The wedding ceremony is obviously a very important part of your wedding day - without it you'd just be organising a very big and very expensive party! But aside from the ritual and the religious or legal aspects of the wedding ceremony, there is definitely an aesthetic element and it is important to bear this in mind when planning your wedding day. You want your ceremony to be memorable, special, and symbolic of your love and relationship. It should be moving and heartfelt, both beautiful to witness and fabulous to be part of! From a photography perspective you also want your wedding ceremony to be visually interesting, allowing your photographer to capture the moments. Like a lot of decisions with wedding planning, you have a great range of options and styles to consider.
Outdoor weddings are a blank canvas for how the ceremony can look, and while you have plenty of options it can also be hard to get your vision exactly right! We recommend to start with a great location (see our article here), then work on what colours, decorations, and any extras you would like to add. It can be best to keep it simple, to go for colours that match your overall wedding scheme. Think about what weddings you have recently been to and what you did or didn't like about their ceremony. Also, try to add something that is uniquely you, whether it's a special reading, a moving story about how your relationship began, or simply a blessing from your parents and friends. And don't forget to include the vista or location that you have chosen!
If you are having a church wedding then the general setting is probably already established for you, but don't be afraid to add your personal touches like flowers on the end of church pews, flowers or bubbles as you leave the church, or special readings that can be done by close friends or family. Check out the church a week or so before your day and see if there is anything distracting where the ceremony will happen. Sometimes churches will have whiteboards or screens for hymns so make sure these are going to be cleared away! Also check whether you can have confetti, rice, or flowers thrown inside or outside the church - some places are very strict on this but it can make for a lovely photo.
Other things to consider:
At some stage in the wedding ceremony you will have to sign the official documents that relate to marriage in Australia. This is usually arranged by the church for a church based wedding, but outdoors it might be your or the celebrants' responsibility. Sometimes the table and chairs can be quite disastrous looking so it pays to check with your church or celebrant as to what they will provide on the day. Aim for a simple table, a nice plain table cloth (eg white) and decorations that wont be at odds with your colour scheme.
Formal photos include shots with family, friends, and a large group photo of everyone at the wedding ceremony. You don't need to get clever with these photos, we recommend some simple and well taken shots that serve as an accurate (if somewhat boring!) record of who was there on the day. Save the creative and dramatic shots for later with the bridal party!
At church based weddings there is usually somewhere outside that can be used for the formal family and group photos. Check with your photographer for ideas on this, but curtains, plain walls, and even candles can provide good backdrops at churches. The photographer will usually want to take the shots outside as indoors will be too dark. Try to avoid mirrors and other bright or reflective surfaces!
For outdoor weddings aim to keep it simple and try to avoid getting too much scenery in the backdrop, as the formal photos are more about who not where! Again check with your photographer for ideas on good locations. We recommend choosing somewhere close by as elderly family members wont be very quick to move or may find even a short walk difficult.
Indoor and church weddings rarely suffer from noise (aside from crying children!) but if you are having an outdoor wedding be aware of what noise might impact upon your ceremony. Traffic noise, water falls, passerby's, sports, and heavy surf etc can often spoil
the ceremony, especially if you are having a videographer. The sound of the sea is beautiful but not if it drowns out what is being said during the wedding vows! Some noises can often be louder than
you think, making it hard to hear, so plan carefully for this.
Even on a calm and quiet day it can be difficult for everyone at the ceremony to hear what is being said. There's no point writing beautiful and heartfelt vows if no-one can hear them! Check with your celebrant to see if they have a portable microphone system that will allow everyone to hear. At the same time, ensure your ceremony area allows guests to gather close enough as this will help create a good atmosphere.
When planning an outdoor wedding location try to avoid pathways and areas in parks or other public places where passing
people may stop and talk/stare or children may play/ride bikes etc. If you do, aim to have a guest prepared to 'control' these occurrences so that it wont affect your ceremony. It might surprise you to know that many people will stop and look, sometimes even take photos! If this isn't what you want then it pays to ensure you have someone to take care of matters.....nicely!
It seems like a simple thing, but does everyone know how to get to the ceremony venue?! You'd be surprised at those people who wont read your invite, wont check before the day, or will arrive late (halfway through your walk down the aisle!) to the wedding. So spell it out and make sure everyone has a good idea of where the ceremony will be held. Include a map in the invitation, or even send a Google Maps link in an email.
If you are having your wedding on a remote headland location you should consider how people that are disabled or elderly will be able to make the trip! Ushers or other family could help with this, and make sure you have seating
for these people too.
If you are outdoors for your ceremony you need to plan for rain, excessive wind, or other bad weather (see our article here for wet weather wedding tips!). A backup ceremony venue might not be ideal but neither is getting your dress and hair drenched!! The standard backup venue is your reception venue, but be sure to ok this with them well in advance as some places (especially restaurants) will be busy for the time of your ceremony. It is suggested that celebrant
and groom meet at the agreed location and make a firm decision at least an hour before the ceremony start time, or earlier if it looks really bad. If you do decide to risk wet weather and it rains, just enjoy and try to have a laugh....apparently it's good luck anyway!