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Wedding FAQs - Answers to the Most Popular Wedding Questions!

 

Written by Dave Sugarbaker, Sugarbaker Productions

We Want to "Personalize" the Wedding Ceremony

A young couple had met and fallen in love in the course of their work together as actors at a famous theatre company in San Francisco. These two wanted to have a larger spoken role in the wedding ceremony. They wanted to say lengthy statements to each other about just exactly why and how much they loved each other.

I told them, as we got together to plan the wedding, that this was real life, not the stage. The real-life emotions of the day could sneak up on them. They assured me they were professionals. They could do it. The Groom, in fact, got quite indignant that I would even consider warning them about possible difficulty in speaking. He told me in no uncertain terms that this was their wedding and they would do it as they had planned. I assured them I wasn't going to stand in their way.

The day of the wedding arrived. We were in the Berkeley Rose Garden, with 150 guests, and a beautiful wedding party. The Bride and Groom turned to face each other and speak of their love and eternal commitment. Both started to cry. Neither was able to speak. Because, as professionals, they didn't need prompting or help, they hadn't given me copies of what they planned to say to each other. There was no way I could help them. Their guests, their families and I waited as each struggled to give brief and incoherent voice to their innermost feelings.

Finally the vows were completed and we moved on in the ceremony. The rings were next. I gave the ring to the Groom, who had insisted that he make his simple statement to his Bride [again] without my prompting. As he put the ring on the Bride's finger, he said "With this wing, I thee red."

This story isn't meant to scare you, but to cause you to consider how much performance pressure you want to add to the other pressures you may feel that day. At least consider giving the Officiant / Minister a copy of what you plan to say to each other. If you need to ask for the card, it will be there for you.

One way to add a uniquely personal flavor to the wedding, without asking your officiant to recount your life histories or the entire saga of your meeting and courtship, is to write one-page letters to each other, to be read during the wedding ceremony. Talk together about what the outline of the letters will be, and a general direction for the subject matter so there is some connection between what the two letters will be addressing. Think about what you would like to say to your partner during the wedding ceremony. Write it in the letter, but don't show it to your partner! Have the officiant read your letters to each other in the early portions of the wedding.

One couple had two friends, one "representing" each of them in pseudo-lawyerly fashion, read a humorous list of assets each was contributing to the marriage "Mr. Smith brings to this marriage four linear feet of old phonograph records; a 14-year-old cat; two of the most lovable daughters in the world; a bass fiddle; 54 first cousins; and skill and experience in repairing a 1960 Volkswagen...." The list goes on, back and forth, between the two "representatives." It can be touching, lighthearted and very personal.

One or both of you can speak to the guests, thanking them for coming and supporting you at this special time, and saying whatever is heartfelt and appropriate at that moment. Prepare well and have note cards available to prompt you if you need them

For the truly fearless, and if you have sufficient talent, sing to your partner or read him or her a wonderful love poem. Caution this is a highly emotional time. Know that you can in fact finish singing or speaking, if you start.

You also personalize the wedding by what you choose to have the officiant say the readings, the solos, the form of the vows, all communicate to your guests about the nature of your particular partnership.

Kneeling Tips
If you are to kneel during the wedding, there's a choreography to it. As you go from standing to kneeling, the Bride should precede the Groom by just a fraction of a second. Groom hold your Bride's hand and steady her as she kneels. Getting up is trickier. The Groom should rise just a fraction of a second before the Bride and again offer his hand to help her stand up. It can be tricky in a long dress.

Groom if you're going to kneel during the wedding ceremony, don't let any of your Groomsmen get at your shoes! Two reasons First, they may write "HE" on your left sole and "LP" on your right. It's good for a laugh during the ceremony, but it's an old joke. Second, if those madcap Groomsmen write on the soles of your shoes, it may rub off and damage carpets or floors you walk on unawares. You may be liable for the cleaning bill.

Taking Care of Young Children in the Wedding Party
If the young people are five or older, you can probably relax. They will be able to do what you ask them to do and will probably listen better at the rehearsal than the adults in the wedding party.

For children under five, you need to make some judgments, based on the temperament of the child and the stress of the situation. If you are not sure your little ringbearer will actually be there when the officiant needs the rings, give the real rings to the Best Man and Maid of Honor and put two dime-store rings on the pillow. If the Ring Bearer "bails out" at the last minute, you will still have the rings when you need them in the ceremony.

You may want to arrange for several "rescue points" for children under five who either may not make it down the aisle at the beginning of the wedding or who may not be able to stand with the wedding party for the duration of the ceremony. The first "rescue point" is to have an adult -  known to the child(ren) but not in the wedding -  present with the Bride's party just prior to the processional. If "nerves" suddenly strike, that adult will be there to take the child to sit with other relatives and watch the wedding. Young children's successful performance at the rehearsal often has little to do with how they will perform with all the guests watching!

Another "rescue point" can be arranged for young people in the wedding party who you think will be able to do the processional, but may not be able to stand -  or stand still -  during the wedding ceremony. Arrange for a relative of the youngster to be sitting on the center aisle toward the front. The child processes in and then is invited by Grandma, or whoever, to sit with them and watch the wedding. The children can be reinserted into the wedding party as the recessional passes by on the way out.

A third "rescue" for children under five is to designate a member of the wedding party (a Bridesmaid for a Flower Girl; a Groomsman for a Ring Bearer) who is given specific permission and responsibility to decide when and if the young person should be offered a hand and walked to a waiting relative among your guests. Bribes of lifesavers or quarters work sometimes; hissing and threats never work.

The wedding was underway and everyone had successfully arrived at the front of the Chapel. There were four or five bridesmaids and ushers. Two or three minutes into the ceremony, the three-year-old flower girl started squirming. As time went on, the squirming increased, and in distress the flower girl finally turned to the Maid of Honor and said "I have to go potty."

The Maid of Honor didn't really know how to solve the flower girl's problem at that moment, and told her to be quiet. The squirming escalated and there were more announcements of a similar nature. The bridesmaids stood like statues.

Then the flower girl began to cry. No one was taking her seriously. She really had to go! Everyone was frozen in place.

Finally, the organist, having watched the squirming and heard the comments, took the situation and the little girl in hand and walked her off the altar area and into the choir room where there was a bathroom. The flower girl (much relieved) and the organist were back in their places before the wedding was over. A large percentage of the guests were not even aware that the flower girl had left the scene temporarily.

The lesson always have a designated member of the wedding party authorized and encouraged to deal with the needs of three- or four-year olds during the wedding!

The responsible adult should not be your Maid of Honor or Best Man. He or she may have other responsibilities during the wedding ceremony that would prevent them from taking care of a youngster. If the young person was walked off the altar to sit with a relative, he or she can be reinserted into the passing Recessional if they choose.

Keeping the Rings on the Ring bearer's Pillow
Most ring pillows are equipped with ribbons to be used to tie the rings on. In my experience, the ribbons are a disaster. They are either tied too tight or not tightly enough.

There are some Brides or Mothers of the Bride who devise other ingenious solutions to the problem of ring security

The Mother of the Bride, with a small case of tunnel vision, sewed the rings securely to the pillow. Apparently she didn't stop to consider how this might become a problem when the Best Man was asked to liberate the rings from the pillow.

The Best Man on this occasion was literally and figuratively a mountain man. He was huge, with a wild beard. He had come down to the city to do honor to his friend, the Groom. He was in a very large tuxedo (size 56!), but somehow the clothes failed to take the mountain out of the man. He might just as well have been wearing buckskin.

At the rehearsal, this mountain man had been coached to take the rings from the pillow and hand them to me. At the ceremony, however, he encountered the immoveable rings. He gave the rings a tug or two, and realized the problem. He reached behind him, inside his tuxedo jacket, and produced a huge knife, with a seven or eight inch blade, and proceeded to "operate" on the pillow. The rings were free in short order, but the pillow never recovered.

That's "too tight." There's also "too loose"

At a Bed & Breakfast Inn, the Bride's two daughters, aged four and six, were to be the Ringbearer and Flower Girl. The four-year-old had the rings, tied loosely on the pillow so they could be easily removed by the Best Man. She carried it with one hand in a strap on the underside of the pillow and the other hand free to steady it. It was a long walk down ivy-lined paths from the B&B to the gazebo where the wedding was to take place. In her nervousness, the four year old started punching the pillow with her free hand, turning it into a satin catcher's mitt. By the time she arrived at the gazebo, several thousand dollars' worth of ring had been lost somewhere in the ivy.

This was preventable! Tie the ribbons on the pillow in a nice bow and forget about them. Secure the rings to the pillow using long corsage pins. Use the long pin to catch some of the fabric of the pillow cover, then put the pin through the ring and back into the pillow fabric. The ring is now secure but easily removed. This is good insurance!

Give the pillow with the rings attached to the ringbearer sixty seconds before he heads down the aisle in the processional; not half an hour.


What about Reader(s)?
Having a friend or relative read a poem or other selection during the ceremony is a way to include someone important who isn't in your wedding party. It helps to know they can, in fact, speak reasonably well in public settings.

It's a rule (or should be) of public speaking that one should never attempt to read what one doesn't first understand. Don't have a friend read a dense and complex poem if he or she can't take the time and energy to "take the poem apart" and understand it first! Have your friend read the selection for you, so you can check for mispronounced words, etc. It will pay off for you on the wedding day when the reading is an integral and meaningful part of the wedding!

Check on microphones, etc. for them so they can be heard when they speak during the wedding.

What About Solo(s)?
If you plan one solo during the wedding, the best "window" for it would be after the Vows and before the Rings Exchange. If you plan two solos, put one after the moms are seated but before the processional, and the other between Vows and Rings. Arrange with your soloist and whoever will accompany your soloist to rehearse their music at a time other than your wedding rehearsal! The soloist's attendance at your wedding rehearsal might still be a good idea, but only to get an idea of the physical space in which they will be singing... not to rehearse their music during your rehearsal.

Some couples plan a solo while they light the Unity candle [see below.] If there are more solos desired, these might best be placed before the wedding, during the Prelude time, before the seating of the immediate families, or as background for the seating of the immediate families. Some couples plan a vocal solo as their Processional music.

If you plan for more than two solos during the actual wedding ceremony, the event might take on more of the flavor of a musical recital, rather than a recital of your wedding vows. Don't ask a soloist to sing during your Recessional. Based on 4000 weddings' experience, it's hard on the soloist to be singing to an emptying house.

   

 



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