Can the bride select who walks her down the aisle?
Yes. Traditionally, the father of the bride escorts his daughter down the aisle. However, sometimes the father has passed away or for another reason it is deemed more appropriate to have another person escort the bride down the aisle. Some brides prefer to be escorted by both parents. This is a very personal decision that is entirely up to the bride.
Can toddlers act as ring bearers and flower girls?
Yes. However, be aware that they are small children. They may zigzag down the aisle, pause and effectively stop the bridal procession. They may also become frightened or frustrated and begin to cry loudly.
If you intend to use small children as part of your wedding procession, I would urge you to consider having an adult, who the child knows and trusts, walk with them down the aisle. It would also be prudent to have children sit with their parents/grandparents for the wedding ceremony.
If the ring bearer is a small child, I would suggest that a gold/silver-plated ring be tied onto the ring bearer pillow and have the actual rings in the possession of the Best Man or Maid of Honor.
Do you provide your own amplification equipment for the wedding?
No. Typically this is either provided by the venue, or by your sound technicians/musicians. Even if you have a small number of guests, I strongly recommend that you request an amplification system. Background noises, e.g. wind, surf, passing aircraft/helicopters, traffic, can distract or overpower a human voice. Older people, e.g. grandparents, often have difficulty hearing clearly over these background noises.
How many bridesmaids/groomsmen should we select for our wedding?
Consider your wedding ring. Is it a Tiffany solitaire, or a baroque setting? There are essentially two schools of thought on this subject; 1) Less is more, I want the attention focused on the bride and groom; and 2) More is more, I want an extremely formal and ornate ceremony.
While there are no absolute or “correct” answers to this question, there are some general practical considerations:
1 What is the physical size of your venue and the area where the bride and groom will be positioned for the wedding? You want to avoid a crowded feel/appearance that may also have the undesirable effect of creating a human wall between you and your guests.
2 You also want to avoid having a disproportionate ratio of attendants to guests. I would suggest a Maid of Honor, a Best Man and one set of attendants (bridesmaid & groomsman) per 50 invited guests. Ultimately, this is a matter of personal taste and the physical limitations of your venue.
Do we need a rehearsal?
If you have a very small wedding party, e.g. two groomsmen and two bridesmaids, then a rehearsal is probably unnecessary. If you have a larger number of people in your wedding party, then it is probably prudent to have a rehearsal.
If I need a rehearsal, when should I reserve the date and time with the venue for the rehearsal?
NOW, do not wait! I encourage you to contact your wedding venue IMMEDIATELY to reserve your rehearsal date and time. Rehearsals are usually booked on a "First come, First served" basis. Ask for the name and contact information of the person who will conduct your rehearsal and share this contact information with your wedding coordinator (if you have one).
Several other couples are likely being married at your venue on your weekend. If you delay booking your rehearsal another couple may reserve the date and time you desire.
Many venues will let you book rehearsals on Mondays through Thursdays at no additional charge. Many venues charge for rehearsals on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, since they book other events on those high usage days.
The sooner you inform members of your wedding party of the rehearsal’s date and time, the higher their attendance will be for your rehearsal. Remember: Many of these people have to make travel arrangements and possibly ask for time off of work to attend your rehearsal.
There are essentially three reasons to hold a rehearsal:
1) Typically both the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony are held at the same location. Having all the bridesmaids and groomsmen find their way to that location the evening of the rehearsal ensures that they will know how to get there the day of the wedding. Better that someone should be an hour late for the rehearsal and not for your wedding.
2) The second purpose of a rehearsal is to assure that everyone knows exactly where and when to meet, how and when to walk in, where to stand, when and how to walk out at the end of the wedding.
3) Traditionally, the couple host a casual dinner after the rehearsal for bridesmaids and groomsmen. This creates an opportunity for members of the wedding party who do not know each other, to meet and socialize prior to the wedding day. It is customary for the couple to give small gifts to members of their bridal party at the rehearsal dinner. Plan for the dinner about one hour after the start of the rehearsal.
Due to Southern California traffic, it is usually wise to plan your rehearsal later in the evening (e.g. 6:30 PM), so that members of the wedding party have sufficient driving time to commute from work to the location of the rehearsal.
Who conducts the rehearsal?
99% of the time, the rehearsal is conducted by a venue coordinator. She/he will work with your wedding coordinator (if you have one) to ensure that your wedding ceremony flows smoothly and conforms to the policies set by your venue.
What does the rehearsal consist of?
The venue coordinator will line up your entire wedding party, in their correct order, at the sanctuary area. This is where you will be standing for your exchange of vows. She/he will then have you practice your recessional (walking out). She/he will then have you practice your processional (walking in). This is the most complicated part of the wedding ceremony for you and your wedding party.
Will the priest be present for the rehearsal?
No. It would be superfluous for me to be present, since the venue coordinator will conduct the rehearsal. Once you reach the altar area on your wedding day, I will prompt you through the wedding ceremony.
Who should attend the rehearsal?
I recommend that you only invite members of your wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen) to the rehearsal. The rehearsal dinner is very casual and usually takes on the tenor of "a roast." Remember, you will have a formal reception luncheon/dinner immediately following your wedding ceremony for family, relatives and friends.
Attire and Memories
Remember when you were a small child and you went into your grandmother’s bedroom and saw a photograph of her in her wedding gown and your grandfather standing next to her? The photographs you have taken on your wedding day will be passed on to your children, grand children, great grandchildren and countless family members and friends. In this Internet age, they will probably be posted onto Facebook before you leave the reception.
“What clothing styles work best for the groomsmen/bridal party?”
1 If you are not sure, consider selecting a “classic” and understated style that is timeless. Avant-garde fashion may seem very smart this season; however, ten years from now they may be reduced to a Halloween costume.
