Planning your Ceremony

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Celebrating Life
Personalizing Wedding Ceremonies
The most memorable ceremonies speak of a couple's personal and spiritual beliefs, hopes and dreams - ones that speak their hearts. The words of your ceremony proclaim and celebrate your emotional and spiritual bond as well as your legal commitment to each other.

Your ceremony may be civil, non-religion specific, contain and blend two differing traditions or religions, or be constructed about a common belief, and have deep elements of love and romance and spirituality, filled with personal touches that relate to your lives as a couple. Unique and personal additions to blend into a ceremony are: gifts of roses for family members, first gift as husband and wife, sharing ceremonies (wine, water, tea), children's ceremonies, candle lighting, hand fastings, etc.

We have developed a six chapter workbook "Compose Your Own Wedding Ceremony" for those couples who wish to choose all the words spoken at their ceremony. We happily collaborate with you on your personalized ceremonies. Call or email for information, fees, etc. We conduct ceremonies throughout New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, West Chester and Rockland Counties and upstate in surrounding areas, parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and  Pennsylvania and periodically in the Southeastern States from Virginia to Central Florida.  We are also willing to officiate anywhere in the world we are legally permitted, if we are available, and if you provide transportation and accommodations in addition to our fee.  We conduct ceremonies in traditional places of worship as well as at catering halls, homes, gardens, airplanes, boats, mountain tops and wherever else your heart's vision desires to be wed. For couples outside our area, we develop ceremonies for and with you to be conducted by other officiants on your special day.


    Marriage ceremonies can be as short or as long as you desire.  The most basic ceremony contains only the requirements to meet the laws of the state.  The requirements are simple:

    1. Some form of vows acknowledging commitment affirmed by each partner.  This can be a simple “I Do” or a statement from their hearts and minds that clearly promises to respect the love that has brought them to this day.

    2.  The legal officiant declaring them to be “husband and wife”, “partners in marriage” , "permanent life's companions" or any other words indicating a conscious change in state of being.

Always necessary is the presence of an officiant empowered by State Law to legally bind couples in marriage.  If that particular state requires witnesses (some don't), then the witnesses must also be present.  When  witnesses and officiants sign  marriage licenses they are basically testifying that they heard the legal marriage agreement take place.

    When a ceremony is to be conducted outside of a religious abode, possibly at a catering hall, park, boat or backyard, the ceremony can be whatever the couple believe is appropriate for them.

    The structure of a ceremony is simple:

    1. Opening Statements

    These need to include a welcome to all your guests and some thoughts on what marriage means to the bride and groom.

    We generally suggest that any Remembrances be stated at this time.  It is difficult to feel celebratory when pronounced husband and wife right after mentioning losses.  When your family and friends are welcomed  into the celebration of your love as part of the opening statements, it is appropriate to welcome beloved departed family members as well.

       Example of an opening statement:

    Dear family and friends, you have been asked to be here today to share in the celebration of Nancy's and Dick's  love and to bear witness to their vows, as they join in the eternal bond of marriage.

       2. Vows

    Vows may be traditional or contemporary, taken from books or written by the bride and groom.  There are “I Do or I Will” vows and vows which are generally repeated after the officiant.  You can choose to only have “I Do’s” or only “Exchange of Vows” or both.  You do not have to have the same vows as each other.  When choosing “Exchange of Vows” most couples repeat after the officiant.  The majority of couples feel comfortable repeating just a few words at a time.


    {I, Richard, take you, Nancy,} {to be my wedded wife,} {to have and to hold,} {for better or for worse,} {for richer or for poorer,} {in sickness and in health,} {to love and to cherish from this day forth.}

    Example of a vow written by a couple and presented in "repeat after me" format:

    I promise to give my love honestly. -  I will listen to you - when you need a friend - and give you my strength -  when you are faced with challenges.  Together we will face -  the happiness and trials -  life may bring our way.  - I offer you all that I am  - and will share my love with you -  as long as we both shall live.

    3. Ring Exchange

    Example of a ring vow:

    “I give you this ring as the pledge of my love and as the symbol of our unity.”

    Not everybody has a ring vow, some couples choose to place the rings on without a statement.

    Ring Blessings

    This can be done before and/or after the rings are placed on the fingers.


    These rings are not tokens; they are symbols of the faith, trust and love you hold for each other.  May these feelings you share for one another on this day be always held within the circle of the ring.  May these halos on your fingers bring you peace, joy and ever growing love.

    4. Closing Declaration of Marriage

    The officiant needs to declare the bride and groom are now married.


