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Tag: ceremony inspiration

Today is awesome. Can I tell you why today is a great day? 100 days, ladies and gents. 100 short days until I get to marry my Beau. Proposals from my vendors are about to be sent, details have been selected, and lots of decisions are being made daily – things are getting real, and just plain good. I believe in celebrations of all shapes and sizes, and what better way to celebrate the 100 day mark than with my final #merefoundherbeau post? You’ve met my handsome groom, read the proposal (what a sweetheart), seen our lovely venue, got a sneak look at what we’ll be wearing, and peeked at our wedding’s décor and style, but let me tell you, I’ve saved the best (and most important) details for last – our ceremony.

Since my planner and I are still working through a few things, our wedding day timeline hasn’t been completely nailed down, but we have a great outline. When I originally pictured the time for our wedding, I assumed it would take place around 6 or 7 o’clock, but Shelby clued me in to a few details that have changed my perspective. Since I know it will be toasty outside at our July wedding, I jumped to the conclusion that we should get married later in the day, allowing festivities to be a bit cooler. While that’s true, Shelby helped me to see that we would need a full hour cocktail hour (to allow time for our indoor space to be prepped), plus enough time to squeeze in eating and dancing before our venue’s 10 o’clock curfew. Taking that into account, our timeline is looking something like this at the moment:

— Our ceremony will begin at 5:30pm and will last about 30-45 minutes.
— Our cocktail hour will last about an hour, allowing enough time for indoor set-up. Beau and I will also use this time to sneak away and get some amazing sunset photos on the beach (excited about this one!).
— Dinner will be served around 7, with dancing and fun lasting until about 10 or 11.

It’s still in the works, but it’s a start! Another fun detail that Beau and I are trying to decide on is the first look. There are a few pros and cons that we’re taking into consideration:

Two of our favorite first looks: from Lindsey and Adam (by Brett Heidebrecht) and Ali and Austin (by Jennefer Wilson)

The pros:
— Beau and I will most likely have built up some serious butterflies and (good) nerves throughout the day, so a moment to slow down and pray together pre-ceremony might be just what we need.
— We are both kind of crybabies (sorry, Beau). If we saw each other before the ceremony, maybe we could get the big tears out of the way, leaving only cute, soft, and gentle happy tears during the ceremony?!
— We would have a more relaxed time with our photographer, possibly getting better pictures of us as a couple – my sister says not getting more portraits of just the two of them is one of her regrets from her wedding day.
— We may be pinched with time to include all of our family pictures post-ceremony, causing us to miss a large part of cocktail hour.

Some cons:
— We might be in for some toasty portraits since the sun will still high in the sky… not great pre-ceremony, right before we head down the aisle!
— Beau is concerned that some of the “oh my goodness, here comes my bride” feeling will be lost if we see each other before.

In past conversations, I’ve been reassured that coming down the aisle is just as exciting whether or not you’ve seen each other beforehand, so I am leaning toward having a first look, but if by some chance our minds were to change, we have such an awesome team of vendors I really think either way would work out perfectly fine!

Ceremony music inspiration from Megan and Aaron (by Chris Isham) and Catherine and Kyle (by Pink Shoe Photography)

Next up is ceremony music! When this topic was brought up, Shelby shared two thoughts on the live vs. recorded question. She noted that the Town Hall is all white and very open, so going the recorded route would be less expensive, but could look messy in the space. We both agreed that live string instruments just sound richer and prettier, and since we already knew we would be having a cocktail hour with live music, we figured it would be worth the money to have string instruments during our ceremony and then to have the same musicians transition into cocktail hour, as well. Our final decision is a little unique, but we think we will like the combination: a violinist, cellist, and a guitarist who is also our family friend from our hometown!

On the other hand, our song selections have been a bit harder to finalize. This is partially due to my indecisiveness, but mostly because of my love for music. I often make up my own songs to accompany whatever I’m doing at the moment, have been told I constantly sway (especially when sitting or getting ready), and honestly, I can’t help but tear up or feel chills run down my spine during an awesome worship song. Give me music over TV playing in the background any day! Trying to take all of this into consideration has made finding the perfect songs difficult, but we set a few guideposts that are helping us along.

