A well planned ceremony will make for a wonderful celebration, whereas a terrible ceremony leaves potential to set the tone for the remainder of the day. You will want to be prepared and take care of the small details, before your ceremony begins. As a wedding planner and coordinator, these are a few “lessons I’ve learned” from previous ceremonies.
Arrive early! Not on time, and not late, but early. If you can get ready in a bridal room at the ceremony location, it will make everything much easier for you. If a bridal room is not available for you, then you should arrive for your ceremony at least 15 minutes early. It’s okay for you to wait 15 minutes in the vehicle or limo to give yourself a little personal time to prepare yourself for your wedding ceremony. Most wedding ceremonies usually begin a few minutes late and it’s acceptable because it’s usually unavoidable. It usually takes a few minutes to coordinate the ‘start up’ and begin the procession. By beginning your ceremony on time, you are thanking your guests for being there as well as assuring yourself of a stress free ceremony.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “fashionably late”. This is not true for the bride. Being late for the ceremony creates a lot of stress for the bride, the wedding party, the guests, and anyone involved in the wedding. It’s a perfect recipe for the ceremony not to go according to plan and many of the scheduled events following the ceremony are often rushed, as well.
Believe it or not, most of the guests do arrive early and on time. However, there are always a few guests that are notoriously late. They are the ones that slip in and are looking for a seat right in the middle of the processional. You may want to appoint someone to hold back the late comers until the wedding party has entered and taken their places. An usher may then escort the late guest to an available seat.
Here are a few ideas that other brides have used to help their ceremony be as stress free as possible.
- Have your invitations listing the ceremony time as one half hour earlier than you are actually going to start. Then make sure you have snacks and nonalcoholic drinks available as your guests arrive. This idea gives your guests plenty of time to arrive and be in a relaxed atmosphere as your ceremony begins.
- Have the boutonnieres sent to the ceremony venue with the best man and the groom. They can also deliver the marriage license to the officiant, the ceremony programs, the rings, and any final payments that need to be made. Your wedding coordinator will help with this, as well.
- Draw or print a detailed map with directions to your ceremony venue for your “out of town” guests. It’s also a good idea to ask close family members to arrive early to greet your “out of town” guests.
- The officiant should know he is the ‘start up’ of the ceremony as he will enter with the groom. If not, the bridal party could find themselves coming down the aisle without the officiant and groom in their places. Your wedding coordinator will practice this with them at rehearsal.
- If any of your guests are being transported by trolley or bus, the bus drivers should be instructed to arrive early, rather than on time. Again, your wedding planner or coordinator can help make this call for you.
- Your ushers should know ahead of time that they will begin escorting your guests to their seats no later than 15 minutes before the scheduled start of ceremony, or the wedding coordinator will be hot on their trail.
- Let your wedding coordinator know in advance your wishes regarding your wedding ceremony vendors. i.e. Florist, Musician, DJ, Photographer, Videographer, and Officiant. Request that they coordinate their activities with your Wedding Coordinator.
- It is adorable for young children to take part in your wedding ceremony but have a plan B in place to avoid a catastrophe.
- Outdoor ceremonies which are held during a humid, sunny, hot day may be a source of stress for your guests. Be sure and have cold water, fans or sun protectors available for your guests to lessen the effects of the hot weather. You may even have some chairs set up in the shade. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Most wedding ceremonies run smoothly from beginning to end and even when they don’t, the ‘unexpected’ can sometimes add life and a little humor into a great ceremony. I love it when things go as planned, but sometimes things are just unforeseen and it’s best to just keep smiling and go with the flow. Many unforeseen circumstances are not even noticed. When these things happen, just take a deep breath and stay calm. Remember that you will be married at the end of the day. And above all, enjoy your stress free wedding ceremony!
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