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Fresh Bride

Fresh ceremony ideas for brides, grooms and the wedding entourage.

Published: 2011-02-20T17:05:38-08:00


Wedding Ceremony Ideas Here...


Thanks for stopping by. This blog is no longer active, but it's loaded with timeless ideas for the creation of custom wedding ceremonies. Enjoy your visit. I hope you'll feel free to leave a comment if you find something particularly useful or juicy! All the best on the way to the altar!

Should I take my husband's name?


If you can't decide whether or not to take your husband's name, advice columnist Cary Tennis has something to say that should help. Click here: Should I take my husband's name? If you have already decided whether or not to take your husband's name, you should read this anyway. Click here: Should I take my husband's name? If you are breathing: Should I take my husband's name? Brilliant. Period.

Whose Money Is It Anyway?


Fact: MONEY (repeat: MONEY) is the number one cause of marital problems. Question: What role does money play in your life? Question: What role will money play in your marriage? Question: And what are you saying about money in your vows? (Yes, IN your vows!) If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may have noticed that I do my best to be invitational in my proposals. As in, "here's something to consider..." Well, today's post is actually meant to say "WAKE UP. PAY ATTENTION. THINK ABOUT THIS." Wise couples will.

Heroines & Heros


Who's your heroine? Consider a favorite heroine or hero. For example author Anchee Min's bestseller, Empress Orchid and her follow up, The Last Empress, tells the story of a poor girl from countryside of China who was chosen to be an Imperial concubine and eventually became an Empress. Public history has demonized this last empress, and Min endeavors to re-set history through scrupulous research and a magical retelling of the story of the woman who became the most powerful ruler of China and was perhaps the first feminist. The complexity of the story and the detail of Min's writing reveals a woman of incredible determination, dedication, and fascination. And, a study of author Min herself actually reveals the same. When reading Min's books, I found myself unable to put them down and full of inspiration in so many ways. All this to say, both the Empress and Min are current heroines of mine. By identifying your personal heroine(s) or hero(s), you can bring to light qualities and values that you currently hold high and feel inspired to instill in your own life. This information can then be transported into your vows. Example: I've identified "determination, dedication, and fascination" as values in these heroines that I admire. So, in writing my vows, I'd think about how I can use these very words and might come up with something like this: "In our life together, I will bring great determination to many things: to bettering myself as an individual; to carrying out our shared goals; and to facing challenges that arise. I want to make apparent my dedication to this promise through considered daily action that reflects strength of character. This is a priority to me, because there is nothing more important than my love for you and always proving myself worthy of your love."

The "expert" in you.


Vow-writing inquiry of the day: In the context of your relationship, what is your partner an "expert" in? Exercise: Ask your fiance to tell you something of value that he feels he's learned from you. Then ask, how it is that you demonstrate this value in your life together, and what it is that motivated or inspired him to learned it from you. Then switch roles. The results of this inquiry will offer you several things: 1. You will feel appreciated and learn more about your significance in your partner's life. 2. You will garner an understanding of how you are, and can continue to be, a teacher in your partner's life. 3. You will garner an understanding of what motivates or inspires your partner to want to learn from you. 4. You will gain insight into how you learn from your partner. 5. Knowing that you have great substance to offer your partnership can inspire you to continue to offer up the best of yourself and serve your marriage well. Write down what you said and what you heard. All of the information that arises from this exercise provides great material for writing personal vows or a love letter to your partner. In addition to making "promises" in your ceremony, you can also include words about your "appreciation" for each other.

Part 3: Why do your guests matter?


This is the third in a series on how to write an Inviting Invitation. Parts I (Lead With Your Location) and II (State Your Purpose Please) have been posted on the previous two days in the category "Inviting Invitations." Part III: WHY DO YOUR GUESTS MATTER? A third element to consider is "Why are you inviting guests?" What is it about having others at your marriage ceremony that is important to you? A poetically paraphrased version of your answers to these questions will enhance your invitation by making your guests feel special because you've actually identified why their presence matters so much to you. It doesn't have to be complicated, as you will see below. A few words can go a long way toward making your message distinct. My "sample couple" told me that they absolutely "cherish" the friends and family who were being invited, and that having them present for their exchange of vows is actually what would make their wedding day the most "joyful" for them. The result follows (see words in bold): There's a place on Earth 1,000 feet above the neighboring sea where we will gather in the garden of a beloved friend, next to a grove of Olive trees for good luck, and among those whom we most cherish. There, we will make sacred vows of commitment in a ceremony intended to strengthen our experience of life as partners and our belief in the tradition of family. Joy-filled we'd be if you will join us. Saturday, May 10, 2005 at Noon at the home of Marc Rhodell 101 Cliff View Road Malibu, California

