As a wedding planner and wedding officiant, I have seen my fair share of wedding ceremonies. One thing I have come to learn is that a lot of couples like to have a unity ceremony, but tend to stick to the traditional sand pouring or candle lighting. And while both are great options, there’s so many more out there that can be more personalized for your wedding ceremony.
It’s a great way to show the blending of your families so you might as well make a big deal about it. My couples are all about making the day personalized and a reflection of them. A unity ceremony is a perfect way to do that. Take a look at this list on different ways to incorporate a unity ceremony into your wedding ceremony.
Unity Ceremonies for your Wedding Day from a Wedding Officiant
Wine or Beer Mixing
Who doesn’t love a good drink, especially when you’re celebrating and especially when you are standing in front of a bunch of people. Now you can have your unity ceremony and drink it too. You could mix your favorite white and red wine, mix up a cocktail using your favorite liquors, or even make a Black & Tan. It’s a fun way to show you are coming together and get a little refreshment too.
Love Letters in a Box
Going along with the wine, perhaps you would like to each write your own love letter to each other to be opened on your first wedding anniversary. It is something beautiful to display in your home and a wonderful thing to look forward to. Then on your anniversary, you can relive the magic you were feeling on your wedding day. Keep it going by rewriting a new love note to each other and open them again year after year. And don’t forget the wine!
As I mentioned before there is the traditional sand ceremony, where you have different colored sand and you mix them together into one container. It’s really popular and simple to do, but as a wedding officiant, I don’t prefer them. If the container is not sealed or moved properly then the original design gets mixed and it doesn’t look as nice as the first pour. Instead, look into glass pouring. It is where you take small colorful pieces of glass and mix them like the sand, but afterward, you get the colorful mix turned into something for you to display.
Canvas Art or Paint Pour
So before you freak out about the mess this could make, there are ways to do it where your attire will still stay safe. Small squeeze bottles instead of cups. Putting a catch under the canvas to collect the paint. Using a brush to paint the canvas in an eclectic way, instead of pouring it on. Doing something like this can be very colorful, easy to include multiple people like children, and creates artwork to hang in your home.
Take it up a notch and allow your guests to add their own flair to smaller canvas that you can hang with your joint one. Now you have a conversational piece.
This unity ceremony is more traditionally used for those couples who wish to include their faith in their wedding. It’s used to show the joining of two people and god into their marriage by intertwining the ropes together. Having your wedding officiant give a blessing on the ropes or pass it between family members before braiding can add an even deeper element of love. Another way to use this is to include your children in the ceremony. You would each represent a rope, and by the end, you have blended your family into one.
Handfasting/Tie the Knot
This is a traditional Celtic ceremony in which your hands are joined and wrapped with rope, ribbon, or even an heirloom fabric. With blessings given over your hands by your wedding officiant, it can create beautiful imagery. Candace and Josh did this in their wedding ceremony and used a special hand-tying formation that when released and pulled it actually tied the wrap into an infinity knot for them to display in their home.
Remember, this is just a small list of ideas for your unity ceremony. You are only limited by your imagination as to what you can do for yours. Take a look at your relationship, your favorites, your interests….how can you take those and turn them into a unity ceremony. Something so personal like that can really make your wedding day a unique reflection of you as a couple.
Many people opt to have a signature cocktail or two on their wedding day for guests to enjoy and I fully support this decision. Not only is it a great way to save some money if you wish to limit your bar, but it’s a fun way to connect to your guests. ESPECIALLY if you make them personal.
How to Personalize Your Signature Cocktails
If you wish to have two cocktails available, pick two drinks that each represent you. It can be your favorite drink or something you come up with. The most important thing is what you name it. Use your Alma Maters, your favorite TV shows, your Hogwarts House or even just your names. Call it something that people will see and immediately relate it back to you.
You can also just have a single cocktail option and then name it after something that represents you as a couple. The sweetest version of this I have seen was a cocktail created with the couples two favorite alcohols and then titled “The Barretts”.
Top 5 Signature Drinks
Here are my personal favorite signature drinks for your wedding day. They are simple, classic and easy to incorporate. You can find these recipes and more on my Pinterest page too.
Everyone loves a Mojito. It’s refreshing and tastes great, but it’s also light. There are so many flavor options you can add to it too.
Apple Cider & Fireball
So simple, few ingredients which keeps the cost down, and it perfect for a fall wedding.
Again, many flavor options to pick from so it doesn’t have to be orange juice. Especially because orange juice can become heavy. This one with pears is unique and light on the tummy.
