5 Sassy Signature Ways to Spice Up Your Covid Wedding

By Marie Davis

Picture by: Maegan Puett

Wedding tailgate 

Photo by Melissa Glynn Photography

Have a good time with friends and enjoy your day. This will include all the fun things of a tailgate; you can even walk through like a parade. You have all the good food, and amazing people but just a bit more fun for a smaller group. 

Custom Masks 

Photo by Winnie Couture

Have customs masks made for your wedding day! (Check out YippeeWear for your own custom creations!) This will allow you to be safe but also be gorgeous/handsome on your big day! 

Cute Deck Décor

Photo by Walmart

If it is just you two for a wedding, do something special like a lit up/decorated porch to surprise your spouse. This will allow you to have some time to enjoy the very sliver time period where life doesn’t seem crazy. 

Have some preordered speeches ready to play? 

Photo By: Sean Steuer

This means when it is just you two celebrating at home you can have people send in their best wishes/speeches to make up for not being able to celebrate in person! This is awesome for family to tell the person getting married about good memories! 

Drive Up Wedding 

Photo By: F2.0Visuals

Finally, my favorite would be a drive-up wedding. Everyone pulls into a lot in their car and the light will all point at the bride and groom. This adds a fun touch of romance, but also having some friends doing silly things with you helps. This could include popcorn and slushies even!! 

The Best of 2020 Wedding Trends

Photo by: Obradovic/Getty Images

By Marie Davis

 

Flower/Grass Walls 

This year has been a huge hit on Grass and or Flower walls with neon signs on them. It has been going on for a while, yet we have seen an increase in the Midwest. This trend is a gorgeous idea, can add a lot of depth to a venue, and is great for pictures! However, they are not the most cost-effective thing to have at a wedding unless you DIY it all yourself. 

Photo by: Photostudioprojects

Bright Colors: 

People have been moving away from light pastels and neutrals and going with a pop of bright color with cool tones to tone it down. This is a refreshing take on wedding colors compared to the Rose Gold & blush trend in the past years. This pairing has made an enormous difference in weddings as it makes everything more exciting and just that more gorgeous 

Photo By: Love the Nelsons

Small Guest Counts, Big Celebrations 

This year since Covid has hit a big trend is having small gathers but celebrating to the fullest. This could mean from a virtual point of view or in person. People are starting to take multiple days to rest and recover from weddings and making it apart of scheduled wedding events. 

Photo By: Grady Savage

Eco-Friendly Weddings  

People have been increasingly conscious about the earth and what they can to promote less waste and people are including this on their wedding day as well. This means having recycling bins, using real dishware, just making sure to thrift their wedding décor and just being more aware of what they are wasting in one day. This also includes caterers who only will work with you if you are using biodegradable utensils/plates. 

Photo By: Rome&ItalyWeddingServices

Non-Traditional Wedding Dresses 

This year people are opting more either an extremely simple look or a over the top style. This meaning people are sticking with basic satin a very royal looking, or something with a lot of detail, sparkle, poof, the whole 9 yards. 

Photo by: Eleanor Jones

Switching Up the Food 

A lot of people are moving towards nontraditional food items. This would include hiring a private chef to do everything for the night and have a personalized dinner for your special day. Another very popular thing is Food Trucks. Brides are hiring different food trucks to come to their wedding venues and serve food for a couple of hours, allowing them to have different and easy options. 

Photo By: Sarah Yates

10 Things to Know When Choosing A Wedding Cake

By Kathy Beaver Photography

Picture by: Jose Villa

Head Count 

Make sure you know the number of people attending the reception before setting the “perfect” design for your wedding cake this is so the baker can get the size and quantity right for you! 

Matched Baked in Heaven 

Find a baker who connects with you and has some of the same style. This will ensure that they fulfill the true aesthetic of your wedding. However, you must communicate and be honest with them if you want it your way! 

Questions 

Make sure to ask all the right questions! This includes: What custom designs will you do? Are they extra? When are my deposit or fees due? Do you include set up and stands in the fees? 

Save your Money! 

Using a smaller budget is okay, just figure out how you want to fit it into your cake/desserts! A budget friendly alternative is to have a small personalized tiered cake, then either have cupcakes or a dessert table! 

Different Desserts 

Include this unique take on a “cake table” and instead do a dessert table. This could mean donuts, mini pies, cookies, etc. This is a great alternative and can give people so many options to choose from! 

