Extended Ceremony!

morrisonsMYmuseAugust 8, 2005

For my wedding, i would really like to extend my ceremony a bit... i kind of dislike the short 'get it over with so we can party' kind of ceremony and really have been putting some thought into mine. here's what i have so far...

prelude - greensleeves played by a good friend on her flute


Welcome to our guests

A special message for our parents

A song sung by one of my bridesmaids for us

our exchange of vows



does anyone have any other ideas for how we can make it a few minutes longer and a little more special? i was thinking that maybe someone could read a poem or something... since all of our guests aren't invited to our small reception, i really wanted to make it worth their while to come to our ceremony... we're also going to have a receiving line outside the church and we're going to ring the church bells...

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It is a major breach of etiquette to invite guests only to the ceremony and not to the reception. You can have a small ceremony followed by a larger reception, but not the other way around. Otherwise, it comes across as a gift grab - the guests are good enough to dress up, spend money on a gift, and take the time to attend the ceremony, but they are not good enough to be entertained or even served a piece of cake. If you choose to invite people only to the ceremony, you may find that they don't come at all.

To answer your question, have you considered adding the unity candle or sand ceremony after the exchange of vows and rings? It only extends the service by 4 or 5 minutes, but it will help.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 4:38PM
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if you're marrying in a religious ceremony in a church, you can often have communion. May not be a great idea if there are lots of people who'll be left out (from not being of that religion).

You might also ask your clergy person if there are other rituals you can add as well; other readings, etc. That's one thing churches have going for them--they have rituals!

Anything that's normally part of a church service can be included--prayers, confession of sins, absolution, etc.--and in fact may be on your clergyperson's agenda anyway.

There are usually Bible readings in a religious ceremony, perhaps just them, or at the very least in addition to any secular readings. (My particular church would probably not allow much in the way of secular readings)

You could write you own vows in addition to the official ones.

And if you're being married by a clergy person, he or she may be expecting to deliver a short sermon/homily/speech.

I had the congregation sing a hymn all together; I love corporate singing, it's one of my favorite parts of church services. We reprinted the words in the bulletin (probably a copyright violaion, but maybe not, because the church already owned all the copies of the hymnals)

At a church wedding I went to recently, the congregation sang a hymn or two, there was a solo, there were 2 or 3 Bible readings, there was a great sermon, there were the vows. There were at least 3 prayers (one of invocation, one of confession, one of blessing; my church would add "the prayer of the church" which is uses at every service). It was long enough.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 7:01PM
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sweet pea,
my wedding is not a 'gift-grab'! and the reasion that everyone isn't invited to the reception is because i'm not made out of money. if you have any suggestions on how i can feed three hundred people on fifteen hundred dollars, then be my guest... but i'll also need a bigger venue and more decorations and excuse me if i want to share my wedding with all the people i know and love but really can't afford to feed more than our families! i don't care if i get any gifts at all and frankly i find it insulting that you would even suggest that i'm just in it for the gifts.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 10:53PM
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morrisonsMYmuse, please don't be upset -- I'm sure Sweet Pea wasn't trying to insult you. Remember, she's a wedding coordinator, so she may be trying to give you the benefit of her experience so you don't leave an impression you don't intend. Look again at her post -- she says that inviting only some people to the reception can COME ACROSS as a bid for more presents, not that she thinks that this was your intention.

Actually, it isn't really "incorrect" to invite some people only to the ceremony -- according to Miss Manners, anyway, who says that in the most basic invitation, you put the reception info on a separate card and, "[b]y omitting these cards in certain envelopes, one may trim the feeding list...." [Caution! Keep reading.]

But I think it is wise to keep Sweet Pea's caution in mind. It's one thing if by "reception" you mean that your families and perhaps the wedding party are going to have a lovely meal after the wedding. That sounds like what you are doing. I think that no one would be offended by that.

