I’m so glad the photographers captured this moment when Sarah's dad almost went to his seat without giving hugs and handshakes.
See all those smiles?
As much as you plan and prepare and practice, when your wedding day arrives it’s time to let go of the idea that everything will be perfect.
Actually, those "imperfect," real life moments are the best. They’re how we know we are awake, present...
...that this day is REALLY and finally happening...to US!
Sometimes those moments simply recede into the background of a fantastic day, and sometimes they’re the ones we remember most.
It is those unplanned moments that can startle us into dropping our scripts, our carefully ordered expectations, and come fully into ourselves—into the now.
On one of the most important and anticipated days of our entire lives, they pull back the curtain on the stage set and show us our regular, common humanity (which is where all the good stuff is anyway!).
So don’t be afraid of imperfection, of mistakes and wedding day blunders. Embrace them, even, as treasures—as a precious reminder of what it is to be really, fully alive...especially on your wedding day.
One of my 2015 brides commented on my Instagram post about wedding “imperfections,” sharing: My favorite photo of our wedding is the one snapped right when the electricity came back on mid-ceremony.
That’s right, folks! It was a blustery November day at the beautiful Kemble Inn in Lenox, Renée and Jay radiant in their togetherness, me sharing the story of their love...when—aaaahhhhhhh—the power goes out.
But you know what? It was great. We were all like kids, sort of giddy and excited (okay, we’re off-script!) and suddenly more HERE & NOW than before.
My bride wrote that it was perfectly imperfect, much like life.
Yes, indeed...just the way a wedding should be.
I have been witness to this moment countless times over the years, and yet it always touches my heart.
If one of my brides walks down the aisle with her father, most often she chooses hugs and handshakes over some kind of "giving away."
Contemporary and informal, this non-verbal exchange has deep meaning, especially when intentionally honored as a significant moment.
In the emotion and excitement of entering the ceremony, I've noticed how easy it is to rush, eager to get to your seat (dad) and get started (bride)!
That's why I always have them practice during rehearsals, saying, "Remember, this is your time. Take it. When you hug, make it a real one."
You have to stay long enough to truly feel it.
When that happens—when there's enough pause for two hearts to reach one another, to speak without words—it changes the energy in the whole room.
We feel our own hearts responding, suddenly opened, ready and present to experience what a wedding ceremony is really about: genuine connection.
Thanks to all my couples for helping name me
One of the Top Wedding Officiants in Massachusetts
for the 6th year in a row!
The WeddingWire Couples' Choice Awards® recognize local wedding professionals who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness, and professionalism. Winners are determined by the reviews from more than one million WeddingWire couples.
Winners are selected by a combination of four factors: overall rating, total number of reviews, review performance from 2018, and consistency of reviews from year to year.
I'm proud to have earned a WeddingWire Couples' Choice Award® every year since launching Grace Ceremonies in 2013!
Giving a wedding toast can feel like a big responsibility, especially when you've attended enough weddings to see just how good (or bad) they can be. Here are six simple tips for giving a great wedding toast.
My father-in-law gave a wonderful and memorable toast at our wedding. He said simply:
"There have been four perfect days in my life: the day I married my wife, the day our first son was born, the day our second son was born, and today."
1) Quality over quantity.
I once attended a wedding where the mother of the bride took out a stack of index cards and began a recital of her daughter’s life story…starting with kindergarten! Contrast that with a recent experience where the matron of honor flung open an outsized paper scroll, as if she were going to tell all, but instead highlighted a just few cherished memories. One toast had the bride squirming; the other had us all feeling included in a very special relationship.
2) Don’t try too hard to be funny.
Unless you have a comedic knack and are comfortable speaking in front of large groups, don’t shoot for the toast equivalent of a stand-up comedy routine. Remember that most people at a wedding are already happy and enjoying themselves…and perhaps a little tipsy as well. You’re likely to get plenty of laughs without trying too hard to be funny.
3) Be willing to show your feelings.
There are many reasons why people hesitate to express their emotions. They may be nervous, afraid of crying too much, or they may not want to come across as overly sentimental. While hysterical crying may not be preferable to a flat affect, showing your feelings will help people relate to you. A good toast engages the wedding couple and other guests – finding a way to express your feelings automatically does that.
Don’t rush through your toast. Often a well-placed pause is enough to garner a good laugh. Similarly, slowing down will help you keep your emotions in check, letting you show your feelings without being overwhelmed by them. Slowing down gives others time to absorb the significance of your words and adds poignancy to your toast.
