How to Make Your Wedding Ceremony Personal
Three local wedding officiants share their planning tips for a personal ceremony
The options for personalizing your wedding reception are endless, but don’t forget about all the ways you can personalize your wedding ceremony! You may be hesitant to add your own touch for the sake of time or from fear of public speaking, but a personalized ceremony can better reflect your love story to your family and friends who gathered to be a part of your special day. The ceremony can be equally as exciting and meaningful as your reception if it authentically represents you and your partner’s love. From incorporating family traditions to cultural rituals, there are many ways to personalize your wedding ceremony. Personalization can bring more emotion and authenticity to your wedding ceremony with some added creativity.
The first step down the aisle? Select a local wedding officiant who is committed to representing and honoring both you and your betrothed in one ceremony. Let us introduce you to our favorite North Carolina wedding officiants. We know each of these professionals personally and they have the experience and knowledge to make your wedding unique to your relationship. These wedding officiants are some of the best in the Triangle-area and each is willing and able to serve couples of all faiths and cultural backgrounds.
Reverend Katherine Dupree – A Wedding Officiant in Durham, NC Serving All Couples
Reverend Katherine Dupree specializes in authentic and unique ceremonies for all couples and values genuine conversations about love, family and spirituality. She aims to create wedding ceremonies true to the couples backgrounds and beliefs that resonate with them. She approaches each client as a friend and builds real relationships with them.
“I take a connection-first approach,” Rev. Dupree says. “I spend however long it takes with a couple to get an understanding of the kind of ceremony that will feel meaningful and authentic to them.”
As a queer person herself, she understands the complexities of navigating different perspectives or beliefs and makes it her goal to make sure everyone feels included. Rev. Dupree has three tips for how to make your wedding ceremony personal.
No. 1: Think about what you want to feel and what you want your guests to feel during the ceremony. Then work backwards to decide what elements you want to incorporate into your ceremony. Do you want everyone to feel grounded and present? Burn some calming oils and include a brief meditation. Do you want to relax and have a good time? Throw in a few swear words and laughs. Offer guests an ice-cold beverage when they walk through the door. Add little details that will lend to your desired atmosphere and feeling.
No. 2: Don’t get stuck in the realm of tradition. There are so many ways to honor your Union outside of the traditional unity ceremonies like a hand-fasting or sand ceremony. Take some time to consider your unique relationship and what makes each of you, you. If you love fine whiskey and having a good time – take a shot together over the altar! If you met as white-water rafting guides, say I do while rafting down a river! These may seem like extreme examples. But even if you enjoy traditional wedding ceremony rituals, I still recommend you find small ways to make it your own. That could look like weaving a thread of your mother’s wedding dress into your own, or having bottled Cheerwine at the cocktail hour because it’s your favorite. The possibilities are endless.
No. 3: Remember that the wedding starts long before the music starts playing. Your guest’s first experience with your day starts the moment they get the invitation. There are ways to set the tone from the beginning. Talk to your stationer about ways to make your wedding invites personal. For example, including a community playlist where friends and family can add their own favorites. Another thing to think about is setting the mood while your guests are waiting for the ceremony to begin. How many weddings have you been to where guests are forced to sit bored and hot in the sun with nothing to do, waiting for the ceremony to start? What a mood killer. Give your guests something to do, create a space of transition. Prime your guests to be in the moment, feeling what you want them to feel.
Weddings by Heidi Gessner – Wedding Officiant in Raleigh NC
Heidi Gessner has a true knowledge of listening, communicating and connecting with others. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, Heidi believes that love is love, and that couples should be free to marry regardless of sexual orientation and spiritual beliefs. The best way to describe Heidi is intentional, she is warm and friendly, yet professional and organized. What makes her wedding officiant services unique is the fact that she is also a certified life and relationship coach. Heidi knows how to create a safe and productive space for honest communication to take your relationship from good to great. She shows couples how to communicate better during and after their wedding planning, while simultaneously strengthening their relationship.
Heidi has a few questions for couples to consider to help make their wedding ceremony personal:
- Do your parents have any faith or cultural wedding traditions(s) that are important to your families that you could incorporate? “One of my bride’s fathers was Greek and she wanted to honor his heritage,” Heidi says. “We incorporated a Stefana (wedding crowns) ceremony following their vows. The bride and groom are crowned as King and Queen of their home, which they will rule with wisdom, justice and integrity. This was also part of her parent’s wedding ceremony.”
- Do you want anyone else (family member or friend) to say something during the wedding ceremony? For example, to offer a prayer or reading.
- Are there any symbols or rituals you want incorporated into the service? (Unity candle, sand ceremony, anniversary box etc). “One of my couples met at a Hurricanes hockey game,” Heidi says. “As soon as I presented them as a married couple, the siren that’s played when a goal is made was played!”
- Is there anyone you want to include by mentioning their importance in your life? (For example, someone who has died or who can’t be at the wedding ceremony physically.)
- Are there any poems, excerpts or specific scripture verses that you want to use either as an explicit reading or as inspiration for the ceremony?
- Think about your vows. Do you want to use traditional vows, write your own, or a combination of both? You can always write a few sentences of personal statements to each other and then use the more traditional and repeat-after-me style.
Personalized and Meaningful Ceremonies with Kevin Holland
Reverend Kevin Holland is dedicated to crafting a wedding ceremony to perfectly fit each couple he joins in marriage. He is available for Christian, non-denominational, interfaith and non-religious ceremonies of all sizes, and works closely with couples to ensure everyone is comfortable with the traditions incorporated into their big day. Rev. Holland knows what matters most, and is committed to getting to know each couple on an individual basis. With Rev. Holland, after your ceremony, there won’t be a dry eye in the room!
Rev. Holland says personalizing your vows is one of the best ways to personalize your wedding ceremony and incorporate something truly meaningful to both partners. While there are no rules for writing your own vows, Rev. Holland finds these ideas to be helpful.
- Remember the definition of a vow? It’s a promise. What promises do you want to make to your partner?
- The exchange of wedding vows is not the time to share remembrances or stories. Those are certainly romantic and even fun, but they shouldn’t take the place of making your promises.
- Think about what your partner wants to hear from you. We don’t all express love in the same way. You may like to hear romantic words while your partner prefers that you spend quality time with him or her. Learn what your partner’s primary love language is and then make promises that fit that language.
- Agree on a format or length. You don’t want to be embarrassed on your wedding day because your personal vows are much shorter than your partner’s. For example, you may want to agree to each make five promises to each other or agree on a certain word count.
- Remember, this isn’t a competition! You don’t have to outdo each other. Find the words in your heart and speak them to each other.
Take the First Step Towards Personalization
Remember, the possibilities for personalizing your wedding ceremony are endless. Selecting a NC wedding officiant who is committed to honoring both families is key. If you aren’t getting married in a place of worship, you will need to hire a professional wedding officiant. Read more about each of our recommended officiants here!