I love instrumental music, but traditional with a contemporary twist over straight traditional. We quickly nixed most conventional wedding ceremony songs in favor of something unique, fun, light, and pretty. Some examples of songs I love:
Beach Baby & Stacks by Bon Iver
Your Hand In Mine by Explosions In The Sky
Turning Page (instrumental) by Asleep At Last
A Thousand Years (instrumental) by Christina Perri
You’re Beautiful by Phil Wickham
Come Thou Fount
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

Beautiful Rosemary Beach Town Hall ceremony by Lauren Kinsey

We haven’t made many final decisions on what will play when, but thankfully there is one song that I am positive will be in our ceremony – yay! We have an amazingly talented friend attending our wedding who will be singing “When You Walk Into The Room” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt. The Lord has placed this song on my heart over and over at the perfect moments: the first song that played the morning after I got engaged, and whenever I became overwhelmed with little details, it seems to always pop up on shuffle. Here’s a few of the lyrics:

“We love you, we’ll never stop. We can’t live without you, Jesus.
We love you, and we can’t get enough. All this is for you, Jesus.”

Every time I hear it, I am overwhelmed with the truth that this joy, this love, this union… it is all for Him – and nothing matters more than that. We’re considering using this song during a time of communion and prayer, but nothing has been set in stone. If anyone has any suggestions before we make our final decisions, I’m all ears!

Town Hall portrait by Lauren Kinsey

Beau and I are also hoping to make our ceremony unique through the words spoken at it. For vows, there seem to be three options:

— The bride and groom stick strictly to traditional ceremonial vows
— The bride and groom both individually write their own unique vows.
— The bride and groom start with the traditional vows but tweak them according to their unique relationship.

I think the third option is where Beau and I will end up… like I mentioned, Beau and I are traditional with a dash of contemporary, so that’s how I envision our vows to read as well!

No matter what else happens in the ceremony, one element that always stirs my hear is the message given by the officiant. This might be the portion of our ceremony that thrills my heart the most, so I’m excited to share this special detail with you all. In my opinion, we have the greatest “message giver” of them all: my brother, Michael. We chose him for three reasons:

— First, he is my favorite (and only!) brother, and I love him a lot. On a serious note, I think it’s important for the couple to share a friendship with their pastor, or “pastor” in our case, and Michael certainly fits the bill.
— He and his wife lead by example. They believe in the meaning of marriage, so through putting words to actions, his words may speak louder to guests who know both my brother and Beau and I as a couple.
— He is one of the few people who knows Beau and I as individuals AND also as a couple – when you’re in a long distance relationship, this is (sadly) rare. Knowing our hearts, passions, and desires will help Michael contribute to the power of the message, centering it around God while also making our ceremony unique to us as a pair.

I think he is going to focus his message on Ephesians 5:22-33, but when he asked me if I had any preference on his message, I just told him I trusted his heart for marriage, and that I’ll be happy as long as it gets across God’s vision for marriage and what our hopes as a couple are in this. Most of the specifics I’m asking him to keep concealed – because I want something to be a surprise! :)

Oh goodness, the day of. I am filled with happiness just thinking about the moments we will create and cherish for the rest of our lives on our special day. I have to repeat it once more; I can’t contain myself: 100 days – that’s all! Oh, and not to mention the end of long distance dating forever – praise the Lord!

Since this is the last ‘Mere Found Her Beau’ post, and I’ll be signing off as your SW guest post-er, I’d love to take a moment to say a few thank yous.

First, the lovely ladies of Southern Weddings! I have enjoyed every moment of this fun opportunity to guest post, and am honored you all asked me to write on your lovely blog. Without you all, I’d be without the greatest team of vendors, as well as still searching for the perfect seamstress, accessories, and bridesmaid dresses – your input has been invaluable!

Last but not least, thank you to all of you lovely readers! I’ve loved having you all join me for a bit of our wedding planning journey. Your sweet comments, words, and encouragements were too kind, and exactly what this busy bride needed :) We would love for you to continue to follow along with our wedding fun as the day draws nearer on Instagram or facebook with the hashtag #merefoundherbeau. Happy planning, friends!

Written with love by Southern Weddings
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    Ahhhh, 100 days!! So exciting!! I got chills reading this post and thinking about how beautiful and Christ-centered your ceremony is going to be–everything sounds amazing!

  2. avatar Lauren Kinsey reply

    Meredith, I just love you to bits and pieces! :) happy 100 days and so excited to see you soon!

  3. avatar Erin reply

    Best of luck with the rest of your planning! It’s been a joy to read these posts and to follow along with you on your journey. Enjoy these last 100 days! :)

  4. avatar Emily reply

    I may be a bit biased, but I am partial to “A Thousand Years” as a ceremony choice – that’s what I processed to, played by a string trio, and it was magical :)

  5. avatar Meredith reply

    Hi there! I just wanted to let you know that sunset in Florida in July will probably be around 8:30, so keep that in mind for your sunset pictures and your timeline :-) Yay 100 days! My wedding is in 10 days… wow, time flies!!!!

  6. avatar Parker reply

    I remember the day {last year!} when the countdown reached 100 days — I stayed up until midnight and SQUEALED when I saw 12am!

    If you’re unsure about a first look – my hubby and I did an “almost-first look,” where our planner put me in one room with the door partially closed, and then led him into the hallway where we couldn’t see each other but could still hold hands and pray! I’ll never forget that moment — it was purely magical…to be able to hold his hand, pray, and hear his voice sent chills all through me (in a good way!)! It really brought the calm, peaceful feeling we’d both hoped to have during the wedding.

    I’ve LOVED your posts, Mere! May God bless your wedding and, most importantly, your marriage!

  7. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Lowcountry oyster broil rehearsal dinner. With 100 days to go to her wedding, Meredith shared her ceremony plans! We celebrated Southern Weddings’ birthday with a look back on six wonderful years! […]

  8. avatar Stacy reply

    Hey Meredith and Beau– I found your blog accidentally as I was trying to help our son, Matt, think about wedding gifts for you. We already know Beau through a visit to our home and through his dear friendship with Matt and now we know and love Mere. You had me at “ugly crying.” :)(Not possible.)

    We have shared your posts with Matt’s grandpa who is marking a 54th wedding anniversary next week without his beloved. He (and Alice) so enjoyed meeting Beau (and Matt W) and I know your story is going to bless his heart.

    Your wedding will take place on my birthday. We share a lucky day. (Which means you can go to a 7/11 and get a free slushy. Hmm, maybe next year.) Matt has no excuse to forget your anniversary.

    We wish for you the depth of blessing that sharing every day, every heartache and every joy with your best beau and friend can bring. Thank you for sharing your journey in faith and love with us. (Stacy and Jeff)

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Hello, lovely friends! Today we’ll be chatting about a topic that hasn’t gotten much airtime yet in the Emily Plans a Wedding series, but that is very close to my heart: our wedding ceremony. Despite my radio silence on the subject, it’s the part of our wedding weekend that I’m most looking forward to, and perhaps the part I’m most anxious about. In fact, I’ve got so much to say about the ceremony that I’ll be discussing it in my next post, too!

But let’s start at the beginning! For those of you who weren’t with us back in September, John and I will be saying our vows at the United States Coast Guard Memorial Chapel, on the grounds of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT.

Fingers crossed we get a day just like this!! (Personal photo)

A few reasons why we love the CGA Chapel:

1. The Chapel welcomes visiting clergy, meaning there were very few obstacles to the pastor from our church in North Carolina performing the service.
2. It’s about 15 minutes away from our reception location.
3. My Dad is retired Coast Guard and taught at the Academy for 25+ years, so I have very happy memories associated with the base.
4. It is gorgeous! Love those blue walls and huge windows!

One downside: that tile aisle is treacherously slippery! I’ve been walking around the house wearing my wedding heels to scuff the soles in preparation :)

I’ve mentioned it a couple times, but one thing that was really important to us was that our pastor from our church in North Carolina could perform our ceremony. (Some churches are very strict about who they will allow to lead a service, which means we were even more grateful to have found the CGA!) We have a tremendous amount of respect for our pastor and know he will help strike the joyful, thoughtful, faith-filled tone we’re hoping our service will have. Plus, we can’t wait to hear his message, AND we can’t wait for our Northern friends and family to enjoy his thick Southern accent :) Asking Carl to officiate was one of the first to-dos we checked off our planning list, and one of the best.

We made another big decision when we decided to serve communion at our ceremony. We were a little hesitant about doing this, because we know not all of our guests share our faith, but happily the United Methodist Church offers communion freely to all those who “want Christ in their life,” regardless of religion or denomination, and doesn’t question those who choose not to partake, for whatever reason.

