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Tuesday

Ceremony length - can a ceremony be TOO short?

When we're planning a ceremony, we frequently encounter couples who insist on "bare bones" - they usually say "we're shy", or "we don't like fuss", or "we don't like public speaking". Of course we try and follow the couples wishes, and create a ceremony that they want. We have 'bare bones' ceremonies you can use, and we can design a very simple, quick ceremony for you. I have also timed out how fast a ceremony goes, just so you can get an idea.

However, I often get a comment that "the ceremony went by just too fast". I'm not surprised. When you're trying to AVOID those long weddings you've been at where the talking is interminable, it seems like a good idea to cut everything but the essentials - 'do you?, yep,I do', then 'take this ring, I pronounce, kiss, hello new couple, and let's open the wine...'

However, here is a post from other bridal blog, where the bride discusses her surprise that wedding may have been 'too short', and it lacked the involvement of the people who had been invited:

Something that really surprised me about our wedding, is that the ceremony went by waaaaay too fast. This is because it was short-short-short. Intentionally. Ben and I are not terribly sentimental people. We find that our love and commitment is expressed on a daily basis, and while it was important to us to make this commitment in the eyes of our community of friends and family, we did not want it to be a big production. Short and sweet and on to the party pu-lease. BUT, I found that because it went by so fast, it was hard to take it in. I did not have time to look out at the faces of my guests, of our families and take in these little joys. [I was too busy crying like a baby and trying to get through my vows!] I suppose some sort of audience [is that the right word?] interaction part of the ceremony might have helped that."

We often suggest that the ideal length for an informal, stand-up small wedding is about 16-18 minutes. That includes the introduction and welcome, a reading or two (lighthearted and simple), a mention of those present and those who could not be there, and usually, an offer for the guests to support the couple and wish them well. In fact, this sequence often takes the place of giving away which is an antiquated tradition.

Even if your wedding is small and informal, it's still your MARRIAGE ceremony. Take a moment, and think about what you would like. Your officiant will be able to take care of the writing and speaking, so you really don't have to memorize anything or do any public talking that is difficult. But consider what you would like to say or have said, who you would like to mention, how to include any friends or family in your brief ceremony (presenting the rings? reading a short passage or letter from an absent guest? holding your rings to 'warm them with their love' before presenting them? offering a short musical piece, either a cappella singing or instrumental, signing the license and marriage certificate as part of the ceremony, etc.). You can always edit the ceremony BACK, but you can't extend it once you're set - and give yourself time to breathe and focus and enjoy the ceremony and make it meaningful to YOU as well as to your guests. That's what it's all about.