5) Be authentic.
You’ve been asked to give a toast or feel inspired to offer one because of your relationship with the couple. You can trust that your unique perspective is meaningful enough without worrying about adding bells and whistles. If you share with them a passion for poetry, perhaps you’ll include a short poem in your toast. If it’s a love of the outdoors or an affinity for old cars, let that come through. If it’s simply that you’re delighted to share in their wedding day, just say that. Being authentic is more important – not to mention memorable – than trying to be something you’re not.
6) Remember why you’re there.
Giving a toast can feel like a big responsibility, especially if you’re not used to public speaking. In thinking about a toast that will be witty, meaningful and memorable, it’s easy to lose perspective on why you’re there. Remember that as large as the toast may loom in your mind, even the best toast fades in comparison to the happiness of the couple and the joy of the day. Or, at least, we should all hope it does.
"What does it mean to have friends and family at your wedding?" It's a question I ask every couple whose ceremony I'm officiating, and it's a question my husband and I also had to answer as we planned our own wedding. For me, along with sharing the joy of the occasion, I wanted to be witnessed - to have this most significant ritual blessed and sanctified by our beloveds.
I'll always cherish our long walk "down the aisle" (which was actually a large hayfield). Seeing our friends and family gathered in the distance, hearing their glad shouts as they saw us approach, my heart full to bursting as we made our way to the front... Magic!
The most common responses I hear from couples when I ask what it means to have their family and friends at their wedding are, "It means everything," "It means the world to us," and "We can't imagine getting married without our friends and family present." They often explain that their marriage isn't just the two of them; it exists within the fabric of all those other relationships.
This is not to say I think couples should want family and friends there. In fact, one couple whose elopement ceremony I recently officiated explained it this way: "Our wedding is the most intimate conversation we'll ever have with each other. We want to celebrate our marriage with our family and friends, but our wedding is just for the two of us."
Besides being there for us, there were two things many guests shared about our wedding day:
1. How nice it was to meet each other! They had a blast getting to know friends and family they'd heard so much about but never met.
2. How renewed their own relationship was by the beauty and romance of the day.
One groom recently shared this in response to the friends and family question: "I'm not close to my family the way she is. We are loyal to each other and share an inherent bond, but we don't see each other often and I feel like they don't really know me. I hope the wedding will help my family better understand who we really are."
While it isn't something I hear often, I'm sure for many couples this feeling exists to some degree. Which brings me back to the question, "What does it mean to have friends and family at your wedding?" Well, for starters, your wedding is one of the greatest opportunities you'll ever have to publicly express who you are.
Of course every wedding comes with concessions...things you do because it will be meaningful to a grandparent, old friend or parent. Hopefully these are small issues - things you can give with grace - allowing others to feel they were considered without compromising what's most important to you.
For me, one of those instances was having a bouquet. It wasn't something I needed but it was special to my soon-to-be mother in law. She took great pleasure in arranging my bouquet...and I have to agree, it was beautiful!
Whether you decide to include everyone you know, or only your beloved and yourself, it says something about who you are. Whether you choose to use traditional vows or write your own, it's a reflection of who you are. Whether or not you're escorted down the aisle by a parent, whether you include a prayer or blessing, a reading or ritual...all these things represent who you are.
Rather than feeling nervous or daunted by this prospect, CELEBRATE IT! Exploit it! Take full advantage of the chance to have one day in your life be about being who you really are with those you really love. What an extraordinary opportunity.
And more than that, it's easy! Yes, it may take courage...for some of us more than others. To have a wedding that's a reflection of who you are, individually and as a couple, all you have to do is ask yourself. Depending on your situation, you may have to carefully listen within in order to quiet the other voices telling you what you should do, or what they want.
You may have to gather your gumption to make your needs known, and honored. But it's soooo worth it! Remember, even when it doesn't feel like it, other people are adults and can take care of themselves. They have their own lives, and likely their own weddings.
Seek out people (like me, your officiant!) who support and encourage you. It will make your wedding one of the most fulfilling days of your life, a memory you will cherish forever. No guests at all? Wonderful! But if you do include your friends and family at your wedding, you can be sure it will be a touchstone they look back on, knowing they had the privilege of witnessing the authentic expression of someone they love...and what is more meaningful than that?
All photos by Chattman Photography.
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.