By: Catherine Kentridge, Licensed Wedding Officiant Custom Wedding Ceremonies
Catherine was educated in England (Oxford), but has spent many happy years in Canada. She is licensed to conduct wedding ceremonies all over Ontario and a member of the Association of Independent Celebrants in the UK.
With a deep respect for and openness to different personal beliefs, cultures and traditions, Catherine loves to weave these different elements together into a harmonious and profoundly meaningful ceremony that reflects who the couple are.
As a trained soprano, a professional storyteller and writer, and an experienced actor, with an elegant English accent, she is able to use these skills to help put people at their ease and lead a ceremony that will be a beautiful lifetime memory for you.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR CREATING ONE-OF-A-KIND WEDDINGS
You’ve been a professional wedding planner for years, or you’re newly graduated from WPIC. Either way, in this fiercely competitive business, you want to make yourself stand out as the planner who designs the most original, perfect-for-the-couple weddings. Each couple you work with is unique and they want their wedding to reflect that quality.
Here’s how you can use the venue, the visuals, the decorations, the actions, the words, the rituals, the music, what the couple wears, the food, and the entrance of the newly-weds into the reception, to make their wedding super-special. And impress the guests so that you’ll be the person they’ll call when there’s a wedding in their lives.
As a wedding planner, being creative, and coming up with fresh ideas, is as natural to you as breathing. You can find your clients a venue that’s unusual and unexpected – restaurant, art gallery, concert hall, barn, alley, dance studio, secret garden, on stage at a theatre, backstage at a theatre, a museum after hours, dock. Or in a banquet hall or golf and country club, have the couple come in from a different entrance than the usual one, and arrange the room and the seating in a circle, diamond or semi-circle instead of in theatre rows.
You’ve gone into this career because you have flair, an eye for visual effects. How does your client want their wedding to look? What do they want their guests’ first impression of their wedding to be? Urban elegance, rustic charm, formal, casual, elaborately decorated, minimalist or DIY? If indoors, does the room or hall give lots of flexibility for creativity and for making it their own? If outdoors, is there a beautiful view of a lake or beach for guests to enjoy during the ceremony
How you decorate the ceremony and wedding space are key to making the wedding feel one-of-a-kind. Does your client want sparkles, or home-made decorations, what kind of flowers do they want, how many and in what shapes? Do they like props? Showing your clients style books, wedding magazines and websites can get them and you inspired. Then they can blend what they like into something amazing. If they have a theme, they can go wild with it, with your expert help.
While the words used in the actual ceremony are up to the couple and the officiant, you can have creative input on the invitations, seating plan, place names, gift box label. Think bilingual or multi-lingual. For invitations have something fresh such as, “No one thought we’d ever really do it, but here we are, making the union of Beth and Peter legal after all these years. Please join us.” “Sarah and Carol are putting on their glad rags to wive on July 20th, 2019. We’d love you to be there for the celebration”.
While most couples like the traditional walk up the aisle, there’s plenty of scope for surprising their guests. Are they up for dancing or singing up the aisle? (I did a wedding where the couple sang their vows to each other, and then the bride piggy-backed down the aisle with her new husband. It brought the house down!)
The couple and the officiant usually decide which rituals to use in a ceremony. But there’s nothing to stop you sharing your ideas about different rituals from around the world that you’ve seen in other ceremonies?. How about a bag of coins from Spain, presenting flowers to the mothers of the Bride and groom, from England, a hand-fasting from Ireland, jumping the broom from the USA, breaking a loaf of bread to share with each other and their guests, an Eastern European tradition. The couple does not have to have any direct connection with that country. They might just like the ritual itself and what it symbolizes.
You can have fun listening to music with the couple and helping them make the important decision of what music to have for the processional, recessional and especially for the first dance. Be very attuned to your couple’s style. Are they into heavy metal, punk, romantic love songs, joyful oldies like “The Chapel of Love”.? Do they like the classics, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” or Pachelbel’s canon? The classics can sound fresh and new if played on different instruments in interesting arrangements, syncopated, or given a jazzy vocal performance.
8. WEDDING CLOTHES
Helping with the choice of wedding clothes may be a bit outside your remit, but everyone is glad to listen to terrific ideas. Is the bride or brides into a classical style of dress in white; are they bold and daring with this year’s plunging-to-the-navel necklines and lacy semi-transparent dresses? Do they want the Meghan Markle look of covered-up yet super stylish minimalist chic? If there’s a theme -medieval, 1950’s, knights and ladies, 1920’s flappers – suggest the couple dress accordingly. They could even ask their guests to do the same.
As a wedding planner, you’ve probably experienced a huge variety of catering at weddings. You can be creative with suggestions about what food to serve. And how to present it. The couple may be limited by what the venue offers, however delicious. But if they have some freedom or are bringing in their own caterers, then it’s time for some fun. You can build on the feel they want the ceremony to have – formal, informal, barbecue, buffet. And on the theme. Is there a particular type of ethnic cuisine they love? Incorporating those dishes makes the dining experience as fresh and original as the wedding and the ceremony.
10. GRAND ENTRANCE TO THE RECEPTION
This is where your dramatic flair can have free rein. Does the couple want to dance in? Do they want to enter together clutching mics as they sing a love duet, with leather jackets, dark glasses and gangster hats over their wedding clothes? Do they want to appear magically in a puff of smoke, or in a burst of fireworks? Anything goes when you’re brainstorming.
You’re a wedding planner. Your middle name is “creativity”. You wouldn’t be in the business if you didn’t have tremendous flair. So fire up your imagination and get ready to have your clients love you even more for your fabulous ideas that will make their wedding fun, memorable and one-of-a-kind.