I’ve been writing Pocono Wedding Talk since 2006. It amazes me that I haven’t revisited certain topics more often. As times change, I sometimes see the need to update my views and pass that on to the reader. If I’ve written about something more than once it’s because I believe we all need reminding of the important stuff. I try focus on what I consider ‘the important stuff’ and to me that means the meaning of weddings and ceremony. Something deeper than a party. But I like to have fun, too, so from time to time I write about wedding gowns or color schemes or food or flowers.
Sometimes I regret naming the column Wedding Talk because I include information that stretches that boundary. A shout-out to my editor here – for embracing that! When I do focus on ceremony and ritual, it’s good to remember that these ideas often apply to other milestones in life. I have shared ideas for Thanksgiving and other holidays and written about various religious and cultural traditions. But mostly I try to stay on the wedding topic. Which brings me to this.
Today I’m proposing what I hope are fresh takes, some new spins on wedding traditions. The origin of the common proverb ‘There’s nothing new under the sun’ is Ecclesiastes, and that just shows how long people have understood this, so, forgive me if some of these are NOT new to you; but I hope I’m presenting something that feels fresh and will resonate for someone planning for the ‘big day.’
If your location allows, consider setting up seating for the ceremony in different ways. You don’t need to have two sets of chairs with one center aisle. For a large wedding you could break it into three aisles, still using the center aisle for the final processional entrance and use the other two for parents or attendants to enter. One advantage for this set up is you don’t have to decide which set of parents enter first – they can enter at the same time. Ditto for those ‘bridesmaids’ and ‘groomsmen’ (and I’ll get to them in a bit). Just make sure the outside chair groupings are not too far from the altar area to see what’s happening.
An alternative idea is to set up chairs in a spiral shape, leading to the center where to couple stands. Makes for an awesome processional.
My favorite set-up is the horseshoe or semi-circle shape. The downside is that it has no center aisle, so the processional enters from the sides. Or keep the curve shape but still allow for an aisle. It’s really nice either way; very cozy.
And of course, it’s always good to remember to pick a seat, not a side.
In our modern world there is no reason you have to have just women standing with a bride or just men standing with a groom. I like to call the folks standing up with the couple: attendants (not attendees). A bride, for example, might like her brother or other male friend to be her best person. You get the idea. Gender roles are much more fluid these days and I call that freedom.
GET RIGHT TO IT
Feed your guests hors d'oeuvres first - before the ceremony. To me this makes complete sense. They are content and happily digesting during your vows and then your dinner follows. This gives guests something right to do away. I can never eat a full meal after eating all of those yummy hors d’oeuvres.
KUDOS TO THE KIDS
If you don’t have a little boy for a ring bearer, you know you CAN have a little girl carry the rings. There is no law against this! You can also have flower WOMEN if you want petals tossed on the aisle and there aren’t any young ones to do this. How about kids dressed as superheroes bringing in flowers, rings and signage? Have some fun with the adorable tradition of involving kids in the processional.
Women: wear sneakers or flats under your wedding dress, especially if its floor length, because it won’t show anyway. May as well be comfortable! And if you’re walking down the aisle on grass, this is especially important. If you must have heels, make them chunky or platforms, so you don’t sink into the ground.
TO CAKE OR NOT TO CAKE
Not a cake fan? (I’m not) – why not have an ice cream cake? You can provide a custom sundae bar for dessert instead, or just serve ice cream. Or have a dessert table, with lots of choices!
MAKE AN ENTRANCE
I’ve seen the horse and carriage entrance, and a bride on horseback, but don’t forget about motorcycles, vintage cars, bicycles, tricycles, tandem bikes, skateboard, scooters or even Segways. If not for the bride or groom, maybe for the attendants? It will be memorable. Not sure I trust hover boards yet.
Finally, the most important idea is one that is timeless, and that is to be yourself. I hope everyone participating in a wedding or attending a wedding feels comfortable and relaxed. Getting dressed up should be fun not stifling.
Lois Heckman is a certified Celebrant officiating in the Poconos and beyond. She writes about creating meaningful weddings, focusing on ceremony, ritual, and diverse traditions. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and website: www.LoisHeckman.com