My personal favorite is Whiskey, and you cannot go wrong with a Whiskey Sour. Add cranberry for the holidays or keep it classic.
From Halloween to Christmas to something Patriotic, you can find any yummy signature cocktail themed to match.
Choosing a bridesmaid dress for the females in your wedding party is no easy task, but it can be one of the most fun parts of the wedding planning process. Inviting the special women in your life to be your bridesmaids; your sisters, your lifelong friends, your cousins, and special family friends; is a way to seal important friendships during this very special time in your life.
Tips on Choosing the Right Bridesmaid Dresses
Naturally, it’s the couple who will be the focus of attention on the wedding day, but it’s important for the bridesmaids to look gorgeous too. Choose something simple and not overdecorated or detailed, but which will make your bridesmaids look elegant and sophisticated.
It’s important to choose a dress style which will flatter everyone’s figure. This is never an easy task, but empire waists and A-line or princess skirts will tend to suit most shapes and sizes. A very nice alternative, and one I recommend, is to choose the fabrics and colors and allow each individual bridesmaid to choose her own dress style. Separates are definitely an option too. Mixing and matching separate tops and skirts makes it easier to find a style that suits each individual bridesmaid.
Always keep a budget in mind for your bridesmaid’s gowns. Some times you can find sales or dresses even cheaper if you go to the right store. If you have your heart set on a more expensive gown, or one of your bridesmaids is financially unable to purchase the gown, you might consider helping out or give another dress option. Having someone be a part of your big day is more important.
Classic Looks for Bridesmaids
Any kind of formal gown, semi-formal, or evening dress can be chosen as a bridesmaids gown, so you have literally thousands of options. Satin, organza, chiffon, georgette, tulle, lace, brocades, and crepe are all classic fabrics for bridesmaid dresses.
You should think about the time of year you plan to hold the wedding, and how this will affect your gown choices. Choose lighter fabrics for summer, and a sleeveless or even a strapless dress style. If your wedding is planned for a cooler time in the year, long skirts and sleeves are best, or include a shawl or wrap as a gift.
Though a lot of people tend to choose their colors according to the time or season of the year, it’s not really necessary. If you want a color that isn’t typically seen in the winter, do it anyways. My only recommendation is to make sure they match your floral choices so your gowns will tone in nicely with the bouquets. Discussing your color ideas with your florist will make the job of choosing colors much easier. In the end, black never goes out of style.
Accessories for Bridesmaids
The simplest look will tend to work best, so accessories should best be kept to a minimum. Often a simple pair of earrings or necklaces are all the jewelry you’ll need. If you want to give a gift and keep things uniform, you can also gift jewelry to your bridesmaids to be worn on your wedding day.
Keep comfort as well as style in mind when you choose shoes for your bridesmaids. Very high heels may be uncomfortable to stand in for any period of time. I once wore 3.5″ heels and personally was in pain because I don’t wear heels regularly. So keep that in mind as well as the fact that the bridesmaids will most likely be wearing the shoes for the wedding ceremony and the reception. Choose shoes which will be comfortable to wear all day, then dance away the night.
I know you’ve been looking forward to your wedding day for some time now. Planning has taken you months, if not years. From your venue to your first pick photographer to the DJ that will keep the dance floor hopping. The perfect stationery and the flowers to match. The hairstyles, the outfits, and even the favors. Everything has been meticulously picked and put together to reflect your vision.
As the day gets closer you start to get back your RSVPs and you get a little more excited with each one. You slowly start to see everything coming together and everyone there that you love celebrating you two. Then one day it’s all gone.
My Heart Goes Out To You
This pandemic has come at the worst possible time for weddings in Ohio. It impacts so many and you are one of the hundreds if not thousands of couples who will be affected by this. Whether you have already made the choice to postpone or are patiently waiting to hear if your wedding day will move forward. My heart goes out to you.
I know you are probably working through so many emotions right now. Anger, frustration, disappointment, and sadness. You are crushed and at the same time feel guilty. Your wedding day is the most important day for you right now, but people are losing their jobs and even their lives. Don’t get me wrong, yes it can seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, but you are valid in your feelings too.
I can also tell you that it’s going to be OK. Your perfect person will still be there with you at the end of this. Your big day will still happen. It may not be on the date you picked, but it will still be on a perfect day. Your family will have even more reason to celebrate with you. You will come out of this stronger and even more ready to get married.
I know it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that things seem really hard and heavy right now. I know that you’re heart may be breaking, but take a step back and breathe. Look over at your perfect person as you read this and remember the real reason you are doing this. To marry them. Although it may not be exactly as you have envisioned, it will still happen and it will be just as perfect.
