Top Tips for a Stress-Free Ceremony!

It’s the biggest day of your life; you have been planning it for months and thinking of nothing else for even longer than that. But as well as the biggest day it can be a very stressful one if you aren’t careful. Here are some things to consider if you want to spend more of your wedding day enjoying yourself and less of it getting worked up.

Communicate! Picture the scene: At a ceremony, I am going through the last minute instructions prior to the entrance of the bride. She is clutching her carefully written, heartfelt personal vows on beautiful stationary coordinated to her wedding theme. She asks me to check that her groom is happy to go first as she is nervous. On asking him this I am greeted with a look of horror as he mutters I thought we weren’t doing our own vows anymore? Oh dear.

This scenario could have been so easily avoided with a little last minute checklist and a proper discussion between both parties on how they envision their ceremony and celebrations. In many partnerships there will inevitably be one party who is taking the driving seat on the preparations (and increasingly this is the boys, bridezillas take note!) but that doesn’t mean the other partner should sit back and take the attittude of ” I just need to turn up.” It’s always a good idea to sit down and discuss (and hopefully agree!) on all aspects of the day and confirm them again the day before.  A good celebrant will ensure the ceremony goes smoothly with a rehearsal before the big day to make sure everyone is on the same page. This is also where a good best man and bridesmaid come in so useful, entrust them with these details too.

In case you were wondering, my hapless groom rose to the occasion with an improvised, spirited declaration of love and devotion and his bride was delighted. Phew.

Too many cooks. Mothers of the bride take note! This of course does go hand-in-hand with good communication but the more people involved in the execution of the day, the more chance of conflicting agendas. Keep the chain of command short, I recommend delegating to as few people as possible to avoid confusion. So choose your best man and chief bridesmaid carefully and make them your drill sergeants for the day!

Timings.  DO NOT make the mistake of assuming just because you have hired a venue for the day you can relax on timings for the ceremony. If you are combining your legal ceremony with your celebrant’s ceremony on the same day you will need to ensure you liaise with both the registrar and celebrant to confirm timings. While the celebrant will probably only be concerned with your ceremony on the day and will not be in a rush it could be a very different story with the registrar. Obviously you have booked a celebrant because their ceremony will be the main focus of the day but if you want to be legally married you will need to ensure you keep to the timings set by the registrar. Get the legal part done then relax and enjoy your wonderful (hopefully me!)celebrant’s work.

Children. This is an oft-debated topic and an emotive subject. First of all decide are you allowing kids to your wedding or not? If you are, then try not to place too many rules and regulations on your guests with kids, chances are they will be frazzled enough getting to your wedding without then having to negotiate a list of rules and regulations that wouldn’t look out of place at the latest G8 Conference. “Children welcome at drinks reception but not the main meal” Seriously?! Unfortunately it may be your special day but if your guests aren’t happy with arrangements that may impact on your enjoyment too.

If budget allows, perhaps consider one of the nannying businesses that cater for events such as weddings. This is a great idea that gives parents peace of mind and allows everyone to let their hair down too. I met the lovely Alex Zetter recently from who offers childcare for wedding ceremonies. Do check out her site.

Now, as the ceremony is my particular baby (no pun intended) please dear parent consider this: The ceremony is perhaps one of the briefest parts of the day but is the reason everyone is there and cannot be done again. So please try and remember this if your little one gets restless or noisy. Noone wants to miss the rings or the “I do” moment but it really is spoiled if all you hear is a screaming child. It is perfectly acceptable to leave a ceremony for a few minutes then come back in when the crying has stopped. Most venues will have other rooms to use or, hopefully you have the brillliant nanny service instead and this isnt a problem! Use of common sense is great too! Don’t bring little Oscar’s noisiest toy in to the ceremony and if he wants to bang the window or furniture loudly whilst the ceremony is in full flow please remove him from his makeshift drums not help him do it. Yes, this has happened to me!

Brides and grooms  you can help here by requesting your wishes (in a breezy diplomatic way of course) on the order of service.

Don’t overplan! This may seem an odd thing to say especially if you are undertaking your wedding day with military precision, making excel spreadsheets your new best friend and driving your loved ones to distraction with an endless list of, well, lists.

The trick is to  try and let go a little. All the planning in the world will not allow for  guests running late, a car breaking down or your flower girl getting sick at the last minute. Planning every last element of your day down to the minute ( yes this does happen I have been privy to many a minute by minute timeline) will lead to frustration when these plans have to change. Some things will be out of your control, if you accept this early on you will be able to enjoy yourself a lot more.

I have married couples that seem so worried about every little detail being exactly how they wanted that they almost forget the reason for being there.  They aren’t in the moment savouring the commitment they are making and celebrating their love. This is just wrong!

On your big day some things may not go exactly according to plan but if at the end of it you have married the one you love, witnessed by everyone you hold dear and laughed and loved and celebrated through the night then does it really matter if a few small things went awry along the way?…