Wedding Ceremony: Recessional

This is the end of a 7 part series of blog posts. Click to see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.

The Recessional signals the end of the ceremony. Its the opposite of the Processional. Everything is done in reverse except that the couple walks out together first. They are followed usually by the bridal party in the reverse order in which they entered. This is also where any attendees would follow the last instructions of the Officiant by throwing rice, confetti or blowing bubbles at the departing couple. After the bridal party leaves everyone else can also either all at once or in a more orderly row by row fashion if there are a lot of attendees.

Just after the recessional it is best to sign the marriage license with your Officiant and witness if your plan is to make the marriage legal that same day. Doing it at this point is best since it does not interrupt the ceremony and you also make sure it gets done before the pictures and partying start. Its easier to forget after this point.


Some alternatives include one last ritual, usually of a religious or cultural kind before the recessional. Jumping the broom or breaking the glass are two of the more well-known. However, there are many more so do not hesitate to ask your Officiant to include any that are personally important to you in your ceremony.

Another alternative is to not have a recessional at all. Just like you don’t need to have a processional there is no need for a recessional. Once the marriage has been pronounced official you can just go out and party or turn and accept well wishes right there and then. Its whatever you want.

So how will you end your wedding ceremony? Let us know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony: Pronouncement

This is part 6 of the Wedding Ceremony series. Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

We are almost to the end. Here we have the Closing Remarks and the Pronouncement. Closing remarks are usually a wrap up done entirely by the Officiant. Any final prayers, blessings, thanking those who have attended and any last words about marriage and unity are said as this time. This lets people know we are almost done.

The Pronouncement is very simple and again said by the Officiant. “By the powers invested in me by the state of ….” is usually how it starts as this is usually one of the few required statements by law that an Officiant has to say if this is also a legally binding ceremony. If not, it can be left out. Otherwise, the Officiant recognizes the couple as married and tells them to kiss. Once the couple does so, they will face the gathering and the Officiant will present them as a married couple to everyone often symbolized by saying their names.


The closing remarks can be adjusted to include any last minute instructions to the gathering about the recessional and any directions for after that. Guests have been focused on watching the ceremony so may have forgotten any plans for blowing bubbles or throwing flower petals or rice as the couple leaves. Also, usually after the ceremony the wedding party takes pictures so its good to direct the guests somewhere else for that time. Your Officiant can also announce the procedure for the receiving line later on. This is all done before the Pronouncement because afterward it will be very hard to get anyone’s.

Traditionally the Officiant would say you may now kiss the bride but they can say whatever you want. Also, the names you want the Officiant to use should be discussed beforehand. Any name changes will have to be done legally in whatever way your state requires it.

Will closing remarks be necessary at your ceremony? Are you more traditional or modern when it comes to how you would like your Officiant to pronounce you as married? Do either of you plan on changing your names? Let me know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony: Vows

This is part 5 of a series. Click to see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

You all know what this part is. The wedding vows and the ring vows are usually said at this time. Regular vows are what usually change the most from ceremony to ceremony. They can be written and read or off-the-cuff; general or personal; you can even repeat after me, the Officiant.

The ring vows are a bit simpler. Traditional said in the repeat after me format. Once your ring bearer or Maid of Honor and Best Man hand over the rings. Each partner will put the ring on the others left ring finger while saying the ring vows. Usually couples want something short and sweet for this section because not only are you talking while putting the ring on but you’ve also already said your vows. “With this ring, I thee wed.” is the traditional saying.


So what alternatives can we come up with here? Well sometimes couples parents. combine their vows and declaration of intent making for a shorter ceremony. Sometimes they leave one or the other out altogether. It can seem redundant to some.

Another section you can add here is a unity ceremony. Unity ceremonies symbolize the new union that has just taken place between the couple. They can often include other family members especially any children, siblings and parents. There are all kinds of unity ceremonies and you can choose one that corresponded with your wedding theme or decor if you so choose. Some examples are sand, water, candle, glass and wine unity ceremonies. They each consist of the couple and any family usually pouring various colors or types of these symbols together to form a new whole. The finished container is often then displayed in the couple’s home afterwards.

What do you think, will you write your own vows? Have a ring bearer in mind? And what about a unity ceremony, is that something you are interested in? Let me know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony: Marriage Address

This is part 3 in the Wedding Ceremony series. Click part 1 to read about the Procession and part 2 for the Gathering Words.

