9 Tips for Planning a Meaningful Wedding Ceremony

A bride putting a ring on her groom's finger during their wedding ceremony.

With the reception part of a wedding requiring so much time and planning, it can be easy to neglect what is arguably the most important part of your wedding day: the ceremony. After all, that’s when you and your future spouse will exchange vows, officially becoming husband and wife. Since this is such a special part of your big day, you likely want it to be meaningful and full of love and memorable moments. To aid you in doing so, learn how you can make your marriage ceremony one that you’ll always treasure by following the tips and tricks below.

1. Start with the Ceremony Program

Programs for a wedding sitting on the church pews.

Set the tone for your special ceremony by putting together a beautiful wedding program. While this doesn’t need to be anything fancy, the content of it can really set the precedent for your ceremony as being something meaningful. In your program, have a quote or passage that means something to you and your fiancé, list your wedding party and honored guests, and put a personalized note thanking your loved ones for being there. This is a wonderful touch that will be noticed and appreciated.

2. Honor a Loved One

A wedding ceremony is also the perfect time to honor loved ones who aren’t physically present as you exchange your vows. Remember deceased loved ones by lighting a candle in their honor, putting a note about them in your program, or having seats in their honor in the audience. At such an important moment, it’s nice to reflect on those who’ve had such a deep impact on your lives and influence your lives in spirit.

3. Choose the Music Carefully

Although many couples choose traditional wedding ceremony music and songs for this part of their day, that doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up. Choose songs that mean a lot to you as a couple to enhance the emotions of your wedding ceremony and to make it more personal.

4. Write Your Own Vows

A bride and groom saying their vows.

Your vows are arguably the most intimate and meaningful moment of your entire wedding. Really make them your own by writing them yourselves, keeping them private from your future spouse until the moment you recite them during your ceremony. This will be something you’ll always remember. Another special way to commemorate your personalized vows is to write them in cards or special journals to give to your spouse after the big day.

5. Curate Special Readings

Readings are a special part of your ceremony that are also a wonderful way to include loved ones as they recite them. Choose your readings carefully and ensure that they speak to you as a couple. Ask people who are special to you and have played a significant role in your relationship to actually carry out the readings. It will mean a lot not only to you, but to them as well! If there are several individuals you wish to include, you can always split up one passage into shorter readings so that you include as many loved ones as your heart desires.

6. Incorporate Family

Some couples opt to have the entirety of their families stand at the altar with them as they take their vows. This is not only a special way to include your your loved ones, but it also signifies the support your family has for you as you embark on this new and important chapter of your lives.

7. Include Only the Rituals that Resonate with You

A bride and groom holding candles at their church wedding ceremony.

There are likely parts of a traditional wedding ceremony that don’t particularly resonate with you. Instead of feeling obligated to include those parts of the ceremony, cut them out. If something doesn’t resonate with you as a couple, you don’t need to do it! Part of making your ceremony meaningful isn’t only in what you include—it’s also in what you don’t. Filling your ceremony with rituals or sections that aren’t significant to you can take away from the overall impact.

8. Include a Unity Ritual

Find a special unity ritual that means a lot to you and that you feel connected with for your ceremony. This could be a sand ceremony, a candle lighting ritual, a religious ritual, or even planting something in the ground together if you’re having an outdoor ceremony. This will help you to feel as one as a couple during this special and intimate moment of your big day.

9. Choose a Special Officiant

Your officiant doesn’t have to be a stranger. Instead, feel free to have a friend or loved one officiate your wedding. Since they likely know you as a couple, they’ll be able to make your ceremony personalized and meaningful.

Planning a meaningful wedding ceremony is simple: it requires choosing the right people, rituals, and words to signify your love and represent that magic moment that you become husband and wife.

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