The Magic Art of Writing a Wedding Ceremony

The Magic Art of Writing a Wedding Ceremony

by Lorraine Wright, Marriage Celebrant

© 2019 Lorraine Wright, The Wright Celebrant

Lorraine Wright wearing a cerise Portmans sleeveless dress sitting at a wooden picnic table in a garden surrounded by pink Bougainvillea flowers holding an ipad and pen and smiling at the camera
Lorraine Wright, Brisbane Wedding Celebrant. Image by Natarsha March.

When I’m writing a wedding ceremony, inspiration is everything. And I take that inspiration from my clients; the two ‘lovebirds’ I’m working for in that moment. My couples put their trust in me, and I want to live up to that trust, every time.

So my process is very much about focusing on them – the conversations and laughs we’ve had together, the anecdotes they’ve shared with me, and the heartfelt, hilarious and sometimes surprising things they’ve written in their Couple’s Questionnaire. All of these avenues combine to give me great insight into who they are as individuals, and as a couple.

Then, with those two wonderful people ‘front and centre’ in my mind, I start to craft their script. And it’s all about creating the right atmosphere or feeling… or to quote the classic Aussie film, ‘The Castle’… “It’s the vibe.”

A great ceremony has a rhythm all its own; an ebb and flow, with moments of sincere, sometimes intense emotion giving way to laughter, and even occasional tears… like the best kind of roller coaster. And don’t be surprised if the ones shedding a tear are those who least expected to! It happens… and it’s all good. The laughter and tears show that people are feeling something, and that’s what we want!

bride wearing a white veil looking down while groom looks lovingly down at her
Kate and Gerry – a beautiful moment captured by New Black Studios.

An important part of my role as a marriage celebrant is to help create an amazing experience for everyone who has come together to share in the event, and to set the tone for the rest of the wedding day, so that ultimately, my clients feel that theirs was the best wedding they have ever been to. That’s the goal, every time.

One of my favourite tricks for creating an authentic, conversational ceremony script is to say it out loud; try it again a few different ways; then write it down. By testing it out, my choice of words and phrases, the tone and inflection, the smallestnuances all work toward making that script tell a great story.

I absolutely love the Voice Memos app on my phone – it’s a great way to get ideas down while they’re fresh in my mind. If I’ve just met a couple for the first time, or am coming away from our ceremony planning meeting, I’ll often record notes to myself as a prompt for later on when I’m writing. It’s a great way to keep track of some of the special tidbits couples tell me, without having to write down every word while I’m sitting in front of them. Sometimes those memos slide perfectly into their script. What better way to inject their ceremony with their own words!

So there you have it… a few little insights into the “method in my madness” for writing completely customised, personal wedding ceremonies.

For more information about my marriage ceremony services, click here, or contact me.

Lorraine Wright wearing a dusky pink top standing behind a white counter holding a pink coffee mug in a neutral kitchen with pale pink flowers and a fruit bowl in the background and a plate of cookies on the bench
Lorraine Wright, Wedding Celebrant. Image by Natarsha March.

Hot tips for keeping cool on a hot wedding day

by Lorraine Wright – The Wright Celebrant

I’ve put together my top tips, plus some from a few other fab wedding professionals, to help you ‘keep calm and get married’ on a stinking hot day.

These ideas come from my experience as a celebrant, but also from personal experience, as my hubby and I chose late January for our wedding, and survived – hair, makeup and (arguably) sanity intact. So here goes, in no particular order…

Stay hydrated

  • It probably goes without saying, but drinking plenty of water is a big deal on a hot day. It will keep you from feeling faint or headachy, help you concentrate and be present in the moment as you say ‘I Do’, and it’s a must before cracking open the bubbly later on.
  • Pop some half-filled bottles of water into the freezer the night before, then on the day, fill them up with water and take with you. You’ve got yourself a chilly drink and a cool-pack for the back of your neck, all in one. 
  • Prepare them for each member of the bridal party. Or better still – put one of them in charge, so that’s one less thing on your list.
  • And “Don’t forget to have plenty of water on hand for your post-ceremony photo shoot, to keep you fresh, fabulous and photo-ready”, advises wedding photographer extraordinaire, Lee Burgess of Life and Love Photography. Add to that some umbrellas for the bridal party, and you’re good to go.

Eat something

  • The same goes for having a bite to eat. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the beautifying, zhooshing and photographing that you totally forget to eat before the wedding.
  • Big mistake! No-one wants to be ‘hangry’ on their wedding day, so do yourself a favour… feed your body so you can still be merry later on. 