The next part of the wedding ceremony is most often called the marriage address. This is usually all spoken by the officiant or celebrant. But it also the part of the ceremony most often customized. The marriage address speaks about marriage. About the unity of two or more people. About what marriage is and what it could be. What it means spiritually and in reality. In a religious service, the Officiant will often reference that religions beliefs about what marriage means; both to its people as a whole and those getting married before them in that moment.

This section of the ceremony is where the couple’s relationship so far is covered. Also any wishes and goals for their future are spoken here. This is where, if the Officiant is close to the couple, they can speak about the relationship’s history on a personal level. Or if not close to them, the Officiant or another person can read a story of their relationship. If this is something they want done a certain way, the couple can write it themselves.

Marriage Address 2

Alternatively, the Officiant can put something together after meeting with and learning about the couple. In a secular or interfaith ceremony the Officiant will often talk about love. Now this can be included in any ceremony but I bring it up here because it is a great way to speak of marriage in terms everybody understands without adhering to a particular religious belief system.

Another way to customize this section of your ceremony is to have a reading or two. Something that means something to the couple, whether it be popular or obscure, is best when choosing any reading but in this section especially. And it doesn’t have to be overt or lovey-dovey if you don’t want it to be. Maybe you and you significant other are a private couple and don’t want to have your love story spoken about out loud. Having a reading as a representation of how you feel about each other and your relationship is a great alternative. One of the more popular alternative readings is from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margaret Williams Blanco.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

There is a longer version that the very first couple I had the privilege of marrying used. Overall, it is subtle and sweet without being cringy if that’s not your thing. If cavity-causing readings are more your speed there are plenty out there so no worries. Overall, it important to think about how you want marriage, unity, love and your relationship to be represented here. 

With these ideas, what would you prefer your ceremonies marriage address to be like? If you want a reading, do you have one in mind? What is it? Do share.

Wedding Ceremony : Declaration of Intent

This is part 4 of the Wedding Ceremony series. Click to see part 1, part 2 and part 3.

The Declaration of Intent is where the couple says their I Do’s. The Officiant will ask questions of each person and they will respond I Do or I Will while looking at the other or at the Officiant. Some traditional questions include “Do you take soandso as your lawfully wedding wife/husband, t have and to hold, in sickness and in health, til death do you part?” Sometimes this is all that is asked. Other times their is more.

For example, since this comes after the Marriage Address, the Officiant will have put together a small charge for the couple instead of or in addition to the  questions. This is a statement that is basically each person stating what they will do in this marriage. When the Officiant “repeat after me,” you know this is coming.

Declaration of Intent

This is another place where you can customize your ceremony.You can make up your own questions for the officiant to say. Some couples already have children and to include them in the ceremony, have them mentioned here as they declare their intent to the child(ren) and to the soon to be blended family as a whole also. One could also let the kid(s) state their intention of accepting this new person into their family officially. Obviously, this is not like a legal adoption which is an entirely different process should one want to do that.

Another alternative is to include a Declaration of Support from family, friends and/or those who are attending the ceremony. This can form in many ways. The guests can stand and repeat a short pledge of support after the Officiant. Certain members, such as the parents of the couple, may be called on to receive a gift as a symbol of this marriage being of family as well as individuals. There are so many ways to verbally or symbolically include your family and friends in your ceremony.

If this is the plan, it is very important to brief everyone involved ahead of time. Also, to have the Officiant remind them during their opening remarks explaining the ceremony. Its also great to have written or typed versions of any long declarations or sayings that will not be in the repeat after me (the Officiant) format.

What kinds of declarations would you like to include in your ceremony? Let me know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony: Gathering Words

This is part 3 in a series of posts about the Wedding Ceremony. Click to see part 1 and part 2.

After the processional comes the gathering words, or opening words. This means exactly what it says. In movies you’ll hear the Officiant say something to the tune of “dearly beloved we are gathered here today….” In less traditional ceremonies it is a time used to call everyone to attention to let them know the ceremony is beginning and to take their places or seats. Again that usually comes before the processional but many Officiants consider it parts of the gathering words. However, others differentiate the two by naming the next section as any orator would, opening words.


So the gist of it is to start the official ceremony, acknowledge those gathered together to witness, introduce themselves and the couple they are about to marry and tell them what they are here to witness. That’s it. It can be as short and sweet or long and flowery or not as each couple wants it.

