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  • Writer's picturePaper Birch Collective

A Wedding Ceremony Guide: Top Tips, Trends, and Traditions

Updated: Apr 25

 

Best tips for planning your Wedding ceremony—there's much more to it than showing up & saying your "I do's!"


Wedding ceremony ring photo by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County

Let’s dive into the enchanting world of your Wedding ceremony! As a professional wedding photography and videography team, we have had the wonderful privilege of capturing countless of love stories—from proposals, to engagements, to weddings. We love documenting the beauty of your memories in the most authentic and intimate way. Our team has witnessed all the magic that unfolds as two souls come together, from the soft glow of morning light as you get ready for the big day to your heartfelt exchange of vows at the altar and dancing the night away. Today, we will share with you our most essential tips and heartfelt advice to help make your Wedding ceremony truly unforgettable. Don't miss out on our bonus tips at the end for more ways to spice up your ceremony. Let's make some memories!



11 Top Tips For Your Wedding Ceremony

When it comes to planning your Wedding, choosing your color, cake flavors and centerpieces might be more exciting than writing vows and ceremony programs. It is important to remember that your ceremony is one of the most important parts of your Wedding day. Not only does the ceremony set the tone for the whole day, but it's the moment when you officially tie the knot! So here are our top tips to consider for having the most memorable and special wedding ceremony.


1.) Plan for Extra Getting Ready Time Before Your Ceremony

The hours leading up to your Wedding ceremony will likely be a mix of excitement, nerves, and anticipation. To make sure that everything runs smoothly, we always highly suggest that you plan for extra getting ready time. Please trust us; it is worth it! The last thing you will want on your Wedding morning is to feel rushed, stressed, or behind schedule. Allocate more than enough time to enjoy your champagne, laugh with your loved ones, and truly savor these precious preparation moments. Plus, having extra time also ensures that you're able to capture those candid shots of you slipping into your gown or adjusting your tie. A smooth getting ready experience will certainly help you also have a smooth ceremony!


Wedding photo while Bride getting ready by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County taken at Occasions at Laguna Village in Laguna Beach California

2.) Get To Know Your Officiant & Communicate All Your Expectations/Wishes

It is super important to know that your officiant plays a significant role in your ceremony. This is why it is essential to take the time to truly connect with them beforehand. Share your love story, your vision and expectations for the day, as well as any personal touches you want to incorporate. Another important topic to discuss is if you want your officiant to step away before you during your first kiss as newly weds (*this is if you don't want them to photobomb your first kiss photo). Whether you and your partner are having a religious or secular ceremony, clear communication with your officiant will ensure that your vows, rituals, and all things ceremony align perfectly with your love story.


Wedding ceremony photo by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County at Botanica the Venue in Oceanside

3.) The “No Phones” Announcement

Ah, our beloved smartphones! While they are indeed helpful, they can easily distract us from the magic of any special moment, especially your Wedding ceremony. Many couples ask their officiant to make a pre-ceremony friendly announcement reminding guests to silence their phones as well as refrain from taking photos/videos during the ceremony. This helps everyone be fully present in your special moment. Your professional photography and videography team will certainly thank you as this also helps them capture those unfiltered, authentic emotions - especially without phones photo-bombing all your wedding photos.


4.) A First Look!

First looks are seriously magical—possibly one of the most intimate and special parts about your Wedding. Imagine seeing each other before the ceremony, just the two of you. The anticipation, the raw emotions—it’s such a private, intimate experience you'll never forget. Plus, this makes more time for romantic portraits, so you can later enjoy more of your cocktail hour with friends and family. And don’t worry; the aisle moment will still be just as special! Read our blog for more on this somewhat controversial wedding tradition HERE!


The First Look: A Modern Wedding Tradition - Pros & Cons



5.) Walking Down the Aisle

Walk down the aisle as slow as a sloth. Yes, you read that right! As you walk down the aisle, slow down... as slow as a sloth. Savor each and every step. The aisle is like your runway and you and your partner are the stars of the show. Also, as you walk down the aisle, you must resist the urge to look down at your feet or the ground. Look at your partner. Take in the faces of your all your closest friends, family, and your forever person waiting for you. Let the music slowly guide you, lock eyes with your partner, and soak in all the love radiating from your guests. This is definitely not a race; it’s a celebration of your love story—cherish it all as much as you possibly can!