Photo by: D3WoodDesigns

Cakes Don’t have to be traditional 

This can mean that you can have a different flavor cake, and even different flavor layers. This would put a spin on things and give you the option of choosing something specific to you on your wedding day! 

Match your theme 

Make sure to communicate with your baker and match your cake to your theme, this will help tie everything together on your big day! 

Weather 

Consider the weather into your big day if you’re having an outdoor wedding. Buttercream will melt like nobody’s business if not kept cold. So, allow time for the baker to bring the cake out closer to cutting the cake. 

Let the Professionals Do the work! 

Have them do all the work; it is your big day you should not have to worry about a thing except getting married. This means communicate with them beforehand about setup locations, how, when, and where! This will allow everything to run smoothly. 

Keeping the Wedding Spirits Alive 

Remember that after your wedding you’re supposed to keep the top tier of your cake in the freezer and eat it on your 1st anniversary for good luck! 

11 Reasons Faux Flowers are Fabulous

Photo by: KnitKnotSpace

By Marie Davis

 

Use faux flowers to your advantage!

-Real flowers are expensive. They cost so much more than faux flowers, yet they look just as gorgeous 

-There are so many kinds of faux flowers, this includes silk flowers which are very natural looking for your center pieces or your bouquet 

-You can rent faux flowers. This allows you to check a catalog and figure out exactly what you want, and they ship them to you. You only must ship them back after your wedding! This is a cost-effective way to have gorgeous flowers, and not wasting anything. 

-More than likely your guests will not be able to tell the difference, unless they go up and smell/feel them, and even if they do, they aren’t as focused on the flowers as they are on food and music. 

Photo by: The Faux Bouquet

-You can buy in bulk online which is a huge help 

-You can keep your flowers forever without them dying 

-You can order these months in advance so you’re not spending every ounce of money at once 

-Faux flowers are more durable, so they will not fall apart on your big day! 

-Never worry about your flowers being in season! 

-Allergen free 

-Get them in any color you want! 

Photo by: Windywindyhelo

Win A Wedding St. Louis

612North and Local Wedding Vendors to Give Away a Free Wedding to One Lucky Couple

ST. LOUIS, MO, September 11, 2020 . . . With St. Louis and much of the world coping with the stresses of a pandemic, 15 local diverse wedding vendors banded together to give away a free wedding worth $25,000 to one deserving couple. During this time of unrest, these vendors hoped of inserting something good into the world during a much-needed time.

Charley Coldon from Coda’s Events, the planner for this wedding giveaway, chose 612North Event Space + Catering to host this incredible celebration. Located inside the historic Cutlery Building at 612 North 2nd Street, 612North holds two event spaces that offer vastly different experiences. VUE, located on the fifth floor, gives viewers nearly a 360 degree-view of downtown St. Louis, overlooking the Gateway Arch, the Eads Bridge, and the city skyline. ARC is located underground and is an extraordinary space with beautiful historic original stone archways, giving the couple’s guests two completely different backgrounds in the same building.

The notable vendors include Charley Coldon from Coda’s Events, 612North Event Space + Catering, Jackelynn Noel Photography, B. Cannon Photo + Film, Fete Booth St. Louis, Ashley Boren Makeup & Hair, Kelsea’s Kreations, Art By Jilleun, Spoil Me Sweetly, Nadine & Mina, Handwritten by Katherine, Mia Grace Bridal, Serendipity Floral Design, STL Wedding Celebrant, and Allegro Entertainment.

“With such limited reasons to celebrate this year due to COVID, we are honored to host and provide a backdrop for Laura and Steffen’s special day. Even though this year has been extremely difficult for the events industry, Charley brought together these top-rated and popular St. Louis wedding vendors to collaborate and create an unforgettable celebration for the lovely couple,” said Christina Walsh, Events & Catering Director for 612North Event Space + Catering.

Laura and Steffen knew each other for many years before Steffen’s sister’s wedding brought them together and the chemistry was undeniable. They had a long-distance relationship until Steffen decided to take a leap of faith and move to St. Louis to be closer to Laura. Over the 10

years they have known each other, they both made a lot of sacrifices to make their relationship work and were prepared to take on the financial burden of their wedding, until they came across this wedding giveaway. “To win the wedding of our dreams after this long of waiting for the right one would mean everything to both of us!” said Laura. The couple submitted a 5-minute video about their story and went through two rounds of interviews before the vendors ultimately announced the winner at 612North Event Space + Catering. The happy couple will be married on Friday, November 5, 2021.

For more information about these vendors please visit the following websites: Coda’s Events, 612North Event Space + Catering, Jackelynn Noel Photography, B. Cannon Photo + Film, Fete Booth St. Louis, Ashley Boren Makeup & Hair, Kelsea’s Kreations, Art By Jilleun, Spoil Me Sweetly, Nadine & Mina, Handwritten by Katherine, Mia Grace Bridal, Serendipity Floral Design, STL Wedding Celebrant, and Allegro Entertainment

Finding the Ceremony Officiant

By Kim Forrest

Planning your wedding ceremony is just as important as the reception details, and can often be one of the hardest decisions you’ll make.

couple laughing during wedding ceremony

Photo: Sarah Libby Photography

Planning your wedding ceremony is just as important as the reception details, and finding a wedding officiant can often be one of the hardest decisions you’ll make.

If you already have a strong feeling about who you want to perform your ceremony, this can be a bit of an easier task to check off your list. However, if you’re getting married in a place where you do not have ties to a church, synagogue, or local judge, you will need to find a wedding officiant. It may be beneficial to search reviews and testimonials from other couples for advice and to help establish credibility.

Before you begin the search, be sure to look into the laws of the state or country where your wedding will be taking place, as this may affect who can and cannot marry you.

Whether you have known this person since you were little, or you just found him/her on WeddingWire, the most important thing is that you and your fiancé feel comfortable with your selection. Some may even ask for a number of counseling sessions before the wedding day which can also act as ‘getting to know you’ sessions for the two of you and the officiant. Give some back stories to your relationship, and little anecdotes that will make the ceremony a bit more personalized. Make sure everyone is on the same page and that you are comfortable with what he/she is saying, and vice versa.

If you are averse to finding someone new, you can always have a family member or friend become ordained online (but again you’ll want to check local laws to make sure they can legally marry you).

Last but not least, don’t forget to have him/her sign the marriage license on the wedding day!

20 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

By Kim Forrest

There are several ways to make your ceremony truly feel like you – little touches that will make your ceremony truly feel personal. Here are a few of our favorites.

wedding ceremony

Photo: Priscilla Thomas Photography

The ceremony is the most important part of the wedding day – it’s the reason why your nearest and dearest have gathered to celebrate.

Of course, wedding ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s up to you and your future spouse (and your officiant) to decide how you’d like the proceedings to go. But there are several ways to make your ceremony truly feel like you – little touches that will make your ceremony truly feel personal. Here are a few of our favorites.

Let your wedding officiant get to know you
Your officiant is the one who will lead your ceremony, so it’s important to choose someone who is interested in getting to know you and your spouse. Meet with your officiant several times before your wedding, if possible, to make sure he or she understands your personalities and your story, as well as any needs or desires for the actual ceremony.

Add heirloom details
Get nostalgic by including accessories or other items passed down from family members or friends. For example, attach your great-grandmother’s locket to your bouquet, or include a religious item that has been in your family for generations.

Share photos
Display photos of you and your spouse in the entryway to your ceremony space, if allowed. This will give your guests a quick summary of your history as a couple before they watch you wed.

Give the little ones time to shine
Children are unpredictable – but they also add a lighthearted and fun-loving touch to a wedding ceremony. You can go the traditional route with your ring bearers or flower girls (who are usually ages four to ten, by the way), by asking them to carry ring pillows and baskets of petals, or try something a bit out-of-the-box with signs, ribbon wands, or something totally unique! And remember if your littlest attendants don’t behave like little angels during their walk down the aisle, just laugh it off – it’s all part of the fun of the day!

Choose ceremony music you love
Some ceremonies require specific musical selections, but if you have any flexibility in the score of your ceremony, choose songs that are meaningful to you and your future spouse. It’s usually best to keep to instrumentals for the processional and recessional, but you can also include other songs as interludes during the ceremony proceedings. Everything from Beatles songs, pop tunes, jazz standards, and more are all fair game.

Open seating
Your guests don’t have to choose sides – keep the seating plan open so that guests can sit wherever they’d like and mix and mingle with one another, adding to a “one big happy family” vibe. Some creative signage can help get the message across.

pick a seat not a side sign

Photo: Crystal Madsen Photography

Honor loved ones
A subtle nod to loved ones who have passed away can be a sweet and meaningful gesture. A few ideas: placing a photo of the family members or friends on a chair in the front row, or including their favorite flower in the ceremony décor. You can also include their names in your programs, or feature a favorite song or passage as a reading or interlude.

Personalize your programs
There are a few things you should include in your ceremony program – the order of the proceedings and a list of the wedding party members are usually musts. However, there are other optional items that can make your program even more personalized. Include a thank-you note to your guests, a tribute to loved ones who have passed on, or even a favorite quote or song lyric that you feel is appropriate for the big day. The design of the program should have a similar feel to your wedding décor to keep things consistent.

Think about your rings
If your wedding rings have special meaning, your officiant can mention this in your ceremony proceedings. Another ritual we like for smaller weddings: passing your rings around the audience so that each of your guests can give them their own blessings.

Include your pet
Your pet is an important member of your family, so you may want to include him or her into your ceremony. Of course, you’ll have to get the okay from your venue first, but there’s little cuter than a furry friend dressed to the nines making his or her debut down the aisle.

Consider your guests’ comfort
Think about the weather on your wedding day – especially if you’re hosting an outdoor ceremony. If the weather will be particularly warm and sunny, offer your guests fans, parasols, and make sure cold drinks are available. For cooler days, offer shawls or blankets – as well as heating lamps, if possible!

Include a unique ring vessel
Choose a ring pillow or vessel that matches your décor scheme and style. And remember – you don’t have to have a ring pillow at all! From vintage trays to seashells, choose a vessel that feels appropriate to you.

Set up a cool seating arrangement
If your ceremony venue has flexibility, we love the idea of mixing up ceremony seating arrangements. From seating all of your guests “in the round” to incorporating modern lounge furniture, be creative, but be sure to keep your guests comfort in mind.

seashell ring holder

Photo: Alena Bakutis Photography

Write your own vows
You don’t have to write your own vows, but some couples like to include that super-personal element in their ceremony. After making sure it’s okay with your officiant, give yourself plenty of time to write a meaningful expression of your love (don’t wait until the night before – please!). Include a few personal anecdotes or details to describe your relationship and make sure to include a promise (or the actual “vow). And be sure to use your officiant as a resource or sounding board – they’re there to help!

Include a unique ritual
You may choose to include a unique ritual, like a handfasting, wine ceremony or sand ceremony into your ceremony – again, with the approval of your officiant. If you’d like to go this route, choose just one ritual in the interest of focus and brevity.

Choose the right backdrop
Whether it’s a lush floral display, a set of antique doors, or a creative arrangement of bright ribbons, paper pinwheels, or bunting, choose a ceremony backdrop that fits your wedding style.

Put your name on it
Include your monogram or initials throughout your ceremony décor to put your personal stamp on the day. From moss letters on the venue doors to a monogrammed aisle runner, there are lots of options to choose from.

Personalize the processional
The traditional wedding processional includes the bride’s father walking her down the aisle – but you do not have to go this route. We’ve seen brides and grooms walk down the aisle with both parents, just a mom or dad, a sibling or two, or even hand-in-hand with each other. Those with stepparents may wish to walk half of the way down the aisle with a stepparent, then the rest of the way with a birth parent – there are lots of options to choose from. Think about your family situation and decide what feels most comfortable to you – that’s what’s most important.

Choose the right readings
Many couples like to include special readings into their ceremony. Work with your officiant to source readings that are both meaningful to you and your spouse and appropriate for your ceremony style. From religious passages to selections from songs or children’s books to old love letters or emails you wrote one another, there are lots of readings to choose from. And it’s a great way to include family members or special friends into your ceremony.

Have a fun recessional
You’re married, time to celebrate! Choose upbeat music for this exciting time (we’re suckers for Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered”). And if your venue allows, you can ask your guests to toss confetti or pom poms, blow bubbles, or wave ribbon wands or flags.

12 Wedding Ceremony Reading Ideas from the Pros

By Kim Forrest

We asked ceremony officiants from around the country to share excerpts from their favorite wedding ceremony readings to help inspire you.

wedding ceremony

Photo: Bryan Sargent Photography

Including a reading in your wedding ceremony can be a great way to personalize the proceedings, as well as include family members or friends into your day. But, with all of the options available, how do you go about finding a wedding ceremony reading that’s appropriate for you and your future spouse?

To inspire you, here are some unique and moving wedding ceremony reading excerpts, straight from expert officiants themselves.

From Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving…” (read more)

“This is one reading I’ve only used one or twice but I really like it a lot. It’s short, sweet and very touching:” – Betty J. Coram of NJ Beautiful Weddings in Somerset, New Jersey



“Real Love” by Daphne Rose Kingma
“…In the end, nothing we do or say in this lifetime will matter as much as the way we have loved one another.”

“This is one of my favorite readings. The last line sums up life.” – Wanda Tracey of Weddings by Wanda in Las Vegas, Nevada



From A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
“…Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now…” (read more)

“I like this reading because it is honest and true, the words visualize a relationship, and it touches our hearts.” – Carolyn Burke of Carolyn Burke Wedding Coordinator/Officiant in St. Louis, Missouri



“How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali
“…Love doesn’t like being left alone for long,
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
But you can never be mad at love for long…” (read more)

“I often have couples who love their dogs so much they want to include them in the ceremony in some way. Yet as cute as their dog might be trotting down the aisle as the ring bearer; it’s not always practical. A reading like this is a great way to personalize a ceremony for dog-lovers without the added complications that having Fido in the wedding party presents” – Rev. Laura Cannon of Ceremony Officiants



From The Princess Bride by William Goldman
“…Every time you said ‘Farm Boy, do this,’ you thought I was answering, ‘As you wish,’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.” (read more)

“This reading is great for the romantic poetic man. The guy who was so in love with his bride before she even knew his name. Think, nerd in high school in love with the captain of the cheerleaders. His world is his bride and he has fought long and hard to win her heart.” – Rev. Shawn Miller of Young, Hip & Married in Vancouver, Canada



From The Bridge Across Forever by Richard Bach
“A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys that fit our locks…” (read more)

“A bride and groom who were giving skeleton keys as favors used this excerpt during their ceremony.” – Nancy J. Taussig of Barefoot Weddings in Sarasota, Florida



“The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
“It doesn’t interest me/what you do for a living
I want to know/what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing…” (read more)

“This reading is ideal for a couple who wants to emphasize their hope to make a positive impact on the world,” – Carolyn Germaine of Grand Avenue Wedding Officiants in St. Paul, Minnesota


“You Are My Home” by Alex DuKaten
“I have learned that I can trust your constant presence
and that even in the hustle and bustle of life
in times of sorrow or uncertainty
there can be great joy…”

“This reading is a favorite of mine to offer to couples who feel that for the first time they are at peace, feel safe, and have finally found their home.” – LisaAnn DuKaten of Ceremonies From the Heart in Newton, Massachusetts



“Now I Sing For You” by Ryan Adams
“Now I sing my life for you
I will not be leaving; going anywhere without you…” (read more)

“I like this reading because it is fresh, it speaks from the heart and it exemplifies the love a couple has for one another.” – Maureen Thomson of Lyssabeth’s Wedding Officiants in Denver, Colorado



Quote from Bob Marley
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around…” (read more)

“This untitled reading is best used in a short ceremony for the bulk of the address, but wow does Bob Marley ever get what finding the right person is all about!” – Marie April Gismondi of Church of Ancient Ways in Kings Park, New York


From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”

This is my number one-favorite reading, as it talks about love making you real, and being shabby, hairless and loose in the joints. It is one of the very best ways of describing true love!” – Rev. Judith L. Guasch in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania


Quote from Barbara Cage
“Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other, and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together.”

“This quote that was mentioned was inspired by marriage equality, which is very important to us as individuals and as a company. It is appropriate for all couples, and it comes from a very powerful time in history.” – Elysa Skye and Arielle Haze of LA Wedding Woman in Los Angeles, California

6 Meaningful Secular Wedding Ceremony Ideas

By Whitney Teal

any wedding traditions have deep roots in religious significance, so it can be difficult to craft a meaningful secular ceremony — here are some ideas.

gay wedding chairs
MCKINNON PHOTOGRAPHY

Even if your wedding isn’t taking place in a place of worship, it can be pretty difficult to craft secular wedding ceremony ideas with meaningful rituals. This is important if you and your spouse were raised in different faith traditions, and therefore want to avoid bringing either into your wedding. Or, conversely, if one or both of you weren’t raised in any particular faith, so you’re uncomfortable involving religion or religious ceremony rituals for your wedding. Whatever the reason for wanting to create a secular wedding ceremony, there are lots of ways to fill out your non-religious wedding with heartfelt activities to symbolize your union.

