of rows, or maybe close family and friends, before the ceremony and gather these flowers up into a bouquet, as you walk down the aisle. It is a nice, meaningful way to include some of your guests in the ceremony.

 

Ceremony circle or spiral

There’s no rules that say your ceremony space has to have a straight up and down aisle. You can create a spiral shape using your chairs, and walk along this spiral. This gives you a chance to see all your guests on your journey. Alternatively create a circle shape, and just leave a small hole for you to enter into, and then you and your groom will be encircled by your loved ones.

No walking down the aisle

If you don’t want to walk down the aisle at all, you can just mingle with your guests before the ceremony begins and then just move to the front when it’s time to start. One bride I know had alot of fun running around with the kids, barefoot before her wedding started.

Have the guests enter after you

Keep your ceremony space private and closed prior to the wedding starting, and then position yourselves in your desired spots either with bridal party or not and then open the doors and invite your guests in to be seated.

Lead a processional

Lead your guests, you could even use a musician, to your ceremony space with a processional. When you get there, make your way to the front and let your guests be seated before you begin.

Enter from the side

Enter the ceremony at the same time from different sides, takes the emphasis off the bride, and there’s no need for an aisle at all.

Two aisles

Create your ceremony space with two aisles, and both walk down your own aisle. This is very popular with same-sex weddings, and can be appropriate when parents don’t have any daughters and want to walk their son down the aisle.

I think there are more than enough options if you don’t want to do the traditional walk down the aisle. Just remember it’s your day, so do it your way.

 

 

 

Conan and Lydia – Real Life Wedding

All you need is love and … The real life wedding of Conan and Lydia in Beijing, China.

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The bride and groom: Conan and Lydia.

In March 2016 Tristan (my husband) and I were invited to a wedding, nothing unusual about that really, except that the wedding was in Beijing, China.  We received the informal invitation (from Conan and Lydia, good friends who now live in Australia) about a year out, which is generally the case for out of town (or out of country, in this case) weddings, so it gave us time to organise flights, accommodation, visas, extra spending money for shoes etc. We had no idea really what to expect, so just approached it with an open mind, and it was awesome, so completely different from a western wedding, and kinda nice to be at a wedding that I wasn’t officiating at.

Conan and Lydia have been gracious enough to share their story and of course the all important pictures of their day.  Below is the information Conan supplied in his own words (kind of special to have a grooms perspective of the whole thing)

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Look at those smiles.

Names: Lydia and Conan

Date: 26/03/16

Venue: Hong Cai Fang (Chinese restaurant) Beijing

Wedding Dress: (see pictures as attached)

Photographer: Feng Zhiyuan (Lydia’s cousin)

Hair and Makeup: Meng Huan Jiu Jiu (wedding planner)

Catering: Restaurant

We were married in Beijing at Easter of 2016. Lydia’s parents live in Beijing and we live in Adelaide, South Australia, so they organised for the ceremony to be conducted through a local wedding planning company. With this in mind, I’ll share what little insight I might have from someone largely outside the actual organisation of the ceremony and also from a wedding where two different cultures met. Oh, just to be clear, I speak very little mandarin.

I come from a large kiwi family, but only one sibling (Kevin, my younger brother) could make it all the way to Beijing. We actually chose the date to coincide with his mid semester break. As it turns out this was Easter, which I imagined help the other four western guests, two of whom were Tristan and Angela Port. It took a bit of “to and fro” trying to get the right date, but it was important to us that Kevin, who was coming from New York, could attend both the wedding and the catch up in Hong Kong beforehand. Rather than just set the date and deal with who might be available, we were flexible and had everyone we’d wanted, come.

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Pouring a drink for each of your guests is part of the tradition in a Chinese wedding.

My (now) wife wore a red lace dress that we had made in Hong Kong a week and a half prior to the wedding. Red is the traditional colour for wedding dresses in Chinese culture. We had a few concept drawings with us when we arrived, courtesy of Kevin, who was studying fashion at the time. Rather than actually commissioning someone to make a dress to our design (which would have been amazing) we quickly adjusted to looking at dresses on offer in a similar style. We found a beautiful dress a size or two larger than was needed that would fit the bill.