Photo on left by Kurt Boomer via 100 Layer Cake, photo on right by Lisa Lefkowitz via Style Me Pretty

John and I will be serving communion to our guests directly following our vows. We’ll use a silver cup from the church where my grandmother was baptized, and I’m hoping I’ll have a volunteer to bake us some bread! We find it very meaningful and appropriate that our first act as a married couple will be to serve others, and we’re also happy that communion will give us a chance to see each of our guests one by one, since we’re not doing a receiving line and won’t have a seated dinner at our reception.

A favorite classic program design… still trying to figure out what ours will look like! (Photo by J. Cogliandro)

Speaking of vows: We’ll be saying the traditional ones, though perhaps with a few small tweaks. We think making the same vow that our parents and grandparents and their parents did is powerful, especially because we are lucky to have such beautiful examples of marriage in our parents. We’re still discussing exactly what we’ll say, but this is the rough draft:

“I, Emily, take you, John, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, all the days of my life.”

So exciting to think about actually saying those words, no?? I can’t wait!

Another pretty set of programs, this one by Mr. Boddington’s Studio

We’re still discussing whether we’ll also exchange more personal vows at the ceremony in addition to the traditional ones. I’m all for it, while John is not totally on board (he’s a pretty traditional sort, plus he’s afraid he’s going to start bawling, which, I’ll admit, is a distinct possibility, but not really a problem, in my opinion!). Just in case we do go this route, I’ve been storing away ideas in a Google Doc for the past year – no last-minute vow writing for this girl!

I just keep thinking about my friend Katharine’s wedding – she and Kyle exchanged the most meaningful set of “promises” in addition to traditional vows, and it was definitely a highlight of their wedding. When I think about the other wedding ceremonies that have really stuck with me, it’s usually the ones that included some sort of personal words from the couple.

One thing that’s always confused me, though, is how, exactly, the personal vows are created. From my research, it seems like couples do it in a variety of ways. Some decide on a rough format (like Katharine and Kyle’s promises), word length, or length of time to ensure the vows somewhat resemble each other. Others write the personal vows together (like my sister and her husband), and exchange the same set. My thoughts, as of right now? There’s so much that I have painstakingly planned about this wedding, I think it would be a thrill to have at least one part of the day where I don’t know what’s going to happen – and hopefully, I’ll be delightfully surprised. (If not sobbing!)

I’ll be back soon to share more about our readings and music! In the meantime, tell me: What kind of vows did you recite, or what kind are you planning to recite? Traditional? Personal? Both? Please comment and let me know!

In case you missed a post…
The main characters | Where we’re getting married | I go dress shopping | We choose a photographer | I ponder bridesmaid style | Mini food! | The music | We’re renting a tent! | We discuss bouquets + boutonnieres | We send out our save the dates | I gather hair and makeup inspiration | We talk cake and sweets | I introduce you to our videographer | We create a registry | We buy a tuxedo | We style a reception | I choose accessories | We take engagement photos!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    We recited traditional vows for the very same reason y’all did! There’s something powerful about saying the same words as the generations that came before you. I LOVE the idea of writing your a set of vows together and reciting them back to each other as well. We all have unique aspirations with our married life and it’s pretty special to be able to share them with others and God.

  2. avatar Kelly reply

    I love those blue flags and all of your reasons for picking the church! We used traditional vows but we also had 3 ceremonies technically (one by friends, long story involving an expired driver’s license; civil ceremony, and a blessing in a chapel with just family and closest friends), so I guess we made our promises three times :)

  3. avatar Katie O’Keefe reply

    My dad served in the Coast Guard for 20 years as a helicopter and fixed wing pilot. I love that you are getting married at the chapel – it is so beautiful, and so special!

    We only exchanged traditional vows, but I love the non-traditional vows as well. I would perhaps have some guidelines though. For instance if we had written our own vows, mine would have been three pages long and his would have been one sentence. :-)

    Do whatever is natural for you both as a couple, this is your wedding day. Would writing your own vows end up stressing you both out, or would it be easy for you and a great meaningful, addition to the ceremony?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Katie! That’s so neat about your dad! Mine was on ships for a bit, but for as long as I can remember, he was on the permanent teaching staff at the CGA, so both the Coast Guard AND the Academy were important parts of my life! Great question about the vows – I think it might stress both of us out a bit, but in the long run, sometimes there are things that are worth getting stressed out over, you know? If they’re the right things :)

    • avatar Katie O’Keefe reply

      Emily: Exactly, you’ve got to do what means the most to both of you – you only say these words once! I’m sure whatever you decide will be beautiful. :-)

  4. avatar Kristen reply

    Beautiful church! The ceremony is obviously the most important part, and what I was most excited about, as well.

