Not long ago, Meg over at A Practical Wedding posted this gem about writing your own wedding ceremony and after reading that article, I soon realized that it summed up our ceremony writing experience perfectly.
As Meg mentions, it's ridiculously important to work within a structure. Three months ago, I did not know this. We had been putting off the ceremony for so long that I was overwhelmed with our options. Well, actually, we hadn't been putting off entirely because I'd been doing research online and in books for months. But when it came to actually sitting down and writing out the ceremony, we were both clueless. Plus, I'm the closest thing either of us comes to a writer. I read a lot and I'm an English major, so I know reading quite well. Mr. FP on the other hand, try as he might, had no idea what he was doing when it came to the ceremony. We both knew we wanted something non-traditional and something that really spoke to the important things in our relationship.
Other than that though, we were lost. Which is why I wish Meg had posted that article long before she did, because it would have saved us from our confusion.
Thankfully, we ended up figuring out the process. Slowly, but surely.
I started by opening the ridiculously large file of ceremony scripts that I'd saved to my computer. Thanks to bloggers like Sara at 2000dollarwedding and Cupcake Wedding, I had plenty of scripts. After reading over them all, I was able to immediately eliminate entire scripts and was left with about half the amount I started with.
From there, I started to break each one down. From the beginning, we knew we wanted certain things: welcoming words, readings, vows, ring exchange and closing words. Similarly, we knew what we didn't want: opening prayer, candle ceremony. (Ultimately, we also ended up adding a charge of marriage or declaration of intent to the ceremony as well.)
So I took all the viable options for these ceremony "categories" and printed them off in sections. When I was all done, I went over them with Mr. FP. Let me tell you, this method was an overwhelming success. Being able to decide what we liked for gathering words or the ring exchange instead of reading an entire ceremony and declaring that we either liked or hated it was a huge help. For months, I'd been reading entire ceremonies but I could never quite isolate what I liked and what I didn't. That kind of method never worked for me.
Plus, our "category" method worked great for Mr. FP as well because he is the type of person who is better at making decisions about small details rather than the big picture. He's not one for articulating how he feels in any great detail, so this worked out great for us.
We quickly picked welcoming words, moved on to the vows etc.; each time with the same method. And although the research was months in the making, our ceremony ended up being created within an hour. Mr. FP was shocked how quickly it went. Apparently, he was expecting something much more painful. And to be honest, so was I. I never thought we'd be able to sit down and have our ceremony completed within one afternoon.
Breaking it down into categories most certainly ended up being our saving grace and I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking to write their own ceremony. Looking back, I realize what an overwhelming experience writing your own ceremony can be. I mean, after all, what couple out there wants to be responsible for their ceremony sucking? Certainly not us.
But I'm eternally grateful that we chose to write our own ceremony. I cried dozens of time while we moulded the research into our ceremony and reading our finished script makes me cry every time. That kind of reaction lets me know we've got a winner.