State Your Purpose Please


This is the second post in a series of of how, specifically, to cultivate content for writing a creative invitation. Yesterday's post: Lead With Your Location is followed here by: State Your Purpose Please Another means for coming up with unique wording for your wedding invite is to include the PURPOSE of your marriage ceremony. This might seem obvious, but I know from experience that if we put 10 couples in a room and ask them each "Why are you getting married," we will hear 10 different answers. Consider this question for yourself. And here are are some other questions to help you get to you personal perspective. 1. What is it about getting marriage that appeals to you? 2. What will it do for your partnership? 3. What guiding principle or belief do you hold that is informing your choice to become married? The couple who's invitation I use below stated that they wanted to become married to "strengthen our experience of life as partners and our belief in the tradition of family." We added this phrase to the beautiful description of their location to create their personalized invitation: There's a place on Earth 1,000 feet above the neighboring sea where we will gather in the garden of a beloved friend, next to a grove of Olive trees for good luck, and among those whom we most cherish. There, we will make sacred vows of commitment in a ceremony intended to strengthen our experience of life as partners and our belief in the tradition of family. Joy-filled we'd be if you will join us. Saturday, May 10, 2005 at Noon at the home of Marc Rhodell 101 Cliff View Road Malibu, California

Lead With Your Location


I frequently get inquiries like this one: "Can you write something about wedding invitation wording? Many people seem to leave it to the last minute and lose the chance to do something creative..." Here's some direction, followed by a previously-posted example. (And p.s., it can be done at the last minute and STILL be creative.) Lead with your LOCATION. Using the location as the lead into your invitation will establish set the setting for your wedding even before the guests arrive. Most locations are chosen because they have some magical feeling for the marrying couple. Think about what it is that makes your location of choice magical, meaningful, significant to you. Make a list of those characteristics. Here are some questions that may help you: 1. What does your location look like? 2. How does it make you feel when you imagine yourself standing in the very spot you will stand to take your vows? (Safe? Held in the arms of God? Full of life? Joyful because there's nothing more that I love than being in a garden full of flowers? Excited because I'll be standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the expanse of the blue sea below? etc.) 3. How did you know that "this" was the place to get married? 4. Have you been here for any other special milestone in your life? (It's the house where I grew up. We got engaged here. My mother and her mother both were married here...) Now, convey these points in the writing of your invitation. It will make the invitation so much more alluring and unique. Traditional wording is fine for very classic, traditional weddings. But if you've dedicated large quantities of time (and money) to the choice of your location and other elements that will set the stage for the particular kind of magic you want to experience on your wedding day, then use your invitation as a means of saying "welcome" in a way that invites your guests to step onto your magic carpet for a ride unlike any they've ever experienced before. Sample Invitation using...

Circle Seating Part II


I've received several emails recently about a previous post "Circle Seating With A Twist." Here are further instructions you may find useful... Circle seating means "seating in the round." Chairs are set up in a circle. A platform may be placed in the middle of the circle upon which you and your partner can stand with your officiant. Anyone who comes up to speak, steps up onto the platform. By setting chairs in a circle, every guest gets "the best seat" in the house. You can double layer the circle if space is limited or the size of the circle loses its intimacy. With a guest list of 100, for example, I recommend making the inner circle 40 chairs and a second row, or outer circle, of 60. The platform can also hold a chuppah or an arch to provide a precise point of focus for your guests and to accentuate the "sacred space" for your marriage ceremony. If you want an aisle, you can make one by not quite "closing" the circle -- in other words, remove three chairs from the circle to create a space to walk in and out of. Indigenous cultures, however, would say that it is important to close the circle prior to beginning the speaking portion of the ceremony so that the energy of the experience doesn't leak out. Think of the ceremony area as a container to "hold" you during the ceremony. Closing the circle after your walk down the aisle would be like putting the lid on the container. Another way to think of it is that you create for yourself the feeling of being cradled with love when you state your vows. Closing the circle may be done as simply as having one of your attendants tie a ribbon from a seat on one side of the aisle to the nearest seat on the other side. Then have an attendant untie the ribbon before you walk back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.