I think Sweet Pea isn't talking about your plans, but making sure anyone else looking at the string doesn't make the mistake that some people do of inviting, say, 300 at the ceremony but only 100 to the reception. If the other 200 guests hear about it -- and it's impossible that they won't -- how can they help but feel that this was a wedding with an A list and a B list, and they didn't make the cut? The full quote from Miss Manners is instructive: "By omitting these cards in certain envelopes, one may trim the feeding list, thus simultaneously inviting and slighting a portion of the guests." I would be offended to be a B guest at such a wedding and embarrassed to be an A guest. I don't think that my impression would be "gift grab," though; I think it would be that these hosts decided that it was more important to have their high-end dream party than to include everyone that they thought was close enough to attend the ceremony.

If you want to have a reception for 300 on a $1500 food budget, you actually can do it -- probably not a meal, though, unless it's pizza! -- just cake and coffee and beverages, or maybe a mini-wedding cake and munchies, etc. -- whatever works for your event. But I think that the plans you have made are just fine. If you (or anyone in a similar situation) really are concerned about any of your guests' thinking that this looks like a gift grab, maybe you would consider a "no gifts, please" notation on the invitations. Of course, we all know that such a notation is itself "incorrect." But no one can call it grabby or offensive, and I could understand someone choosing to violate that rule in certain circumstances: people do it all the time if they give themselves or their spouses or immediate relatives birthday or anniversary parties. I'm not saying you ought to do this, just that it might be an option for someone whose circumstances have them feeling uneasy about the impression they are giving.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 1:04PM
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You have many options to feed your guests on your budget. A full meal is NOT necessary, and is only a recent innovation.

One of the loveliest weddings I've been to was an early afternoon wedding with a wedding tea reception. Tea, coffee, punch, finger sandwiches, cookies and wedding cake. No champagne, no other alcohol. Very inexpensive, and yet elegant.

The wedding party and immediate families then went out to dinner.

Personally, I would feel insulted to know that you wanted my presence at a ceremony, but didn't think I was worth a piece of cake. JMHO

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 1:23PM
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I would not take it personally. Etiquette is etiquette and although it may not agree with your plans, it is what it is. Do what you want to do.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 1:33PM
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i didn't ask what you guys thought of my plans for my reception, i asked for ways to extend my ceremony!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2005 at 2:08PM
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Please remember that the folks responding are truly trying to be helpful, so feelings aren't hurt later.

As far as extending your ceremony, a lot depends on the church you are having it in, as Tally_Sue mentioned. If you feel comfortable, please let us know which denomination it will be. Some religions support different traditions, discourage others.

General ideas:

Candle lighting ceremony (can be done with a poem - has been discussed on this forum)

Sand ceremony (similar to the candle, poem, merging of lives and families)

Personalize your vows to each other, share what makes your relationship special, read something that puts your feelings into words for you if writing your own vows is difficult.

I have seen the mothers enter to their own special song (mine wanted Ave Maria)

So there are a few ideas!

[But, back to the reception -- could you do a cake and punch for the whole group and a dinner for the family a bit later? Simple decorations at the church hall (if there is one), just a cake table and a punch table.]

Best wishes and we all hope that your day is special.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 10:12AM
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I think the reason people commented on the reception plans was your comment, "since all of our guests aren't invited to our small reception, i really wanted to make it worth their while to come to our ceremony...." Think of it this way: they are telling you that sitting through more readings, songs, or extra rituals would feel less "worth their while" to them than a chance to socialize even for just a few minutes with the families and other guests over a cup of coffee and a cookie afterward. I know that is how I would feel.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 10:39AM
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I think gellchom has a point--the thing that will make guests feel it was "worth their while" is the chance to feel like they are a part of the "community" at your wedding.

Being an audience to lots of stuff at the front of the church won't do that.

Talking with you and your groom, and you families and friends, and spending some PARTICIPATION time will.

