Choosing a wedding ceremony
One of the earliest questions to be settled is the kind of wedding that you want. There are numerous options open to you, and you have the chance to make this most important day live up to all your hopes and expectations for it! Make sure that you choose the type of wedding with which you feel most comfortable. If you have always wanted a large, formal wedding, then go for that option – on the other hand, if you cringe at the thought of all that drama, or if you would be happier with a non-religious ceremony, then don’t let anyone push you into a formal church wedding. The basic options for the type of ceremony are set out here; choose the one that fits your own preferences best, and then you can add your own details to it to personalise the day.
Make sure that you discuss things very carefully with the minister or registrar before you start making any definite plans, as there may be certain restrictions on what you can and can’t do. For instance, some ministers will not marry divorcees; some ministers may not permit you to marry in church or to wear white if you are living together or are pregnant. Some churches will allow a simple service of blessing after a registry office marriage; some registry offices have restrictions on what can be done in the way of music and flowers. Check beforehand to make sure that you won’t be disappointed.
The formal wedding
Truly formal weddings are awesome affairs, with an equally awesome amount of preparation necessary. The fundamentals of a formal wedding are as follows.
The wedding invitations are engraved or printed to a very high quality, and are worded very formally.
The wedding invitations are sent out by the bride’s mother on behalf of the bride’s father (or suitable representatives if, for instance, the bride is a stepdaughter or adopted).
The bride wears a formal, floor-length wedding gown of white, cream or ivory, possibly with a train.
The bride wears a veil, which is worn over her face as she goes down the aisle and drawn back before the actual marriage.
The men in the wedding party, and possibly all the guests, wear morning dress; if the male guests don’t wear morning dress they will dress in suits. The female guests wear very formal clothes.
The bride has a maid of honour or chief bridesmaid.
The bride has several other attendants, such as junior bridesmaids, flower girl, pageboys, ringbearer, etc.
The groom has a best man.
The bride is given away by her father or by a close relative or family friend.
The church is decorated by a professional florist.
The bouquets of bride and attendants are professionally made.
You may have pew decorations or ribbon knots inside the church.
Professional musicians play at the service and reception.
The proceedings are recorded by a top-quality photographer, and possibly on video as well.
Formal photographs are taken of the bridal party before the ceremony, the wedding party afterwards, and of all guests.
You must have a wedding cake decorated formally and iced conventionally.
The transport should be very formal such as white or black chauffeur-driven limousines.
The wedding party forms a receiving line as the guests arrive at the reception and greet them individually; there may even be a caller to announce each guest as he or she arrives.
The reception is a formal sit-down meal.
There should be a master of ceremonies to guide the proceedings at the reception, to call upon those who are to make speeches, and to announce the cutting of the cake.
Champagne is provided for the toasts.
Toasts are proposed to the bride and groom and to the bridesmaids.
Any telegrams are read out by the best man.
Confetti is usually thrown over the couple as they leave church or as they leave for honeymoon.
The bride should toss her bouquet among the guests before she goes on honeymoon.
A report of the wedding is sent to the local and/or national papers.
As you can see, a formal wedding is a very serious affair, and any desire for personal touches can be stifled by the requirements of convention. Most couples choose options that allow them somewhat more freedom.
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