Do The Right Thing


If you don't yet know that Charitable Giving is now as customary (and easy!) as registering for china -- and that you can be giving without sacrificing your bridely entitlement to receiving -- this site will help you get with the program: I Do Foundation will tell you where to register so you can give and receive at the same time. Also check out Just Give which "connects people with causes they care about" in about half a second. Being a PC bride has never been so simple. No excuses now to Do The Right Thing.

5 Words to Writing Your Vows


Writing your vows? Here's a way to get started: List 5 words that you hope will always describe the state of your marriage. These are "goals." Next, write a sentence or two about why those words are important to you. These are "intentions" -- the motivation for your goals. And finally, write a sentence or two about what you plan to do to keep those descriptions in tact. This is the "action" you plan to take to manifest your best intentions and achieve the goals you set for your marriage. Good luck!

Butterfly Brides.


This butterfly MUST be getting married today. Just look her dress! courtesy of AstidL from Beltrum, Netherlands as seen at



The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. It begins earth-bound and later takes flight as something new and beautiful. So, it's no wonder that brides are drawn to the beauty of the butterfly when considering symbols and icons to incorporate into their wedding day -- via a hairclip, decor, even the ceremony. For a bride and groom recently married in Mexico, I provided handmade, golden-glittered butterlies which were handed out to all the guests. Just prior to the bride and groom's sharing of their vows, the guests were called up to make a wish with their butterfly and lay it at the feet of the bride and groom. It could be a wish for themselves, or a wish for the bride and groom. Symbolically, these wishes would then take flight upon the formalizing of the marriage. For a bride who loves has both earthy sensibilities and a love of "things that are extra-sparkly," this was a perfectly personalized ceremonial ritual. (photo: flickr)



Attention all New Year's Day Brides! Consider skipping music for your bridal walk down the aisle. Instead, have your bridesmaids greet your guests upon their arrival and hand each of them a wedding bell. When it's time for your entrance, have your officiant instruct the guests to ring their bells "to call in the bride." Walk down the aisle to the sound of the bells and enjoy the resonating excitement all around you. When you get to the ceremony site, take the arm of your groom and pause while the bells continue to ring. In silence, make a new year's resolution or prayer for your marriage. When you are finished, ring a bell of your own. The officiant can then signal for all bells to stop as you take your places to become married. Now that's a way to ring in the new year!



Love jewels? What's in your jewelry box? Which are your favorite pieces? Your favorite pieces say something about your personality, ex: how you like to feel, what kind of energy you like to have around you, your sense of style, your language for communicating romance. Take a few minutes to look at everything in your jewelry box that you love. Which piece is your absolute favorite? If you had to pick just one, which one would it be? What kinds of words or phrases come to mind when you look at this favorite piece? Wild, mystical, sexy, charming, playful, color madness, vintage beauty...? Your description of this piece can be the tone-setter for your wedding ceremony. Is it vintage? Then language of your ceremony should reflect the sound of old-fashioned romance. Is your favorite piece a one-of-a-kind? Then your ceremony should include descriptions of the ways in which your partner thinks YOU are one of a kind. Is the piece you chose a family heirloom? Then your ceremony should include the participation of family or a mention of your family's lineage and favorite traditions -- ones you intend to carry on in your marriage and pass on to your children. Get the picture? If you want help applying this concept to your own wedding, take a photo of that favorite piece of jewelry and email it to me with a few of your choice descriptive words about it. I'll give you some ideas about how to replicate the feeling of your favorite jewel in your ceremony.