Reading her post made me realize that I had much the same dilemma--not being able to afford a big meal for EVERYBODY that I wanted to be with me on that day. But not wanting to invite people just to show up and go away. So I'll tell you what I did, in case it's useful to you (or to someone later who reads this thread)

I married in my home church, in rural Iowa, where lots of weddings are quite low key. Nearly every relative I have lives somewhere else, so I had a big percentage of out-of-town guests. But I also invited everyone who was a member of my church, some friends from high school, some adults who'd led my 4-H club.

I had the traditional Midwestern church reception: cake, punch, mints, nuts, in the church fellowship hall. I considered THAT to be my "official reception." The wedding was at 1, so it was sort of "afternoon tea." We had the official receiving line there, we cut the cake there (I didn't throw the bouquet, but if I had, I'd have thrown it there), the bridal party ran around mingling w/ the guests (they were under assignment from me to help people get to know my DH by getting to know his friends), my relatives said "hello again" to folks from my church they'd met briefly over the years, my high school friends and coaches make a point of getting to know my NYC friends and esp. my DH's friends, etc.

It was a lovely, lovely time. It wasn't the END of the festivities, however, and it wasn't the most expensive or fanciest part.

The FAMILY (and out-of-town friends) then went to my mom's house for a catered buffet dinner. THAT was where we had the best man's toast, more conversation, pictures of all the cousins together, etc.

It certainly "extended" the CELEBRATION, even if that's not the ceremony. And it wasn't expensive at all.

(it helped greatly that everyone would fit in the church fellowship area, which was free to me to use, and ladies from my church served the cake)

I will say that the dinner w/ the family didn't feel like "the official reception"--it was also lovely, and personal, and had its own rituals (in the midwest, we often open presents after the dinner, if it's a "home wedding" and not in a catering hall). In fact, I loved it because it felt like a "wind down," a "returning to the family after all the excitement." It was more casual--everybody but the wedding party changed their clothes, etc. That was mostly due, I think, to the fact that it was at mom's, and buffet. If it had been at a restaurant, they'd have stayed dressed up, etc., and it *might* have felt more "party-ish".

I am glad we had that reception, bcs some of my friends from high school who came might have felt cheated a little bit, or taken advantage of by not getting that chance to socialize with me and my friends & family.

If you did some other sort of "brief refreshments" thing, you could even skip the cake, and just serve cookies and punch, and mingle for a little while AFTER the receiving line is done. That would certainly make your guests feel that it was worth their while to come--they got to be part of your community.

I have a good, good friend who was a parochial school teacher, and wanted to invite members of her church, her students & their parents (her students had been very interested in her courtship and engagement). That's a lot of people who genuinely would want to come to the ceremony itself, but maybe themselves wouldn't want to attend a long reception.

She did the same thing as me: a reception immediately following, with cake and punch, in the church fellowship hall. Everyone attended. Then, a subset of the guests (including colleagues from her school, not just family or out-of-town friends) went to a catering hall for a full-scale reception, complete w/ grand entrance, toasts, dinner, dancing, cake cutting, and triumphal exit.

(one advantage of her plan was, she felt free to serve inexpensive sheet cakes at the church reception--she didn't have to pay for fancy decorating. She DID have to pay extra to the church to reimburse them for the cleaning of those extra facillities)

I hope you have a lovely day.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 1:18PM
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TalleySueNYC, thank you for sharing this. I think it's a great solution to a difficult dilemma.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 3:00PM
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since this thing has gone so far from the way i envisioned it going, let me point out my problem. i know alot of people who i really wouldn't invite to my wedding, but they would be seriously offended and slight my parents if they weren't. alot of the people from the church where i will be having my wedding are bound to show up wheather they are invited or not. i can't afford to feed all these extras. they keep telling my mom that they watched me grow up and can't wait to watch me get married. i can't not invite these people, i've known them my whole life, but we barely speak anymore.
so i like the idea about having cookies and punch in the fellowship hall immediatley following the ceremony. but how would i work that out so that they wouldn't be expecting a meal as i'm having an evening wedding? should i have an earlier ceremony? i really had everything all worked out but you guys are right, i know that i need to do something for all of those extras but we are really in a tight spot financially and can't afford a meal for all of the guests....