    We wrote our own vows, but they were fairly traditional. No “I promise to scratch your back” or “I promise to laugh at all of your cheesy jokes.”

    I know it’s been done – but if John isn’t too excited about sharing very personal thoughts with the entire congregation, perhaps you can write letters to each other and read them to one another in private following the ceremony. Those precious minutes after you have walked out of the church are some of the sweetest ever, and this would only add to the happiness of that moment.

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Kristen! Completely agree! I definitely believe that marriage and vows are for life, and so I really want to make sure we’re promising things to each other that we can keep FOR LIFE, even if they’re more personal than the traditional ones we’ll exchange. Definitely love the note idea, and that will for sure be our backup plan if we don’t do the dual vows at the ceremony!

  5. avatar Lara reply

    Oh, how beautiful and special and meaningful! I love that you are serving communion to your guests. That is so special. Beautiful!

  6. avatar Desiree reply

    Emily!!! this is the best post by far :) I’m so excited for you. Eric and I spoke traditional vows and I very much remember the “these are the hands” poem that our pastor read to us. Everytime I hear it (ahem…often) I think back to that day when I was so excited to look at my husband’s hands. Truth be told – I thought he had super hot hands when we were first dating and he was driving around his manual car :) Go with the surprise vows – I think it’s brilliant!! Make sure you keep copies of them and recite every year! xo

  7. avatar Emily reply

    This looks so gosh darn charming! I’m in total wedding planning mode… mine’s next June. Today I found some amazing antique glass bottles for my centerpieces!


  8. avatar Bri @ Posh Purpose reply

    My fiance and I are saying the traditional vows, as well. I love that they have been used for so long and for so many couples in my family and church. My fiance is also an engineer and I recently got my math degree; we aren’t really word people so we were never interested in writing our own vows. I think the set of promises is a lovely idea for others, though! It will definitely be memorable and it is always sweet to be surprised by your beau :)

  9. avatar Stephanie reply

    My husband and I shared communion with all of our guests at our wedding. We were both a little hesitant at first because of the reason you stated above but also because of how much time it could end up taking. Our minister kept encouraging us to do it so we gave in and added it to the ceremony. We are so glad we did! It is truly the most special time. You are able to have a moment with each one of your guests as you serve them. Jonathan and I still one month later (i know its not that long) talk about how that was the best decision we made! It will forever hold a very special place in our heart! I recommend it for any bride who is considering serving communion. PS during that time we had two hymns sung “Be Thou My Vision” and “Come Thou Fount”…it was perfect!

  10. avatar Emily Plans a Wedding: The Ceremony, Part II – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] back to the Emily Plans a Wedding series! Thank you so much for your thoughts on my last ceremony post – I loved reading through all of the comments! As promised, I’m back with a few more […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Best of 2011 :: Ceremonies

by in Inspirations, Main on

Though so much attention gets paid to the reception and small details, we like to shift the focus back to the most important part of the day: the ceremony. In honor of the moment you say “I do,” here are our top ten ceremonies or ceremony details from 2011.

A baby’s breath altar for a ceremony in a field (photo by Stephen Devries; originally seen here)

A casual beach ceremony, complete with seating on family quilts (photo by Maile Lani; originally seen here)

A rustic floral arch for a farm ceremony (photo by Jodi Miller; originally seen here) and a light and airy arbor for a beach ceremony (photo by Paul Johnson; originally seen here)

A colorful and fun ribbon aisle treatment (photo by Kate Byars; originally seen here)

Garden-party aisle arrangements (photo by Veil & Bow; originally seen here) and cowboy hat tossing petals (photo by Lauren Larsen; originally seen here)

A ceremony in a pecan grove (photo by Josh Moates of Kim Box; originally seen here)

Dainty ribbons at a beachside ceremony (photo by Brooke Images; originally seen here)

A darling flower girl and banner (photo by Phindy Studios; originally seen here)

Let us know your favorite below!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
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    […] left to right, top to bottom: 1. jenhuangblog 2. ruffledblog 3. iloveswmag 4. atlantahomesmag 5. iloveswmag Posted in inspiration […]

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