San Francisco's "Chicks with Sticks" takes knitting to a new fashion "I do"! Consider these "knit" alternatives to the standard ring pillow for your wedding ceremony: A knit CUPCAKE (really!): Go to: and scroll down to August 21, 2006 to see Stephanie's creations! Made well like hers, it looks so sweet & pretty (without being cheesy). If felting is your thing, check out this flickred FELT BAG by Elina: or what about something REALLY unexpected: A miniature, knit-embellished tree form with your rings dangling from the branches. Don't think it can be done? Check out this life-size version I saw on flickr for inspiration. Add a few "blossoms" and you're good to go for a wedding. For the more classic bride, knit yourself a tiny bag sprouting petals to match your color scheme -- like these from Noni bags -- and call yourself one-of-a-kind.

Call for Wedding Photos.


Do you have a favorite wedding photo that captures an usual ritual or special ceremonial element -- yours or a friend's or relative's? If so, this is your official invitation to send it to me for posting on this blog. Be sure to include a caption that explains the action and your "ok to publish" the photo! (370 pixels wide is best.)

Cake topper.


Wedding trend reports indicate that $1200 cakes are not uncommon. This would indicate that brides are willing to pay the price for something extraordinary, artistic and deliciously memorable. Oddly though, brides and grooms typically budget only $200-$500 for their ceremony. I know I have an incredible bias, but wouldn't you want a ceremony at least as creative as your cake? Food for thought.

Flower Power.


Sweet Peas, painted by Georgia O'Keefe. Lead with your flowers. Huh? Lead with your flowers. Which kind of flowers have you chosen for your bouquet? Sweet peas, for example, are said to represent "delicate pleasures." As a means of customizing your wedding ceremony, begin by considering your favorite "delicate pleasures." What are yours? What are the delicate pleasures of your fiance? Which do you share? Bet you never asked each other this question before. Zoe and David asked themselves this very question and discovered that they both have this thing for a specific kind of Swiss chocolate. So, they decided to import a box of it for use in their wedding ceremony. After reciting their vows and exchanging their rings, they fed each other a bite of their favorite "delicate pleasure" -- a stamp of personalization on their ceremony that came out of investigating the meaning of the sweet peas Zoe wanted to carry down the aisle. Lead with your flowers. Learn something new about your partner's taste and priorities. Incorporate the answers into your ceremony to make it that much more your own.

San Mateo County Times - June 2006


With thanks to staff writer Allison Louie at the San Mateo County Times for including me in this story, click here to read about the current trend toward Interfaith weddings.

Dearly Beloved...


Many couples tell me that celebrating their guests is as important to them as celebrating their love. Make this known. At the beginning of your ceremony, tell your guests exactly why you've invited them to attend your wedding. What is it about having guests that is meaningful to you? Why these particular people? What do they contribute to your life? What do you feel they will contribute to your marriage? By sharing your thoughts with them, you invite them more deeply into your ceremony. They will feel special. And encouraged to support you as you endeavor into marriage.

Fine Art Wedding Vows & Wedding Gifts.


I've previously posted about Daniel Sroka's fabulous fine art photography ketubahs,, but in passing along his contact information today to a friend who will distribute it widely, I made a point I wanted to restate here. This art is equally perfect for couples who want a non-religious marriage contract or means for making a beautiful display of their wedding vows. This concept would also make a lovely contribution to the creation of an original vow-renewal ceremony. AND ALSO AN ORIGINAL WEDDING GIFT... If you are going to be a guest at a wedding and want an original gift to give, consider this gift of fine art! After the ceremony, simply ask the couple for a copy of their vows and send them to Daniel. Select a photograph you think will be suit the married couple and, voila! -- you've just easily created a one-of-a-kind gift of fine art that provides an everlasting memory of their wedding day. AND HERE'S MY FAVORITE IDEA -- FROM THE GROOM FOR HIS BRIDE Grooms often need suggestions for wedding gifts for their brides. If you know a groom, give him this information to consider. A unique gift to give his bride; she will be wowed!

How To Write A Hit Love Letter.


A lot of couples choose to write each other love letters that they read as part of their ceremony, or that they read as their vows. While the choice to do this may come easy, the idea of actually writing these letters can be a challenge. Here's one approach: Pop Star James Blunt's slow-burn, super-hit ballad, You're Beautiful, grew out of a diary entry. What's in your diary? There are probably clues to or stories about the deepest truths of your love. Pick one journal entry to retell. Or pick out a few sentences or even phrases you've recorded that describe the time you first fell in love and then the time you knew you wanted to become married. How beautiful that will be.



