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Wedding Ceremonies: A Guide to Writing Your Vows



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New Orleans Events:

Festival season is year-round! Check out the links below for upcoming New Orleans events that might correspond with your wedding plans.

Allstate Sugar Bowl in January

Carnival Season begins January 6 and continues until Mardi Gras

Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in March

French Quarter Music Festival in April

Zurich Classic Golf Tournament in April

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April and May

New Orleans Food and Wine Experience in May

Essence Music Festival in July

Satchmo Summerfest in August

VooDoo Music Festival in October

Holiday Season's Annual Celebration in the Oaks Beginning the day after Thanksgiving throughout holiday season.


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P.O. Box 24568
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70184
(504) 214-0610


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Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life. If you are having a religious ceremony, the vows will largely be dictated by your church. Some are more flexible than others on what they will, or will not allow, and you should consult with your clergy about anything special that you might want to include in your wedding.

In this article, I will address the many different types of ceremonies that are available to the couple that wants to write their own vows, and what special touches that you might want to include to make your special day unique and memorable for all.

Civil Ceremonies are the most simple, but they needn't be boring. They generally lack any religious overtones, but there are lot's of ways to personalize one to suit you.

Religious Ceremonies can be long and complicated, or short and sweet. They usually include a reference to God, religious readings, prayers and blessings.

Your wedding vows should reflect your uniqueness as individuals, your love for each other, and the strength of your bond to each other.

Many couples are choosing non-traditional music for their processionals, during the ceremony, and recessionals. No law says that you have to play "Canon in D" or "Here Comes the Bride" during your wedding. It's easy to burn a CD, or hire musicians that reflect your unique style and taste. Just make sure that the song you choose is long enough for the attendants to get to the altar, but not so long that everyone's standing around waiting for it to end. The introduction of the bride will focus everyone's attention on her, and the music will set the mood for the ceremony, be it romantic, dramatic, solemn or whimsical. The bride arrives at the groom's side and the wedding begins.

Start with a greeting, welcoming your guests to your big day. Let them know that you're glad they're here to share in the joy of the moment. If you choose to have an introductory prayer, a religious reading, a favorite poem or special song, now is a good time for that.

Next comes the "I do's" where you promise your love and loyalty to each other. First and foremost, you should be looking at each other during your ceremony, because that's who you're going to be talking to! Do not stare at the officiant while you are saying these personal words to each other! Most couples I have been dealing with lately are opting out on asking "If anyone objects", and nearly every bride doesn't care for the word "obey" in their ceremony nowadays. If you want those in your wedding, by all means do so, I'm just stating the current trends.

Now it's time for your vows, where you take each other as husband and wife. Most couples are so nervous at this point, that they prefer to have the officiant dictate them, slowly, clearly, and without too many words to repeat at once. Others take this opportunity to express in their own words, their special promises to each other. These may include how you got to this point, and / or what you promise each other in the future. Make sure that you have a copy of what you want to say in case of "Deer-in-the-Headlights" syndrome striking.

You've pledged your eternal love to one another, so now it's time to seal your vows with the rings. If it's a small ceremony, have each other's rings ready. For larger ceremonies, the best man and maid of honor can hold them, or be presented by the ring bearer. When you have a ring bearer that is actually bearing the rings, (as opposed to a purely ceremonial one) be sure that they are tied with a knot that can be easily untied by hands that will probably be shaking. I had one groom who ended up pulling out his pocket knife to cut them loose! You might want to practice with it a few times to make sure things go smoothly. If your officiant is blessing them, that's who they should be presented to. Ring vows are when you are going to be touching each other, and should be taken slowly, so you don't drop them. The bride should have handed over her bouquet to the maid of honor, so her hands are free. Don't rush! Give the photographer plenty of time to capture the moment. As for the wording of the vows, one of my favorite lines is "I give you this ring as I give you my love." Be creative, and make it personal and heartfelt.

After the rings is when it's time to have your final ceremony, such as the lighting of a unity candle, a sand ceremony, wine ceremony or hand fasting. I will address each of these individually.

Unity candles are very popular today. Traditionally, the outer candles are lit by the mothers of the bride and groom before they are seated. The symbolism behind them is that the outer candles represent the bride and groom, their separate families and friends. When the bride and groom light the center candle, and extinguish their own candles, it represents the joining together of the two separate groups to one. Allow me to share some of my experiences with unity candles with you. The outer candles will be burning during the entire ceremony. At one of my weddings the couple had candles that had been decorated with plastic beads on their exterior. They were very pretty, but as the ceremony progressed, the candles burned down to these beads which caught fire! They were out of my line of sight, and I only noticed the black soot as it floated down. At first I thought that they were mosquitoes, being in New Orleans, but soon realized otherwise when I looked around.. They were extinguished until it came time to light the center candle, (also decorated with beads) and everything was fine. If you are having an outdoor ceremony with a unity candle, get a set with chimneys. This will protect them from the wind, and save you from the embarrassment of having to relight your unity candle.

The wine ceremony has the same symbolic meaning of the joining together of the two groups, only it uses two separate bottles of wine that are poured into a single carafe, from which the bride pours a glass for the groom, and the groom for the bride, at which point each drinks from their glasses, (intertwining of arms suggested) after which it is pronounced "Their two lives are now one" or something similar.

Sand ceremonies allow multiple family members to participate in a unity ceremony. It's simple, neat, and is great for couples wanting to include children from a previous marriage

Participants pour small vials of different colored sand into a larger container, symbolizing the joining into one family. Children's vows can be added where the parents pledge their love and support, and the children accept each other as family. Sand ceremonies work well when a unity candle might not, such as on a cruise ship or in an outdoor setting where open flames are a concern. At the end of the ceremony the large container is sealed, some times with wax.

Hand fasting is a ritual that is believed to date back to Roman times, and was widely used in Europe, especially by the Celts. In this ceremony the couple's hands are tied together with a cord or ribbon, and it is the origination of the term "tying the knot". There are many variations of the vows associated with hand fasting. Some are quite archaic, some romantic, or you can just write something of your own.

You've reached the conclusion. At this point the officiant may close with a final prayer, and / or blessing. I find the Apache wedding blessing to be quite beautiful, and like to include it. Now you are pronounced husband and wife, the groom is told "You may kiss your bride!" You are announced, the recessional music begins and you float down the aisle to your celebration. If you wish to include "jumping the broom" you should do so as you leave the altar. Make sure that you sign your marriage license before you get too involved in your celebration, and let the party, and the rest of your lives together, begin!

Remember, it's YOUR marriage, make it what YOU want it to be!

Wedding Preparation
Check- List:

01. Wedding Location (free or fee)

02. Carriage Ride to and from Ceremony

03. Bridal Bouquet and Groom's Boutonniere

04. Music

05. Champagne or Sparkling Cider and Souvenir Glasses

06. Wedding Cake w/Plates, Napkins & Utensils

07. Professional or Snapshot Photographer

08. Restaurant Reservations

09. Hotel Reservations

10. Marriage License

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ARTICLES: News: Romance in the Spotlight/ Planning Your Wedding: From Elaborate to Elope!/ Sample Ceremonies & Vows/ Writing Your Own Wedding Vows/ Including Children in Weddings/ Wedding Gift Traditions & Trends/ Cruise Ship Weddings/ Why Choose New Orleans for Destination Weddings?/ New Orleans: Current Cultural Trends/


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