Last night, I was trying to envision my wedding ceremony. I went through all the traditional steps of the ceremony in my mind. As a result, I stayed up until 1am feeling nauseated and ultimately convincing myself that f*** it, I don’t even want a stupid wedding ceremony anyway. My close friend’s marriage celebration came to mind, which took place in a restaurant and did not include a ceremony. It was brilliant and super fun.
Why I got myself so worked up about a ceremony:
- The set-backs to feminism implicit in so much of traditional ceremony language made me want to vomit.
- Having 80+ people staring at me, some of them complete strangers, while I participate in the most romantic, intimate moment of my life, made me want to hurl.
- Parading myself down an aisle so people can gawk at me in my virginal dress, made me want to heave.
I wish I wasn’t like this, trust me. I wish I was less cynical and self-absorbed, and that I could just focus on the value in this moment for other people in our lives. It’s also a good moment for my partner and I to refer to when we get into some dumb argument over who picks up more of our dog’s poop.
So the next morning, I decided to reconcile my stomach upset with my want to be optimistic. I did a bit of research and was assuaged by what I found– a series of non-traditional ceremony ideas that proved it is possible for me to feel comfortable at my own wedding!!! And so I happily pass on 10 casual, lighthearted wedding ceremony ideas for those who share my misfortune of being too skeptical for their own good.
10 Casual & Relaxed Wedding Ceremony Ideas
1. Forgo the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Not forcing six grown women to wear matching dresses that cost them hundreds of dollars and you tens of hours to find, and which they will never wear again, is probably the best way to relieve yourself and your friends of unnecessary wedding burden.
2. Set out blankets and pillows as ceremony seating.
This way, a hundred chairs don’t have to be moved to and from the ceremony location so that people’s bums have a home for 10 minutes.
3. Or keep the ceremony casually short and have your guests gather standing.
Studies show that sitting literally takes years off of your life, anyway.
4. It’s worth repeating– keep the ceremony short.
No matter how much your family loves you, they just don’t want to sit through an hour-long ceremony in the hot sun. A short ceremony is sweet and humble, and will capture the attention of your guests so much better than a long soliloquy by your officiant.
5. Personalize your ceremony script.
You don’t need to follow the traditional ceremony process or wording. Do some soul-searching of what marriage really means to you and your partner, and why you chose each other. For example, perhaps you both share a reverence for nature and decide to make that a theme of your ceremony. When you personalize your ceremony script, you can make every word count and shed the superfluous. This post by the Offbeat Bride is pure gold in helping you get started.
6. Choose simple decor.
Exude “casual and relaxed” by forgoing the ornate altar and instead using flower petals or a rug, or enhancing a stately tree in your backyard.
7. Choose a simple dress.
Any etiquette queen out there would tell you that setting the mood for a party starts with your outfit. If you want to feel casual and relaxed during your ceremony, avoid the strapless ball gown that you keep having to pull up at the chest anyway.
8. Combine the ceremony and reception location– down to the actual tables and seating.
One of my best friends had the brilliant idea of creating her ceremony “altar” right in front of the reception tables so there was no need to decorate two different areas and move around chairs.
9. Don’t have an aisle.
Getting back to my third vomit-inducing anxiety– one essential way to tone down your ceremony is to get rid of the big, dramatic reveal for the bride and wedding party. This way, everyone can enjoy mingling with guests as they arrive. When it is time for the ceremony to begin, guests simply gather around you, your partner, and the officiant.
10. Don’t bind yourself to the wedding processional and recessional.
I just realized I forgot to mention another thing makes me want to up-chuck about wedding ceremonies. It’s “Here Comes The Bride.” Instead, I will either ask the reception band (if I have one–undecided) to play a sweet folk song or I will just play a similar song via iphone and speakers. Some great ideas for classic, non-nauseating songs:
Neil Young, “Harvest Moon”
Ray LaMontagne, “You Are the Best Thing”
Ella Fitzgerald, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”
Bob Marley, “Is This Love”
For more ideas for your backyard ceremony, click here!
What are some of your casual & relaxed ceremony ideas?