So much time and planning goes in to getting the details of the reception 'just right,' and for a lot of people the ceremony slides way down the to-do list. But if you want to have a ceremony that isn't just stock-standard, and really reflects who the two of you are together, here's how:
1. Who do you want involved?
There are plenty of different ways to include people who are special to you. You can get them to do a reading or make up something of their own to read to you. If you'd like a way for the Mums of the bride and groom to be involved, a nice touch is to have them hold the rings for each of you.
While we're on the topic, readings don't necessarily have to be a poem. They can be anything from passages out of your favourite book, to song lyrics, or something written especially for the day.
Find ideas for readings.
There are plenty of non-cheesy wedding songs, so don't feel like you have to stick with something you've heard at weddings before. Got talented friends? Let them play a song to walk you down the aisle or while you're signing the wedding certificates. Bear in mind that different locations have different rules. Sometimes parks won't allow you to have amplified music and some churches can be strict on what music is played.
Find songs for your wedding ceremony
You'll need two people to act as witnesses and sign the marriage certificates with you. They can be anyone you like, as long as they are over 18 years old. It can be brothers and sisters, best friends, parents or even grandparents.
5. Wedding vows
Do you love traditional wedding vows or do you want to make it more personal. Your celebrant will be able to tell you the minimum legal requirement and help you build it from there. Or you can get Googling - there's loads of examples on the internet of different types of wedding vows.
Once you've chosen your vows, make sure you've read them enough so that familiar with them but don't worry about trying to learn them off by heart - there's no way you'll remember it in the excitement and nerves of the actual day. You can either print them on cards to read, or your celebrant can feed you the words phrase by phrase.
How to write your own wedding vows
6. Who stands where
In a church wedding, you spend a large chunk of time with your backs towards your guests, and standing on opposite sides of the aisle. In a civil ceremony there's no rules about where you have to stand. You can enjoy every moment of the ceremony together if you stand next to each other, facing the guests. That way you can hold hands, make small comments to each other, and your guests get to see your faces.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Hopefully you won't need it, but always, always make sure you have a wet weather option. And have a plan in place so if it is raining on the day, you're not the one getting the phone calls - print the back-up location on your invitations, or provide a nominated person's number to take phone calls and questions on the day.
Fashionably late is a myth. Especially if your guests are standing outside in the hot sun with their make up melting.
If you're having kids at the ceremony, or involved in the ceremony, there is absolutely no way to predict or guarantee what they will do on the day. The number one rule is: don't stress if it doesn't go according to plan. Sometimes the cutest things that happen during ceremonies are when kids do things their own way.
A good tip for kid-wrangling is to have a picnic blanket set up right at the front of the ceremony for all of the kids to sit on, and give them some activity books, a lollipop or bag of lollies each. Sure, they'll hit a sugar high eventually but at least they'll be more likely to be quiet during the ceremony itself. If you'd rather not take the risk, then we suggest you hire a professional to keep them entertained.