There are lots of simple tips for helping to make your wedding day, particularly your ceremony, run smoothly. They’re all easy to achieve but will make the world of difference to you, your bridal party and the photos from your big day.
Before your wedding day
♥ Check with all your suppliers, in the last few weeks before your wedding, to confirm all arrangements and the timing for each element to be delivered etc. If you have a wedding co-ordinator, they should be doing this for you.
♥ Check to see if an engagement photo session is offered by your photographer in the lead up to your wedding day. It will allow you and your partner to get to know your photographer’s style and relax around them. Many will offer this option at no extra cost as part of their wedding packages.
♥ Arrange for your hens’/bucks’ night to take place at least a week or two before your big day (not the night before!)
♥ Having a trial hair and makeup session beforehand (maybe to coincide with your hens night) will allow you to know you’re happy with the final look and you can see how long it all lasts. If you need to make adjustments, you have time to discuss them in advance.
♥ Arrange for as many of your bridal party as possible, the person responsible for playing your music during your ceremony and any people who will be reading during the ceremony, to attend a wedding rehearsal with your celebrant. This will help everyone to feel comfortable with their particular role e.g.where to stand, what happens when during the ceremony, using the microphone, presenting the rings etc. You and your bridesmaids will also be able to practise walking down the aisle to your processional song so that the pace and distance between each person is balanced.
♥ Try to get a good sleep the night before your wedding (aim to be in bed by 10pm if possible.)
On your wedding day
♥ Allow enough time for all the elements on your schedule and then follow it.
♥ Stay hydrated. A glass of bubbles or a stubby is fine but don’t forget to drink water, not only during the morning of your wedding but the day before as well.
♥ Restrict the intake of any alcohol before the ceremony begins. Your celebrant will be unable to marry you if they consider you to be intoxicated. Rather than a wedding, they would need to perform a Commitment Ceremony and follow up with a legal ceremony at a later date (likely at an extra charge.) You and your partner are making a big decision and, once married, it will be legal and binding. Unless you want a last minute change, your witnesses will also need to be sober as well. There’ll be plenty of time to have fun and enjoy the champagne after the ceremony is over.
♥ Make sure you eat on the morning of your ceremony so that you don’t arrive at the ceremony on an empty stomach. I’ve had a groomsman and bridesmaid faint at the same afternoon wedding and both told me they’d had nothing to eat after breakfast!
♥ I suggest the groom and the groomsmen arrive anything from 20-30 minutes before the ceremony begins. This allows them to have a chat with family and friends, relax in each other’s company and have a quiet chat with the celebrant. If your photographer arrives before the bride, it will also allow them an opportunity to capture some photos of “the boys” at the venue before the ceremony kicks off.
♥ Chat, at the rehearsal, about how the groom would like to be standing just before the bride arrives e.g. with his right hand over his left, and then ask the groomsmen to do the same throughout the ceremony. It looks much better in the photos.
♥ Remember that the groom and groomsmen should take off their sunnies for the ceremony itself. They’ll look great in some of the before and after shots if they want to wear them but it’s important for the bride and your family and friends to see your eyes during the ceremony.
♥ Consider the ground you’ll be standing on if your ceremony is to be held outside. Wearing pretty wedge heels, sandals with bling, or heels with snugly fitting heel protectors will prevent the bride and the bridesmaids from experiencing that sinking feeling! Also, consider the time of day and temperature of the sand if you’re planning on going barefoot at a beach wedding.
♥ I always recommend the bride arrives on time or no more than around 5 or so minutes late. Anything much more than this is stressful for the groom and is likely to throw your schedule out as well. Don’t forget the groom and the groomsmen may well be wearing suits or waistcoats so, if it’s a hot day, it can make it hard on them as well as family and friends who are waiting. There may be no shade, minimal or no seating, and no refreshments on hand, and there may also be elderly or disabled people to consider. When you think about it, why would you hold everyone up for the (potential) 1 or 2 latecomers? In my experience, guests arrive early for a wedding (up to, say, 30 mins early). After all, they’re (usually) not coming to a backyard barbecue!
♥ If you’re going to be running late, stay in contact with someone at the venue so that they can advise me. It’s the not knowing that’s the hardest! Note: I turn my mobile phone to silent once I arrive.