    Nancy and Dick, your vows have been witnessed by those who love you and you have exchanged symbols of your everlasting commitment.

I, therefore, have the great joy and honor to declare that you are now, and forever, husband and wife.

    What else can be said at a ceremony? 

      Woven through the ceremony can be readings, benedictions, songs, religious traditions, cultural traditions and other pieces created especially for you.  Over the years we have written pieces to include children, grandparents, the engagement ring, blessings for the pregnant bride, wedding prayers reflecting the couples personal aspirations, prayers for the family pet and other pieces.

    Inter-faith ceremonies can mean many things.  If a couple who come from different faiths have decided to wed they may desire to honor their own traditions and each others. Some couples will decide to have a spiritual wedding with no reference to religion.  Others may choose two officiants each representing a religion of one of the partners.  Many couples choose an officiant willing to use elements of each religion. Candle lighting, breaking of the glass, St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians and a Psalm from the Songs of Solomon are a common mixture of Judeo-Christian ceremonies.  A reading from the Koran and a reading from the Book of Common Prayer for the Muslim-Christian ceremonies shows the universality of love, respect and faith.  Hindu elements such as the garland of flowers and the seven steps has been woven in with candle-lighting and Christian prayers.  Native American blessings and Celtic prayers, Chinese Tea Ceremony for the family and a Sign of Peace – these are all possibilities.  The beautiful thing is that there is a common denominator – they are all metaphors for honoring the love that is shared.

    Cultural elements such as “Jumping Over the Broom” may be a beautiful way to honor someone's heritage. In her book "Jumping the Broom", author Harriette Cole explains the origin and significance of this ritual. "The broom itself held spiritual significance for many African peoples, representing the beginning of homemaking for a couple. For the Kgatla people of southern Africa, it was customary, for example, on the day after the wedding for the bride to help the other women in the family to sweep the courtyard clean, thereby symbolizing her willingness and obligation to assist in housework at her in-laws' residence until the couple moved to their own home."

   In Mexico the Arras, the exchange of 13 coins representing the care of the home.

    Smudging the space and the couple with sage, is Native American and Victorian 

    Rose petals sprinkled around the couple as in Victorian times and Renaissance.

    In China the bride and groom drink wine and honey from goblets tied together with red string -- the red color signifying love and joy.

    In Japan, the bride and groom take nine sips of sake (rice wine); tradition states that after the first sip they are officially husband and wife,

    Among the Navaho, the traditional bride's dress includes four colors, each representing a direction of the compass: black for the north, blue for the south, orange for the west, and white for the east. During the ceremony the couple would face east, in the direction from which the sun rises, to represent their new beginning.

    It is a Scottish tradition for the groom to symbolically welcome the bride into his family or clan by draping a shawl or sash in his clan's tartan, fastened with a silver pin of traditional Scottish design, over her shoulders just after they have exchanged vows.

    Cultural and religious traditions may be common to many, for instance Scottish drape a shawl over the bride’s shoulders and Mexican and other Spanish cultures drape a shawl over the bride and groom together.

    How long is a ceremony?           

    Ceremonies held outside of religious institutions are generally between 15 and 25 minutes, depending on the couples choices of readings, music and other special touches.  A ceremony composed of Opening Statements, Thoughts on Marriage, Vows, A Reading, Ring Exchange, Ring Blessing, Candle-Lighting, A Reading, Closing Benediction, Pronouncement of Marriage, is about 20 minutes in length.  Add the processional and recessional and you have a 30 minute wedding ceremony. However long or short your ceremony will be, let it be filled with loving words that will resonate through the years.

  We hope this information provides you with a greater
understanding of how beautifully meaningful your
ceremony can be.

Recommended Reading:
Into The Garden by Haas & Mitchell
Weddings From The Heart by Kingma
The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant
Words For Your Wedding by Glusker & Misner
Diane Warner's Complete Book of Wedding Vows
For As Long As We Both Shall Live by Fritts
Compose Your Own Wedding Ceremony
by Dick & Nancy Weber (available through Unlimited Mind Publications - (888) 266-9462
African-American Wedding Readings; Tamara Nikuradse (Editor); Hardcover

Wedding Readings:
Centuries of Writing and Rituals on Love and Marriage;
Eleanor C. Munro (Editor); Paperback

Alternative Weddings:
An Essential Guide for Creating Your Own Ceremonies;
Jane Ross-MacDonald; Paperback

To order your free Wedding Brochure:
email your name and address to
or call (888) 467-6572
or write to: The Webers, Box 1132, Denville, NJ 07834.

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