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Unique Alternatives to Unity Candles

December 29th, 2009 Posted in Planning

New Ways to Make Your Wedding Ceremony Truly Meaningful

by Cheryl Lynn Foster-Gerton, An Essential Event

Your wedding ceremony is without question the most important element of your entire day. Without it, there would be no reason for the dress, the fancy reception, or the flowers. It is the magic moment that that you have been waiting for, but ironically, most wedding ceremonies are decidedly dull. A traditional ceremony typically includes the reciting of vows and the exchanging of rings, but not much else. By including a special ceremony in your wedding though, you can really make it a moment to remember, and even add an aspect of personal style that may otherwise be missing. The unity candle is, of course, the most popular special ceremony, but despite its timeless and touching message, it has been more than overdone. Below are five options for other special ceremonies that go beyond the usual standard, while still capturing your heart

Blessing Stone Ceremony

Incorporating blessing stones into a wedding is a wonderful way to involve everyone in the ceremony. Prior to the service, each guest is provided with a “blessing stone,” such as a glass bead, marble or river rock. During the ceremony, the officiant asks the congregation to hold their stones and think about their prayers for the continued happiness, heath and prosperity of the couple. Then, using a basket, vase or other decorative vessel, the blessing stones are collected and given to the bride and groom as a token of their wedding and the good wishes of their guests. Often during the collection, a traditional Indian, Irish or other cultural blessing is read, or a particular song is performed. Other variations of this special ceremony ask guests to write down their thoughts on note cards attached to the blessing stones, or use pennies and a wishing well instead of stones and a vase.

Coin Ceremony

A coin ceremony is a Latin cultural tradition that typically occurs at many Mexican or Spanish-style weddings. As part of this special ceremony, the groom presents his bride with thirteen coins to represent his vow to care for, support and sustain her. In the mainstream version though, the minister usually pours the coins into the cupped hands of both the bride and groom as a prayer for their prosperity is repeated. In this variation, the ring bearer is sometimes given the special task of taking the coins in during the processional, often in a decorative satin or velvet drawstring purse.

Hand Ceremony

A hand ceremony is a beautiful way to represent the emotional bonds of a wedding through a time-honored physical ritual. This observance, which usually occurs right after the exchange of rings, begins with the bride and groom facing one another and joining first their left palms, followed by their right. Thus causes the couple’s crossed arms to form an infinity sign, a symbol of their lasting love. A blessing is then offered by the officiant, and sometimes, the spouses’ wrists are even bound with a colorful ribbon or cord. With the hands linked and the eyes locked, this ceremony is a lovely sign of the new union, and of the joining of two hears and souls.

Rose Ceremony

The rose ceremony is a touching addition to any wedding, and is typically placed just before the final prayer and/or the marriage pronouncement. During this ceremony, the bride gives her groom a single, long-stemmed rose to symbolize her first gift to him as his wife. The groom then does the same, sometimes as a reading of Robert Burns’ “[My Love Is Like] A Red, Red Rose” is performed.  The officiant then reminds the couple of the rose’s significance as a token or true love, and encourages them to exchange the flowers again and again for every anniversary.

Wine Ceremony

There are several ways to perform wine ceremonies, each with their own special meaning. In one variation, a single glass of wine is blessed, and both the bride and groom sip from it like a Celtic loving cup. In a second, and somewhat tricky version, the bridal couple drinks from two glasses, but with their arms interlocked. A third possibility is to pour a glass of both red and white, and then combine them to create a new rosé wine for the bride and groom to share.

Five Cost-Cutting Tips for Brides on a Budget

December 22nd, 2009 Posted in Planning

Weddings are a wonderful opportunity for brides to showcase their style, but not everyone has the budget to make their day match their dreams. Sacrifices sometimes have to be made, usually much to the dismay of the bride or the displeasure of her guests. However, there are several ways to whittle down costs without curtailing good taste. Below are some suggestions to help you think thrifty for your big day.

1. Avoid peak prices.

Every vendor knows that a Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer is the most popular time for a wedding, and thus, typically raise prices to reflect increased demand. Consider scheduling your wedding date on a Sunday, a weekday, or eve during a winter month to avoid these peak prices. This can often save you thousands, especially if you can take advantage of any off-peak or seasonal discounts. In many cases, being a June bride really is over-rated, at least when it comes to cost.

2. Edit out extras.

Ever heard of the expression “it is all in the details?” Well, when it comes to vendors, it is completely true. Details usually equal dollars, especially for things like white-glove service and top-shelf liquor. Edit out these extras in your contracts to reduce overall costs. Your guests will never notice that they are missing, and you can save the money that you would have spent for more important things, like your honeymoon.

3. Go green.

From vases to votive holders, purchasing everything new can be very expensive. To scale back a bit, try going green and buying “recycled” or second-hand items such as ring pillows and aisle runners. In most cases, these near-new accessories have barely been used, and are a great alternative for both the eco-friendly and the budget conscious couple. To find “recycled” items, try these resources: www.craigslist.org, www.ebay.com and www.recycleyourwedding.com.

4. Plan on double duty.

Decorative elements such as flowers can quickly become one of the biggest expenses for a wedding, particularly when the ceremony and reception are not held in the same room. To trim back your budget some, plan to make many of your arrangements do double-duty. Ceremony bouquets can easily be placed in plastic holders to adorn the cake table or DJ booth, and aisle and altar displays can be readily repurposed on the buffet. Have your maid of honor or wedding coordinator help you make the move, and cut down on finances, not on flowers.

5. Take time off.

Wedding days are a whirlwind of activity that can sometimes start very early and end very late. With a schedule that begins at breakfast and does not wrap until your last guest leaves the after-party, it is easy to hand over a huge amount. To save some additional cash, consider taking a little time off of your wedding day agenda.  Scale back the reception by an hour to reduce both you venue’s rental fees and your vendors’ service charges. Really, is a five-hour reception so much better than a four-hour one? The affordable answer is no.