I read an assortment of bridal and wedding magazines recently. I am struck by how often the ceremony is mentioned as the most memorable moment of the wedding. Yet there is little space describing the details of real on-location wedding ceremonies. That’s why I write about the wedding ceremony so that brides and grooms can see where the challenges are and where they can be creative for their on-location wedding.
It used to be that the wedding ceremony was the purview of the religious authority under to which the couple adhered. There was no question, thirty years ago, when my Sweetheart and I decided to marry, that it would be a Roman Catholic wedding. We were fortunate in that we were married by the University of Ottawa Chaplain who allowed us some options in choosing passages for our readings (he allowed Kahlil Gibran) and vows. Everything else in the wedding ceremony was scripted from the Roman Catholic tradition. We just needed to show up at the Chapel and be married.
Times are quickly changing. A set of five articles appeared in The Globe and Mail describing the secularization of Canadian society. In particular, Part IV talks about how young people are shunning religious institutions. The facts are astounding:
“More than half of Canadians in the 15-to-29 age cohort either have no religion or never attend a service of worship, says Statistics Canada. Only 22 per cent say religion is very important to them, down from 34 per cent in 2002. And in a recent poll done by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail, just one in five of the under-30 age group say they are the generation of their family that attends weekly religious services.”
What is important is that the age groups mentioned are same ones that are starting to consider marriage. It points to the important conclusion that young people looking to get married now and in the future are not going to be seeking a religious institution to do it in. This is bearing out. In Ottawa, only 40% of weddings occur in a religious institution. The remaining 60% of weddings are split between city hall (convenient but unromantic in my opinion) and on-location weddings.
This means that the bride and groom now have ownership of their wedding ceremony – not the religious institution. They can have a wedding ceremony that truly reflects who they are and what this union means to them, their friends and families. The couples now can conceive a civil or multi-faith/spiritual, multi-cultural wedding to their liking. With all these creative options there are also challenges in successfully realizing this vision. Over the past six years, I’ve helped couples express this vision for their on-location wedding. I’ve used my experience in theatre to guide their thinking beyond the words and traditions that they want in the ceremony. I work with the bride and groom (and their vendors) to consider factors like weather, lighting, sound, costumes and blocking for their on-location ceremony so that it will be a success. I write about real weddings I’ve conducted and give advice on what I’ve found works. I talk about the most memorable moment of the wedding – the ceremony- so that yours can be a cherished moment in time.