Having one of "those" days planning your wedding? Take a breather and browse through Amy Ruppel's art sale: Her sweet little birds will help you sink back into your chair and go ahhhhhhhh as you feel your heart smile. Here's one for nesting together:

Yogi Groom's Meditation.


After posting the "Yogini Bride's Meditation," I received a request for a groom's meditation. So, here's a variation on the theme. The groom may ask the officiant or his best man to guide him through it. In a quiet place, before his wedding ceremony begins. "The Yogi Groom’s Meditation," by Tracy Masington. Begin by taking several slow, long, easy breaths. Breath in through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Once again. Slowly. Now bring your attention into your body. Begin by noticing if there’s tension in your shoulders. Take a breath in. Pause. And as you breathe out, allow your shoulders to relax. Again: breathe in. And exhale, relaxing your shoulders. Now move your attention down to your heart. Gently close your eyes, and notice the beating of your heart. Is it fast? Slow? Just feel this sensation for a moment. Just notice the beating of your heart. Take a slow breath in through your nose. And exhale through your mouth, slowly. Bring your attention into your hands. Gently run your thumb back and forth over your finger tips a few times. Now allow your focus to move to the fourth finger on your left hand. This is where your wedding band will soon be placed by your radiant bride. Relax this particular finger. And now your whole hand. Relax both hands, allowing your arms and hands to just dangle by your side. Relax your shoulders. Relax your jaw. Breathe in. And exhale. Finally, bring your attention to your feet. Feel them in your shoes. These are the feet about to walk you to your wedding ceremony. Feel your feet in your shoes, touching the ground. Stand tall, but gently, effortlessly. Imagine yourself almost floating while keeping your feet in place on the ground. Just be there. Slightly bend your knees. Stand s t i l l . Quiet. Breathe in through your mouth. Hold the breath for a second. Now, slowly, e x h a l e . You have now come into presence. Be here. In this moment. And the next. And the next. Soak up every step,...

Yogini Bridal Meditation.


Have you ever taken a yoga class? If so, you've probably heard your teacher talk about "coming into presence." What she means is to bring your full attention right here, right now, into your body, so that you may get the most out of your experience. This is sage advice for brides, albeit not always easy. The process of planning a wedding usually carries brides at lightning speed through a firestorm of activity and every imaginable emotion. For many, the pace just continues to build until the day of the wedding. Details, details, details. Wanting it all to be just p e r f e c t. So crazy-making this all can be! When the moment of the ceremony arrives, the fast beating of your heart can sound like the roar of an engine, overshadowing the music chosen to carry you down the aisle. The sight of 100 people watching you can distract from really being there for your ceremony. Instead, you are thinking, "Do they like my dress?" "Is my lipstick on right?" "Will I be able to say my vows?" "Is the video guy getting all this??????" Here's a meditation exercise that can help you actually "be there" for your wedding ceremony. Ask your officiant or your maid of honor to lead you through it (by reading it slowly) before you make your walk down the aisle. Let's call it "The Yogini Bride's Meditation." Begin by taking several slow, long, easy breaths. When you're finished, take one more as you bring your attention into your body. Begin by noticing if your shoulders are trying to act as earrings. If so, tell them you've already picked out a nice pair for the wedding and they can relax. Relax your shoulders. Breathe. Now move your attention slowly down to your heart. Notice the beat of your heart. Is it fast? Just feel this for a moment. Just notice the beating of your heart. Perhaps even close your eyes gently as you feel the beat of your heart. Notice if it's slowing down a little bit now? B r e a...

A Crafter's Bridal Shower


Invite some friends over to "bless your wedding" by coming over for a decoupage project. Give out new and old magazines, sheet music, books and pictures, and scissors. Have them cut out their "wishes for your marriage." Decoupage them onto a mailbox for your new house. Serve the cake, talk about your wedding plans, and by the end of the shower, the mailbox will be complete. As a "thank you" gift, give your girlfiends a subscription to YOUR favorite magazine. Now every time you go to your mailbox, along with your bills, you can bring in all the good will of people who love you. (You'll also get to meet your new neighbors when they come over to ask you to tell them about the one-of-a-kind mailbox on your front lawn.) And each month, when your favorite magazine arrives in your friends' mailboxes, they will be reminded that you love them. (If you're not moving into a new home that calls for a mailbox, it can also be affixed to a stand to create a unique piece of art in your new home.)

