How to Plan a Wedding

Ceremony Costs

There are several standard fees associated with the wedding ceremony. The following areas are all considered normal add-on fees and should be included in the budget. In the end, all of these additional fees add value to your ceremony.

  • Officiant: This is the person who actually performs the ceremony, legally pronouncing you husband and wife. The officiant may be a religious leader at the church, synagogue, or temple where you will hold your ceremony; a religious leader invited to your ceremony site from another church, synagogue, or temple; or a judge or justice. Whoever the person is, there will be a fee (or donation) for the service. Be sure to provide a schedule to the officiant so he or she knows exactly what you have planned for the ceremony.
  • Site fee: There are often additional fees beyond the building in which you hold the ceremony. These are generally for decorative items used to set up the site to your liking or items associated with religious traditions. Some of the add-on fees may include an aisle runner, candelabras and candles (if permitted), the altar or chuppah, knee cushions, canopy, and chairs (if necessary in addition to the pews).
  • Special services: Certain services outside the jurisdiction of your officiant or site manager include cleanup services, parking services, setup services, or tear-down services. These normally have an additional fee.

Wedding Vows

There was a time when the wedding vows were more or less set in stone. Those days, however, are gone. And while that's good news for those who are looking for another way to express their love, it also means one more thing for the bride and groom to worry about. Here are your choices:

  • Traditional vows: If you are having a religious ceremony with traditional vows, there is still room for input. Read through the customary vows to make sure you find nothing contradictory with your beliefs, such as things that you think are outdated or sexist. Consider inserting special readings or poems. Sometimes family and friends are invited to read scriptures or poetry.
  • Self-written vows: Many brides and grooms write their own vows. A few suggestions are to acknowledge the guests and the importance of their presence; explain the qualities you most love about your future spouse or tell your hopes for the future.

The Receiving Line

The receiving line is a special chance for guests to officially meet the bride's and groom's families, as well as an opportunity to personally congratulate the newlyweds. This line is usually formed directly after the ceremony, with guests offering their congratulations as they move on to the reception. It can also be formed so that guests arriving at the reception must first pass through the line. It's perfectly fine to keep conversation brief (yet still somewhat personal).