19 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony
A wedding ceremony is, at its core, formulaic. You walk down the aisle—following your bridal party—exchange vows, kiss, and walk back up. After that, you're officially married! It's not surprising, then, that many couples are concerned about their services feeling standard and even monotonous (especially duos who want their nuptials to be a reflection of their relationship). We'll be the first to tell you that it's perfectly fine to scrap the formula—and to replace the standard mold with a personalized, curated ceremony that feels exactly like you.
Not sure how to pull this off? Let us help. Ahead, you'll discover some of our favorite ways to make your wedding more personal. From cultural traditions that speak to your roots to ceremony décor that involves beloved object from your shared hom, there are so many ways to integrate your love story and relationship's values into your service. If you're in the beginning phase of planning this part of your big day, consider personalizing your ceremony by enlisting the help of meaningful people or places—tap your mom or dad to officiate or ask them if you can tie the knot in the backyard of your childhood home, for example. Closer to tying the knot? Work in a ritual that's easy to pull off in a pinch (we love a candle-lighting ceremony).
However you choose to make your ceremony your own, know that doing so will only enhance your wedding day. You'll walk into married life knowing that you paid homage to your relationship's history—and your identity as a couple—in a substantial way.
Ask Your Friends to Officiate
Though it's possible to find an officiant both you and your fiancé click with, having a friend perform your ceremony is so much more personal. Make like this couple and take it one step further: They asked a fellow married couple to oversee their nuptials. The husband-and-wife team worked in their marriage tips and tricks to make their friends' ceremony that much more special.
Pro tip: You'd be surprised to discover how many of your loved ones would be willing to become ordained to marry you—most of the time, all you have to do is ask.
Host a Family-Only Ceremony
…even if you're planning on having a traditional service, too. Having fewer people around immediately creates an intimate vibe, which often translates to a more personalized ceremony. You'll feel freer to speak from the heart when surrounded by the people you talk to every day—you definitely won't feel as if you're "performing" for anyone, so you and your fiancé can just be real as you make those life-long promises.
Work in a Cultural Tradition
Incorporating a cultural ritual into your ceremony has a double effect: It both personalizes your nuptials and ties them into a long list of marriages that have come before yours. This couple, for example, decided to jump the broom—an African American tradition—after saying "I do."
Transform Your Vows Into Décor
Highlight your handwritten vows by integrating them into your ceremony décor. We love this interpretation, which served as both a backdrop and aisle runner—the couple literally stood on these words as they were married (a beautiful metaphor for the promises their union was based on).
Personalize a Cultural Prop
Personalizing a cultural ceremony accessory allows you to leave your mark on another big-day facet that speaks to who you are (particularly to your roots and faith). In Jewish weddings, men wear yarmulkes, or head coverings, so this couple emblazoned theirs with their first initials for a personal touch.
Display Objects from Your Home
If you and your fiancé live together, then you likely have a slew of meaningful items displayed in your house. Why not work those objects—that symbolize the home you've built together—into your ceremony's décor? This couple did just that by filling the shelves of their ladder backdrop with their favorite candles, trinkets, and their most beautiful books.
Capture Your Ceremony Through Art
Art-loving couples might want to consider this creative ceremony element. If strolling through museums, visiting galleries, and collecting art is one of your shared hobbies, a live painter—like Wed on Canvas, shown here—is both a way to showcase your joint passion and capture your ceremony for your own gallery wall.
Host a Ceremony in the Round
There's nothing wrong with rows of straight chairs, but this traditional ceremony setup often means that several guests (especially those in the back) will have an obstructed view of your vows. Hosting a ceremony in the round, however, gives virtually all attendees a better view of the action; the seating arrangement also means that you'll be surrounded by love as you're wed, which creates a more intimate vibe overall.
Have a Ring Warming
This meaningful ceremony ritual gets every single guest involved: Your wedding bands are passed from person-to-person, row-by-row, giving all of your attendees a chance to "warm" the bands you'll wear for the rest of your lives with a well-wish or prayer.
Involve Your Pup
If you consider your pup your first child, including him or her in your nuptials probably feels like a no-brainer. Though the level of their involvement should probably correlate to their training (and comfort in crowds), walking your pup (or pups, in these grooms' case!) back up the aisle after you've been pronounced married both personalizes your recessional and gives you the chance to step out as a family for the first time.
Serve Your Favorite Wine
Here's a personalized ceremony idea for you amateur vintners and wine connoisseurs: Offer guests your favorite vintage (or give guests a preview of your wedding wine!) right before the ceremony begins, so your loved ones can sip as they watch your service unfold.
Upgrade Your Wedding Party's Attire
Though we love this ring bearer's burgundy velvet suit (and his mustard bow tie!), the following applies to every member of your wedding party: If you're a fashion-forward couple throwing a nontraditional event, classic bridesmaid, groomsmen, flower girl, and (of course) ring bearer attire might not resonate with you. Feel free to skip the matching gowns and rented tuxedos for ensembles that speak to your specific style.
Involve Your Child
At its core, your ceremony is about family. When you've already started your own, incorporating a personal moment with your child into your nuptials will make them that much more meaningful. This groom's son read his favorite children's book right before his father and step-mother exchanged vows—a ceremony highlight the modern family still treasures today.
Give a Post-Vow Toast
Why not toast to your union as soon as it happens? As you raise a glass, be sure to offer a few words thanking guests for attending your ceremony—and then throw back your booze of choice (this couple raised a glass of rosé after they were pronounced husband and wife!) to get the party started.
Exchange Humorous Vows
If you're both a couple of comedians, write funny vows that highlight hilarious (but meaningful!) big-picture stories or inside jokes. In other words, don't feel like you need to cater to tradition or formality during this part of your service, especially if you've bonded over your shared sense of humor.
Have a Candle-Lighting Ceremony
Here's a cross-cultural ceremony ritual that anyone can incorporate into their own service: A candle lighting, which involves each party lighting a single flame with their own, symbolizes a main marriage tenet—two lives becoming one.
Ask a Parent to Officiate
It doesn't get more personal than asking Mom or Dad to officiate your marriage. They've known you longer—and better—than a friend or hired officiant, which is probably why they'll be able to curate a service unlike anyone else.
Get Married at Home
Alternatively, get married at home—the most personal, poignant place on earth. If a full-blown party at your parents' house feels like to great of an undertaking, consider hosting just the ceremony there and moving to a nearby venue for the party.
Have a Feet-Washing Ceremony
A Christian wedding tradition (most popular in the South!), a foot-washing ceremony typically involves the groom washing the bride's feet as a symbol of devotion and humility (the ritual is pulled directly from the Bible). Host one during your own ceremony if your relationship is predicated on your faith.
- A Slice of Princess Diana and Prince Charles' Wedding Cake Is Up for Auction 40 Years Later—It Might Sell for $700
- Five Reasons Why You Should Talk to Your Friends About Wedding-Related Stress
- Soft Summer Tones and Beautiful Florals Abounded at This Family-Centric Celebration in Texas Hill Country
- Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's Daughter, Lilibet Diana, Has Been Added to the Royal Line of Succession