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 7:17PM
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What time is your ceremony planned for? How far into things have you gotten? Venue arranged, church arranged and any possible conflicts?

What part of GA are you in? What are the customs for your area and church? I've been to several weddings in N. Fla that have the cookie and punch thing for the large group(usually late afternoon or mid morning -- but did attend one ceremony after dinner time, 8pm that had a cake and punch reception, because the bride wanted a candle lit ceremony).

Is there someone within the church community that helps out -- oversees the hall etc. that would know what is done locally? She might even have recommendations for good buys from other church members. [Many years ago when I got married, one church member made a lovely cake, another the topper and a third decorated the hall for me. Another group got together and "made" my reception -- my mom was against the marriage. I am proud to say that so far it has lasted 25 years!]

Also, back to the original topic.

Have you given any thought to adding anything to the basic ceremony?


    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 10:15AM
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Talley Sue, thanks for sharing that. You always know the best way to do things! It sounds like it was a perfect solution (and FUN). Maybe that will work for MorrisonsMYmuse, too.

Susan in NC gave you great advice, MorrisonsMYmuse: find the person in your community who would know how others there have solved the same problem -- I promise you, you aren't the first! Probably not even the first this week -- and ask her/him for ideas.

I agree that it would be difficult to pull off cookies and punch at dinner time. Is your time flexible? Could you have the ceremony at, say, 4 pm, followed by cookies or whatever, and then dinner later for your family? Then you still have an evening meal for family without sort of kicking out or dumping all the other guests. If for some reason you can't change your time, how would you feel about changing your plans to eliminate a full meal for a small group in favor of hors d'ouevres, or go even later for desserts only, for the whole group? Just a couple of other ideas.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 3:12PM
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I understand why you've want to have something less substantial (timewise AND moneywise) for all those folks--they're much more an "extended circle" than actual friends. Were I in your shoes, I wouldn't want to eliminate anything for the small group in order to do more for them.

I'm trying to think of hors d'oeuvres (appetizers) that would be inexpensive--cheese and crackers? (though cheese can add up!!) Basically, something savory instead of sweet. It's not like it has to be a big deal--just the sort of "snack after church" that my congregation has every Sunday--just a tiny little nosh while people mill about. We serve potato chips, sometimes cake or cookies, sometimes luncheon meat & cheese slices rolled into tubes, stuff like that. Paper plates to eat them on.

Then you could say "hors d'oeuvres immediately following"--or don't say anything, and just have it there. then spend a little time mingling and making nice for your folks' (and old time's) sake.

What if you just did cake and punch--nothing else? Or had some little ceremony (asked them to join in a song, or a prayer, or chose some thing to give the congregation like a banner or new candle lighter or new silver bowl for the baptismal font depending what the altar guild needs, and had a little presentation ceremony, though that's more money, so skip that, though someone else might like the idea if they see this post) Though come to think of it, people expect refreshment when there's a ceremony.

Perhaps just think of any foods you serve as "refreshments", not "reception."

One other thought: recently a lady who grew up in our church got married. She's the assistant on some Sunday mornings, so most of us feel connected to her. She invited the entire church in a blanket invitation--I didn't go, so I don't remember if she served anything. But I know that she had a big reception later, somewhere else, to which she most CERTAINLY did not invite me (she invited a few people--the organist, who played for the wedding, but really a small group). If I had gone to her ceremony, I probably wouldn't have expected her to feed me, even at the church, bcs the invitation didn't come to me personally. And I did NOT expect to be invited to the larger reception.