The dress maker wanted to discount the floor model and adjust it to Lydia’s size, but we declined and asked that she construct a new dress from scratch, with a few changes that we requested. For those brides considering having a dress made, particularly overseas, I would advise you start from scratch, or you will forever be dealing with a flawed/compromised article. Pay a deposit and insist on multiple fittings. Don’t be pushed around by the dress maker, who will generally not be invested in how the final product is delivered. They are more concerned about throughput. Pay only when you are happy with your dress.

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The mother and father of the bride.

We also bought a metre or two of extra lace in the same pattern as the dress, just in case we have a daughter who wants to wear it someday and it needs to be adjusted, or sleeves added. I got a bit of flack for this idea, but felt vindicated when Kevin reckoned it was a cool and thoughtful move.

I wore a blue wool suit that I had made overseas and tailored back in Adelaide. I am built like a bulldog so also wore a bespoke shirt. I had planned to wear a linen suit and brown brogues, but the bride’s parents thought the shoes would have been too informal and requested black footwear. Lydia wore shoes we found in a mall in Sydney for the wedding ceremony and red flats that we spotted for $50 HKD  (about $10 NZD) in a shoe store in Kowloon just after we’d picked up the dress. Between us, our wedding attire cost us maybe $1300 AUD. I wore black R M Williams boots that I’d had for years, but were essentially new.

The wedding ceremony didn’t involve a wedding party, so we had no need to concern ourselves with their attire, nor with choosing those that would fill the important roles. What it did include was a drink pouring tradition, immediately after the wedding ceremony, in which the new couple had to refill the cup of each guest in attendance. For this, my bride changed into a red and gold qipao (bought in Beijing) and the aforementioned flat shoes from Kowloon.

Ours was never going to be a typical western wedding. For starters, even though we were ready to depart for the venue at 9.50am, we had to wait until9.56am as six is an auspicious number. Likewise, we started our procession “down the aisle” at 10.58am, because eight is similarly lucky.

There was no separation of the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. I’d thought about spending the night at the guests’ hotel and getting ready apart from my bride, but it such move would only have complicated things in a country where it’s hard enough to get the simplest of things accomplished.

Shortly after we arrived at the venue on the wedding day we were whisked away to wait in a makeup room while the guests were seated and our celebrant belted out a few songs. I say belted, because though I wasn’t there, I heard that it was like a pop concert in both intensity and volume. My best friend, who would have otherwise been the Best Man, said it felt closer to a game show than a western wedding.

We’d met the celebrant for our wedding the evening before the event at the venue which was a large Chinese restaurant. He seemed charismatic but wore a polyester suit that was a size too small and had a noticeable food stain. I almost said to my (now) wife, “I hope he’s not going to be wearing that to our wedding”, but didn’t. He did.

I wish we’d done a sound check the night we met the celebrant and they were setting up the venue. The equipment guys were late getting there and it was a particularly cold night so we didn’t hang around. As we walked into the venue on the day, it was pretty clear that the microphone volume was way too loud (though probably normal for a Chinese wedding, I’m told). I asked that the volume be lowered as we started toward the stage, but of course, no one within earshot spoke English. That one’s on me. I definitely should have learnt more mandarin.

The two sentences of mandarin I did master, were used to thank the guests in attendance at the beginning of my wedding speech. I was both nervous and so relieved that I’d remembered the mandarin portion, that I hardly enjoyed the actual delivery of the English part. Having said that, sharing the content of my speech quietly, the night before with my bride-to-be was probably my favourite part of our whole wedding.

In some ways, I’m grateful for having so little input into our ceremony. What we got was an authentic modern Chinese (well, Beijing) experience, unlike anything our western guests had experienced. We didn’t spend a particularly large amount and recouped a lot of the cost in cash gifts, as is the Chinese custom. We saved our money for our honeymoon, in which we toured through Japan and South Korea, as well as a few days in Shanghai on our way “home” to Beijing.