Here are 6 meaningful secular wedding ceremony ideas to consider.

Love ceremony readings

Choosing a poem, song or excerpt from a movie or novel is a great way to incorporate important words into your wedding ceremony, beyond the vows. Wedding ceremony readings may also allow you to honor important persons in your life as well, as you may choose to select a close friend or family member who is not in your wedding party to take part in the ceremony by performing the reading. Your reading can be as traditional or non-traditional as you all are as a couple, so don’t limit yourself to only text that feels more appropriate for a wedding. Dig deep into your well of inspiration for your favorite lines that symbolize your relationship and what love and marriage mean to you and your partner.

Sand pouring

Meant to symbolize the eternal wedding of love birds, this secular wedding ceremony ritual involves filling two vases with sand. Some couples will specifically use sand from their native country or home state, and most couples will be sure that each vase contains sand of different colors. During the ceremony, the couple pours sand from each vase into one larger vase. Once poured, the two types of sand mix and create a unique pattern that makes the sand indistinguishable from each other.

Plant a tree (or a bottle of liquor!)

Trees offer tons of symbolism for a secular wedding ceremony. It’s a living organism that grows both deep into the earth and high into the sky. It’s something that is only as healthy as its foundation, and even though it can grow big and strong, it can be cut down with relative ease. If you and your partner are nature lovers, consider a ceremonial tree planting as one of your non-religious wedding ideas. A variation on the tree planting is to take a page from classic Southern weddings and bury a bottle of bourbon. It’s one of the wedding traditions with murky origins, but the intent is to ensure sunny weather on your wedding day. One month before you marry, plant an unopened bottle of your favorite brew at your ceremony site. Once your ceremony is done, you’re free to dig up the bourbon and drink up! Of course, you’re free to adapt these traditions to suit you and the wedding style of your choosing. Plant a bush or a group of flowers instead of a tree; seed a bottle of vodka instead of bourbon.

Ring warming

Most wedding ceremonies, whether a non-religious wedding ceremony or religious, don’t involve the guests much. Thought to be Celtic in origin, ring warming is one of the few rituals that includes every person in attendance and is a great way to personalize your ceremony. Either by passing the ring to wedding guests using a uniting ribbon or thread or by encouraging guests to “warm” your rings as they enter the ceremony space, ring warming asks your wedding guests to place a silent blessing, intention or well wish onto your wedding rings.

Wine box ceremony

Wine lovers rejoice because this non-religious wedding idea allows you to celebrate your love of your partner and your love of vino. The concept includes each partner writing a love letter to the other. The contents are entirely up to you to personalize, so you can write about why you chose to marry this person, or your hopes for your future together, or anything else. Then, work together to create a decorative box that will fit your favorite bottle of wine. Some couples elect to have a special family member or friend create the box, or purchase from a place with significance. It’s up to you, but you can definitely use each part of this ceremony as a sharing opportunity. Next, you’ll select a bottle of wine (or sparkling wine, or prosecco, or champagne — it’s your choice!) to store in the box. Alert the person officiating your ceremony that you want to include this ritual into your wedding, and your officiant will likely want to say a few words before placing both the bottle and your love letters into the box. Lastly, the box will be sealed and won’t be opened until your fifth anniversary.

Unity candle lighting

While unity candle lighting is popular for weddings, even in a religious ceremony, it doesn’t have inherent ties to a particular faith. It’s a fairly simple ritual that is said to symbolize new marriages. Choose three candles — one to symbolize you; one to symbolize your partner and one to symbolize your new marriage. Often, the last candle is larger than the other two, but it’s not a rule. Before the ceremony, each set of parents will light one of the smaller candles. During the ceremony, your officiant will prepare a script that speaks to the significance of two people joining together to create one partnership. When prompted, each of you will light the larger candle using the flames from your smaller candles.

African Wedding Customs to Know As a First-Time Guest

By Whitney Teal

Learn what to expect before attending your first African wedding. Just remember that customs vary a lot throughout the various religions and ethnic groups of the continent.