Wedding grand exit at ceremony photo by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County

6.) Embrace All Your Emotions

Weddings are always an emotional roller coaster (but in the very best way!). From nervous giggles to tearful vows—embrace it ALL! Let your laughter echo throughout the venue and let your tears flow. These genuine moments full of emotion are what make your love story uniquely yours and unforgettable.


Wedding ceremony gif shot by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County taken at Grand Tradition Estate & Gardens

7.) Hold Hands

Wedding ceremony photo of bride and groom holding hands shot by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County taken at Occasions at Laguna Village in Laguna Beach California

A simple, yet profound Wedding tip for you and your partner. Holding hands with each other during your ceremony allows for an even deeper connection as you step into this next chapter together. You can think of it like a silent promise; a reassurance that you’re in this together. And not to mention, it looks even more stunning and special in your photos!


8.) Have a Vow Book

Memorizing and saying your vows on the spot isn’t always easy for everyone. Plus, public speaking in general is not the easiest task in itself. Enter your vow book: a beautifully crafted keepsake that can help you share your love. Here you will write why you love your partner, your promises, your hopes, and your dreams. When you exchange vows, you’ll have a tangible reminder of your commitment and you will not need to worry about remembering what you want to say. We love this tip because it makes for a beautiful and sentimental souvenir as well as helps you fully communicate your love in words.



9.) The Exit: More Kisses, Please!

The more kisses, the better! As you exit as newlyweds, pause a few times along the aisle. Give each other big kisses—maybe even a romantic dip or a triumphant “Woohoo!” These extra kisses create stunning photos and add a dash of playfulness to your gallery. After all, your wedding is a celebration of LOVE. So go ahead and don't be afraid to linger in on that kiss and even sneak in some more. Just embrace all your love and joy! Sharing more kisses with your partner will also let your photographer capture even more romantic photos for your gallery and videos for your highlight film. Plus, your partner will love the extra love, your guests will be in awe, and your photography/videography team will thank you. It's a win-win situation for everyone!


Wedding ceremony exit kiss photo at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego California shot by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County

10.) Your Ceremony Program

Your Wedding ceremony program can help the tone for the day. You can keep it simple and straight to the point, or you can customize it to match your unique love. Your program should outline all of the planned ceremony traditions, introduce your wedding party, and can even share cute facts about your love story. Keep it elegant, informative, and true to your personalities. Have fun with your program, but also remember that you don't need to get too carried away as it is simply an extra way to add personality to your Wedding. Check out this cute newspaper wedding program idea below!


Wedding ceremony program at Botanica the Venue in Oceanside photo by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County

11.) Back Up Plans

Just like in life, Weddings can face some conflicts and challenges. You can almost always count on something going wrong or something unexpected happening on your Wedding day. It really is inevitable! But, having a plan B (and C, if possible), will be your lifesaver. Especially with an outdoor ceremony, you cannot always guarantee perfect weather conditions, so is a good idea to reserve a back up tent or make sure your location as an indoor alternative option.


Wedding newly weds ceremony photo by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County taken at Occasions at Laguna Village in Laguna Beach California


5 BONUS Tips For Your Wedding Ceremony

Looking for more ways to spice up your Wedding ceremony? There are really so many different options when it comes to making your ceremony truly represent who you and your partner are, individually and together as a couple. And while there are plenty of decisions to make when it comes to your Wedding designs such as florals, desserts, and other decorations, perhaps some of the most meaningful choices you’ll make is what will be included in your ceremony. Here 5 extra bonus tips to consider for having an even more special and unique ceremony!


Include Unity Rituals  

Unity rituals are a beautiful way to add depth and symbolism to your ceremony. Whether you pick a sand ceremony, dip bread in wine, have a candle lighting, do a circling ritual, gift leis, or plant a tree, these special unity rituals represent the merging of your lives. As you pour sand together or light a unity candle, you are creating a visual metaphor for your union. A unity ritual is definitely not required, but this might be the perfect way to celebrate you and/or your partner's heritage. Whether you want something religious, historical, or secular, choose a ritual that speaks to your hearts and weaves your stories together.



