How Weddings Work: Pronouncement & Kiss

The Pronouncement is the usually-simple statement saying you are “husband and wife,” “partners for life,” or whatever you’d like to call your newly-married relationship. Some officiants/ministers add what makes them able to pronounce this: ordination from a certain religion, recognition by the state, etc. Make sure to talk to your officiant about your wishes.

Yay! You’re officially married! Now for the fun part – The Kiss.

I know what you’re thinking: a blog post on kissing? Well, having stood a only couple of feet away from the most public of “public displays of affection,” I have some tips for you:

First, PRACTICE YOUR KISS. Yes, you read that right. And it’s probably the best part of wedding planning. Just like you want to know everything an officiant or minister is going to say, and where everyone is going to stand, you want to have your first official kiss down to a science. If you try to be coy and go for a peck, it’s kind of a let down (“That’s it? After all those words of love and they barely touched lips?!”). However, don’t go too far the other way, slobbering all over each other and having your guests wish you’d gotten a room already. So try to find a happy middle, a nice, two second-long kiss so everyone can “woo!” and clap, and so your photographer gets a lovely picture.

Second, if your officiant doesn’t know, make sure they step to the side during your kiss. A quick internet search will show you picture after picture of a newlywed couple kissing, and a tiny officiant face peeking between the necks. It’s creepy! Once your officiant has said, “You may kiss,” give him or her a second to step to one side, then go in for your romantic, two-second kiss. That way, your photographer can go in for a close up without worrying about “officiant face” poking through and ruining the shot.

The final piece of the wedding ceremony puzzle is the Introduction to Guests, which I’ll cover next week. Then, in coming weeks, I’ll cover some ancient, fun, and modern rituals that can truly make your ceremony memorable.

How Weddings Work: Introduction & Recessional

For the final step in your wedding ceremony, have you considered how you want to be introduced as a couple for the first time? It can be as simple as “Mr. & Mrs. John Doe,” or you can choose to mention both first names, as in “Mr. & Mrs. John & Jane Doe.” If you will not be taking each other’s names, your officiant can say something like, “Please show some love for the newlyweds!” without including names at all. Whatever you choose, be sure to inform your officiant, DJ/band, and planner, so they all know your preferences.

Congratulations and Best Wishes! You are now married and ready to celebrate with family and friends. Ah, but first we have to exit the ceremony area – a process called the Recessional. A rather easy way to remember who goes when is to exit in the opposite order of how you entered (Processional). Standard wedding parties will typically exit in this order:

  1. Newly Married Couple
  2. Flower Girl/Ring Bearer (unless they are sitting happily with their parents)
  3. Maid/Matron of Honor & Best Man
  4. Bridesmaids & Groomsmen (working from the inside, out)
  5. Parents of Bride
  6. Parents of Groom
  7. Grandparents of Bride
  8. Grandparents of Groom

Once the wedding party has completed the Recessional, your officiant should dismiss the remaining guests and direct them to the next location on the agenda, be it cocktail hour, reception, etc.

A tip offered by a photographer: Though you will be eager to celebrate with your friends and family, the first thing you should do upon exiting the ceremony area is HIDE! Photographers usually want a few photos of you two and your wedding party, or maybe just the two of you alone, as newlyweds, even if you have had most of your pictures taken before the ceremony. However, if even ONE guest corners you to wish you well (and believe me, each guest wants to be the first to fawn over you), it is very difficult to break away from the guests to get the photography finished. Therefore, plan ahead and go directly to a place out-of-sight of guests. Your entire wedding party should follow you to that hidden location, so everyone is where they are supposed to be. Remember that the sooner you finish with the photographer, the sooner you can get to your reception!

The End

But wait! There’s more! Check in next week when I start to cover special rituals that can excite your guests and brand your ceremony with your special flair.

How Weddings Work: Handfasting

As mentioned in the I Do’s/Intent section, an ancient alternative that is regaining popularity is a Handfasting. Some religions see a Handfasting as a temporary and/or private ceremony, not a true wedding in the legal and religious sense. However, if the wording is crafted correctly, it can replace traditional I Do’s and still be legal.

If you’ve never heard of a Handfasting, it is a ritual that includes a rope or ribbon which is wrapped around your clasped hands, and then tied (thus the phrase, “Tie the Knot”). The officiant asks both partners “I Do” (or “We Do”) questions to both partners at the same time. Each time a positive response is heard, the officiant wraps the ribbon around your hands. Depending on your religion or your preferences, the number of questions can be as few as three, or as many as five.

Each officiant has their preferred method of creating a Handfasting Ribbon. If you choose this beautiful ritual, your officiant can explain how to make your ribbon so that part goes smoothly. Honestly, I love a Handfasting ritual, because most guests are unfamiliar with it, and makes them eager and curious as to what is happening. It is only when the officiant says, “…and the knot is tied!” that the lightbulbs go off above guests’ heads and they understand what just happened.

Keep in mind that though the wrapping and tying is more symbolic than literal (you won’t need help getting your hands untied!), the order of a ceremony has to be switched around a little. If your hands are “bound,” you can’t exchange rings, for example. So, after the Charge, you skip to the Vows and Ring Exchange before the Handfasting (I Do’s). That way, you can keep your hands “fasted” together for the remainder of the ceremony and Recess down the aisle with the ribbon still tied.

How Weddings Work: Ring Warming

For smaller weddings (under 50 guests), a Ring Warming can add a unique ritual to your ceremony that will have guests intrigued at the time, and talking about long after. The theory is that metal absorbs energy – be that heat from hands holding them, or from positive thoughts and prayers imbued into them.

At the beginning of your ceremony, with your rings in a safe pouch, box, or tied together, your officiant will tell your guests to take a moment and send warming energies into your rings, then they are passed into the audience. While the rest of your ceremony is commencing, guests spend a silent moment with your rings, then pass them along to the next person. By the time the Ring Exchange is to happen, your rings have wound their way back to the front, and can be retrieved by a member of the wedding party.

For larger weddings, another option is to have your rings tethered to a post or table at the entrance to the aisle, with a sign asking guests to spend a moment with them before being seated. They are then retrieved immediately before the ceremony starts and held by the best man or officiant.

Whichever version you choose, your rings will have warmed – physically and spiritually – before you give them to your beloved during the ceremony. This ritual is also wonderful for guests of multiple religions, or no religion, to send their unique energy without feeling left-out or uncomfortable. Each guest can decide if they want to pray over them, send positive thoughts, or simply touch/warm them with their hands.

Guests love to feel involved in your wedding. A Ring Warming can be a wonderful way for both those invited, and for you, to feel all the love brought to your new marriage.

How Weddings Work: Yoruban Tasting Ritual

As most people know, a marriage has its ups and downs. That’s why couples vow, “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.” Another way to highlight the acceptance of all that your marriage will encounter is to perform a Yoruban Tasting Ritual during your ceremony.

The idea is this: you each taste a range of items that represent different feelings you’ll have over the years. First is sour (lemon) because you will have disappointments, but vow to work through them. Second is bitter (vinegar) because you will have jealousy and rejection, but vow to make your marriage stronger rather than have those feeling tear it apart. Third is hot/spicy (cayenne), which can represent passion or heated arguments; you vow to stay passionate only to your spouse, and/or not let arguments get too heated. Finally, forth, is sweet (honey), because if you can find the love and joy in the first three, you are blessed with the sweetness of all marriage can be.

The four substances are typically placed in small saucers on a table near the altar, and you walk over to it for this ritual like you would for a unity candle ritual. Your officiant will explain each taste so your guests know what is going on. (A friendly tip – you might want to have a glass of water or milk nearby in case the cayenne causes too much burning or coughing.)

The Tasting of the Four, based on the Yoruba religion, is an interesting alternative for another ritual like a Unity Candle or Unity Sand. You’ll definitely have your guests talking and asking about it! Ask your officiant if they are familiar with this ritual, and how you would like each “taste” worded.