Fotos by Fola
FOTOS BY FOLA

Africa is a large and diverse continent, and African wedding customs vary a lot depending on the region, nation, religion and ethnic group of the couple. The United States is home to a dynamic African diaspora from many different countries, so it’s not surprising you’ve been invited to an African wedding. Fret not! While the basic mechanics of the ceremony (readings, vows and symbolic rituals) will likely be familiar, there will be some cultural differences you will definitely want to know.

These are some of the most popular African wedding customs you might see as a guest.

North African wedding customs

This majority Muslim region of Africa includes Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia.

It’s traditional for brides from this region to perform a ritual bath, called a Hamam, to purify themselves before marriage. Next, the bride and her closest will gather for a henna party, where their hands and feet will be decorated with traditional dye for good luck. If you’re part of the African wedding’s bridal party or a close friend of the bride, you might also be invited to this the night before the wedding.

North African weddings are almost always Muslim, so the rituals and customs will be derived from Islam. It’s important to dress conservatively in the Mosque for the ceremony (no bare arms or legs for both genders), and for women to bring a scarf to cover their heads. You will also be asked to remove your shoes before entering the ceremony location. A Muslim wedding will feature a short ceremony called a Nikah, which is totally segregated by gender. The wedding reception might be fully separated as well, with different rooms for men and women, or partially separate with a partition down the middle or men and women at different tables.

West African wedding customs

Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Senegal are among the nations in West Africa.

Nigerian Americans are a sizable population in the United States, so the odds of you being invited to a Nigerian wedding are high. Depending on the tribe, customs will vary.

Yoruba traditional weddings feature a ritual called Tasting of the Elements, which represents the balance of emotions in a relationship. Food or drinks that are sour, hot, sweet and bitter are presented to the couple by the officiant and eaten to show they’re prepared to go through life’s good and bad together.

The Igbo are another Nigerian tribe with unique wedding rituals. Sharing of the Kola Nut is native to this tribe and may be performed at a traditional ceremony. The couple symbolically shares this small nut during the ceremony, then keeps the rest of it in their home to remind them of their commitment to one another.

Aso ebi is a tradition that spans much of West Africa and involves a ceremonial cloth that not only the bridesmaids, but also close friends, sisters and cousins of the bride will all wear for the wedding. The bride’s mother and the groom’s mother may also choose to pick out their own cloth for their close family and associates to wear as well. The aso ebi is a way of showing your closeness to the family during ceremonial events.

Bellagala PhotographyBELLAGALA PHOTOGRAPHY

East African wedding customs

Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Tanzania are among the large nations in East Africa.  

Swahili people are native to Kenya, Tanzania and parts of Central Africa as well. Many from this part of the continent practice Islam, and their wedding customs mirror those of other Islamic cultures. Similar to North Africans and Indians, Swahili weddings feature a pre-wedding henna party for the bride, bridesmaids and the other women closest to her. Swahili grooms and their friends gather for a night of fight-dancing before the wedding called Kirumbizi.

Amhara people are native to parts of Ethiopia and their traditional weddings feature garments made from Habesha cloth. Brides wear elegant white gowns made from this fabric with trimmings in gold or red, and accents in deep greens, bright blues or rich black. The groom’s attire can be a Western suit or a long coat with pants in the same cloth.

Ethiopian Orthodox is one of the most popular religions of the region, and many Ethiopian American couples will host their weddings in this fashion. With similar teachings as Greek Orthodox and Catholic religions, these weddings always take place in a church and feature Holy Trinity symbolism.

Central and South African wedding customs

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and the Congo are included in this region.

Zulus are a large and important ethnic group that span this region. The traditional Zulu wedding ceremony is called Umabo, although couples from these countries also normally have a “white wedding,” or a Westernized ceremony, on a different day. You may be invited to both ceremonies.

Traditionally, an Umabo took place at the groom’s parents home, but modern couples might adapt this. Zulu brides where a cow skin skirt that is reserved for married women and a special headdress, called Isicholo, that is a also a sign of being married. The ceremony begins with the groom’s father welcoming his new daughter-in-law, then the bride’s father giving away his daughter to her new family. The family and guests usually sit on grass mats as the brides sisters and bridesmaids bring gifts from her to her in-laws.