Wedding Ceremony Planning Tips

As a wedding planner, I see lots (and lots) of wedding ceremonies. Watching a happy couple exchange vows and share their first kiss is oftentimes my favorite part of a wedding day. Before the magic happens, however, many moving parts need to fall into place- and that’s usually where we come in!

It turns out that many brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents and wedding guests all have the same questions for us (the Truly You team) week in and week out as we prepare to get the “show on the road.” On a wedding day, it is not unusual for common sense to take a hike, and for people to become more nervous than they are normally. Based on our experience with planning many a smooth and happy wedding ceremony, here are my top five common sense tips for pulling off a seamless wedding ceremony that you will actually enjoy!

1. Communicate about front row seating.

 Sarah DiCicco Photography

Sarah DiCicco Photography

Have you ever been to a wedding where the front seats are completely empty? I see it happen in wedding photos much more often than I’d like! When guests arrive to the ceremony to be seated, they usually tend to stick to the middle or back, not knowing who should be seated in the vip section- the first 2-4 rows. Depending on your religion and ceremony location, the specifics will vary, but here’s the important part: Be sure to tell anyone who you want seated towards the front to take those seats! Readers should always be told to sit towards the front, along with any close family members who will not be taking part in the wedding processional. Those in the processional (typically grandparents, parents and bridal party) will know to sit in the front naturally, but other family members like godparents, cousins and close friends won’t know how close is OK. Shoot these people a quick text or email and let them know something like, “The first two rows are for grandparents, parents and bridal party, but we’d love for you to be as close to the front as possible!”. It’s also a good idea to let your ushers know these details, too.

2. Know which side is the “right” side to be on.

 Love Me Do Photography

Love Me Do Photography

Typically a man escorts a woman on his left side so that his right hand is free to defend the lady. (Seriously, that’s how the tradition started.) For Jewish weddings, the sides are flipped and the men walk on the left, with the ladies on the right. I’m fairly sure I’ve never had a wedding rehearsal happen without at least a handful of people asking me which side they should be on (sometimes with a slight look of terror in their eye). Everyone in your bridal party and family wants to do their parts correctly, so be sure to know this answer if you’re planning your ceremony rehearsal and wedding day without a planner at the back of the aisle to right the ship!

3. Head up, flowers down.

 Emily Wren Photography

Emily Wren Photography

 

This one is probably the most simple of my common sense tips, but please, keep your heads up ladies! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when the doors open and you begin your journey down the aisle, but my advice would be to look at your Dad or the man escorting you down the aisle if you start to get a little nervous. Once you get closer to the front, you’ll be able to see your groom. Keeping your eyes on him will most definitely make you feel more relaxed and comfortable with being in the spotlight for that moment.

For some reason, bouquets sometimes become a type of shield when women become nervous walking down the aisle. Instead of holding the bouquet at hip level, I’ve seen many a bouquet drift north to a bride or bridesmaid’s chest level or even -gasp- chin level! Keeping your bouquet at hip level will make your arms appear long and slender and will most definitely create a more beautiful photo than if you’re essentially hiding behind a bunch roses. We see you! Keep your head up and the flowers down, pretty please.

4. On standing & smooching…

 Peter Van Beever Photography

Peter Van Beever Photography

Again, this is going to seem like a no-brainer, but having seen brides and grooms stand miles apart at the alter, I know this must be stated- stand close together and hold hands during the ceremony! Has anyone ever seen a ceremony where the bride and groom are standing way too far apart? It just seems weird. Period. The photos will always be much, much better if you two stay close together and don’t rush your first kiss. Usually with so much adrenaline pumping, the moment where the officiant invites you to kiss actually comes as a surprise, even though you’ve been thinking about that moment for months on end. Be sure to take your time and make that smooch a good one! You’ll thank me later when you have an amazing picture of your first kiss to look back on later in life.

5. Lighten Up

 Robert and Kathleen Photography

Robert and Kathleen Photography

I’ve noticed that many people (brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, etc.) become so focused on standing and walking the right way, that they forget to actually be present and enjoy the moment! The best thing you can do as a bride is to smile and have the best time of your life. Don’t be too worried about your train or veil- that’s what your MOH is for! Look around and smile at everyone- your groom, your friends, your parents, your guests, and truly drink in the moment. The wedding day will inevitably go by in a flash, so if nothing else, please take time to look around and enjoy your special moment with a smile!