What’s trending? We wake up and check our Twitter and Instagram feed and we’re usually greeted with “what’s trending”. From the new Color of the Year (Living Coral, in case you didn’t know!) to want to know what’s in or out, the wedding world is no different. But what about the most important part of your wedding day – your ceremony? Speaking as someone who has performed hundreds of ceremonies over the years, there definitely are trends that come and go when it comes to ceremonies.
A couple of decades ago no one questioned the traditional wedding ceremony. However, as more and more weddings are being performed outside of churches. Over the last several years, couples (and officiants) began shaking things up with completely personal vows, more relaxed wording, non-traditional unity rituals, etc. What I’m seeing now is that the pendulum is swinging back to the middle. The majority of the couples with whom I work are requesting traditional ceremonies but with a very personal touch. Contemporary couples have tremendous respect for tradition but they don’t feel bound by it. Here are three specific examples.
Non-Gender-Specific Wedding Parties
More and more couples are recognizing that they don’t have to limit themselves to the use of only females standing with the bride and males standing with the groom. Most brides and grooms have close friends and family members of both genders and it’s perfectly okay to include anyone on “either side” regardless of gender identity.
I explain to couples that their vows don’t have to be “either/or” when it comes to using so-called traditional vows vs. personal vows. More and more couples are taking the traditional vows (“for better or worse, for richer or poorer, etc.”) and changing the words to make them more personal. The cadence and rhythm and repeat-after-me format are the same but with their own words. While many couples like this option, most of them are somewhat intimidated and don’t quite know where to start. That’s where an experienced officiant comes in handy (shameless plug intended!).
Unity Rituals with a Twist
As recently as 3-4 years ago I rarely performed unity rituals (e.g. Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony, etc.). They were considered old-fashioned and passé. In the past year, my couples included some sort of unity ritual but with a personal touch. This ranges from a Unity Candle ceremony that the candle represents their past to a handfasting ceremony.
So – what’s the takeaway? As fun as it may be to find out what’s popular what’s trending, the important thing to remember, it’s YOUR ceremony. I advise my couples to never do something their ceremony just because it’s trendy or they think it’s expected. If something has meaning and significance to you, include it in your ceremony.
Rev. Kevin B. Holland has performed over 300 ceremonies ranging from simple civil unions to elaborate religious ceremonies and everything in between. He works closely with couples to ensure that everyone is comfortable with both style and language regardless of any faith traditions.