Tips for a Great Wedding

Of course you want your ceremony to go according to plan. Here are some tips and ideas gathered over many ceremonies, to help your day run as smoothly as possible.

Choosing the venue

Book early if you can and be aware that there may be additional costs at some venues (e.g. Hireage of extra chairs, sound equipment etc).

Think about your least mobile guest. Will they be able to attend and be comfortable?

Ensure there is enough seating for older, infirm, pregnant people during the ceremony.

If your venue is out of the way, include a map or directions with your invitation.

Some public venues still require licences or permits, so check with the council in advance and be aware of any restrictions.

Ensure you confirm your venue (and all your wedding suppliers for that matter) especially if you’ve booked them a long way in advance.

You can’t control the weather, so have a contingency plan if it’s wet or wild weather and then don’t stress if you have to use it.

Your guests may be waiting half an hour or more before the ceremony, especially if they arrive early. Will they be comfortable or do you need to provide shelter, heaters, sun umbrellas, toilets or refreshments? Suggest they wear comfortable shoes if they need to walk any distance or they are walking on grass/sand.

Ceremony Content

There are very few ‘musts’ in a ceremony. Make it yours, be unique, think outside the square, be different if you want to be, make it memorable.

A good celebrant will capture your story and the essence of who you. Don’t tolerate prewritten, template or rehashed ceremonies. It’s your day and your ceremony should reflect the two of you and what’s important to you.

No one likes a long boring ceremony, but avoid having it too short as well. 15-25 mins is usually about right.

If you have children, include them in the ceremony wherever possible. EG ‘King of the Ring’ or ‘Flower Fairies’ or bridal party attendants if older. Perhaps offer them a gift during the ceremony.  Children may even be able to sign as your witnesses!

Including or even mentioning children from former relationships in the ceremony is important. They will feel a part of your lives and your love.

It’s nice to mention deceased loved ones during the ceremony, either by name or in general. Maybe have a photo of them too or light a remembrance candle.

Acknowledge your guests, especially those who have travelled from overseas.

Think about including a couple of poems or readings in your ceremony. Family and friends are nearly always honoured to be asked to read these.

If you can, write your own Vows. Ask your celebrant if you get stuck. Remember, they don’t have to be the same as each others. Yes, you can ‘repeat after me’ but maybe you could surprise your love on the day with your Vows, or write them in the form of a love letter.

Select music you love. Don’t worry about others expectations or going with the traditional.

Prior to the Ceremony

Get your licence organised and to your celebrant at least a week prior to the big day.

Consider having your Hen or Stag night at least a week before the big day. It will be hard for you or your guests to enjoy the day if you are hung over.

If you have a tight time frame, advise your guests that the ceremony will start 15 earlier than you actually plan. Then you won’t have any stragglers

Prepare a checklist prior to your ceremony so nothing gets forgotten as it will be a very busy day for all of you

Delegating tasks to specific people is a great way to help people feel included.

Ensure you tell them specifically what you want them to do and remind them a day or two beforehand. Don’t be scared to ask.  EG.

  • Nominate someone who will bring all the bits to the celebrant/venue
  • If you have a book of ‘Thoughts and Wishes’ for guests to sign, delegate someone to keep it circulating through the reception.
  • Delegate someone to play the music and ensure they know the tracks numbers? Run through the music beforehand to check that all the equipment works. Have spare batteries if necessary. If you are playing music from a phone, make sure the person in charge knows the unlock PIN. (Write it on their hand)
  • Readings – Get people doing readings to practice and ask the celebrant to have the readings on cards for them on the day
  • Have a nominated person on the day who is prepared to be a ‘trouble shooter’ (aka ‘wedding angel’) and will take care of payments that need to be paid on the day, seating, organising the groomsmen etc
  • If you want formal photos with specific guests, make a list for the photographer and give a copy to one of the wedding party to coordinate them = Like clockwork. Similarly if you plan a group photo with all your guests, make an announcement before the ceremony that you would like all your guests to stay together for this.

Have a ‘survival kit’ available on the big day. This may include: Safety Pins, Sewing kit, Tissues, Hairclips, Nail file, Plasters, Tampons, Deodorant, Baby wipes, Super glue, Double sided tape, Spare batteries for sound equipment/cameras, Paracetamol, Water bottle, Rescue Remedy, Breath mints etc.

Think of supplying light refreshments if your wedding party is outside. This adds a nice touch to your day and encourages people to stay around a little longer before heading off to your reception.

Candles.  Candles are great, but lighting candles outside is a bit tricky – but not impossible. Always have them with a glass covering, making sure the candle is well inside or below the glass cover. If you prelight them, they will light easier when you need them.

Make a list of important contact numbers, photocopy it and give it key people. Have a plan or point of contact to coordinate arrival times before the ceremony. Eg ‘I’ll phone when I’m 5 minutes away from the venue’.

Take time to thank those family and friends who have supported you in getting you to your big day and who have gone out of their way for you. They won’t expect to be thanked, but they’ll appreciate it.

On the day

Make sure you and all your wedding party eat something before the ceremony. It is a long day until you all get fed, particularly if you’re drinking champagne or beer on an empty stomach

Watch your alcohol intake, especially if you’re nervous – Too much alcohol nearly always ends in tears. It’s your special day, you want to remember it!

Children can get overwhelmed. Make sure they have a caregiver(not you). Give lots of hugs

Don’t stress if it rains – You can’t control the weather! In many cultures rain is a sign of good luck. Remind yourself that an overcast or rainy day usually makes for great photos.

During the Ceremony

Don’t be late! Start the ceremony within 10 mins of when you say you will. Everyone knows that it’s the Bride’s perogative to be a few minutes late, but lengthy waits are uncomfortable for guests, and will invariably put pressure on the rest of the day. Anymore than 10-15 mins late is just plain rude.

During the ceremony, don’t wear sunglasses, chew, or try to read over the celebrants shoulder (It looks awful in photos)

Your ceremony will have an energy of its own. Once all the planning is done, you get to a point where you need to just let it flow. RELAX and ENJOY your big day.

Once you have arrived take a deep breath to relish the moment. Remember why you are there. Feel the love – this is YOUR moment!

This is your big day and shouldn’t be a military performance. Remember that the unexpected things are often the most memorable – A supportive hand if you stumble – a small child’s words or giggles – Wiping a tear – Mixing up words – Saying ‘Wow’.

Look at each other during the ceremony, hold hands, whisper sweet nothings, be yourselves.  Have a tissue handy (just in case).

Don’t worry about forgetting your vows. The celebrant will be there to help if you need it.

If you are reading your vows from a card, pause at the end of each line to look at the other.

Keep eye contact with each other throughout your vows. Stay in the moment.

Often unscripted moments, be it laughter or tears, turns a ceremony from great to magical and provides a truly memorable day.

Straight after the ceremony

Take time to accept congratulations from your guests. Don’t be too rushed. Enjoy the moment.  (Also some of your best and most candid photos will probably be taken during this time).

During congratulations, stay together as the newly married couple. If you get separated by the masses, remember to gravitate back and find your love.

Above all, just enjoy your big day. (Don’t get stressed by the details) You are surrounded by those you love and who love you, so relish this special time.