2 Select styles of clothing appropriate for the time of day at which your wedding is scheduled. Late morning/early afternoon wear, or evening wear.
3 Select clothing in sizes that fit and are comfortable. Coco Channel once quipped, “If it is not comfortable, it is not luxury.” Few things are more uncomfortable and unflattering than clothing that is too small, or that is ill-fitting.
Photography and Videographers
Immediately after the wedding ceremony, the photographer will take photos of the newly married couple, parents, and wedding party members. This typically takes about fifty minutes. Most couples have their guests escorted to a cocktail party where hors d’oeuvres and refreshments are served, while the couple is being photographed. The couple and wedding party typically rejoin their guests afterward and then proceed to the reception.
Some couples prefer to take their photographs prior to the wedding ceremony, so that they may join their guests immediately following the wedding.
Natural and candid shots capture the soul of the subject in an irreproducible moment that “staged” photographs can never accomplish. A good photographer/videographer will be “invisible” and unobtrusive during your wedding ceremony, precisely because they want to capture those moments on film. A professional photographer or videographer will never interrupt your wedding ceremony with stage directions.
Take a “day off” the week of your wedding
The week of the wedding is very hectic for most couples. Invariably, something does not go according to plan. Friends and relatives who you have not seen in years come into town. There are thousands of things to do and sometimes differences of opinions, on “the best way” to do certain things, can turn into arguments.
Plan a day for the two of you to get away from it all. Make a romantic date, go to the beach, your favorite restaurant, a play, have fun together. This will give you both a much-needed break from all of the logistics and serve to remind you why you decided to marry each other and what your wedding is really all about.
Your Marriage Vows
There are essentially three formats for the vows.
1 The traditional question and answer format. “Do you ‘X’ take ‘Y’ for your spouse, etc…?” You respond, “I do.” This a popular format for the vows, because it is the most simple.
2 This is a variant on the traditional question and answer format in which the couple each repeats all of the lines in the traditional vows directly to each other. “I take you ‘X’ as my husband/wife, etc…”
3 You compose your own heartfelt vows and exchange them with your fiancé/fiancée before your family and friends. This is arguably the most romantic and intimate form of exchanging marriage vows.
Suggestion: Have your vows printed in a beautiful script on high quality parchment and have them professionally matted and framed.
A respectful suggestion: Ask your fiancé/fiancée their preference regarding the various formats for your exchange of vows. Select a format that you will both enjoy as a couple.
How do we obtain Permits for a Beach Wedding?
California has a beautiful coastline and beaches that have appeared in countless movies. A wedding on the beach offers a casual romantic atmosphere and setting for your wedding.
Great Officiants specializes in helping you obtain the required permits from the various Counties and Municipalities for weddings on their beaches. She can also arrange for chairs, canopies, amplification equipment, tables, flowers, leis, decor and other items you request.
You may telephone Great Officiants at: 562.435.4000
Is a Pre-Marital Counseling Session required?
No. However I have arranged a complimentary thirty minute Pre-Marital counseling session for you with Dr. James Walton. Dr. Walton is licensed by the State of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Ranges of subjects that are typically considered include, communication, finances, sexuality, in-laws, pre-marital anxieties, children and blending families. Please see the "Resources" section of the "Journal" page for additional information.
Drinking prior to your Wedding Ceremony
Your wedding day is a highly emotional day, some people feel anxious because they are uncomfortable being the center of public attention. Having a drink to “take the edge off” may sound like a reasonable coping mechanism to deal with your anxiety.
However, your Marriage Vows constitute a legal contract. As with all contracts, anything that impairs your judgment casts a cloud on your freedom to enter into a legally binding contract and may; therefore, affect the validity of the contract itself. You both must be sober when you publicly exchange your vows.
If you feel anxious or highly stressed about “stage fright” you may wish to utilize your thirty-minute session with Dr. Walton to explore relaxation techniques.
What documents do I need to bring with me on my wedding day?
1 Your Marriage License and the envelope given to you by the County with their mailing address imprinted on its face.
2 If you have a “Public” Marriage License, your two adult witnesses will need to present valid legal identification, e.g. a Driver’s License.
Spanish Language and Bilingual Wedding Celebrations
"I have family members who only speak Spanish, but most of my guests only speak English. How can I make everyone feel comfortable and welcome at our wedding ceremony?"
I am perfectly fluent in Spanish and would be happy to officiate your wedding in English, Spanish, a Bilingual English/Spanish, or a Bilingual Spanish/English ceremony. There are three criteria for the selection of a language for your ceremony:
- Both of you should be able to understand and feel comfortable in whatever language you select for your wedding. Your Marriage Vows constitute a verbal legal contract. This means that you must be able to form and give consent to the contract into which you are both entering. This is, first and foremost, your wedding.
- If you opt for a Bilingual ceremony do not fall into the trap of repeating everything in both languages. This will double the length of the wedding. Imagine going to a movie in which every sentence is repeated in two languages, after about 5 minutes you would become frustrated and bored. I recommend that you select a primary and a secondary language for a Bilingual wedding ceremony.
- What is the language that the majority of your guests understand? Chose that language as your primary language.
Here are some additional tips that will help you to make your guests feel welcome at your wedding:
- Have wedding programs printed in both languages. You could have English language programs printed in a soft blue jacket and Spanish language programs printed in a light rose jacket. Place these in baskets next to the Guest Register on the table at the entrance foyer.
- Music is a great way of incorporating both language and culture into your wedding celebration.
During our planning session we can discuss this in greater detail, so that your wedding celebration makes all your family and guests feel welcome.
Please click the video below for a more detailed Spanish language discussion of this subject: