Even though planning your reception takes a huge amount of time (not to mention your budget), it’s important to remember why your friends and family are gathering in the first place — to watch you get married! I know you may be getting tired of checklists at this point, but let’s face it: they work.
If you’ve already picked the perfect wedding colors and your wedding planning is all on track, great! Check out our detailed wedding ceremony checklist to make 100% sure your big day runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Visit Your Ceremony Location
If at all feasible, dropping by the site of your nuptials the week of is a good way to ensure it’s prepared for the big day. When you’re there, be sure to:
- see if there’s anything additional that needs to be addressed, such as localized street construction or detours that may add time to your arrival.
- try to look at the location with “fresh eyes” — pinpoint things that you may have overlooked previously like aisle runners or the altar location for your guests’ best view.
2. Research Wedding Officiants
Come prepared with questions to ask your possible wedding officiant such as:
- What is your greatest hope for newly married couples?
- What do you think is your main role as an officiant?
When you’ve found “the one,” you should:
- make sure you get their confirmation in writing.
- finalize any fees that are associated with their services.
3. Tackle Transportation
You are going to have friends and family moving from one site to the next, as well as your wedding party shuttling from homes and salons to the ceremony. It’s impossible to guarantee transportation flows smoothly on your big day, however you can definitely be proactive. Try to:
- make a detailed schedule for the groom’s party and bridal party that you can give to drivers.
- give this schedule to all wedding party members so they know what times they are expected and where.
- allow time for unplanned events before the ceremony, such as a tardy groomsmen.
- aim to have everyone at the ceremony site one hour early, but be okay with 30 minutes if delays are unavoidable.
Wedding transport can be a significant part of your budget, so make sure to make smart savings where you can.
4. Communicate Closely With Your Photographer
Long after you’ve eaten the last piece of wedding cake, your photos and videos will remain as cherished memories of your special day. Before your ceremony, be sure to:
- give the photographers a transportation schedule so they know where everyone should be and at what specific times.
- do a practice shoot inside the ceremony site to see if additional lighting or filters are needed.
- tell them the specific types of photos you want with you and your spouse alone, as well as photos with various family members.
- ask if they’ll be capturing photos of you and your spouse getting ready for your walk down the aisle (if you want them to do so, be sure to tell them).
5. Pick Your “Walk Down the Aisle” Music
You’ll have to come up with at least two songs, processional and recessional, for your wedding march in and out of the ceremony. Consider:
- What songs do you want played? Some traditional choices are “Canon in D” for the processional, but more couples are opting for modern takes on wedding music like rearrangements of The Beatles or Stevie Wonder.
- If you’ve chosen a religious venue for your ceremony, you will need to check that these variants are allowed.
If you need to hire musicians you should:
- Check sites like Yelp to get a sense of local bands or string quartets and what their pricing and policies are, and always get an agreement in writing.
- If you’re looking for music on a budget, check with a local high school to see if they have a few young musicians who’d be willing to donate their time and musical skills in exchange for a free meal and a small stipend.
6. Prepare The Setup
Try to imagine yourself as a guest in your wedding and walk through what they’ll be doing during your ceremony. This will help you identify things you may have overlooked. Some things you may need to bring (or rent) for your ceremony can include:
- Religious texts or readings
- Religious/cultural items such as a broom, unity candle, or Chuppah
- Aisle runners
- Ring pillows, flower girl basket, and wedding rings
- Wedding programs
- Seating/sound equipment for music and officiant (ask both when signing contracts if they provide these items)
- Candles, wedding arch, seat covers or stands for flowers
- Portable heating or cooling units, depending on the season
7. Customize Your Ceremony
Having a ceremony where friends and family members contribute by reading specific passages (either religious or secular ones )? Here are some things to consider if you aim to customize the flow of your wedding:
- Do you want to pick and assign the readings or let them choose ones (that you can vet in advance)?
- Or, if you’re not sure what to have them read, do you want to ask your officiant for some ideas?
- Also remember: your officiant is an excellent resource if you’ve chosen to write your own vows, and can provide great insight if you’re having trouble getting the wording just right.
This is a great time to ask your officiant what they will be reading, and to bring up any alterations.
Much like your wedding outfit, you can tailor and customize the words being said to best reflect the relationship between you and your spouse.
8. Run a Rehearsal
Even though rehearsal evenings are pretty common, it helps everything run smoother on your wedding day. Don’t skip it in favor of one last evening out, as this can be a very relaxed way to run through your ceremony and iron out any issues before the actual vows. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for a one-time-only, sold-out show!
Wedding ceremonies may seem like a lot of work, but they are worth it in the end. Being surrounded by so much love is truly a special thing. Whether you’re saying “Mazel Tov,” “God Bless” or “Namaste,” it doesn’t matter — enjoy every moment and embrace the good times!
Are there any other details you think we should add to our wedding ceremony checklist? Do you have any comments or suggestions for our soon-to-be brides and grooms? We’d love your input! Also, our Facebook and Pinterest pages are great resources for photos, inspiration, and more — check them out if you’re in the wedding spirit!