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I am a Chicago Wedding Officiant
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All About My Services

About Thomas Witham
How My Ceremonies Are Different
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Religious & Philosophical Expression
Your Greatest Advocate
Letters of Appreciation
For Those Previously Married

Designing Your Ceremony

Facing Your Guests (Modern Format)
Backs Turned (Traditional Format)
Examples of Wedding Vows
Environment
Ushers
Effective Seating
Aisle Runner or Petals
Children in Wedding Ceremonies
The Escorting of a Bride
Taking Parental Vows
The Use of Music
Using a Pedestal
Using a Wedding Carriage
A New Role For Grandparents
Readers
Wedding Ceremony Readings
In Memoriam

Ceremonies in Special Places
Ceremonies in Theme
Taking Your Ceremony to Others
Improvisation
Staying in Character
What Name Should I Use?
What if it Rains?
Fibbing Your Start Time
Ceremonies in Candlelight
The Reception Line

The Order of Events

Primary Options:
Read this First
The Unity Candle
Champagne Sharing
The Sand Ceremony
The Blessing Tree
Tying the Knot
Tasting the Elements
Using a Photomontage
The Giving of Roses

Options In Finale:
Butterfly Release
Dove Release
Balloon Release
Tossing Petals
Bubbles in a Wedding Ceremony
Applause Walk

The Five Rules:
Rule One
Rule Two
Rule Three
Rule Four
Rule Five

Advice on Photography
Advice on Wedding Coordinators
Death by Venue
An Invitation To Journalists

Resources and Links

For Those Considering Plagiarism

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Rule 1: The Needs Of The Audience Come First
Bridal Party Facing Forward

A bride and groom and their bridal party facing their guests as I speak to them from center aisle.


The Foundation On Which Your Entire Ceremony Will Rest


Your audience has a need and right to see you, to hear you, and to be entertained by what you've invited them to, and for what they have given up their time for. There are not exceptions to this.

If your wedding ceremony is not enjoyed by everyone present- you fail.  Also, it is not enough to simply recreate for your guests every wedding ceremony they've already seen a dozen times.  The typical wedding ceremony - which has the couple's backs turned to their guests, and which is virtually inaudible to all except those in the first row, uses predictable music etc.,- is so numbing that 10% to 50% of those invited will skip it and attend the reception.  I'll show you how to change all of this by using a ceremony format that's fun to watch and listen to, as well as emotionally evocative.  The success of your wedding ceremony lies in engaging your audience; everything else is secondary to this.

I teach my couples to look at the people attending their wedding as an audience and not as guests. That's because guests are on your side. You can have a boring and marginal wedding ceremony and your kind guests will come up afterwards and tell you "Suzie,.. that was such a beautiful wedding!"

An audience however- is expecting something. If you were a theater director and you put on theatric production that bombed you can count on people walking out on it. You would also expect to get bad reviews in the local press.

I am asking you to earn the respect and complements of the friends and family you are inviting to your ceremony. And you do that by seeing to all of their needs. They shall be comfortable. They, and by that I mean every one of them, must see and hear all that takes place within that ceremony. And they shall be moved, heart and soul, for having attended it.

What Breaking This Rule Looks Like... The bride and groom are exchanging vows. They and their bridal party have turned their backs to their guests. We'll assume no audio amplification is present as we see no speakers. Guests can neither see nor hear the ceremony they're attending.

At left, a woman marked A, with her head turned up and to the right is blowing bubbles. Those bubbles are visible above the guests on the right side of the aisle. The gentleman she is with, marked B, is leaning away from her and into the aisle to avoid having soap being blown on him. A woman marked C, is engaging guests to her immediate left in conversation. All have lost interest in the ceremony and all have resorted to entertaining themselves while waiting for it to end. Do you blame them? Would you want a ceremony like this... one where guests don't even know you're taking your vows?

What Show Time Looks Like... Magnificently arrayed before their guests stands the bride and groom and their beautiful bridal party. This accomplishes several important objectives: It makes the bride and groom the focal point of their ceremony- not their minister. It enables every guest to see the bride and groom and hear every word of their ceremony. It also produces exceptional wedding photography. I as an officiant will speak at times from the center aisle, and at other times alongside the bride and groom facing the guests. All of my words are heard as well.

If your wedding is to be exceptional it will be because you made it so. And the first rule in achieving that is to meet the needs of your guests- they must see, hear, and be entertained by your ceremony.

 

 
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