Our ceremony was short, just the way we wanted it. (It wasn't without awkward moments, though!) But like I've mentioned before, since we weren't getting married in a church and since our friend Tia, who did a beautiful job on the ceremony, hadn't married anyone before, we literally started from square one.
Writing the ceremony was probably the last "big" thing on our wedding to do list, and arguably the most important! As the calendar moved closer to our wedding day, figuring out what would be said and how it would go definitely became a stressor for me. In the end, we worked with Tia to kind of piece together the ceremony. I started by finding an outline that seemingly included nearly anything you could do during your wedding. I put it all in a Google Doc that Luke, Tia, and I had access to and could edit, and we started narrowing things down from there. We cut out things we weren't going to do and rearranged things to make it the order we wanted. After that, it was a matter of finding the right words for everything.
Before the processional started, Tia made a statement about it being an unplugged ceremony. I knew right away that I wanted just the ceremony to be completely camera and phone free. I didn't want people obstructing others' views--especially our photographer's--trying to snap a photo. I didn't want photos of the ceremony to have phones being held up over people's heads or people standing at their seats. I found the perfect statement online that only needed a few tweaks:
I invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology.
Of course there are so many ways to do everything, but Luke knew for sure that he wanted to have all four of his groomsmen standing up with him at the beginning, so all the bridesmaids would walk down the aisle alone.
After my dad walked me down the aisle, I did something that still haunts me late at night. See, our venue doesn't do rehearsals. The closest we got was the bridal party going over where to stand while Luke and I did our first look. So because of that, we didn't practice the whole giving away thing. When we got to the end of the aisle, I started panicking and muttering (apparently not very quietly) "give me away, give me away". I think Luke and my dad shook hands, but then I hugged Luke. I didn't hug my dad! Seriously, it's one of those embarrassing moments that just randomly pops into my head every once in a while. Ugh.
A few weeks before the wedding, I asked people on Instagram what they did at their wedding or have seen at other weddings that was worth repeating. What I got back more than anything was having a moment of stillness. Everyone says the whole day goes by so quickly, you never get enough time with everyone, and it can seem like one big blur. It was really important to us to take a moment to pause and to look at everyone's faces who was there to support us. (This is the #1 thing I would recommend all couples incorporate into their ceremony.)
To honor this wonderful expression of Hannah and Luke’s love and commitment for one another, I would like us all to enjoy a moment to take in our surroundings and the people who have come to celebrate with us. Hannah and Luke, I invite you two to take a breath, and look around you. See who has traveled to witness this ceremony. This day is made possible in part through the grace and support of your family and friends, who all hope that you find continued fulfillment and joy in each other. Soak in their love and excitement for you both. I invite the whole room to please be still with me for a moment.
Tia's address was absolutely perfect. She asked us to give a sort of thesis statement to capture what we wanted our wedding to be about. We told her that we didn't want to emphasis the wedding as being the end goal, but instead celebrates everything that has come before and marks our commitment to each other in the future.
We've talked about it since and she said she was just thinking "Don't lock your knees" the whole time and I was thinking "Don't cry or Tia will cry" the whole time.
We had asked our friends Adam and Esther to do a reading during the ceremony, but had no idea what we wanted them to read. We were kind of hoping they would have some good ideas from something they had read or something they had heard at one of the weddings they have been to. Instead, they did us one better! Esther wrote a beautiful poem that Adam read during the ceremony. It means so much to us that they were a part of our ceremony, as they've become such good friends to us over the last year. And it's so special that it was something Esther wrote rather than a recycled passage about love that you hear all the time at weddings.
If only love remains, there I am happy.
If the tides have pulled apart the string of my life,
Untangling and removing those things that give me meaning,
But you and your love still remain, there I am happy.
If only love endures, there I am content.
If the storms have blasted apart the earth upon which I have settled,
Destroying my foundations and dirt upon which I rest my head,
But i have your love enduring through this, there I am content.
It is love that roots in the summer but blooms in the winter.