♥ It looks much better in photos if the bridesmaids hold their bouquets about mid-way, near their stomach, rather than holding them too high up (unless you want a fun photo, with the bouquets completing covering their faces, after the ceremony!)
♥ If you’re feeling at all faint, move your toes around or rock slightly forward and back on your feet. Anything to get the blood flowing. In this situation, standing still will only make you feel worse. It’s better to go down on one knee and put your head down for a minute or so rather than keel over.
♥ When you’re saying or reading your vows, remember to look up often and connect with your partner. I love supporting you before and during your ceremony but making lifelong promises to me is probably not the way to go!
♥ I suggest the bride considers wearing her engagement ring on her right hand so that she can easily slip it on top of her wedding ring while she’s sitting at the signing table.
♥ If your rings will be presented in a ring box, slip the bride’s ring in first and place the groom’s ring over and around it. It means the best man or ring bearer only has one box to open so there’s no likelihood of a juggling act or dropping the rings!
♥ If your ring bearer is quite young, consider tying fake rings to a ring pillow for him to hold as he walks down the aisle and having the best man responsible for the real ones! If you’re tying your real rings to a ring pillow, make sure you don’t tie them on too tightly!
♥ When exchanging rings, slide your partner’s ring about half way onto their finger so that your photographer can focus and then take the shot, then say the special words you have decided on for this part of the ceremony, before sliding the ring to the end of your partner’s finger.
♥ If your partner’s ring isn’t slipping easily onto their finger, twist it around, rather than trying to push it on. It will slide on more easily that way.
♥ Make sure your first kiss, straight after you’re declared husband and wife, lasts longer than a second or two. Your photographer will need to focus and then take the shot so, if it’s over too soon, you won’t have this precious memory to keep.
♥ Relax! Your family and friends are there because they love you. They will be very indulgent if something happens to go against the plan (if they’re even aware of it.) Your celebrant should be able to manage most situations discreetly and with humour so that any potential problems fade into the background.
♥ Don’t expect too much of young children. They tend to have a short attention span so I recommend you don’t over-practise any special roles they may have. Make sure there’s an adult watching over them during the ceremony and then, if they decide to wander around, you know they’ll be safe. In an outdoor setting, you may also like to consider providing rugs for any little flower girls or ring bearers (and even their parents if they wish) to sit on in front of the seating. They’ll feel more relaxed in this situation and be right up there near the action.
♥ Remember, the bride will sign each of the three Certificates of Marriage in her maiden name. I find it’s easier to keep track of the signatures if either the bride or groom sign three certificates first, then hand the pen to their partner so they can sign as well, followed by the first witness, the second witness, and then the celebrant. There need to be 15 signatures in total on the certificates.
♥ The bride (or groom) can change their name on Facebook etc. as soon as they like after their marriage but the legal name change takes place after their wedding day.
♥ If the bridal party plan to have photos taken away from the ceremony location, consider taking some bottles of cold water and some snacks in a small esky. Having something to eat and drink after the ceremony will help your tummy to settle before you have some champagne.
♥ Try not to stress. As the old saying goes, “A wedding is a party, not a performance. If at the end of the day you are married to the one you love, then everything went perfectly!”
After your wedding day
♥ If you plan to change your name legally, you will need to order a standard Certificate of Marriage from Births Deaths & Marriages (in NSW this costs $60.) I offer to arrange this for all my couples and it will usually arrive, via registered mail, within 2-6 working days after your marriage. I can also order a commemorative Certificate of Marriage on your behalf too if you wish (in NSW these cost $27 when you also purchase a standard Certificate of Marriage at the same time, or $41 if you do not.) Here’s the link to the options available.
I supply, as part of my resource folder, a list which covers many of the people/organisations that need to be contacted regarding a change of name. Note: without a standard Certificate of Marriage, you will be unable to change your name on your driver licence, passport, at the bank etc.
♥ Lastly, enjoy your honeymoon and the start of your new chapter as husband and wife. After all, your wedding day is the beginning of the rest of your life. If you employ some or all of these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way!
033 – 30/09/2016
© Lindy Cooke Celebrant