There are two kinds of movies: the kind that rely on big-budget special effects to get your attention, and one’s that keep audiences glued to the screen with their gripping storylines. Can you can remember the plot line from the latest Pirates of the Caribbean? Neither can I. When it comes to weddings, the same principle applies — the better you tell your story, the more memorable your wedding ceremony will be, and no amount of special effects can replace great content.
Let’s make your wedding interesting, like a movie starring Bill Murray!
American Marriage Ministries (AMM) now offers online tools to help couples and wedding officiants tackle this challenge. With close to a million ordained wedding officiants, AMM has distilled thousands of wedding ceremony scripts into easy to use tools, available on their website theamm.org. It’s also a great place to get ordained online — which you should do if you haven’t already!
So, what’s the secret?
It turns out that most couples struggle to translate their love for each other and shared experiences into words. To overcome this hurdle, AMM advises the officiant and couple talk about what defines the couple, and their shared goals and aspirations for their lives together. Start with the big ideas, like commitment, shared values, and faith (or lack thereof, if that’s your belief). Then narrow those down into real-world examples, like how you are building a sustainable future together, or the kind of family you want to start. Before you even start writing, ask yourselves the following: Is our relationship built on a profound faith, a commitment to social justice, a love of nature, or something else, and then what does that mean in practice?
“At AMM, we want to help couples and officiants get the conversation started,” explains Dylan Wall, AMM’s Executive Director. “With the right questions, everyone starts talking. And once everyone is talking, the conversation takes on a life of its own. Pretty soon the couple will get a deeper understanding of what they want their wedding ceremony to look and feel like.”
Ask the right questions!
It’s really that simple. Start talking about what you want to say, and how you want it to sound. This will help you decide whether you want a ring ceremony, and how you want it to proceed, for example. Here are some questions that Dylan likes to ask couples, to get the ball rolling:
- What does your marriage mean to you?
In one sense, your love remains unchanged, however this is a chance to talk about what this public declaration of your unity means to yourselves, and your community.
- What do family and community mean to you?
You aren’t just individuals in society anymore, your wedding is where you create a new family unit within a larger community. What role will your soon-to-be family have in the community?
- What events defined your relationship?
What experiences shaped your lives together, when did you realize that you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together, what moment made your love deeper and stronger?
- What values do you hold closely, and how do you express them?
Everyone has a moral code that governs their lives. Where do yours align, and how do those shared values draw you closer together?
- What is your vision for the future?
What’s next? Every wedding ceremony should make guests feel like they are part of an exciting story. Make sure your friends are excited to be a part of the next chapter!
These questions will vary depending on your relationship and expectations. Some couples can eliminate half of them off the bat. Their function is to spur a conversation that every couple should have with their officiant, or whomever is writing the script. Let the conversation flow.
Once you have had “the conversation,” you can start building the basic ceremony. With a clear understanding of what you want to tell the world, you revisit the basic framework above and see what sorts of readings, vows, and other ceremonies appeal to you in light of your conversation.
It’s as simple as that. Start hanging your components onto the ceremony framework like decorations onto a Christmas tree. Here’s a bare-bones script to start with. If something still feels off, move them around, replace some with others, read it through. Eventually, your ceremony will achieve a naturalness and flow that your guests will notice right away. And like the second kind of movie, they will walk away with powerful memories.
Telling your story is the key to creating a memorable wedding ceremony, but many couples struggle to translate their love and shared experiences into words. You might be one of them. To help couples, American Marriage Ministries (AMM) has expanded its online tools to make this task a meaningful yet easy part of wedding preparation.