So you might really lower the church people's expectations by issuing a blanket invite to the CONGREGATION. That's what Nini did, and what I did (I don't know what the teacher did). I sent a single invite to the church, my mom stood up and said I wanted them to come, and a notice was put in the bulletin.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2005 at 5:33PM
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oh, there will be a blanket invitation in the church wheather i want it or not. that's just the way things are done in my hometown. i dont' live there anymore and i don't really see things the same way now i did when i was growing up and really can't imagine having to invite an entire town to my wedding just so my mom dosen't get dirty looks in the grocery store. but that's the way things still go in this part of ga...(i live in lagrange, but grew up in the sticks). if i was to have my wedding somewhere else i would eliminate this problem entirely but my parents are paying for half and have already reserved the church for me so i have to address the issue. i think that i would like to have a smallish thing at the church after but dont' know how i would do it as my time slot at the church isn't negotible (4 to 7) as there is a wedding the same morning before mine (which all of my extended circle extras will also be attending). i don't want them to expect dinner but it falls right in that time slot and it's just a mess! any suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 12:54AM
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I think you're fine. You could have the ceremony at 4 sharp, and DON'T add extras, so you are done by, say, 4:30 or so. Then you can have something like coffee or punch and cookies or pretzels or whatever for 45 minutes or something.

I think the fact that the entire congregation gets invited in the bulletin actually helps here. No one could expect you to provide a big meal for EVERYONE. But you still want to be sensitive to people who are your invited guests that aren't invited to your dinner later. I think that very light refreshments like that would do the job. Can you have your wedding cake there? You could do the big money-saving trick of having a tiny decorated wedding cake that you cut in front of the guests, and inexpensive sheet cakes that you slice for everyone to really eat. (You can always have another wedding cake at the dinner if you want).

If you are planning on taking photos at the church, it sounds like you wouldn't be able to do them before the ceremony, as someone else has the church then. Doing them in the morning would probably be a nuisance, but it's possible. The other choice is to do them well after the ceremony, after you've said goodbye to your guests (like, around 6 pm). You really wouldn't be able to do them right after the ceremony if you want to have a coffee-and-cookies or whatever little reception without getting close to dinner time.

I do urge you not to add more elements to the ceremony in the hope that that will make people feel they were invited to something worth their time. You don't want your wedding full of padding that really has no other meaning for you. And if I were a guest, frankly, the longer you kept me sitting through a ceremony, the MORE I would expect to be fed! But a cookie would be fine.

Don't worry -- you're doing FINE, and everything is going to be wonderful. "Perfect" doesn't mean flawless, it means a wonderful, memorable day for all. And you will have that.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 1:27PM
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FYI, from Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, which I was reading over the weekend.

"a wedding is a solemn, public ceremony...In any case, a ceremony held in a church is theoretically open to the congregation and it is not therefore customary to reply that one is, or is not, attending; waht requires an answer is only the invitation to the private social event following."

So, anyone in town can presumably decide they're part of the "congregation" (even if they're not; for my congregation, that's actually a legal status, though of course all are welcome to worship w/ us) and attend the ceremony itself. No invitation needed.

But no expectation of being invited to the reception, too.

(also in my small hometown, watching the picture-taking is actually part of the entertainment--it happens after the receiving line and after some sort of "greet the guests, start the food" moment like a cake cutting or a small speech from bride or groom--whichever is NOT a previous member of the church would be really sweet).

I wouldn't do cake at the church, in your circumstances.

Crackers, cheese cubes, and punch, max.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 2:47PM
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i think i'm going to go with some sort of dessert at least... cookies or something and i'll let the little old ladies decorate for me... it will make their day to be asked. i dont' want to go to a whole lot of trouble... and we're not taking post-ceremony pictures at the church anyway... the reception site has much better scenery....

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:36AM
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As a wedding planner, I agree that it's not a good idea to be invited to the wedding and not the reception. So, I am so glad you have decided to do something small after the ceremony.

The wedding is not a gift-grab... it is a THANK YOU to the guests for coming to the wedding. They have spent money, before even purchasing a gift, to attend your wedding. Many have purchased new clothes, some will pay for a babysitter, all will take time from their personal schedules and all will have paid for gas and wear and tear on their personal vehicles. So we must show appreciation for this.

