The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day

The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day

by Judith Johnson

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Many couples want a spiritual but not a religious ceremony that truly celebrates their unique set of beliefs, values and life circumstances. They want their ceremony, their way but don't know where to begin or what questions they need to ask. The Wedding Ceremony Planner is a comprehensive and user-friendly guide. It covers everything you need to know to create a beautiful ceremony text and to anticipate and address all the profound and mundane logistics with ease, grace and fun. It includes hundreds of text excerpts reflecting the many voices with which our hearts speak. There are also ten sample ceremony texts for the inclusion of children, the telling of the couple's story, the renewal of vows and a commitment ceremony. Checklists and worksheets are included to manage all the details. The Wedding Ceremony Planner is also an invaluable resource for clergy of all faiths, wedding planners and location coordinators. Sprinkled with anecdotes about lessons learned by couples creating their weddings, this book is filled with the wisdom of experience

Praise for The Wedding Ceremony Planner

"Weddings are sacred acts surrounded by material hoopla. The Wedding Ceremony Planner clarifies the worldly issues but keeps the spirit central. It's the balance that every couple needs."
-Marianne Williamson, author, The Gift of Change

"With countless samples of ceremony segments and worksheets to put them all together, The Wedding Ceremony Planner affirms what we all hope for: to communicate our love in a clear, heartfelt manner that truly reflects who we are."
-Jack Canfield, co-author, Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul®

"In this time of increasing exchange and friendship between people of many cultures ... what the world needs is an intelligent and compassionate 'how to' book on performing interfaith ceremonies. This book is an excellent example."
-The Very Reverend James Parks Morton Founder and President of the Interfaith Center of New York

"[This book] was [wonderful] in helping us create our wedding ceremony. Not only was it easy to follow, but it made us think of things we never would have thought of on our own ... Going through the book also brought us closer ... it is the one thing we have sat down and done 100% together."
-Jennifer Buehler and Frank Yanoti Jr., Bride and Groom

"Planning the wedding ceremony in itself can be a process of discovery for a couple entering marriage ... this marvelous book ... help[s] couples design a ceremony that truly and personally characterizes the meaning and uniqueness of each union."
-Pril Smiley, Mohonk Mountain House

"This book will aid and guide the couple in the creation of their unique wedding ceremony that appropriately states their personal beliefs. How refreshing, how important, how appropriate to help make the wedding yours."
-Alexandra Stoddard, author of Choosing Happiness

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402251009
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/01/2005
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 924,209
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Judith Johnson holds a doctorate in social psychology and is an ordained ecumenical minister, honoring all religious and spiritual traditions. She has officiated at hundreds of weddings over the past 14 years.

Read an Excerpt

How to Design Your Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ritual is the ceremonial container for the celebration of a couple's love and their decision to journey through their lives together. To assist those of you who are embarking on the adventure of designing your own wedding ceremony, this section of the book contains collections of passages to be used for each of the traditional ceremonial components. You are encouraged to trust your own instincts as you read through the choices, choosing those elements that are right for you. The worksheet entitled "Designing the Ceremony Text" can be a helpful tool in collecting those passages that speak to you as you create a very rough first draft. Using the sample provided on page 23 as a guide, begin with the blank form provided for you on page 291. Just hold up the mirror of yourselves to the passages included here and you will find the ones that ring true for you. Feel free to find sentiments in one section that you would like to use in another, or to change or eliminate words or phrases, or use only a sentence or two from here or there. With the exception of rewriting poetry, give yourself lots of editorial license.
As with any well-constructed ritual, a wedding ceremony has a certain flow and order to it that leads up to the sacred moment of the exchange of vows and rings and the pronouncement that the bride and groom are now wife and husband. The format that is presented in this section provides a sequencing of components that allows for flow and order, yet customizing of the ceremony to your own taste.
It's a good idea to start with a rough draft and allow yourselves to explore various ideas without being concerned about what will make it into the final version. Like filling your plates at a smorgasbord, just gather all those items that appeal to you-discernment will follow. This more relaxed approach fosters greater creativity and the opportunity to consider the various components of the ceremony over time. It also allows you to more carefully consider and negotiate your way with passages that one of you likes and the other does not.
You may feel a bit overwhelmed by the volume of text choices. However, you are likely to find that the process of elimination goes much faster than anticipated and you will be able to come up with a rough draft in several hours. At this point, you may not have chosen readings and, if you are planning to write your own vows, you may want to do so after the first draft is written. Then you can work with the draft, giving careful consideration to the specific wordings, sequencing, and adding or deleting words and sections until it is just what you want. If the officiant is actively working with you on the ceremony text, it is helpful if you set specific deadlines for completing the text well in advance of the ceremony. Of course, there is not always that much time or the luxury of meeting in person, in which case you and the officiant can customize your process to your circumstances. Most of the couples I work with prefer to send email drafts back and forth until the text is complete.
I always give each couple a copy of their finalized wedding ceremony. This way, when guests want copies of certain passages, the bride and groom can easily provide them. And, many couples like to keep their ceremony among their wedding day keepsakes. On their anniversary, or anytime, some rededicate themselves to their vows, perform the candle ceremony together, or quietly re-read their ceremony together. It is a loving reminder of the foundation they have laid for their marriage.