This is a great time to acknowledge and special family or friends such as those who have passed away or the parents of the bride and groom. This is also an optimal time for a reading if you plan to have more than one in your ceremony. Short ones like quotes would be great here. It is also the best time to explain any particular rituals that your guests may not be familiar with. Especially those where you would ask them to participate in such as ring warming.

And of course, many religious ceremonies use this time to acknowledge or invoke any higher powers that may be present or would like to be present. Creating sacred space or saying a prayer.

Tell me, how would you like to start your wedding ceremony? Who would you acknowledge? If anyone? What unique opening readings have peaked your interest? Let me know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony: The Processional

This is part 2 in a series of posts about the Wedding Ceremony. To see part 1, click here.

When talking about a wedding ceremony the processional is the entrance. The beginning of it all. When we break it down its simply when the wedding party (everyone participating in the ceremony) walks in. That shouldn’t be complicated enough to need a plan but it can be. Mostly due to pressure from family and friends (and even business associates in some circles) on who will be included in the wedding party. Hopefully, you’ve picked out your wedding party and dealt with any fallout or hurt feelings early on.

Traditionally, the processional consists of the officiant, parents of the groom, groomsmen, groom, ring bearer, bridesmaids, flower girl, parents of the bride and the bride. *In that order.* But we’re living in 2016 with modern families. The processional is a great time and place to personalize your wedding with no extra cost.


Begin as you mean to go on, I say. Only include those that are close to you in your wedding party. Those that won’t try to steal all the attention for themselves. This goes for family as well as friends. You do not need to have an equal amount of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Brides if your Groom can walk himself down the aisle then so can you if you choose to. No need to be given away if you don’t want to be. Kids not interested in participating? Or maybe you don’t have kids. No need to go pull cousin Alex’ daughter into things for traditions sake. The best man can carry the ring. And you can have your bridesmaids sprinkle flowers (or blow bubbles) as they walk down the aisle.

Go totally crazy and have your true baby, your dog, walk down the aisle. Just be prepared for things not to go as planned and make sure dogs are allowed. Ooh, remember this bride who famously pushed her newborn’s carriage in front of her? Or maybe try your ceremony without a processional at all. Mingle with your guests as they arrive for a more casual start to your ceremony. If a couple can get married at City Hall with only one witness as the minimum requirement by law then the possibilities in this area are limitless.

What do you think? How will you begin your wedding ceremony? Share your ideas below.

Wedding Ceremony

Happy New Year everyone!

Its a new year and there are lot of newly engaged couples out there. Most of whom will be getting married for the first time. Its very easy to get bogged down in the details of the pre- and post-wedding activities while the most important part, the ceremony gets overlooked.

This is understandable since the ceremony itself, unless it is an elaborately religious or mixing two cultures or religions, can be pretty simple. Beyond picking your wedding party and officiant the ceremony itself is pretty simple here in the U.S. However, because of this, many couples don’t know what can go into it. It doesn’t help that each state has slightly different requirements about what constitutes legally married. So, if you care about that, please do check with your state to see what the minimum requirements are for where you will marry and live. If not, that is one less worry on your mind.


To help you relieve a few more worries I have created this basic guide to what can be included in your wedding ceremony. You are not obligated to include everything listed here. These are just some options to give the newly engaged ideas for when they speak with an officiant.

This is the first in a series of posts. First, I’ll go over what the different parts of a ceremony generally include. Followed by a list of the most common additions. In subsequent posts I’ll go into more detail about each and give some examples. You may have noticed that I am long-winded. This way you won’t be bombarded with a novel length blog post all at once because who wants to read that?

So a wedding ceremony generally consists of 7 basic parts. You can click each of the sections below to read more about what they traditionally entail as well as :

  1. Processional
  2. Gathering Words
  3. Invocation/Marriage Address
  4. Declaration of Intent
  5. Exchange of Vows/Rings
  6. Pronouncement
  7. Recessional

Additional parts (in no particular order):

  • Blessing
  • Readings
  • Unity Ceremonies
  • Sermon/Homily
  • Prayer
  • Giving of the Bride
  • Post-pronouncement rituals
  • Remembrances
  • Family rituals
  • Ring Warming

There are many other religious and cultural practices which add different traditions to marriage ceremonies. For example, here are some parts included in a Pagan Handfasting.

