When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony, many couples use the exact same ceremony format - with the same vows and same readings, all in the same order. If tradition is your thing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There's a reason why the "traditional" ceremony things have become tradition - they are beautiful, timeless and meaningful. Many couples want their ceremony to be more unique and personalized, and we are totally all about that too! But it can be kind of tricky to know how to do just that, so here are a few suggestions! (Some of these are not new/unique, but I'm hoping this list will help out at least a few brides out there!)
Use special items in your ceremony decor. This could be photos of you and your new spouse lining the aisle or at your altar, a special altar built just for your big day (for example, Jessica + Daniel's altar was an arbor built by Jessica's dad, which they now have in their back yard at home), or decor items that tell your story.
Write your own vows. This idea isn't exactly unique or new, but it's something that I think a lot of brides are afraid to do, either because they're not sure of what to say or because they feel like they have to use traditional wedding vows. There are about a billion alternatives to traditional vows online, or you can start from scratch and write your own. A little piece of advice: write whatever is on your heart. Even if you feel embarrassed to say those things in front of a crowd, your spouse will adore you for it. And your guests will probably cry their eyes out, too. ;)
Ask your officiant to tell a story or two from your relationship. And that brings me to another point: choose someone important to both of you to officiate your ceremony. They'll make your ceremony even more special and meaningful. Ask them to tell a story from your relationship, like how you met, all about your first date, how you got engaged. Your guests may not know these stories already, and it'll be so special for you to hear them again on your big day!
Walk down the aisle (or back down the aisle as husband and wife) to a meaningful song. Again, this isn't a new idea, but it can add so much personality to your wedding ceremony. Walking down the aisle to a song that is special to you and your new spouse will mean so much more to you than the same ol' wedding march everyone else walks down the aisle to.
Have a friend do a special reading or perform "your song." Do you and your fiance love a specific poem, Bible verse, book passage or song? Why not incorporate it into your ceremony? Ask a close friend or family member to read a poem, verse or passage, or if you're friends with someone who's musically inclined, ask them to perform a song you both love.
Have your church's worship band/leader lead a few songs during your ceremony. Religion is very important to many of our couples, and we love it when they incorporate a time of worship into their ceremony. It's super special and says so much about a couple's beliefs and what's important to them.
Do your own thing instead of a unity candle. I've talked about unity candle alternatives and how much I love them a few times on this blog! If a unity candle ceremony means nothing to you, choose something that does. A fun paint ceremony, a romantic time capsule to be opened on an anniversary, or a tree planting ceremony are all meaningful ideas!
Choose your bridal party carefully. Your bridal party plays a very important role during your ceremony; after all, they are the people standing beside you as you promise the rest of your life to the person you love. That's a big deal! You should include whoever you really want in your bridal party, and exclude anyone who doesn't belong (even if they used to be your best friend/they're your family member/you were in their wedding/whatever... don't include anyone because you think you have to). We wrote a post all about unique bridal parties!
Honor your heritage by incorporating any special customs. At Kelsey + Gueorgui's wedding (their wedding was full of unique, personal details!), they asked some of their guests to take place in a ring warming ceremony, which is a Bulgarian wedding tradition. Several of their guests took Kelsey + Gueorgui's rings into their hands and said a quick prayer or blessing over them before the exchange of rings. Incredibly special! If you come from a unique background, definitely pick some traditional customs to use during your ceremony!
I hope this inspires you to make your wedding ceremony all about you! It's your big day... make the details of your ceremony as unique and personal as you'd like them to be!