The Artist in You


The painting above is the cover shot of Artkrush's Issue 29. The artist is Beatriz Mailhaze and you can read the full write-up of her bio at London's Tate Museum site. Meanwhile, read the biographical introduction below and let it inspire you and your mate to do an exercise in being each other's publicist. Take 15 minutes to interview your partner about his/her "art" -- Ask your partner these questions: What are your special talents in life, in our partnership? Where do you suppose this talent comes from? How did you get to be good at it? What inspires you? Then take 15-30 minutes, to write your partner's bio. Use lots of adjectives. Ask a writer friend or hire writer to polish it up for you if writing isn't your strong suit. When you're done, you'll have learned something new about your partner and even more to love about him or her. The act of speaking about your special talents will shore them up as you step into your marriage. Having your partner be your witness and biographer cultivates in him or her a good listener who can reflect back to you the best of what you have to offer. Finally, you'll also have great material to share with your officiant so she can get to know you. For your ceremony, you can have your officiant or friends in your wedding party read these bios or "introductions" you've written as a way of opening your ceremony. Example: "In the eyes of the groom, here's an introduction to his beautiful bride..." "In her own words, the bride has chosen to marry this groom who..." To get started on this exercise, pretend you are writing your partner's bio for presentation in an art gallery, like Beatriz' below... Beatriz Milhazes’s paintings are seductive. They are like a rare Amazonian plant – at once both ravishing and deceptive, full of layers, unexpected tricks and treats. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1961, Milhazes has over the past two decades built up a rich and complex repertoire of images, forms and colours in her work....

Family Brides.


"found photo" credit: Do you have access to photos of the women brides in your family? Take a photo of yourself in your wedding dress prior to your wedding day. Then make a print collage of all the photos. ID each picture. Include this in your wedding ceremony program. And at the beginning of the ceremony light a candle for each of the women to honor your lineage.

Call for Stories.


Do you have a favorite wedding ceremony story? I'd love to hear it!! Send it my way: Best stories will be published here (with your permission).

Double Happiness at your Wedding.


"double happiness" As a single person, Marni adopted Sun-lee from China. Sun-lee was three when Marni and her boyfriend Michael decided to marry. Marni and Michael exchanged rings during their ceremony, and then we conducted a special ceremony-within-the-ceremony at which Marni and Michael presented Sun-lee with a necklace they'd chosen to represent their love for her, their respect for her heritage (Marni and Michael are Anglo American) and to affirm their joint commitment to parenting her. The necklace features a charm with the Chinese symbol for double happiness on it. Mom Marni is now keeping the necklace safe and sound for Sun-lee until she's old enough to fully appreciate and wear it. And when she's old enough, mom will give her both the necklace and a written copy of the ceremony created just for her. What a story that necklace will possess. What a true "family wedding" it was.

Ketubahs with Love.


For those who want a beautiful contemporary ketubah they can relate to, a fabulously artistic presentation of their non-religious wedding contract, or a magnificent, frame-worthy presentation of their own vows, here's your source: Modern Ketubah : fine art ketubot by Daniel Sroka at The power and beauty of Daniel's creations go the distance in helping wedding vows take hold. Look at his site to see breathtaking photographic options that create backgrounds for wedding contracts. Read his thoughtful choices for wording or customization. And be inspired by his depth of character. Then let me know which one you pick!

God defined.


How do you define God? Make sure that you discuss this with your officiant so that any mention of God in your ceremony is a true reflection of your spiritual sensibilities. If you can't find the words, perhaps you can find a picture.... photo credit: This photo is public. Uploaded on Mar 8, 2006

Wedding Sketches


I think this may be my craziest idea yet -- for the artsy brides and crafters . . . Under each seat, provide a small pad of paper and a fine point pen for your guests. Ask your officiant to invite your guests to sketch a picture of you at your wedding ceremony. "Take no more than a minute to do it, and stick figures are welcome." They can sign their sketch (or not) and place it on a display table at your party for everyone to gasp or giggle at while sipping their champagne. You can't even begin to predict the outcome! Now that's a way to treasure your memories.