Recognize the Past, Present, & Future

No matter where you choose to say your "I do's", whether it's at a beach resort with 200 guests or in your backyard with 30, your Wedding should give proper acknowledgement to the past, present, the future. After all, your wedding ceremony is a bridge between your past, your present, and your future. Take a moment to honor the journey that brought you and your partner together. Celebrate the present, the love and joy that unites you as well as the lifelong promises you’re making for the future. This shout out is a beautiful way to give thanks and look ahead at the adventures awaiting you, the dreams you’ll chase, and the legacy you’ll create together.


Highlight Your Ring Exchange

The exchange of rings is a timeless tradition symbolizing your lifelong commitment. You should consider placing this moment at the heart of your ceremony to highlight its major significance. Whether you and your partner have a simple gold band or a dazzling diamond, let the exchange of rings be the highlight. As you slip the ring onto each other’s finger, remember that this is not just jewelry—it’s a symbol of love, unbroken and eternal.


Wedding ceremony photo of putting on the ring by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County taken at Pasadena City Hall

Choose Meaningful Music

Music has the incredible power to spark deep emotions. Choose a special and meaningful song that resonates with your unique love story. Maybe it’s the song that played during your first dance or the melody that accompanied an iconic moment in your relationship. Whether it’s a classical piece, a soulful ballad, an upbeat track, or performed live (special bonus if a loved one is a musician!), let the music create magic throughout your Wedding ceremony.


Wedding ceremony photo of band playing by Paper Birch Collective, California Wedding Photographer in Orange County at Botanica the Venue in Oceanside

Don't Include Meaningless Time-Fillers

It is important to avoid adding in things to your ceremony just to take up time. There is no rule for how long your ceremony must last, so there is no pressure to meet a certain time. Everything you include in your ceremony timeline should have a purpose and be meaningful to your unity of love. If a certain tradition or ritual does not fit you, it is completely your choice to skip it! Your Wedding day is about authenticity, not conformity. Do whatever you and your partner desire.



Thanks for Reading 🤍

Thank you for checking out our blog! We really hope this Wedding Ceremony Guide is helpful and we hope you have the Wedding of your dreams that you and your partner deserve! Always remember, your Wedding is a celebration of your unique love, laughter, and shared moments. May your vows be heartfelt, your kisses passionate, and your love story forever. As you walk down the aisle, hand in hand, remember that this moment is not just about the promises you make; it’s about the journey you’ve already embarked upon—the laughter, the late-night conversations, and all the quiet moments that have united your hearts together. Cherish each second and just let us capture the magic of your once in a lifetime memories. So, here’s to love, laughter, and happily ever after. Cheers!


For even more Wedding inspiration and advice, we love these awesome resources:

✨ Martha Weddings | https://www.marthastewart.com/

✨ Style Me Pretty | https://www.stylemepretty.com/

✨ Wedding Wire | https://www.weddingwire.com/



WHY US?

You might be wondering why choose Paper Birch Collective to capture your Wedding, Engagement, or special event. Our team is based in Orange County, California and serving all of SoCal and beyond. We are your friendly neighborhood team of award-winning photographers & videographers. We are addicted to adventure and new experiences, always on the cutting edge of our craft.


Read this blog to see 15 client testimonials, reviewed on The Knot, Wedding Wire, or Yelp. We hope these reviews help you build trust in our work. We deeply appreciate all of our clients who have trusted us with capturing their precious memories. It is a true gift to be a part of so many wonderful peoples' important moments!


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Award-Winning Orange County Wedding Photography & Videography



Let's Make Some Memories!

We are lucky to have captured so many special Wedding memories, from getting ready, to first looks, to ceremonies, and reception parties. To make your wedding planning easy, we offer a couple simple packages. Our packages come with unlimited photos during your event with no upcharge for any delivered images. All our images will be edited to reflect how your big day truly felt. Each package can be customized to your liking including more hours or a second shooter. If you are looking for an elopement package, we have that too! For any specific questions or requests, feel free to reach out and contact us and we will get back to you as soon as humanly possible! Let’s make some memories!


~ Your friendly neighborhood photographer and videographer team (PBC)



 


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