Now, I understand that being a planner myself I know a lot of ways to accomplish a lot for little. So my wedding reception may be the exception to the rule. We had approximately 200 people at our wedding and reception and spent much less than the $1500 you have. It was wonderful and we had shrimp, prime rib and other "fancy" so-called expensive foods and appetizers. It can be done, but you have to be willing to do a lot yourself and to not be shy to ask others to do for you. I guarantee you there is some very qualified person hanging around dying for chance to put something like this together that just hasn't been able to break into the business yet. Seek that person out.

Anyway, I know you have already hashed over much of this. I just wanted to reiterate that it can be done... something really really nice can be accomplished with what you have to spend. You just have to think outside of the box.

As for a longer ceremony... how long do you like to sit for such an occasion? Or to have to make children sit still? It shouldn't be any longer than that. I've been to weddings where all I remember is that it was way to long. Don't do that to your guests. Help them remember how beautiful the ceremony was... not it's lengthiness.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 1:29PM
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for the record... i love long ceremonies. i think that they have more meaning than a short little 'i do' before everyone goes off to the party. the ceremony is what they're there for, the party is to celebrate what occurred during the ceremony, so yeah, i think it should be a little more substantial...

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 11:53PM
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I think there were some good ideas offered on some other things you can incorporate into your ceremony to make it both meaningful and a bit longer. I recently went to my nephew's wedding and they had several readings from the bible, a few beautiful songs, lighting of the unity candle, and the pastor gave a beautiful speech too.

I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean by having a lot of people come to the ceremony who are not invited to the reception. Depending upon where you live, your social circles and your church, many times the whole congregation is invited to attend the marriage ceremoney of their fellow church members and announcements are made in the church bulletins. Or even at your workplace by posting on a bulletin board in break rooms. These people don't expect to be invited to the reception, nor are they expected to bring a gift to the couple. They are just happy to be able to be part of one of their church member's ceremony.

But of course this isn't the tradition in all regions or social circles, so in those cases everyone is invited to both the church and reception.

In our church, the "church ladies" as we call them are always happy to be available in the church hall to make coffee and serve whatever refreshments the couple may decide to bring. Sometimes the members of the church auxiliary actually donate baked goods for weddings and funerals - this is very typical in small communities. Given the time that you have the church reserved, between 4:00 and 7:00, I would think that a half hour to 45 min. service would be nice, then your mingling, reception line, or I have seen couples dismissing individual pews immediately after the ceremony so that they can thank everyone as they leave their pews. That takes a good 15-20 minutes. A few refreshments (coffee, baked goods can even be donated by aunts, cousins, etc.or purchased by you if that's not possible) in the church hall for about an hour so everyone can mingle while you and your wedding party take pictures in the church. Then it's off to the dinner and dance reception.

I hope everything works out for you and you have the wedding of your dreams!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 9:14PM
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okay, here's the plan. we'll be at the church by four to set up, get ready, and take pictures before the ceremony which starts at six-fifteen. Thirty-five minute ceremony. Appetizers in the fellowship hall of the church, from six-fifty to seven-forty or so. Then it's off to the reception hall where family and close friends will eat dinner at about eight. Then it's dancing for the rest of the night.
that's the best i can do with the time that i have. Does anyone have suggestions on how i could improve this schedule?

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 4:27PM
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Sounds great to me!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 1:58AM
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I thought about suggesting you move the ceremony up a bit, but I'm not sure why, now.

You might be sure early arrivers at the reception can get in; some folks might want to bug out of the appetizers thing.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 11:59AM
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A 35 minute ceremony? Yikes!! Is that common where you live? Be sure the church air conditioning is working well and that everybody has a seat. Also that the entire church can hear you- 35 minutes is a long time, especially if you can't hear what's going on or if there are small children present. (I'd be sneaking a crossword puzzle out of my purse.)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 12:15PM
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well, let's see--

3 minutes for everybody to enter
2 minutes for invocation, opening prayer
3 minutes for readings
4 minutes for a solo
10 minutes for a sermon
5 minutes for the exchange of vows
4 minutes for a prayer of blessing, the presentation and exit.

that's 31.

