Tips for planning an alternative wedding ceremony

Friday, March 20, 2015

One of my favorite parts of our ceremony was our champagne toast! Captured by Penelope Anne Photography

Personalizing a wedding ceremony was a big task for us because a) I wanted it to represent who we are/what we're about; b) you have one shot to get it right; c) 200 people...; d) I really, really, really didn't want it to be typical or dull or eye rolling; and e) I tend to go a bit overboard and end up with an end product that is either tacky or involves me crying the whole time (see: emotional hot mess). In the end, it turned out perfect. I don't know if anyone was rolling their eyes but I felt great about our ceremony and felt it really represented Harrison and me (annnd I only cried a teeny tiny bit).

SO! These are my tips/a few things that would have ruined everything if we hadn't done:

1) Decide what is important to you in the ceremony/what you want to be represented.
For us, we wanted people to leave knowing that we are about serving God, our choice to love each other (and the things that go into choosing love), home, family, and of course a lot of freakin fun.

2) Research other alternative wedding ceremonies for inspiration.
Because traditional weddings are so engrained in my head, I had a hard time thinking outside the box. Enter: Pinterest! I found this article from A Practical Wedding and this Huffington Post article helpful and good to get my brain jogging in the right direction.

3) Write out your ceremony- in painstaking detail.
Since most vendors have done 1000000000 very traditional weddings, it's important that everyone has every detail. It's not like our's was sooo crazy or different, but there were a few things that our vendors weren't used to. Here's what our's looked like:

5:15 PMDoors Open, music playingcaterers, DJmake sure champagne table is set by 5:15, confirm time
5:35 PMFamily gets escorted to seats1) Cory w/Deb 2) Ken w/Sheila 3) Herb w/PearlHB goes to stage
5:38 PMEveryone takes their place, ___ removes string that is blocking aisleBmaids groomsmen, HB, LT & CraigFamily Matters theme song
5:45 PMFather Kemp and HB take place in front - Herb joins from front Father Kemp, HB, Herb Herb will hang out to the side after he drops off Pearl
5:46 PMFather Kemp announces no cameras
5:48 PMProcessionalBmaids, GmenSo Good To Me - Chris Malinchak
5:52 PMLT and Craig come down the aisleLT and CraigHard to Concentrate - RHCP
5:54 PMIntro from Father KempFather Kemp
5:55 PMFather Kemp reads "A Poem of Friendship" Nikki GiovanniFather Kemp
6:00 PMCory and Tricia speakCory and TriciaReading their piece on "choosing love"
6:05 PMFather Kemp talks moreFather Kemp
6:08 PMVowsLT and HB
6:12 PMClosing PrayerFather Kemp
6:14 PMFirst kiss
6:15 PMChampagne Toastcaterers serve champagne - Meg T serve champagne to wedding party
6:16 AMPresentation of the coupleFather Kemp
6:17 PMProcessionalBridal partyEnd of Time- Beyonce

4) Run your write-up by a few people who have wedding experience.
Sometimes no one does these things at their weddings because it's a bad idea. Case in point: I originally had my heart set on a candle ceremony where the whole audience lights candles blah blah blah. Our officiant (also a friend and also a priest who has probably done hundreds of weddings) suggested we check with the venue to make sure open flames are allowed annnd... sure enough they aren't. There were a few other logistically impossible ideas I had in the original timeline and thank goodness for our amazing good great friend who is also a wedding planner who talked me off the ledge on a few things. It's important to get other people's feed back ...

5) ...but at the same time, KNOW what you want and be ready to be firm about it.
For whatever reason with weddings everyone thinks they need to give their opinion about everything you're doing, and let me tell you- I'm a people pleaser if I've ever met one. But let me be clear, when I am hemorrhaging my own money on something I WILL get what I want. A few people tried to talk us down from a few elements or convince us to change things around (but why wouldn't you just do what they do at all the other weddings?), and it was important to remember that they mean well and what they're sharing is just their opinion. And that there is a 0% chance that you're going to please everyone in the planning process and about a 0% chance that anyone is going to end up feeling displeased at the wedding.

