The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Dayby Judith Johnson
Many couples want a spiritual but not a religious ceremony that truly celebrates their unique set of beliefs, values and life circumstances. They want their ceremony, their way but don't know where to begin or what questions they need to ask. The Wedding Ceremony Planner is a comprehensive and user-friendly guide. It covers everything you need to know to create a beautiful ceremony text and to anticipate and address all the profound and mundane logistics with ease, grace and fun. It includes hundreds of text excerpts reflecting the many voices with which our hearts speak. There are also ten sample ceremony texts for the inclusion of children, the telling of the couple's story, the renewal of vows and a commitment ceremony. Checklists and worksheets are included to manage all the details. The Wedding Ceremony Planner is also an invaluable resource for clergy of all faiths, wedding planners and location coordinators. Sprinkled with anecdotes about lessons learned by couples creating their weddings, this book is filled with the wisdom of experience
Praise for The Wedding Ceremony Planner
"Weddings are sacred acts surrounded by material hoopla. The Wedding Ceremony Planner clarifies the worldly issues but keeps the spirit central. It's the balance that every couple needs."
-Marianne Williamson, author, The Gift of Change
"With countless samples of ceremony segments and worksheets to put them all together, The Wedding Ceremony Planner affirms what we all hope for: to communicate our love in a clear, heartfelt manner that truly reflects who we are."
-Jack Canfield, co-author, Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul®
"In this time of increasing exchange and friendship between people of many cultures ... what the world needs is an intelligent and compassionate 'how to' book on performing interfaith ceremonies. This book is an excellent example."
-The Very Reverend James Parks Morton Founder and President of the Interfaith Center of New York
"[This book] was [wonderful] in helping us create our wedding ceremony. Not only was it easy to follow, but it made us think of things we never would have thought of on our own ... Going through the book also brought us closer ... it is the one thing we have sat down and done 100% together."
-Jennifer Buehler and Frank Yanoti Jr., Bride and Groom
"Planning the wedding ceremony in itself can be a process of discovery for a couple entering marriage ... this marvelous book ... help[s] couples design a ceremony that truly and personally characterizes the meaning and uniqueness of each union."
-Pril Smiley, Mohonk Mountain House
"This book will aid and guide the couple in the creation of their unique wedding ceremony that appropriately states their personal beliefs. How refreshing, how important, how appropriate to help make the wedding yours."
-Alexandra Stoddard, author of Choosing Happiness
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Read an Excerpt
How to Design Your Wedding Ceremony
The wedding ritual is the ceremonial container for the celebration of a couple's love and their decision to journey through their lives together. To assist those of you who are embarking on the adventure of designing your own wedding ceremony, this section of the book contains collections of passages to be used for each of the traditional ceremonial components. You are encouraged to trust your own instincts as you read through the choices, choosing those elements that are right for you. The worksheet entitled "Designing the Ceremony Text" can be a helpful tool in collecting those passages that speak to you as you create a very rough first draft. Using the sample provided on page 23 as a guide, begin with the blank form provided for you on page 291. Just hold up the mirror of yourselves to the passages included here and you will find the ones that ring true for you. Feel free to find sentiments in one section that you would like to use in another, or to change or eliminate words or phrases, or use only a sentence or two from here or there. With the exception of rewriting poetry, give yourself lots of editorial license.
As with any well-constructed ritual, a wedding ceremony has a certain flow and order to it that leads up to the sacred moment of the exchange of vows and rings and the pronouncement that the bride and groom are now wife and husband. The format that is presented in this section provides a sequencing of components that allows for flow and order, yet customizing of the ceremony to your own taste.
It's a good idea to start with a rough draft and allow yourselves to explore various ideas without being concerned about what will make it into the final version. Like filling your plates at a smorgasbord, just gather all those items that appeal to you-discernment will follow. This more relaxed approach fosters greater creativity and the opportunity to consider the various components of the ceremony over time. It also allows you to more carefully consider and negotiate your way with passages that one of you likes and the other does not.
You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the volume of text choices. However, you are likely to find that the process of elimination goes much faster than anticipated and you will be able to come up with a rough draft in several hours. At this point, you may not have chosen readings and, if you are planning to write your own vows, you may want to do so after the first draft is written. Then you can work with the draft, giving careful consideration to the specific wordings, sequencing, and adding or deleting words and sections until it is just what you want. If the officiant is actively working with you on the ceremony text, it is helpful if you set specific deadlines for completing the text well in advance of the ceremony. Of course, there is not always that much time or the luxury of meeting in person, in which case you and the officiant can customize your process to your circumstances. Most of the couples I work with prefer to send email drafts back and forth until the text is complete.
I always give each couple a copy of their finalized wedding ceremony. This way, when guests want copies of certain passages, the bride and groom can easily provide them. And, many couples like to keep their ceremony among their wedding day keepsakes. On their anniversary, or anytime, some rededicate themselves to their vows, perform the candle ceremony together, or quietly re-read their ceremony together. It is a loving reminder of the foundation they have laid for their marriage.
Designing the Ceremony Text Worksheet
1. Create a rough draft. Use the sample text elements that have been included in this book and any others that you have gathered for inclusion in your ceremony. List all items in the order in which you would like them to occur. If you only want a segment of a sample item or want to change the wording, make note of that here as well. Remember, this is just a rough draft. So, don't be too concerned about editing at this point. Just focus on gathering those elements that speak to you, at least in part. At this stage, you are likely to select more passages than will appear in your final ceremony text.
Opening Prayer: OP2 Page XX
Gathering Words: GW3, lines 1-12 Page XX
GW5 Page XX
Remembrance/Acknowledgment: RA3, lines 1-3 Page XX
Names to be included: maternal grandparents _____ and _____ _____
Readings and Songs: Selection Author Reader/Singer
Declaration of Support: DS3 Page XX
Marriage Address: MA2 Page XX
Sacred Rituals: WC Page XX
Vows: To be written later
Officiant Prelude: PRE8&9 Page XX
Couple: RE1 Page XX
Final Blessing: FB3 Page XX
2. Identify any additional elements you would like to include in your ceremony such as religious or family traditions and note where they will occur:
3. Once you have created a rough draft according to your directions above, begin the editing and fine tuning process. Be sure to read the text aloud to be sure that it flows smoothly and isn't too long or short for what you want. Set a specific deadline for completion of the ceremony text well in advance of the ceremony.
Meet the Author
Judith Johnson holds a doctorate in social psychology and is an ordained ecumenical minister, honoring all religious and spiritual traditions. She has officiated at hundreds of weddings over the past 14 years.
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