Set up for success

  • If you’re getting married in the hotter months, plan your ceremony for late afternoon. The heat can be pretty brutal at 3pm! 
  • Lee Burgess of Life and Love Photography suggests around 2.5 hours before sunset as the perfect time to tie the knot.
  • Choose a shady spot for the ceremony, and arrange the aisle and seating so that no-one is facing directly towards the sun. That goes for the wedding party and the guests.
  • Don’t be ‘fashionably late’ on a hot day, as your guests will be languishing in the heat waiting for you. Not cool.
  • White umbrellas for the wedding party and VIP guests are equally fab in the hot sun, and in a summer shower of rain. You can hire or buy them quite cost-effectively.
  • Here’s a seriously useful tip. Ask for the guests’ chairs to be set up a few extra inches apart, rather than right up against each other. Give your people some personal space. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than being jammed shoulder-to-shoulder and thigh-to-thigh on a hot day. Not only will this make a big difference to your guests’ enjoyment of your ceremony, it gives them more latitude (literally) to pop up an umbrella if they need to.
  • Have cold water and little fans available for your guests. The fans make a lovely, practical wedding favour.
  • Mozzie repellent is also a great thing (in some locations, an essential thing) to have on hand.
  • Did I mention, don’t be fashionably late?
Set up for success
Image by Life and Love Photography

BYO hand towel

  • Especially awesome if you are decked out in a suit, or a heavy dress with lots of fabric or gorgeous beading.
  • Just before the ceremony, grab your towel and dab your forehead, upper lip (taking great care not to spoil all that zhooshing), your neck, arms and hands – and don’t forget that ring finger!
  • Even better than a regular hand towel would be one of those new chiller towels – pop it in water, wring it out so it won’t drip, then give it a few quick flicks and hey presto – a reaction causes the towel to chill down. Magic on a hot day. (My kids swear by these on hot sports days.)

Advice your grandpa would give you

  • Guys – wear a singlet! An extra layer on a hot day might sound counter-intuitive, but it works. Rather than your shirt clinging uncomfortably and showing nasty sweat marks, a singlet will soak it up and help cool you off. So grab yourself a Chesty Bonds, fellas!
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. Even if your ceremony is going to be in the shade, you’ll probably be in and out of the sun for photos and mingling with guests throughout the day. You don’t want to rock up to your reception (or heaven forbid, your honeymoon) with a dose of sunburn.
  • While you wait for the ceremony to begin, stay cool by hanging your jackets over the back of a chair until the last minute.
  • Chill out in a shady spot (or air-conditioning) if you can. I’ve even had to step inside a catering cooler van to bring my core temp down between ceremonies while filming Nine’s ‘The Last Resort’ at Mission Beach. That was some intense heat!

    Nine Network

Wiggle it, just a little bit

  • If you do start to feel a bit faint or whoozy during your ceremony, wriggle your toes and squeeze your calf muscles a few times. No-one will know you’re doing it, and it can be enough to get the blood moving and stave off a fainting episode.
  • If that doesn’t do the trick, don’t be afraid to ask for a drink of water or a moment to sit with your head down – infinitely preferable to collapsing in an unceremonious heap! (If you need convincing or just want a chuckle, check out ‘fainting at weddings’ on YouTube.)

Cool tech

  • If you’re using a phone or tablet to play music for your ceremony, make sure it’s not sitting in full sun as most devices are programmed to shut down when they overheat. And regardless of the weather, have a back up plan, with your playlist ready to go on another device.

Style it up

Image by The Tsudons
  • If you have long locks, hair and beauty expert Sarah Thong recommends an up-do that will go the distance, as heat and humidity can make long tresses frizzy or flat, messy and clingy.
  • Using a hair ‘donut’ may help to offload the weight of hairpins, and add support and anchorage for your up-style.
  • Sarah also recommends using a light-hold hairspray during styling to add a beautiful, weightless volume and hold, and finishing off with strong-hold hairspray then a spritz of light shine spray.

Makeup for photo-ready brides…

  • Sarah Thong also shared these tips for longevity of makeup on a hot day:
  • Use face and eye primers as a base. Sarah’s favourites are Hourglass Mineral Veil Face Primer, and NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base.
  • For oily skin – lightly dust some translucent powder on top of the primer, and then apply foundation.
  • Use a hydrating eye cream before applying concealer to prevent creasing.
  • Set the oily areas such as the T-zone with loose powder.
  • Finish with a makeup-setting spray. Sarah’s top pick is Urban Decay All Nighter.
  • Keep your powder and lippie with you for touch ups at photo time.

All-ages gig

Image by Cloud Catcher Studio
  • If you’re having flower girls and page boys in your wedding party, your best chance of achieving that ‘cuteness overload’ factor you’re no doubt going for, is to really consider what’s going to work for them.
  • Be realistic in your expectations of what they need to do (psst. I can help with that); in your choice of outfits for them; and be ready to go with the flow if they back out in the heat of the moment… (no pun intended).
  • Bubbles are an awesome, cheap distraction for little ones during your ceremony, and they will add a magical quality to your photos. (I mean the kind you blow into the air, of course; not the kind you ‘clink’… at this stage, at least!)

Fur babies

  • If your four-legged family members are also joining the festivities, give some lucky person the job of keeping them cool, hydrated and loved. For expert care, talk to Gillian at First Class Pet Wedding Assistants

I hope you’ve found some gems among these ideas to help you be fabulous on your wedding day. Stay cool!

Image by Life and Love Photography