The advice I’d have for couples planning their wedding, or even having a wedding planned for them, is to recognise where to spend your effort and where not to sweat the details. Lydia’s parents wanted a video shot of the entire day. I thought we’d never watch it and that we’d be better off with paying for still shots (I think they were the two mutually exclusive options offered by the wedding company in the package we chose). Ultimately I didn’t press the case for my preference as the video was more important to them, which I think belies different cultural values. We got great pictures from a relative with a decent DSLR camera as it turns out. In years to come, I’ll probably find I was wrong on the value of the video anyway.

Further, it was liberating to realise the details I would have been fretting over in Australia or New Zealand were (at best) trivial in China. For example, we had juice in tetra-paks on each guest table. When I first saw them, I assumed they’d be decanted into a carafe, but in their tetra-paks they stayed. And nobody cared. The focus, of course, was on the couple and then on the traditional drink pouring that followed the ceremony. Each guest temporarily became the centre of attention as we moved through the tables, making sure that each had a drink and that their cup was refilled. You soon realise that the day isn’t about getting the details right, it’s about not caring and enjoying your time with the friends and family sharing the day.

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All the westerners in one shot. Aren’t we a gorgeous group?

After the wedding ceremony itself, it is local (Beijing) tradition to have a dinner with close friends and family. In our case, the dinner was attended mainly by our western guests and friends of the brides’ father. The meal was a great fun and probably came closest to the western norm, with the customary Beijing alcohol alleviating any language barriers.

Though I would have preferred to have stayed somewhere separate, it’s local custom that the bride and groom spend their first night in the family house. Similarly, a local tradition is carried out after the wedding in the hope that the first offspring is a boy-child.

The bride’s family make a batch of dumplings the day of the ceremony, including one particular dumpling, filled only with dough in the shape of a, um… bean. When the newly wed couple sit down to the meal, the groom asks his bride if the dumplings are cooked or uncooked as she bites into the “bean shaped” dumpling: “Sheung bu sheung?.” The bride replies: “Sheung!” complaining that the dumpling is uncooked and the tradition is complete.

This was our wedding. Far from the western norm, not without a few hiccups, but entirely enjoyed and attended by our closest friends after a great time in Hong Kong together.

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Tristan and I with the happy couple. I’m pretty stoked I got to wear my wedding dress again too.

As a guest at the wedding, it was a little hard to understand exactly what was going on, purely bacause of the language barrier, (there were only 6 of us who didn’t understand/speak mandarin, including the groom), but in saying that Tim (Conan’s best friend commented to me that he noticed that I teared up a little during the ceremony, so even though I didn’t really know what was being said, it still absolutely touched me)

The food at the wedding was insane, we had sampled quite a bit of Chinese food already while we were in Hong Kong and Beijing (dumplings and my favourite Peking Duck) but the food at the reception after the ceremony was completely out of control.  The food just kept coming, there was everything you could imagine, so much so that it didn’t all fit on the table, and was stacked three plates high in the middle, it’s fair to say that we as well as the rest of the guest were very well fed. Mirroring a western wedding I’m not sure whether the bride and groom actually ate anything, they were so busy greeting and pouring drinks for all their guests.

I would like to say a huge congratulations to Conan and Lydia on their marriage.  It was an absolute honour to be a part of your special day.  I would like to say a big thank you to both Lydia and Lydia’s parents who went above and beyond to make sure we had a great time in Beijing (even though they didn’t speak a word of English, they were completely welcoming) and a big thank you to Tim (for providing pure entertainment just by being a 6ft6 tall blonde in China) and Erin (for being my partner in crime for helping scope out non-squatting toilets, and being the tour guide) and Kevin (who provided humour and an insight into life in New York City), who we got to spend time with in both Hong Kong and Beijing, it was a real treat to explore different countries and knock some stuff off the bucket list with (the Great Wall).

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And one more for luck!!

What’s a Ring Warming Ceremony?

All you need is love and … maybe a ring warming ceremony.

 

You may have heard the term ‘ring warming ceremony’ before, or you may never have heard it described before, and are unsure of what it is, and whether it’s something you’d like included in your wedding ceremony.

What is a ring warming ceremony?

A ring warming ceremony is a special and simple way to include all your guests in your wedding ceremony.  A ring warming is when you give all your guests the opportunity to hold and imbue your wedding bands with a silent wish, blessing or prayer for your marriage.  The rings are passed among your guests during the ceremony for each of them to touch, hold and essentially ‘warm’ before you exchange them with each other.

Why have a ring warming ceremony? 

A ring warming ceremony is a really unique and nice way to include all your guests in your wedding ceremony. My thoughts are that it is best suited to smaller weddings, with less than say 50 guests, only because if you have a large amount of guests the rings may not get around to everybody during the ceremony and then you have the awkward situation of not everyone getting their turn, or having to pause the ceremony while you wait for everyone to get their turn, not ideal.

I have incorporated this concept into numerous more intimate ceremonies and it has been very successful. You can see the look on the guests faces as they hold the rings and say a silent wish, many of them closing their eyes while they do so.  Very sweet

And the rings are actually very warm when they get back to the couples ready to be exchanged. I encourage couples to tie the rings together with a piece of ribbon, matching the colour scheme of the wedding or in a small bag, that way everyone can actually feel and hold the rings.

How do you incorporate a ‘ring warming ceremony’ into our ceremony?

Each time I have peformed this ceremony, I prep the ring bearer or who ever will have  the rings on the day, (at the rehearsal, another reason to have a rehearsal, there are many more reasons explained here Rehearsal? Hells yeah!! ) so they know what’s going on. At the beginning of the ceremony, after the initial welcome I explain to the guests what’s going to happen, and then the ring bearer or best man hands the rings to the first person and then they start and then we start the ceremony, generally everyone will have their turn before the ring exchange part of the ceremony and then the last person who is holding them gives them back to me. Simple and lovely and very meaningful.

How does the celebrant explain the ‘ring warming ceremony’ to my guests?

I start by inviting the guests to take part, by using these words, or similar ones:

“Today I invite you all to take part in the ring warming for Brad and Angelina. Please hold their wedding rings for a moment, warm them with your love and a silent wish for Brad and Angelina. When the rings are exchanged they will contain in their precious metal, that which is more precious, that which is pricelss – your love.”

A ring warming is just another way you can infuse more of your personality into your wedding ceremony.

 

What does a best man do?

All you need is love … and a great best man.

It’s an honour to be asked to be a best man.  It can be heaps of fun but also comes with a lot of responsibility.  Here’s a run down on what a best man does.

Before the wedding

  • Plan the stag party – probably the most fun aspect of the role.  It’s your job to plan what/when/how much for the stag party.
  • Tux/suit hire – it’s your job to help the groom sort out his suit for the wedding, whether he’s going to be buying or hiring.  It’s also your job to organise the other groomsman to make sure they’re all there when the suits are selected and for fittings.  That way you’re all matching.
  • Rehearsal – Attend the wedding rehearsal, usually the day before. Pay special attention to where you’ve got to be, when you have to be there. You will also need to ensure all the groomsman know where they have to be.
  • Help the groom on the wedding day – It’s your job to make sure you take the stress off the groom on the big day.  You need to help him dress, make sure he has everything he needs, and then give him and all the groomsmen a quick once over before you arrrive at the ceremony.

During the wedding ceremony

  • Distribute the boutonnieres (buttonholes) and make sure everyone is wearing them.
  • Hold the rings.  You either need to have the rings right from the beginning or you take the rings off the ring bearer.
  • Sign the marriage licence. You may be asked to sign the marriage licence to make the marriage official.  Make sure you bring it up at the rehearsal if the officiant doesn’t mention it.
  • Escort the maid of honour or bridesmaid out of the ceremony.

At the Reception

  • Best man toast – Perform the best man toast/speech at the reception.  Probably the most nerve-wracking part of the role.  There’s heaps of info on the internet about how to nail your best man speech.
  • Read the telegrams – or in today’s day and age, read any emails, tweets, facebook updates for the couple.
  • Dance with the maid of honour-It’s your job to get the party started once the first dance of the bride and groom is underway.
  • Decorate the getaway car.
  • Help to decorate the honeymoon suite with the maid of honour.
  • Suits back – take the grooms tux/suit back to the hire shop, if the couple are leaving for their honeymoon straight after wedding.

The gist of the role is that you are the right hand man for the groom, you are standing beside your best mate/brother to support him on one of the biggest/best day of his life. It is a honour to be asked, so make sure you are happy to fulfill the role to the best of your abilities before you say yes.

 

Nailing those thank you cards

All you need is love and … a way to say ‘thank you’

The jobs and etiquette of a wedding doesn’t stop once the day is over.  You will come home from your honeymoon all newly wed and smiley and be faced with getting those thank you cards out.  It is important to thank all your friends and family for their time, generosity and their thoughtfulness on the day.  After all they helped you celebrate your special day and they are the people who are helping you build your life as a newly married couple, surely that deserves a thank you card.

Thank you notes also act as a confirmation that you received a gift that may have come in the mail, it lets the givers know you received their gift.

There’s some tips to make the process simpler

  • Keep the list of addresses when you do your invitations, because you are going to need those again when you do your thank you cards.
  • Keep a list of who gave you what, either before the wedding, or give someone the job of noting it (making sure cards are firmly fastened to gifts) at the reception.
  • Order thank you cards when you order your invitations. www.bemyguest.co.nz/ does beautiful personalised wedding stationary.
  • Save yourself some time by writing thank you notes as the gifts come in before the wedding, it’ll be one less to do after.
  • Ask your photographer to take a photo of you with a ‘thank you’ prop, (either a sign or bunting etc) on the wedding day to use as a thank you card.
  • Don’t try and write them all in one sitting, you’ll get writers cramp, and make sure you share the job with your husband.
  • Wedding thank you notes should be hand-written, and make sure you address the giver by name and reference the gift they gave you.
  • Notes should go out within 2 weeks when the gift is received before the wedding and within 2 months after the wedding, unless you’re lucky enough to be on a 6 month honeymoon, and then lucky you, but you’ll still need to get them done when you get home.

 

  • There are many ways you can do thank you cards, you can just do a thank you card in the same suite as your invitations, and you can order them at the same time, or you can use a wedding photo as a postcard as a  thank you, or you can take a photo on the wedding day with a thank you prop which you can use as part of the thank you card.
  • Don’t forget you’ll need to purchase stamps to send them all, make sure you budget for postage.

Putting pen to paper – how to write your wedding vows

All you need is love and … advice on writing your wedding vows

Legally in New Zealand a wedding ceremony only has to have one part to satisfy the ‘powers that be’ and that is the ‘I do’ piece. Everything else if totally up to you, so you can perform an interpretative dance if you feel the need ( I quite often offer that option to people, but usually they so no, not sure why)  I generally structure a wedding with welcome, love story, vows, I Do’s, ring exchange, husband and wife, kiss, party!

Your wedding vows are very personal, it is the part of the ceremony where you are speaking directly to your beloved, not the guests. I describe it as the part where you share your gratitude to the other person and your promises for your shared life ahead. They can be tricky and most people struggle with them, use your celebrant to give you some pointers, and to proof read them before you commit to them.

Things to consider when writing your vows:

  • Decide on the tone of the vows – are you going to write them together, or separately? Are you going to keep them secret for the big day? Are they going to be funny or totally serious? Are they going to be the same or totally different?
  • Read as much inspiration as you can get your hands on – the good thing about Uncle Google is that there are wedding vows all over the place. Spend some time having a look on-line and making a note of what you like.
  • Think about the future – how will your vows sound 10,20.30 years from now?
  • Pinterest – it will be your best friend in this situation, tons of inspiration there.
  • Questions to ask yourself – Why are we getting married? Where do I see myself in 10, 20 years from now? How does your partner inspire you? What do you miss about them when they’re not around? What surprised you about them? What have they taught you? What challenges have you met together? What did you think when you first saw them?
  • Don’t leave it too late – Yes you think you’ve got tons of time, but it will run out pretty quickly when planning a wedding. Don’t leave it till the last minute and be doing it the night before.
  • Vows are just for you and your partner – sure everyone is going to hear them, but remember that you are speaking directly to your loved one.
  • Vows should sound like you.  There is no point copying someone else’s long love poem if that is not really you.  Your partner will appreciate it more if it comes from your heart and sounds like you.

Remember it’s your wedding day so do it your way.