Wedding ceremony Photos

Tips for Creating a Beautiful Wedding Ceremony

Bride and groom during wedding ceremony

You’re engaged! Congratulations! Now what? Planning the perfect ceremony can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve broken it down into manageable steps for you. We’ve included tips on all the things you need to consider when crafting the wedding ceremony of your dreams.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #1

Book a venue

One of the first things you’ll need to do when planning your upcoming nuptials is to book a venue. It’s important to do this as soon as you’ve picked a date. Most venue calendars fill up fast, especially those that have a one wedding a day policy.

Start by deciding on the vibe of your wedding. Are you planning an elegant soiree, or a rustic get together? Would you prefer to look out at a waterfront view, or to say your vows under a canopy of trees? Knowing this will help you narrow down your venue choices. 

Another consideration is travel and lodging. How far are you and your guests willing to travel? Do you have lots of out of state guests who will need a place to stay? Some venues provide room deals. If they don’t, be sure to research the surrounding areas to see if there are any nearby hotels or Airbnb’s. 

If you need suggestions, here are some of our favorite venues throughout the Hudson Valley.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #2

Find an officiant

Once your venue is secured, it’s time to look into who will be officiating your ceremony. This is an important step for two reasons. An officiant will guide you through the details of the ceremony. More importantly, though, you need one in order to be legally wed in the eyes of the state. Every marriage license needs the signature of witnesses and a properly licensed official.

There are several options depending on wether you’d like to have a secular or religious ceremony.

Religious Officiants

Religious ceremonies are somewhat easier to find an officiant for. Call your local place of worship to set up a meeting with a leading official. They can talk to you about any regulations and fees they may have, and put you in touch with pastors, rabbis, imams, or ministers who will be available to stand at the altar with you. Keep in mind, some denominations such as Catholics cannot have officials perform the ceremony outside of the place of worship. 

Non-religious Officiants

Non-religious ceremonies have more options in terms of who can officiate. You can choose from a civil servant, a professional, or a specially ordained officiant. 

Typically civil servants such as justices of the peace, county clerks, judges, and magistrates perform ceremonies at government buildings such as courthouses. However, some will perform venue ceremonies. The benefit of this is that you can be sure your marriage will be legally binding. If it’s something you’re interested in, you can inquire about it at your local county clerk’s office.

Professional officiants are licensed and experienced celebrants who can customize your ceremony and offer guidance and advice on vows or traditions. They are great for interfaith, military, and specialized spiritual ceremonies. Hudson Valley Ceremonies has a list of officiants in the New York/New Jersey area. Additionally they offer different packages based on your needs. Be sure to meet with your officiant before booking to determine if your views match and if their speaking style is to your liking.

Last, but not least, a loved one can receive an online ordination and perform your ceremony. This can add a special personalized touch to the day. First, check with your state laws to make sure they will recognize a license signed by an internet ordained minister. Several states do not recognize these marriages and may even hit your officiant with a fine. Next, do research to find a credible organization that is accepted by your state. After they pay the fee and fill out their application, be sure to check if they need to register with the state or local government, or require additional documentation.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #3

Choose decorations

Ceremonies have several hallmark decorations that you may want to consider adding to your own wedding plans. 

Aisle markers are placed at the ends of the rows of seats along the aisle. Some people also choose to hang reserved signs at the front rows for bridal party members and close family.

Aisle runners are a fabric or carpet that run the length of the aisle. For a unique touch, you can have it monogrammed or scattered with flower petals.

Archways and arbors are placed at the end of the aisle and help to frame the couple and the officiant. Certain kinds are even symbolically meaningful in certain cultures. 

Altar arrangements are a popular alternative to archways if your venue cannot accommodate the height. If there’s an altar or table being used, these can flank either side.

Signage is a popular way to welcome guests. This can be used to direct them where to sit, to tell your story, or to encourage them to put away their cell phones and be present in the moment.

Take into account your surroundings, the season, and your unique personalities. With these in mind, you can choose your color palette and aesthetic.

While you can consider alternative materials such as fabric, ribbons, or lanterns, most couple choose to add flowers to their ceremony decorations. Finding a florist you can trust will help you greatly in making these decisions. A good florist can give you great tips for decorating your wedding ceremony. They can tell you what is in season, suggest what flowers and foliage go best together, and design arrangements to match the ambiance you’re going for.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #4

Choose music

While most people look for DJs and live bands with their receptions in mind, you should choose one who can also play during your ceremony. After all, a walk down the aisle wouldn’t be complete without an elegant score. There are plenty of great local entertainment companies who not only have acts for the dance floor, but also offer smaller sets for those first steps towards forever. You can find everything from Spanish style guitar duos, string quartets, and even harpists. Typically these music experts offer set lists of popular songs they can play, but don’t hesitate to make requests if you have a special song in mind.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #5

Figure out who’s involved 

Choosing who’s part of your bridal party can be a lot of fun. The popular trend now is to give bridesmaid and groomsmen proposal gifts. These can have personalized and meaningful favors, inviting your favorite people to be an important part of your special day. 

Even though the focus is usually on your bridal party, there are plenty of other traditional roles for your loved ones to play. Determining what traditions you want to include in your ceremony can help you select who will be involved as well.

Flower girl is great role for younger members of your family, to make them feel like they’re a part of the festivities. They walk down the aisle ahead of the bride scattering petals.

Ring bearer traditionally is a role reserved for younger boys. However, if the thought of a small child being in charge of your precious rings makes you nervous, you can always assign someone older.

Ushers greet guests and help them to their seats before the ceremony. A great role for friendly cousins and uncles.

Readers can be chosen to read your carefully selected passages. Make sure to assign this role to someone confident with public speaking.

Cultural ceremonies and roles

There are also lots of religious and cultural traditions that get your family and friends involved. For example, a ketubah signing is a Jewish tradition where two non-blood related witnesses sign the marriage contract before the rabbi. This typically takes place before the ceremony, but the ketubah is often displayed during it as well.

In Christian ceremonies, tapered candles are typically lit by mothers of the couple. The bride and groom then use these to light a single unity candle, symbolizing the joining of two people and families into one. Similar secular traditions exist involving sand pouring and wine mixing as well. 

In a Thai water pouring ceremony, the couple wears a Mong Kol, or a headdress woven from a single piece of cotton, as older relatives gently pour water blessed during a Buddhist ceremony from a conch shell onto the couples hands. This ensure good luck for the couple.

Cord or ribbon binding is involved in several cultural ceremonies. Older relatives typically take these objects and wrap the couple together, symbolizing their unity. In Filipino cord and veil ceremonies, a cord known as the yugal is placed over the couples heads and draped on their shoulders. Similarly, in Celtic ceremonies, hands are knotted together in an act known as handfasting. In fact, this is where the phrase, “tying the knot” originated.

No matter what traditions you choose, remember that this is a day of love and unity, not just between you and your partner to be, but between your friends and family as well. They love you and are there in support of you. Involving them multiplies that love and makes the day even more memorable.

Wedding Ceremony Tip #6


Finally, make sure you schedule a rehearsal ceremony. It will help to ensure that everyone knows where they have to be and what they have to do. This will take some worry about any unexpected flubs off of your mind so that you can enjoy your big day and focus on what really matters: the love between you and your spouse.

Now that you’ve got the perfect ceremony planned, you need an experienced and dedicated team of photographers to capture it. Book us at Christopher’s Studio for your Hudson Valley wedding. We’ve photographed hundreds of weddings and can provide more advice and tips on how to make your wedding ceremony spectacular.