Designing the Ceremony Text Worksheet
1. Create a rough draft. Use the sample text elements that have been included in this book and any others that you have gathered for inclusion in your ceremony. List all items in the order in which you would like them to occur. If you only want a segment of a sample item or want to change the wording, make note of that here as well. Remember, this is just a rough draft. So, don't be too concerned about editing at this point. Just focus on gathering those elements that speak to you, at least in part. At this stage, you are likely to select more passages than will appear in your final ceremony text.
Opening Prayer: OP2 Page XX
Gathering Words: GW3, lines 1-12 Page XX
GW5 Page XX
Remembrance/Acknowledgment: RA3, lines 1-3 Page XX
Names to be included: maternal grandparents _____ and _____ _____
Readings and Songs: Selection Author Reader/Singer
Declaration of Support: DS3 Page XX
Marriage Address: MA2 Page XX
Sacred Rituals: WC Page XX
Vows: To be written later
Ring Exchange:
Officiant Prelude: PRE8&9 Page XX
Couple: RE1 Page XX
Final Blessing: FB3 Page XX
2. Identify any additional elements you would like to include in your ceremony such as religious or family traditions and note where they will occur:
3. Once you have created a rough draft according to your directions above, begin the editing and fine tuning process. Be sure to read the text aloud to be sure that it flows smoothly and isn't too long or short for what you want. Set a specific deadline for completion of the ceremony text well in advance of the ceremony.

Table of Contents

Part One: Your Wedding Ceremony: The People, The Place, and Special Considerations

Chapter 1 Setting the Tone for Your Wedding
What is a Spiritual Wedding?
Your Dream Wedding
Remember to Take Charge
Choosing an Officiant
A Personal Perspective

Chapter 2 Deciding Who the Participants Will Be
What to Consider in Designing the Ceremony
The Couple
The Guest List
The Wedding Party

Chapter 3 Planning the Ceremony Location
Finding Your Wedding Ceremony Location
Identifying Your Needs and Desires
Researching Possible Sites
Agreeing on Terms of Use of Your Chosen Site
Optimizing Your Ceremony's Location
Balance and Fit
Special Considerations for Outdoor Weddings
Easily Accessible and User-Friendly
Factors to Consider in Designing the Ceremony Site
Ceremony Site Layout Worksheet--Sample
The Wedding Party

Chapter 4 Special Considerations
"Handle With Care" Relationships
Who Does What, When, Where, Why, and How
Wedding Day Information Sheet--Sample
Just Before the Ceremony Checklist--Sample
The Wedding Program
The Wedding Rehearsal
The Wedding Rehearsal Checklist--Sample
A Note About Ushers

Part Two: Designing Your Ceremony

Chapter 5 The Ceremony Text
Designing the Ceremony Worksheet--Sample
Ceremony Overview
In the Beginning
The Seating of the Guests
The Processional
Processional Cues and Sequencing Worksheet--Sample
Opening Prayer
Gathering Words
Remembrances and Acknowledgments
In the Middle
Readings and Songs
Charge for the Couple
The Declaration of Support
Marriage Address
Symbolic Rituals
Candle Ceremony
Tree Planting Ceremony
Water Ceremony
In the End
Wedding Vows
Ring Exchange
Prelude by the Officiant
Ring Exchange by the Couple
Final Blessing and Pronouncement
The Recessional
Recessional Cues and Sequencing Worksheet--Sample

Chapter 6 Incorporating Personal Beliefs and Circumstances
For a Smaller Wedding
The Friendship Circle
When Your Ceremony Involves Children
Incorporating Religious Traditions
Jewish Wedding Rituals
Explanation of Jewish Traditions
Blessing and Drinking the Wine
The Seven Blessings
Prayers from the Old Testament
Symbolic Gestures
Incorporating Ethnic Traditions
Greek Crowning Ceremony and Common Cup
The Polish Ritual of Symbolic Gifts
The Wrapping of the Mantilla

Part Three: Putting It All Together

Chapter 7 Sample Ceremonies
Ceremony One: Spiritual and Heartfelt
Ceremony Two: Short and Sophisticated
Ceremony Three: Incorporating Your Story
Ceremony Four: Inspired by Nature
Ceremony Five: Short, Spontaneous, and Intimate
Ceremony Six: A Marriage with Children
Ceremony Seven: Nondenominational Christian with Scriptural Readings
Ceremony Eight: Joyful Family Togetherness
A Note About Commitment Ceremonies
Ceremony Nine: A Heartfelt Commitment Ceremony
Ceremony Ten: Renewal of Marriage Vows

Chapter 8 Checklists and Worksheets
Ceremony Site Layout Worksheet
Wedding Day Information Sheet
Just Before the Ceremony Checklist
Wedding Rehearsal Checklist
Designing the Ceremony Text Worksheet
Processional Cues and Sequencing Worksheet
Recessional Cues and Sequencing Worksheet

A Note to Officiants
A Final Thought

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