Planning for 35 gives you time for the person doing the reading to get all teary-eyed and regain their composure.

Add in a unity candle, or a song the congregation sings together (I strongly vote for this--keeps people involved, makes them part of that "community"--if you want value added, making them participate will do it, and since most of them will be church members anyway, they'll sing!)

And remember that people will stand up for the gospel reading, sit down for other stuff, etc. So it's not like they'll have nothing to do for the whole time.

35 minutes is not too long. Not for a church service, which is much more multifaceted than a civil service.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 12:04PM
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You might try to coordinate with the morning bride to share the same flower plan for the altar for which each of you could pay half. Considerable savings in both time spent decorating and costs.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 7:07PM
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morrisonsmymuse, I think your plans sound PERFECT. And I love sheilajoyce's suggestion about sharing the flowers. That will both save money and set-up time. I wouldn't worry that some of the "extended circle" guests will have seen them in the morning. Most won't even notice (they will be looking at YOU, not the flowers), and the rest will just think you are smart -- I know I would.

And if you don't even want to serve appetizers to the whole crowd, just maybe cookies or punch or coffee, I think that would be fine, too. When you said "guests," I incorrectly assumed you meant people to whom you were sending individual invitations, and I felt like in that case it was awkward to invite some but not all to the reception (and even then not if the "reception" was really just dinner for the immediate family and maybe attendants). But it seems you are talking about the people who are responding to the public invitation in the church bulletin or whatever. That is an entirely different matter. Ask the People In The Know in your community what other people usually do about feeding them, and you'll know what to do.

Have fun! It's going to be GREAT.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 2:45PM
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Scarlett2001 - - 35 minutes is long for a civil ceremony, but average for a church ceremony... execept some churches. My wedding ceremony was an hour and 15 minutes.

I love the idea sheliajoyce came up with for sharing flowers or other decorations. I have also heard of sharing any vocal/instrument/organists, but not often.

Since it is a small town, your mother or you asking neighbors or friends to do a portion of the work may be thought of as a compliment rather than an imposition. I know it is that way in the small town I was from.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 10:39AM
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Passing by and I wanted to make a comment...

I had a complicated wedding process with many many people, ten years ago. If I had it to do over again, I would have simplified it greatly. I would have turned over more tasks to people who were dying to help. And I would have streamlined it as much as possible so that I could have had more fun.

As to the ceremony...include the items that make your heart sing. Don't add anything that doesn't have personal meaning to you. Have it exactly how it's supposed to be,if ykwim. And that will be absolutely enough for your guests.

Btw, at mine, I had some great music. I had no candle. I had no singing. But I had a minister that gave a beautiful sermon, and a place just before our vows where she asked our family and friends to stand and take a vow to support us to be successful in our marriage. Then we took our own vows and it was over.

I had more than one person approach me and tell me that it was the most beautiful wedding that they had been to in many years.

The point of it all is that although a big fancy wedding can be beautiful, it's the words that touch our hearts.

Set this up so that you can really be a part of it. That your family and friends will be touched by the love that you and your soon to be husband have for each other. That they're given a lovely window into the deep relationship that you have which is why you're getting married in the first place. Allow others to help,even if the help isn't perfect, because everyone wants to be a part of the dream...

And keep it straightforward enough to minimize complications so that you can fully take in and enjoy the meaning of this wonderful day.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 12:19AM
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This is from a more recent "Miss Manners" column:

"Considering the time and trouble involved, it is no longer acceptable, as it once was, to invite some guests to the ceremony but not to the reception. Miss Manners never cared for that custom anyway."
But I certainly agree that this does NOT apply to people who are invited by open invitations in church bulletins or whatever, just people to whom the hosts send individual invitations.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 10:11PM
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