  • Circle casting
  • Circle cleansing/consecrating
  • Calling of the elements/watchtowers/quarters/angels/etc
  • Evocation of the gods and goddesses
  • Handfasting
  • Dismissing the elements/watchtowers/quarters/angels/etc
  • Thanking the gods and goddesses
  • Closing the circle

So there you have it a basic breakdown of a wedding ceremony and just a tiny bit more. If you’ve ever been to a wedding or seen on on tv you will recognize many of these terms for what they are but in my next few posts, I plan to explain more about each part listed. So subscribe or follow me so that you get notified when the next posts come out.

Also, let me know if you have seen some other wedding ceremony traditions not listed here. I love to expand my knowledge and also answer any questions you may have.

Have a great weekend everyone,

~Lashette Williams, Efficiency and Happiness.

Etsy Weddings Showcase


Earlier this year I told myself to head out and find new vendors to work with for my business and one of my first attempts to network outside my comfort zone was Etsy Weddings. By now everyone knows that Etsy has a Weddings category where thousands of sellers that specialize in that special day promote their one of a kind (OOAK), handmade and vintage wares. Well, Etsy also has a yearly event where local vendors can showcase their products up close and personal to potential clients. This year I went to check it out. Once I got checked in with my little booklet I was on my way.

The first booth I came too was Hunter and Co. Designs and they make both custom and pre-made rubber stamps. Why would they be at a wedding event? Because they make custom stamps couples can get everything from a simple Thank You stamp to a full wedding invitation stamp with personalized names dates and locations.

thank you note
My personal Hunter & Co. Designs Thank you note

In my previous post I talked about how difficult it is for modern couples to find time to hand write invitations and thank you notes. This is a great alternative. What I also liked about my first stop was how they had it set up so couples could try things out right there and then with different stationary and stamps. I made my own thank you note to help remember them.

My next stop was at a vendor selling vintage wedding dresses and more. Salvato Collections has a beautifully curated vintage wedding day collection. From OOAK dresses to crowns and jewelry. All gorgeous and giving off a dreamy or fairy-like feel. Amanda, the owner and I had a great talk about how she picks her items looking for non-traditional and vintage looks. We got into a discussion about tea party bridal showers and picnic weddings; both of which we think should become trends.

Next came one of my fave vendors. Moontree Letterpress.

Garden Style Wedding Invite by Moontree Letterpress

You guys will learn how much I love nature and the outdoors as this blog goes on. And Rebecca from Moontree makes gorgeous stationary with trees and flowers all over it. Letterpress is a type of printing where images and text are pressed into the paper resulting in a relief. This is an old-fashioned style of printing.  Just absolutely gorgeous stuff and she has been studying horticulture. She’s got all types of plant life that she uses as inspiration for her botanical art and printing.

Daniela with  Monique Halter Cape Bridal Jumpsuit

The next unique vendor I got to see was a surprise. Daniela Tabois is another clothing vendor with an unassuming set up; just a small table, email sign up list and a rack of clothing. I was intrigued as she was the first person of color I had seen at the event so far. Turns out she is a new designer and her specialty is right up my alley. Daniela makes bridal jumpsuits instead of gowns. Now this was a unique and non-traditional idea. A fancy alternative for those women who didn’t want to deal with huge gowns or don’t want to wear a dress. These jumpsuits are just as glamorous and fitting for any bride. Daniela had so many options that looked amazing that I couldn’t choose so I told her to pick which was her favorite to take a picture with.

Turning around I almost bumped into the crowd around Olivia Ewing Jewelry‘s table. Delicate earrings, bracelets and, most importantly, rings designs inspired by nature. I instantly fell in love but didn’t get to talk to the creator since she was busy with prospective customers. I couldn’t even get good pictures so sad but definitely check out her website.

Floral-escence cotton bouquet

Okay, continuing with my unique and nature themes is Floral-escence. They make preserved floral designs. Everyone knows that flowers are here today and gone tomorrow. Their shelf life is shortened dramatically once they are cut but they add so much atmosphere. This goes for greenery as well. Well Melody, the owner has found a solution by creating floral designs with preserved flowers. My fave that day was the cotton bouquet. These are great for winter or rustic weddings.

And now we must talk about food, in particular dessert. I have four words for you; Mini Brownie Wedding Shop. First these brownies taste amazing. Second, they can put edible pictures on the brownies. These would make perfect wedding guest favors. And Julie assured me that her husband can make vegan and gluten-free versions as well. How cool is that?