Wedding Reflections From Your Elders.


Do you have a favorite Aunt and Uncle whose marriage serves as a shining example for your own? Invite them to answer this question as part of your ceremony: "What is it you see in us that tells you we can successfully do this thing called marriage, just as you have all these years?" Their words will offer you a beautiful reflection of your strengths as a couple and they will support your aim to live in wedding bliss.

Creative Wedding Ring Bearers.


They look like birds, but they are actually little cones from a tamarack tree on Canada, photographed in wintertime, up close and frosty. Photo credit: Photojenic @ For Green Brides, Eco Weddings or brides who love Mother Nature, wouldn't these make awesome wedding ring holders for a ceremony? What's out in YOUR backyard???

Flowering Love.


Don't these two look like they should get married?



Have you and your fiance travelled anywhere exotic and memorable? One couple I'd worked with had gone to Bali and fallen in love not only with each other, but with the Balinese phrase "amandari," which means "kindred spirits." So I used this phrase in a blessing I offered them for their marriage. It ended with this wish: "May you always live as amandari -- kindred spirits." Now as they reflect on their wedding ceremony, they will be reminded of the romance they kindled in Bali -- a touchstone for rekindling their romance time and again as the years go by.

Guest Lists.


Do you have guests coming in from all over the globe to be at your wedding? One couple I worked with in Beverly Hills had people come in from 12 different states and 5 different countries. To demonstrate the couple's appreciation for the journey each guest had made to join them for their wedding, we took time during the ceremony to talk about the fact that this community of people had gathered from far and wide. I then invited the guests to stand when they heard the name of their state or country spoken, and I read the list of places everyone had come from. This gave the guests a moment to feel honored and appreciated. It also gave everyone a chance to see who was who before meeting each other for the first time after the ceremony. In fact, this served as a great ice breaker for the party. And an unexpected benefit was that it gave the wedding couple a chance to feel their own importance to all of these people who had come from so far away to be with them. Where are your guests coming from?

Charitable Giving.


Registering for gifts? How about also registering for donations to your favorite charity in celebration of your marriage? Spread the wealth. And the good will. Tell your officiant about your designated charity and why you chose it. Ask her to say a little something about it during your ceremony. Not as a solicitation, but as a way of honoring your depth of character when she talks about the fabulous couple that you are. And here's a link to related idea I've previously presented: sweet charity

Wedding Bells and the Bridal March.


Instead of playing music for the bride's walk down the aisle, consider having the ushers hand out a little wedding bell to each guest upon arrival. Or, hand out a variety of bells with differing shapes and sounds. Then, after the wedding party has made its entrance, the officiant will ask everyone to rise and ring their wedding bell to "call in the bride." Can you imagine walking down to these magical bells and seeing all your guests ringing them just for you?! Now this will give real meaning to the phrase "wedding bells."

In Sickness and in Health.


Traditional wedding vows promise love "in sickness and in health" -- the clear implication being that one is bad (sickness) and one is good (health). Hard to debate really, we'd all rather be well than sick; but, consider that both are a natural part of human existence and that there are many conditions of health that fall in between the extremes of "I'm sick" or "I'm well." Further, sickness is not customarily a choice and can set up a burden factor in the relationship. The healthy partner can feel burdened by the unwell partner. And the unwell partner can be burdened by his/her own unwellness. So, rather than set up this framework of good vs. bad right from the start of a marriage, why not consider tweaking the language to support the natural ebb and flow of the body's condition and to support the aging process (growing old together) which naturally gives way to less than optimum health. Here are two alternatives to the traditional phrasing that might get you thinking: We promise our love and devotion to one another "in all conditions of health" or "through the ebb and flow of the ever-changing condition of our bodies and minds."

Mystical Love.


How do you define love? A poem by the mystic/poet Rumi offers this: You come to us From another world From beyond the stars And void of space. Transcendent, Pure, Of unimaginable beauty, Bringing with you the essence of love who are touched by you. Mundane concerns, troubles, and sorrows dissolve in your presence, Bringing joy to ruler and ruled To peasant and king with your grace. All evils transform into goodness. in earth and sky in heart and soul of every being. Existence and nonexistence merge. All opposites unite. All that is profane becomes sacred again.

