Sometimes I forget that I live in a constant wedding bubble. I forget that I’m immersed in weddings all day long. I forget that weddings have been a part of my life for the last nine years. I simply take it for granted, all that I know and love about weddings and wedding ceremonies.

This means that I forget that most couples who are getting married are doing it first time and are starting out on a unknown journey that is totally new to them. I forget that most couples do not instantly recognise what is and isn’t important when it comes to their wedding. I forget sometimes that couples need a bit of encouragement, guidance and direction to help them understand how to categorise and prioritise the important elements of the day; their ceremony. Because I know the wedding ceremony, whether religious or not, is the most important part of the day, I often assume that everyone else knows this is the case too. But actually, this is not always true, at all.

I would say that for me, my wedding couples fall into three distinct categories;

Those who know they need to have a ceremony to start the day with, who haven’t thought much beyond that, nor know of the possibilities for their ceremony.

Those who know the ceremony is important and have a vague idea of the kind of things they would like to do and are open to suggestions regarding their ceremony.

Those who arrive already knowing that the ceremony is the most important part of the day and are full of ideas for their ceremony or very keen to learn new ideas for their ceremony.

I would also say my wedding couples split into these categories in a 20:50:30 ratio. On the face of it, that is not a bad start really. What’s also nice is that quite often those who start off in the first category soon jump to the second and third categories when they realise the importance of their ceremony.  And even then, no matter where people started off before their ceremony, by the end of it, they really are very much surprised and overwhelmed by how special it was. Double whoop.

Anna Gazda Photography
Only you can ensure that your wedding ceremony is everything you want it to be and more. Photo by Anna Gazda Limelight Photography

Why is the wedding ceremony the most important part of the day?

Because I’m done with making assumptions about what people know and don’t know, I’m just going to be real clear and spell it all out. Your ceremony is where your marriage starts. It’s where it breathes life, it’s where it takes shape. It’s where you and your love bunny declare your love to each other and publicly share your intentions for your future lives together. It’s where you outline your choices, promises and goals for your future happiness and your future wellbeing and harmony. It’s where you soak up all of the love from your loved ones and celebrate your commitment with them by your side. The end.

I have said this so many times before and I will keep on saying it, your ceremony should not just happen to you, it should be something that you are actively aware, involved and supportive of. You should know what is going to be done or not done, what you’re going to say, or not say. You should know the tone, the length, the style, the format of your ceremony. Because this is the time where the two of you will be committing to something life-changing, special, overwhelming, exciting and momentous. So you need to not only know what you’re doing but be interested and invested in it, too.

Photo by Eloy Muñoz
Make the most of your ceremony. The absolute most. Photo by Eloy Muñoz

I speak about this from the heart, like a person slightly obsessed, because I never had this approach on my own wedding day and so I know first hand what happens when you’re not actively involved or aware of what will happen in your own ceremony. I wrote a piece about it for the awesome Practical Wedding blog, so have a read about it there, if you’re interested. It will surprise you, because people always think that I must have had the most awesome wedding ceremony ever. Oh, if only that were true. Sigh!

Hopefully, people can understand now, why I kind of want to bash peoples’ head together when I see their Pinterest board are full of dress, cake, decoration, music inspo and nothing or very little about their ceremony. Okay, maybe not bash their heads together. Maybe just give them a good talking to.

So why is the ceremony often under-prioritised?

I cannot blame people who start off their wedding journeys with little appreciation or focus on their ceremony. I’m not even sure if there really is anyone to blame. Historically couples have never really ‘owned’ their ceremonies, either the church did, or the priest did, or the state did, and wedding ceremonies were something that happened to couples with very little of their input, direction, or opinions, so you can see why when it came to planning your wedding, the ceremony was given very little thought, because basically, you weren’t required to think about it. Full stop.

In church ceremonies of old, a couple would have had virtually no choice in anything that happened during their wedding ceremony, bar some simple decoration for the church and maybe the hymns that were sung. The rest would have been compiled by the vicar/priest.

And the same goes for civil ceremonies of old. Couples would have had hardly any input into the ceremony. You simply would have registered your interest to get married, done the paperwork, turned up on the day and time and been led through a pre-written civil ceremony, worded in accordance with the law. You spoke when you were spoken too and that was it. In civil ceremonies of the 60s and 70s, readings and poems, for example, were pretty unheard of!  And so this my dear friends, is why no one gave two flying bits of fudge about the ceremony, because they were never required too.

It is good to know that both systems, the church and the state, have got better in allowing people some autonomy and personal expression over their wedding ceremony, but there is always room for improvement.

Radka Horvath Photography
Your ceremony should leave you feeling elated, joyful and on cloud nine! And it will, if you prioritise it. Photo by Radka Horvath.

So it’s only really now in the last five to ten years (especially in the UK) that couples are learning to prioritise their ceremonies and understanding how much of an input they can have in the design and content of their ceremony. This is fab of course, but it still means however, that there are still many people holding on to the traditional ideas of what a marriage ceremony is, because it’s all they’ve ever been exposed to.

And with this, the majority of wedding magazines, PINTEREST, books, and other wedding resources still can unwittingly big up and promote all of the other elements of a wedding day; the dress, the shoes, the hair, the cake, the venue, the decor, the theme, the wedding transport, the honeymoon, basically everything but the bloody ceremony! As an industry it’s getting better, but it still has got a long way to go. But don’t worry, this is why I am here!

