Mr. Square Tower's Top Ten Wedding Tips: The Ceremony!
Many couples spend virtually all of their time and energy planning their reception, and give hardly any thought to their ceremony, but in terms of what the whole day is about, the ceremony is really really important! Mr. Square Tower has seen hundreds of ceremonies; most are fine, some fantastic, and some are utterly toe-curlingly awful!
- CASE THE JOINT: Whenever possible set up the ceremony room the evening before and double check that your music/sound system works. Have about 10% more chairs than you need (that way groups that arrive together can sit together). Check that everyone knows where to go, what to do, what to say.
- BE JUST LIKE ALL GREAT ACTORS/SINGERS/PERFORMERS: They would never do something for the very first time without rehearsing, and neither should you! And not just the walk down the aisle (important as this is!), but all the key elements of the ceremony right up to the minute you've left the room. And ask for feedback - what worked well and what could make it even better, and adjust accordingly. Make sure your ushers or groomsmen/women are fully briefed on what they're to do: welcome/direct people to their seats or toilets, hand out orders of service/confetti, and make sure they know where to put coats, presents, pushchairs etc. Bridesmaids also need to be reminded that their principle role is not to look lovely as they avoid going head over heals, gliding gracefully down the aisle; no, their main job is to look after their bride, not just beforehand, but throughout the ceremony and beyond...
- TELL YOUR GUESTS WHERE TO GO: To help guests know where to go/sit make sure you put key people's names on their seats (don't simply rely on putting a reserved sign on a whole row). Just before the ceremony is due to start have someone welcome and thank the guests for coming and give out any essential information (such as where they are to go immediately after the ceremony).
- MEN CAN'T DRESS THEMSELVES: Have one person responsible for putting on gentlemen's buttonholes (if they do it themselves they'll be at different angles/places etc and they'll look awful in the photos!). Plus that person should check ties and flies and all the other bits and bobs...
- MUSIC HATH CHARMS TO SOOTH THE SAVAGE BRIDE: If you have pre-recorded music make sure you have allocated someone to turn this on for you and make sure they're fully briefed with the tracks/volume/equipment etc (at the Tower we'll do this for you, but not all venues will). From the moment the doors open to your guests have some nice music playing in the background. The choice of entrance/exit music is very much yours, but the exit music should usually be triumphant and celebratory, and played quite loudly
- PICTURE A SEA OF TABLETS AND PHONES: If you have a professional photographer tell your audience not to take photographs/videos during the ceremony, otherwise there's a strong chance that when the photographer takes photos of your audience all you'll see is a sea of phones/tablets/devices
- BRIDE AND GROOM: KEEP APART! If one partner (conventionally the groom) is getting there first, they can be early but in no circumstances should they be late. If the other partner (conventionally the bride) is coming in second, they can be late (but please not too late!), but in no circumstances should they be early (if you do turn up early, go for drive around the area or have a quick and crafty pint (but not in the nearest pub to the wedding, which is likely have guests or even the groom in it!).
GORDON BENNETT: THAT BRIDE COULD BEAT USAIN BOLT! Walking down the aisle:
- Walk SLOWLY and remember to SMILE (this applies to everyone walking in, but particularly to a bride)!
- Wait at least 30 seconds after your music's started before starting the walk
- Hold flowers in front of your belly button
- Don't send your bridesmaids down in order of size or age, but send the most confident one first (avoiding non-natural "feet-together" walking patterns)
- Brief the person playing your music to gently fade your music out once everyone has finished their walk down the aisle.
- THE ACTUAL SPLICING TOGETHER BIT: During the ceremony:
- Keep smiling, look into your partner's eyes, hold hands (you don't have to be married to do that!).
- When saying vows etc. speak slowly, and although you may be making vows to one person, make sure everyone in your audience can hear every word you are saying.
- Say personal vows to one another (this can add a real dimension to the occasion).
- THE GREAT ESCAPE: After the Ceremony:
- Beforehand you should have decided exactly where you are going to go.
- Go there, but not too fast!
- Smile loads, hold hands and confidently walk down the aisle together, and make eye contact with people as you leave
If you would like any more information, please contact Steve (Mr. Square Tower) on firstname.lastname@example.org
PS These tips are geared around civil marriage ceremonies, but a great deal of what is said applies equally to religious services too...