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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  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 theĀ elements/watchtowers/quarters/angels/etc
  • Evocation of the gods and goddesses
  • Handfasting
  • Dismissing theĀ 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.