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Quickie Question: DIY Vows or Standard Form?

Let’s face it. The ceremony is the whole reason for all the trappings of a wedding. There’s no particular point to the flowers and fancy clothes and music and all the rest if nobody says some form of I do.

And yet we spend little time here at Manolo for the Brides discussing those actual vows.

There are a lot of people who feel strongly about how those vows should be ordered and spoken. Some believe that the standard, traditional form for their particular religion is by far the best and most meaningful. I can’t argue with that, and I wouldn’t if I could. Others feel that writing one’s own vows shows a level of thought and commitment that can’t be shared by those who repeat vows others have said down the years. Again, I have no argument and wouldn’t raise one if I did.

My feeling is, very simply, that each couple needs to figure this one out for themselves. Traditional or custom, you’re the ones taking the vows and they need to mean something to you.

In my own case, I probably would have preferred to write my own vows. I come from a long line of lapsed Catholics and cultural Presbyterians, and never developed a religious system or faith of my own. I didn’t particularly want to speak words written for people who believe in something I just plain don’t. Still, I wound up researching and finding a set of standard vows I could live with and using those. Why? Because Mr. Twistie wanted nothing to do with writing the ceremony and I wasn’t going to put my words into his mouth. The only thing he wanted to say was ‘I do’ and he probably would have said that to pretty much any vow I had chosen or written. He just wanted to be married to me with a minimum of fuss and feathers.

Sometimes it’s all about finding a compromise you can live with as a couple. And since I wrote the rest of the ceremony, well, I was still getting my philosophy in there. It’s not like I just grabbed someone else’s religion and had my secular officiant deliver it in the woods for a pair of non-believers.

What about all of you? Writing your own? Following tradition? Finding a compromise path between the two options?

Tell me all about it!

Tune Me Up

Regular and thoughtful reader srah wanted some ideas for picking the processional and recessional for her upcoming wedding. Well, srah, I’ve got a few thoughts not on what specifically you should choose, but on how to choose something that will make you and your intended all kinds of happy.

When the classic original version of Father of the Bride was made in 1950 (see, I worked in the illustration in the end), there was no question what music would play as Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor processed up the aisle for her wedding. Wagner’s wedding march for going up the aisle, Mendelssohn on the way back down again.

Both of those tunes still get heavy play at weddings, and why not? They’re traditional, they fulfill people’s expectations, and a lot of people love them.

But not everyone wants to do the expected. Not everyone loves those tunes. Some of us remember how that marriage that started with Wagner’s march ended. For those who aren’t rabid opera fans, here’s a hint: it sure ain’t a happy story.

Besides, there’s a whole world of music that can be used for these important walks. Why limit yourself to two tunes that may or may not mean anything to you at all? And how do you choose between all the possibilities?

That’s what I’m here to talk to you about today.
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If Mohammed Won’t Come to the Mountain….

… then the mountain must come to Mohammed, right?

And if you’re in Las Vegas and don’t feel like going to the wedding chapel, well, now there’s a wedding chapel on wheels that will come to you.

The Las Vegas Wedding Wagon will meet you anywhere in Sin City to get you hitched for $99.00. Just call or text and tell them where you want to get married. All you need to provide is your own marriage license, and they’ll even help you with getting that on their handy website. Oh, and they do point out the license is unnecessary if you’re having a vow reaffirmation or a commitment ceremony. You only need it if this is a legal wedding ceremony.

Included in the price is a fifteen minute ceremony, the licensed minister, the witness, and up to five candid photographs. But for a little extra, you can buy matching tee shirts, too. There are no hidden fees, they announce on their website, but gratuities are cheerfully accepted if you feel like giving them one.

All in all, I’ve heard a lot worse ideas… like the Vegas firearms shop that features actual shotgun weddings.

Quickie Question: How Long is Too Long? How Short is Too Short?


When it comes to planning wedding ceremonies, many couples struggle with a Goldilocks kind of question: is it too long, too short, or just right?

Obviously culture and religion play a strong role in finding the right answer. A full Catholic Mass or Orthodox Christian ceremony can take hours. A Hindu wedding where all the traditions are observed lasts for days. A civil ceremony can last less than a minute, if the participants are properly motivated.

I well remember leaving the church with Mr. Twistie after a Catholic wedding ceremony that lasted more than two hours. As we headed to the reception, he leaned over and whispered to me “You’re the only person I would ever do this for.” Long religious ceremonies? Not his thing. Not really mine, either, but the bride was a dear friend, so I was more than willing to sit through it all for her.

On the other hand, there was another wedding I attended where the bride and groom had barely processed to the altar when they were done and turned back around. I swear I blinked and missed everything but the kiss.