6) Trust your people
Hi my name is Lindsay and I am Type A. Is my brother going to remember to prepare something to read? Is the planner actually going to get the champagne to us? Is the caterer going to remember to put out the champagne before the ceremony? Are people going to pay attention and grab champagne? What if... what if... what if...

Guess what. These people get paid for a reason. And everyone cares. And everything works out. And if anything didn't work out I didn't even notice.

Those are my tips for planning a ceremony - anything I'm missing? What are some non-traditional elements you've seen or done at a wedding?

P.S. How amazing is that picture? Our photographer (and friend we met on a cruise) was so amazing, there was never a moment that I was like "WHERE'S THE PHOTOGRAPHER SOMEONE GET THIS", and guess what? Flying her in from Florida was half the price of any DC photographers I saw. She travels, she's amazing, she's affordable, check her out (or just go to her site and swoon over her other pictures).

P.S.S. The Penny Hoarder just came out with this article on 101 Creative Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding . Yes please.

Check back next Friday for more budget wedding tips!


  1. Love, love, love!!!!! Where were you when we got married?! I was a hot mess express.

  2. Love that picture!!! These are such great tips and I love how detailed your schedule was. And congrats to Harrison!!!! That is so awesome!

  3. wow, i can't believe flying in the photographer from florida was cheaper than getting one in DC! crazy!!
    I wish I'd had a champagne toast! lol. All I knew I wanted was to get the ceremony DONE as quick as possible so we could get to the party part. Priorities, I got 'em.

  4. I absolutely love this! Way to go Harrison - voted for him!

  5. Such good tips! I have TWO siblings in law getting married this soon - one in April, one in May. Its crazy town over here!

    1. bahh I can't imagine! my brother got married 3 months before me but his was a surprise wedding so not as much stress there (: Good luck!!

  6. We also wrote out our ceremony and it turned out perfectly! No awkward silences or weird transitions - just smooth sailing! I love that you did something "alternative" aka unique to you and your marriage. We did a Scottish "tying the hand" ceremony since my hubs is Scottish and has a family tartan that we used to tie ourselves together. Everyone said it was a nice touch, so I'm sure your guests appreciated all the details you put into your ceremony too!

    1. I LOVE that Scottish tradition and that you included the family tartan! So cool! And I can't stand awkward transitions and silences at wedding ceremonies!

  7. Yes! Everyone will have an opinion on YOUR wedding even when YOU are paying for it... Lol. It's crazy! So glad you did the toast! Everything turned out absolutely amazing!

  8. That picture is stunning. I love that you did things your way and I think thats what makes the day perfect. Congrats to your husband for doing so well in real estate. Im going to try to see if I can vote from here :). So happy for you all round!

  9. i'm glad you stayed true to what you guys wanted and love the tips!

  10. Great picture!! I think it is so important for your wedding to reflect your own style. Sometimes you have to stick to your guns and other times go with the flow. Awesome you found a good balance.

  11. That picture is amazing and I love the idea of the toast! I totally agree it's your wedding and you should be able to do what you want, especially with the big/important things. You really need to figure out what's most important to you and your fiancé and then hold your ground on those items. By the end of my wedding planning there were a few things I just didn't care about, and I was like, someone else make a decision for me...I'm over making decisions...ha! But there were a few things that were really important to us and I'm glad we did them our way.

  12. Such good advice. My wedding is in two weeks and writing out a detailed play by play is just what I need. I hope your big day was amazing and fun and that now you and your hubby can relax and enjoy not having wedding stress

  13. Such great tips you have shared here. I loved everything of your blog. I also went to Las Vegas Weddings with my family and we all were so happy with the arrangements. I haven’t seen such a wedding before. I am glad that we stayed there for 2 months.

  14. love that picture and great tips - they are all true. i got very good at the smile and nod during wedding planning :)

  15. My opinion is Don't go into debt for this ONE day. Spend your money on the things most important to you. For me it was flowers and photography.

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