More and more couples are coming to us wanting to create a beautiful outdoor or non-religious ceremony but don’t know how to go about it. First and foremost, from a practical aspect, if you are planning an outdoor ceremony, ensure that you have a ‘back-up’ plan in case of rain or inclement weather for the comfort of your guests and also for your own peace of mind! Whether your ceremony will be held indoors or outdoors, plan to visit the site a few times, preferably around the same time as your wedding day to get a sense of the space, work out the ‘floorplan’ and keep your eyes open to all the little details. Ask yourself — Do you need a sound system? Is it too hot? Are there, mosquitoes? Is there enough parking? Do you have a room to place your belongings?
Secondly, write a good ceremony ‘script’. Do your research online. Know who the key players are and what their role will be and then schedule a rehearsal with the bridal party to go over it. How will the bride’s father ‘hand’ her over to the groom? Will someone escort the mothers down the aisle? Who will untie the rings from the ring pillow? Who will cue the musicians? You don’t want to be figuring this out ‘live’ so think all the details through before-hand. Of course, if you had a wedding planner, we would guide you through the above and more but if you don’t, then appoint a responsible and organised friend to help you out.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whole ‘look’ and planning of the ceremony and absent-mindedly forget that it is a legally binding ceremony. Allow yourself plenty of time to sort out the paperwork with your officiant or directly with the Marriage Registry office. In Hong Kong, you can start the process to make an appointment to give notice of your intended marriage up to three months before your wedding date. More details on the very useful esdlife weddings website.
Finally, just let it go on the day. The micro-managing part is over — hand it over to someone else and let yourself shine! There could be things that don’t go as planned — cars may get delayed, orange juice may spill, (someone even knocked over a whole glass of red wine on the bride..gasp!) but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you are celebrating your wedding and the start of a new life together!
Here is a ceremony we planned at an 800 year old temple in Kyoto, Japan
Above photos by Zuzu Birkhoff