When planning my own wedding, I kept both of these weddings in mind. Mr. Twistie and I both have a background in performance, but we’re more interested in a party than giving a show. Neither of us is religious, so we didn’t have any requirements to fulfill beyond the bare bones legal ones. Still, we did want to do something long enough to make it worth everyone’s time to get dressed up and drive all that way. Guests do tend to expect some level of pomp and ceremony if they’re coughing up a place setting and the time and effort to show up. And I know how cheated I felt at the couple that got to the altar, said ‘sure thing’, kissed and headed off to the reception with no further ado.

So we aimed to keep things in the ten to twenty minute range for the ceremony proper. I think once there was a reading and a song and the statement of intent and vows and rings and all… yeah, it came out somewhere around twelve minutes or so. We probably could have added another reading or something, but I have to admit we were eager to get off the stage and on to the party.

What about you? Was there a time frame you tried to keep within? Are you worried about restless guests or underwhelmed ones? Keeping it short so your nerves won’t give out halfway through? Stretching it out to make it last? What’s your ideal length for a wedding ceremony?

Love Through Rose Colored Goggles

Once upon a time, there were two boys.

Well, maybe not those boys and not quite that long ago.

Still, two boys who met and became good friends. For years they were quite close.

Alas! Over the years they eventually drifted apart. It wasn’t any one thing or on purpose, but it happened nonetheless. Still, they never forgot one another.

Well, a few weeks ago, Mr. Twistie and his childhood friend found one another again on Facebook… and it turned out John was about to get married.

And so it was that yesterday Mr. Twistie and I repaired to the Benicia Clock Tower to attend our first ever steampunk wedding.


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Wise Words of Love and Cobain


Okay, they weren’t the ones to actually speak the words. I don’t have any evidence one way or the other about whether either one of them had a hand in writing them.

Still, the other day I happened across their wedding ceremony, and found myself deeply touched by the thoughtful, gentle view of marriage it expressed. In particular, I loved this passage:

May you always need one another, not so much to fill the emptiness as to help each other know your fullness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with each other, and not fail in the little graces. Look for things to praise, often say ‘I love you’ and take no notice of small faults. May you have happiness, and may you find it in making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.

I could wish nothing better for each and every one of you in your marriages.

Guest Post: Lighting Guru Bentley Meeker On Lighting Design for Weddings

What’s this? Today’s post is written not by me, Christa aka Never teh Bride, but by Bentley Meeker, America’s premier lighting designer. I thought Mr. Meeker might have something to say on the subject of lighting design for weddings, as he has worked for over two decades in the event industry, creating extraordinary environments for the weddings of notable celebrities like Robert DeNiro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Chelsea Clinton. The images in Mr. Meeker’s post come from his book, Light X Design, which features a kaleidoscope of amazing lighting design for weddings and other events.

Wedding lighting design for ceremonies

Lighting is THE single most important visual element in your wedding. More so than flowers, decor, or even architecture and space. Yet, with all of its critical nature, so many brides, and even wedding planners, don’t consider lighting or budget for it at all. If so, it is often looked at as an addendum to the wedding decor budget.

With lighting setting the mood, it should be considered first and foremost once a space is chosen. Here’s why: One can transform any space with light, but one can only augment with flowers or decor.

On the practical side, there are three things that need to be managed when executing a lighting design for weddings:

  • The room needs to look beautiful
  • The guests have to feel good
  • Lastly, the guests, especially the bride, have to FEEL good

Lighting design for receptions, too

So in support of that, here are five things to look for when lighting a wedding:

1. Symmetry - Light everything evenly so that the room looks symmetrical.

2. Intensity - Dim the lights a little less than you think you should. Your eye adjusts to the lower light and it creates so much more atmosphere than you’d ever imagine. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Levels - Dim absolutely everything. Having the ability to dim the lights when the grandparents go home and set the mood for the kids is a pretty important thing to be able to do.

4. Color - Soft beautiful flattering colors (pinks, ambers, honeys and apricots) should be used wherever people are. While we love blue and green to look at, and we often want to go bolder with color, those colors make our skin tones sallow and pasty.

5. Angles - Be super sensitive to light in peoples’ eyes by angling things as vertically as possible. If your grandmother has a light shining in her eyes all night, chances are she’ll go home before the cake cutting.

There is also a 6th consideration, namely your lighting designer. Since lighting is often mysterious and unknown, and the bride and her family are often unable to see the full picture prior to their walking in, (decor, catering, etc. will not yet have been set up) it is very important that your lighting designer really get you and who you are. That’s personality driven and I think it should be considered right alongside talents and portfolios as a critical criteria.

~Bentley Meeker

Are you a wedding vendor who has some insight to share with brides-to-be and grooms-to-be? Send me an email to talk about the possibility of guest posting right here!

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