Next up was a vendor making great bridal party gifts. Sandra Smith was showcasing her handcrafted and monogrammed change/makeup purses but she enthusiastically told me that she can happily make them for other types of events. They can come in various colors and prints and of course monogrammed for each lucky maid. These are high quality bags and I cannot wait to work with Sandra more.

    Flower Girl Feather Crown by Little Lady Accessories

I am not going to lie, I love headbands and crowns so much and there were so many vendors selling them, with and without veils, at this event. So many colors and materials. But my favorite had to be the beautiful bride-flower girl set made of feathers. The most unique and non-traditional of them all; made by Mandy of Little Lady Accessories. To be honest, my picture does not do it justice. I still cannot believe this was tucked up under the table. It must have been snapped up quickly because I could find it in the shop later on.

Last, but definitely not least, was the Samwell Leather Co. The only vendor showcasing items for the Groom directly. Guys need love too. But it was obvious with one glance that the owner Salvatore LiPuma knew what he was doing. His handcrafted leather items would be perfect gifts for any groom and his men. Absolutely gorgeous quality leather and who doesn’t love a leather merchant whose slogan is “respect the cow?”

Alright, that’s enough out of me. Before I go on to extol the good qualities of every merchant I encountered I’ll answer the question you’ve probably been wondering. Why am I sharing these great vendors only now? Because engagement season is coming up and for those couples getting married in Spring 2017 its time to start looking and buying many of those unique items you have not purchased yet for your big day.

Let me know what you think of my favorites or if you’ve worked with any of these sellers show them some love in the comments.

~Lashette, Excelsior Events


3 Thank You Note Alternatives

thank you note
Sample Thank You Card I created from Hunter & Co. Designs at the Etsy Wedding event earlier this year.

Are Thank You Notes a Thing of the Past?

Not that I don’t agree that sending thank you notes to people who sent you gifts for your wedding (or Baby Shower or House Warming) shouldn’t be done. Not everyone can attend and they have no other way of knowing if you got the gift on time and in one piece. Sending a Thank You note in reply covers all of that. Etiquette says if someone was kind enough to get you a gift you should remember them and take the time to send them a handwritten note in reply.


That would be nice but we ain’t got time for that. Many also don’t have the money. With many people paying for their own events while still being financially unstable and the prices of these events going up as you invite more people, people cut back wherever they can. Modern etiquette does not say its rude to just ask your friend, “Hey, did you get my gift. How did you like it?” Especially since today’s world moves quicker and events like weddings and baby showers still have so many moving parts. Also, with today’s technology its easy to keep in touch (or not).

So here are some modern alternatives to the thank you note:

1. Ecards. I think by now we’ve all heard of Evites. Its a no brainer why cutting back on paper invites and sending out beautiful Evites. You can still get them bundled with matching thank you Ecards. And even connect them so they automatically go out. Who doesn’t have an email account nowadays? If your guests can order your gift online, you can send them a thank you note via the internet. Here are some examples of companies that make great Ecards; Paperless Post is very well known and there is also Punchbowl as a cheaper alternative.


2. Video Messages. We have everything from video cameras to cell phones to Facebook Live so there are tons of ways to make a thank you video. It can be prerecorded or you can have a live video chat with your friends and family; particularly those who couldn’t make it. In many cases this is a free option, like via skype, but if you want to make things a bit fancier you can use paid apps or even fancy editing software.


3. Visits. I’m a fan of not inviting people you are not close with to your personal events. But even then it can get crowded and you don’t get to spend quality time with your guests. So as an alternative why not set up a date in the future with just the two of you so you can catch up and give your thanks in person. This is particularly for those far flung friends and family who just couldn’t make it. And it works great whether they send a gift or not!


I will caution people to keep in mind older or old-fashioned family and friends who might expect or like a hand-written thank you note. Having a few for those people will not break your budget. And also for those who expect everyone to send you thoughtful gifts for your life’s every milestone, you should at least tell each person thank you in some meaningful way in exchange.


Lastly, not everyone has to send a gift or expects to receive one. Many modern couples don’t. And they don’t invite everyone to their events. Particularly not people they don’t speak to on at least a semi-regular basis. So your congrats on their Facebook wall is enough for some. Just don’t expect more than a reply saying “Thanks.”