When planning your wedding the music you choose for your first dance can be a daunting task. It must be just perfect and reflect you as a couple, not to fast and not too slow. Something you both like and can dance to. Maybe something that’s not too long for those who don’t like to dance in front of others. There’s a lot that can be taken into account when picking.
My first recommendation is to look at songs that are meaningful to both of you. Something you may have danced to before or maybe something you sing together. A song that comes on the shuffle and it always makes you think of each other.
If all else fails you can find many examples of songs to pick from with a simple Google search. The problem with that is, although you may think Christina Perri or Ed Sheeran are amazing picks with the most beautiful songs, so does everyone else getting married.
To help with that, here are some songs that I pulled together that are not overplayed every weekend. Some are songs that I love and knew I wanted to share. Some I just happened to find and thought were perfect.
Top 10 Picks for First Songs
I Get to Love You by Ruelle – This is by far one of my most favorite first dance songs and not many people have found it yet.
Beyond by Leon Bridges – A song from a man to a woman explaining why she is so important to him and hoping that she will be their everything. It has a simple beat and easy to sway to.
Lover (First Dance Remix) by Taylor Swift – Remixed specifically for first dances and just recently released. Will this be the song of the 2020 wedding season? Beautiful, enchanting and completely meaningful.
You’re My Best Friend by The Once – As a big fan of Queen I love the original, but this is such a beautiful cover that it cannot be overlooked.
Speechless by Dan & Shay – By the video itself you can see that it was made for weddings, but you must listen to truly see why it can truly be perfect for your first dance.
I Choose You by Ryann Darling – Your Mine and all the reasons why. So simple and elegant.
I Choose You by Sara Bareilles – I little more upbeat than a traditional first dance song, but not everyone wants slow. It’s still easy to sway together or choreograph a dance to.
Forever Starts Today by Tim Halperin – Piano lead with beautiful vocals talking about this moment and how it begins your forever together. Very heartwarming and makes my heart smile.
Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor – Starts soft and romantic and grows into something epic. A beautiful song just waiting for some special choreography to make it come to life.
Love Someone by Lukas Graham – You’ve probably heard this song on the radio at some point. It’s simple and true and with a good beat to dance together.
Bonus First Dance Song
Be My Forever by Christina Perri (feat. Ed Sheeran) – I know I said that these two are overplayed at weddings. But this song that they did together is not only catchy and a little upbeat, but I have yet to hear it used for a dance. So if your up for a little faster paced first dance, this one might be for you.
Our First Dance Song
I thought as a fun tidbit I would share my husband and my first dance song. He hates the spotlight, so we wanted short. There were many options we discussed, but this movie is a favorite of mine and we always talk about growing old together. So it was just perfect.
Gone are the days of the black tuxedo, boutonniere, and shiny black shoes. Now it’s so easy to add a piece of your personality to what you wear on your wedding day. From the color of your jacket to your tie (or bowtie for that matter) to even the socks that only get seen in the pictures.
But what about the boutonniere?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good boutonniere when placed correctly and made the right size. But I find that those who opt to ditch it for a pocket square look much more polished. A simple piece of fabric that can really elevate a look. It can spice up the most basic of jackets, match a color scheme, create a subtle addition to your outfit or make a bold statement. It all comes down to the color, pattern and most importantly, the fold.
The easiest fold is The Puff fold. Lay the square flat, pinch it in the center and pull up while twisting. It creates something that reminds me of a ghost at Halloween. Keep a hold of the top and put the seams into your pocket. Simple as that. No matter what fold you choose, make sure to practice it before the wedding day. That way when you are all getting ready you aren’t scrambling to figure out how to fold it.
It’s all about texture and color!
Along with a good fold comes the fabric. Thicker fabrics are great for a crisp edge, especially if folded and pressed in advance. But they can sometimes be bulky and stick out funny in your pocket. Lighter fabrics can make for a more elegant feel and easy for finer detail folds, but if they are too small they can easily slide down into your pocket and disappear during photos. Always keep an eye on where your pocket square is.
When it comes to choosing the color and/or pattern of your pocket square, it may be easy to just grab a coordinating pack of the shelf. But if you want to have a modern look try a patterned pocket square and then pick one color from the palette and match your tie (or bowtie) to that.
A well-cut suit or jacket certainly makes a strong statement, but to really stand out, it’s your accessories that really make all the difference. For even more inspiration on pocket square folds, take a look at this guide on Ties.com.
Diana is a Cleveland Wedding Planner serving all of Northeast Ohio.