Recently, I checked out a couple of wedding planning check lists that I found online, and when it came to the ceremony, they simply said ‘6-12 months beforehand book your ceremony’. Yet, the depth of the suggestions and time frames for all the other aspects were so much more detailed. On one, there were four different timeline entries alone, just for the dress – 18 months before to start looking for dress inspiration, 12 months before to book appointments for dress shopping, three months before to go back for a fitting, try on the dress the month before blah, blah, blah!  Yes, of course a dress is important but you can get married without your dress, you can’t get married without your ceremony! Erm, priorities!! Oh and please don’t follow my dress-buying time frames, as I don’t remember exactly what was written, just the gist of it. They could be completely wrong!

Anyway, I think I’ve hammered home the point quite enough for today! And I’ll stop typing now, in the comfort that if you’ve read this far down the page, you’re probably already recognising/starting to recognise that your ceremony is THE most important part of your wedding day, an element which should be invested into just as much, if not more than everything else.

Thank you. The end.


11 Comments on Why your wedding ceremony is the most important part of your whole wedding day

  1. Natasha, are you often involved with weddings for “old people”?
    I’m about to get married at the age of 60. My fiancé is the same age, and has never been married before. We don’t want really want anything very fancy. In fact we don’t have thousands of dollars to spend. But his family and friends have waited a long time to see him finally tie the knot, so I wonder if we don’t owe it to them to invite them to celebrate with us.
    I had an uncomplicated but traditional wedding nearly four decades ago, and knew exactly what I wanted that time around.
    But this time, I simply don’t know where to start.
    His family is used to fairly large weddings with all the trimmings.
    My family likes my fiancé well enough, but they aren’t totally reconciled to the idea of their Mom re-marrying.
    I know this is our day, not theirs, but I think I want more than just privately getting a marriage license at the justice of the peace. I’ve always believed the support of friends and family helps get a marriage off on the right foot.
    Do you have any ideas for us?

    • Hi Ginger. Just to throw my 10 cents in there. I’m a marriage celebrant in New Zealand. I quite often marry people who are older, and are doing this for the second or third time. I don’t know what’s legally required for you in your part of the world, but what I’d suggest, is invite who you can afford to invite (money wise and obligation wise). Ensure your celebrant gets in all the personal touches and words that you’d like (weddings have changed world wide over the last 40 years). Then have a cocktail hour with nibbles. So this could be held at 7 or 8pm. This would mean that you wouldn’t have to feed them. On the invite, as the gift to you, get them to bring a bottle of spritis to contribute to the cocktail hour. Then your money goes into the food and hiring staff to mix the drinks. If drinking isn’t your thing. Have your wedding at 10am. Then have a high tea. I find it very important at these kind of weddings to ensure there are a lot of high tables (bar leaners) for people to place their food and drinks, but not to sit down. Cause if they all sit down, then they don’t move and mingle. No, these ideas are not ‘with all the trimmings’ but it’s a way to have a wee celebration without the price tag.
      Or just elope, come back and have a big party!

  2. Hi Im a marriage celebrant in New Zealand, I recently married a couple with only their adult children at the ceremony, then afterwards they text all of their friends saying something like “we just got married, come and have a celebratory drink with us if you’re able” such a fun & low key way to do it.

  3. Hi Ginger – congratulations to you and your fiancé. You can’t possibly be ‘old’, as you are exactly the same age as me! I agree with Rosemary’s advice above; involve your family in the celebrations, but remember it is your ceremony, so don’t be railroaded into doing what they want! Ask both sides of the family to take part in the ceremony; perhaps with choosing and reading a poem, as a witness, or walking you down the aisle. Don’t have ‘bride and groom sides’ for the seating, mix everyone up, and curve the rows to make it intimate and inclusive. The idea of a cocktail hour wedding is excellent. Champagne and a cake buffet perhaps? With family members contributing cakes ? Whatever your day, enjoy it, both of you! Best regards, Judy (celebrant in the UK)

  4. Did I say “old”? I definitely meant “older”. Thank you all so much for the terrific ideas.

    I still don’t know for sure, but I think we’re leaning toward:

    1. Having a private ceremony (close family only)

    2. Followed by a cocktail hour type reception with extended family, friends and co-workers. My daughter has offered to put the music together, if I give her a list of songs that mean a lot to us.

    3. Then, if we time it right, there is a benefit dinner/concert event that we attend every summer, which is always largely attended by many of our old high school classmates (we were high school sweethearts who have reunited after all these years), so if we get married on the same day, maybe we’ll just go to the benefit after our reception, and make our announcement to very old and dear friends there before we leave on a honeymoon.

  5. Hi Natasha,

    I am currently enrolled in a wedding planning course and we recently had to answer the question “What is the most important part of the wedding day?” which led me to your blog. Everything you said resonated with me and what my fiance and I discussed about it yesterday. I am so glad to be taking this course and am super pumped about finding your site! I will be visiting often!

    Thank you

    • This is so awesome to hear. Thanks so much Lori. And good luck with the rest of your course. You may enjoy a post which I’ll be publishing soon called ‘Why you need a wedding planner for your wedding!’

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do share x