Your Ultimate Ceremony Guide

Updated: Jun 21

This week’s blog is ALL the things you need to know for your wedding ceremony! Starting with vows and walking through the important stops like choosing an officiant, making sure you’re legally wed (no one wants to forget that step!), altar etiquette and so much more, we are going to help make sure you are all set to strut down that aisle! Let's dive in!

Jessica Thomas Photography

First let’s talk about the most important part of your ceremony - your vows.

How to Vow

Your wedding vows are the most important part of your wedding day. If nothing else matters, your vows should. They are what will bind you in matrimony and represent your commitment to each other. Work closely with your fiancé and your officiant to decide if you want to have traditional, religious, or personal vows.

For traditional or religious vows here's a guide to help get you started. Every state, religion and tradition can vary, and having some inspiration for incorporating them into your ceremony can be a huge help! Be sure to check the local parameters to be sure you hit all the important and binding parts!

If you're writing personal vows, there are lots of things to consider when choosing what to include. Here are some helpful tips on the what's, the how's and the where's:

  • Your vows should reflect upon your relationship and lay out the promises you wish to uphold in your relationship. Some people choose to go all serious while others insert humor into their vows. My brother vowed to always let his wife bring snacks to bed. Funny, but also a serious promise as she is a serious snacker. Another crewmate unfolded a 13 page memoir when it came time to vows… as joke of course, but it made for a huge laugh for the future Mrs. and the guests!

  • Vows should last between 1 to 2 minutes. Pick the most important promises and get at the heart of what marrying this person means to you. I promise that one minute lasts longer than you think, and a concise message straight from the heart has lots loaded into those 60 seconds!

✨W E D D I N G T I P✨: Finding more things you just can’t imagine not saying? Consider writing your future boo a love letter to open while you are all getting ready! They will love the extra love from you before you get to say I Do!

  • WRITE THEM DOWN. WRITE THEM DOWN. WRITE THEM DOWN!! The last thing you want to do is get up there and go blank. Write them down!! Here's an alternative to that piece of paper that may be traveling in a best friend’s pocket or bra! (There are tons of different types of vow keepers and you can even get them personalized)

  • If you're like me and you're terrified of speaking personal words in public (I'm a crier. Big time.) but you still want personal vows, you can choose to recite your vows in a semi private setting (just your photographer, videographer and planner… don’t worry, you won’t even know we are there!) during your first look/touch. This gives you the opportunity to recite vows, get it documented and get the tears out. That being said, it will not guarantee that you won't cry during your repeated vows at the altar but at least you will have a fighting chance!

  • PRACTICE. Recite them in front of the mirror and in front of a trusted friend. Get all the jitters out and practice, practice, practice.

Your vows are personal and however you choose to do them, they will mean the world to you both. Work closely with your officiant - there are some phrases in some states that are required by law to be said for a marriage to be official. Also, have fun with it. It will be a memory that will last a lifetime!!

Have writers block or don’t feel those lovey phrases coming together? If you didn’t know already, there are professional vow writing services to help you craft your vows! This is an amazing add on service to help you be confident in the message you want to give your other half on wedding day.

Who’s At The Altar With You?

Next, let’s talk about your officiant. They’re the ones orchestrating the event so they’re a very important thing to check off your list. While we can suggest our local favorites we'd like to leave you with some tips on how to find the perfect match. First we'll give you tips on how to find a professional officiant and then, if you're looking for someone more personal, how to choose which one of your friends or family members. Nailing down an officiant should be done at least 8 months before the wedding. This will help with the timeline! Most of these tips overlap but do read through the whole thing. It only takes a minute!

Anna So Photography

Professional Officiant

The benefit of a professional officiant is that they do this hundreds of times a year. Here’s some tips on how to choose one:

  • See them in action. Either live or on video. Watch an entire ceremony and make sure their vibe fits yours.

  • Get to know them! Ask to have meetings with them and get to know them well. You want your officiant to be able to tell stories or anecdotes about you. Everyone has their own process for gathering these details, so having that process work for you can be a massive game changer in your wedding day vibe.

  • Be honest about your values. You want your values to match.

  • Talk about any special ceremonies (sand ceremony, religious ceremony, unity candle etc) that you want to include.

  • Decide if you are writing your own vows. This will change the ceremony drastically. (Don’t forget, even if you are writing your own vows, there are still many officiant guided sections that are mandatory in most states, so you still have to go with the flow a little bit here)

  • Give a realistic timeline for how long you want your ceremony.


Oftentimes couples choose to have a friend or family member officiate their wedding. If you choose this path, follow the tips above and the tips below:

  • Make sure they can and are comfortable speaking to a crowd.

  • Make sure they are ordained or carry the proper credentials IN YOUR STATE. Here's a website we like: In Florida, a Notary of the Public can also marry a couple if you or your friends would like a secular option.

  • Your friend is doing you an honor and a favor, so we always recommend to be sure to cover their expenses for getting ordained.

  • Make sure you choose someone responsible enough to send in your marriage license for you. You don't want this to be the reason you're not legally married.

  • Read their script or write it together with them to make sure everything you want is included. Make sure they know the list of things they are legally bound to say during the ceremony as well.

  • Talk about timing! Be sure they are comfortable practicing and knowing how long the ceremony will go.

Legally Wed … don’t want to miss this on


Next on our list is the marriage license. Kind of essential for getting married!! Below are the guidelines based on the state of Florida but this might vary depending on where you live.

  • Marriage licenses are issued by counties but you can get married in any county regardless of where you obtained our marriage license.

  • Identification: a picture ID such as a driver's license, state ID card, or valid passport; both parties will also have to provide their Social Security numbers, but do not need to provide their Social Security Cards.