Poetry and the Sap Factor.


It's quite common to do readings in the wedding ceremony. Typically, readings are passages from the Bible or poems by famous poets or words of great mystics. When it comes to making selections of poetry, however, it's not uncommon for some brides and grooms to quickly dismiss the idea due to the “the sap factor,” as in “poems are just too sappy!” While it may be true for you, it may also be true that just considering the option of using poetry in your wedding can illuminate important aspects of your love that deserve mention in your ceremony. Here’s how: Poetry provides a means for expressing the otherwise inexpressible experiences associated with love. The poet’s rhythm and flow of words can mirror the actual rhythm and flow of love's physical energy -- something that might otherwise only be described through physics. The poet's language brings to life unspoken feelings; the choice of words can describe your aspirations for your marriage. It's easy to say "oh, we want to be together forever," but what is it exactly that makes this so? Hard to explain, right? If ever there were an appropriate time to capture and express the feeling tone of your love, it's in your wedding ceremony. So, before poo pooing the idea of using sappy poetry in your wedding ceremony, read through some books of poems. See if any of them reflects a depth of feeling that you have experienced for your partner or your relationship or special moments you've shared that drew you together. Once a poem is identified, it doesn't necessarily have to become a reading in your ceremony, but its content can guide a useful conversation. What it is about the words or the mere rhythm of the poem as you read it that rings true for you? Simply put, what do you like about the poem? Ask your partner to take very precise notes about what you are saying and then read it back to you. You can each take a turn choosing a poem -- or even one single line of a poem -- and...

Expressions of Love.


Have you ever been at a wedding where the officiant invited all the married people to reaffirm their love during the couple's ceremony? It's a well-intentioned concept, but it can make many of the guests feel uncomfortable and left out -- gay, single, children, widowed, grandma... Affirming love is not the exclusive domain of married people. A more inclusive variation on the theme would be to invite everyone to "close your eyes and take a moment in silence to consider a way in which you can commit, or re-commit, to expressing love in your life." Be sure to face your guests when the officiant asks them to do this; you'll want to see them beam! And the subject makes a great ice breaker at party time.

Preserve your bouquet AND your vows!


Preserve your bouquet in a beautiful shadow box and include a copy of your wedding vows too! It's nice to save the flowers, but it's the vows that are going to get you through the marriage. This is a great way to keep them on display and a part of your everyday life. Here's a company that can do it beautifully for you: click here

Valentine's Day Top Ten List


Valentine's Day is a great excuse to do some wedding ceremony preparation. Make a list of the "Top Ten Things I Love About My Partner." Write it down. Wrap it up. Deliver it with a kiss. And then give it to your wedding officiant to include in your ceremony!

Photo & Vow Gift Book.


Publish your wedding photos in a book and give one to your parents and each person in your wedding party as a "thank you" gift. (Make sure you include at least one good photo of them your selections.) For an added touch, begin the book with a reprint of your vows and hand-write a personal thank you note at the bottom of that page. "Lulu" is an on-line, self-publishing site you can use: click here



AFTERTHOUGHTS is a new category on Fresh Bride. Here, you will find creative ways to keep the spirit of your ceremony alive after the wedding day is over. Starts tomorrow!

Are you wedded to life?


Are you wedded to life? What do you most love about life that keeps you wedded to it -- on the best of days and on your worst days? Your answer can help you write your vows. - Write out a list of the ways in which you are wedded to life -- the things that motivate, excite and challenge you -- and then read your list to your partner. Now, if you ask your partner if he/she is willing to support you in bringing your list to life, the answer will probably be "yes." Generally, if couples are getting married, they are comfortable professing their love and support for each other. But the conscious couple will delve into the question of how exactly are you going to demonstrate your love, day in and day out? - One means of getting to the answer is to tell your partner what you know already about how you like to be nurtured. And then invite your partner to see if he or she can think of additional ways to support you in living your life fully. Make a list of the results to include in your vows. Now when you promise to love your partner forever, you can substantiate that promise with the many ways in which you aim to do that. And with your vows, you'll create stronger building blocks for marriage.