It is love that hides in the light and shines in the dark.
It is love that speaks a shout of rebuke and a quiet word of adoration:
For what else would I be? Without your love, my darling, what else would I have?
After the reading, we did the Declaration of Intent. You know, the "I do" part. It was the only time the words Luke and I said to each other differed, as Tia asked us two slightly varied questions.
Luke, do you take Hannah to be your wife? Do you promise to love and protect her, forsaking all others and holding only unto her?
Hannah, do you take Luke to be your husband? Do you promise to love and respect him, forsaking all others and holding only unto him?
I wanted the words "protect" and "respect" to be different because of a teaching I had heard at my church a few years ago and the roles in a Biblical marriage.
Luke and I wanted to write our own vows, but it was incredibly important to us that we said the exact same words. We've both been to weddings where the couple have said beautiful, wonderful things to each other, but haven't made any promises. Or where they're promising each other different things or silly things and missing out on the big vows. Everyone should do what they want since it's the foundation of their marriage, but for us, we wanted to make promises to build our marriage upon and we wanted them to be the same.
I, take you, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. I will share my joy with you, that it be multiplied. I will share your pain, that it be divided. I will walk by your side as we journey together through life's adventures. I promise to live together in the holy covenant of marriage. I promise to love you, cherish you, comfort you, and keep you. Forsaking all others, I will be yours alone as long as we both shall live.
We did a lot of research about traditional vows from various sects of Christianity, as well as secular vows. We took what we liked and worked it into something we loved. So many of the phrases are pulled from various types of ceremonies. I love what we ended up with.
We read our vows from the vow books I got from Elmo Paperstories. They were an investment, but they're so gorgeous with their velvet covers and silk ribbons and they had exactly our wedding colours. We had also written letters to each other in the books that we read during our first look, so we mostly filled up the pages.
I give you this ring,
As a symbol of my commitment to honour and respect you.
I give you my love, forever.
This might just be my favourite photo from the ceremony. While I was putting the ring on Luke's hand, he mouthed something to me, which made me miss the line Tia had just given me to repeat. I thought for a moment that I knew it well enough to wing it, after all I had written it and Luke had just said the same words, but then I decided I needed to get it exactly right. So I turned to her and said, "Wait, what?" Everyone started laughing immediately. Turns out, Luke was telling me to stop trying to force his ring on. It fit, but it wasn't exactly sliding on. He said while I was distracted laughing, he slipped it on so I would stop pulling his skin. Ha!
So even with a few hiccups, our ceremony was exactly what we wanted it. I love that we were in complete control with the words that were said at the beginning of our marriage. Words are powerful and it was important for us to get it right.
We are so grateful to everyone who was there, and those who were there in spirit, to witness our promise and commitment to each other. We are especially grateful to our friends and sisters who stood with us and to Tia who blessed our marriage.
I really appreciate this is the only photo I have of Rachel and Emily walking back down the aisle together.
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Weddington Way (US)
Cake: Amerton Cakes (UK)
Cuff Links: Tesoro Jewelry (US)
DJ: Benny Smyth (UK)
My Dress: Allure Bridals via The Bridal Connection (CO)
Engagement Ring: ROX (UK)
Florist: Penny Johnson Flowers (UK)
Hair + Make Up: Sam Larson Hair (CO)
Paper Flowers: Lia Griffith (US)
Photo Booth: Peter Horrox (UK)
Photographer: Brianne Haagenson Photography (CO)
Ring Box: Amonie (AUS)
Robes: David's Bridal (US + UK)
My Shoes: Hobes (AUS)
Stationary: Minted (US)
Luke's Suit: Next (UK)
Venue (Catering & Alcohol): Shustoke Barn (UK)
Vow Books: Elmo Paperstories (UK)
My Wedding Band: Ernest Jones (UK)
Luke's Wedding Band: LuxuriaJewelers (US)
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All photos in this post, including the header photo by Brianne Haagenson Photography.