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Make it Personal

How to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

Two local wedding officiants share their ceremony planning tips 

Options for a personalized wedding reception are endless! But don’t forget about all the ways you can also personalize your wedding ceremony to make it your own. You may be hesitant to add your own personal touches for the sake of adding time to your wedding ceremony, but a personalized ceremony can better reflect your love story to your loved ones who are gathered to witness your special day. Keep in mind that your ceremony can be just as exciting, meaningful and engaging as your reception if it authentically represents you and your partner’s love. From cultural rituals to your family traditions, there are many ways you can personalize a wedding ceremony. These personal details can add more emotion and authenticity to your wedding ceremony with a little 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 local wedding officiants. We know each of these professionals personally. They each possess the experience and know-how to help create a wedding ceremony unique to your relationship. These wedding officiants are some of the best in the Triangle area. They are each are willing and able to serve couples of all faiths and cultural backgrounds.

Reverend Katherine Dupree – Wedding Officiant in Durham, NC

Reverend Katherine Dupree specializes in authentic and unique ceremonies for all couples and values genuine conversations about love, family and spirituality. Reverend Dupree’s goal is to create wedding ceremonies true to each couple’s background, and honor the beliefs that resonate with them. She approaches every new client as friends and works to build real, authentic relationships with them. 

“I take a connection-first approach,” Reverend 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.” 

Reverend Dupree understands how complex it can be to try to navigate differing perspectives or beliefs and makes it her goal to make sure everyone feels included in a wedding ceremony. Rev. Dupree offers three tips for how to make your wedding ceremony personal.

Tips for a Personal Wedding Ceremony from Rev. Dupree

Tip 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.

Tip 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 whitewater 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.

Tip 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.

Ceremonies by Gwen Downs – Wedding Officiant in Raleigh NC 

Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant Gwen Downs moved from New Jersey to North Carolina and has been crafting and officiating wedding ceremonies since 2014. “As a celebrant, I use my specialized skills in ceremony creation and rituals to design a unique and memorable wedding ceremony reflecting the couple’s personalities, love story, beliefs, values and cultural backgrounds,” Gwen says. “I will customize every element of their ceremony with their collaboration, assist them on the traditional elements they’d like to include, write their love story, ask family and friends for their input, and tell it the way it happened to the delight of everyone in attendance.”

More Ceremony Tips

Here are a few questions for couples to consider to help make your wedding ceremony personal:

  • Do your parents have any faith-based or cultural wedding traditions that are important to your families that you could add in to your wedding ceremony?
  • Do you want anyone other than your celebrant (like a family member, friend or member of the wedding party) to speak during the wedding ceremony? For example, they might say a prayer or reading.
  • Are there any symbols you want to include in the ceremony? For example, pouring together two vessels of sand.
  • Are there any specific or meaningful excerpts, poems or scripture verses that you want to incorporate into your ceremony?

Take the Steps To Personalizing Your Wedding Ceremony

Remember, the possibilities for personalizing your wedding ceremony are endless. Selecting a 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 local wedding officiants here!

Personalizing your vows is one of the best ways to personalize your wedding ceremony and incorporate something deeply meaningful to both partners. While there are no rules for writing your own vows, these following ideas may be helpful.

  • Remember the definition of a vow? It’s a promise. What promises do you want to make to your partner as you start your life together?
  • The exchange of wedding vows is not the time to share remembrances or stories. Those are certainly romantic and 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 quite the same way. You may like to hear romantic words while your partner prefers quality time together. Learn what your partner’s primary love language is and then make promises that fit that language.
  • Agree on the format and length of your vows. 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 might choose to agree to each make five promises to each other. Or, agree on a specific word count to keep your ceremony to the right length.
  • This isn’t a competition! You don’t have to out-do each other. Speak from your heart and let your love for your partner shine.
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