A Pocket Guide to Planning Your Wedding Ceremony

maine outdoor wedding ceremony venues
Published May 14th, 2024

Planning a wedding ceremony is an exciting and important task that sets the tone for your special day. Whether envisioning a traditional ceremony or something more unique, careful planning ensures that every detail is thoughtfully considered. In this blog, we asked one of our preferred vendors, Maria of A Sweet Start, to share her guide to planning your wedding ceremony, including different options, commonly asked questions, and important factors to consider.

Frequently Asked Ceremony Questions with Maria from A Sweet Start

Can you describe the different types of ceremonies (traditional, non-traditional, and themed ceremonies)?

“We are gathered together today…” The difference between traditional and non-traditional ceremonies is all about customization. A non-traditional ceremony script can be customized to the wedding couple; elements can be added in – like a tree-planting ceremony or a mid-ceremony whiskey toast – which you wouldn’t see in a traditional ceremony. Traditional ceremonies, on the other hand, have a conventional timeline and a time-honored script. There’s something really meaningful about using the same words spoken at thousands of weddings over hundreds of years. Still, there’s something equally powerful about a custom ceremony that reflects your love.

A themed wedding ceremony has, you guessed it, a theme. A couple might love Harry Potter and incorporate Bible passages, a hat-sorting as a unity ceremony, even capes for the groomsmen and wands for the bridesmaids, and any other ideas they can think of that relate to their favorite book. Themed wedding ceremonies can be fun, but can also cross over into silly, so just keep in mind the importance and gravity of the overall ceremony while planning.” 

How Long Should the Ceremony Be?

“The sweet spot for a ceremony is 25 minutes. That’s just long enough for everyone to settle into the moment, take it all in, and not feel rushed, but not so long that your guests start getting bored, sleepy, too hot, or too cold.”

Who Should Walk Down the Aisle?

“This question is almost impossible to answer in one succinct paragraph. There is no one way to process, depending on the family’s relationships and what feels right for the wedding couple. I always ask about family dynamics beforehand so I can offer advice on alternative processional pairings to avoid hurt feelings or upset parents. It’s great to honor tradition, but the processional is one area where I encourage couples to lean into what feels right for them and their family and not just follow tradition just because “that’s how it’s done.” 

In a traditional, heterosexual wedding, the officiant comes down the aisle first, then the groom, followed by the parents of the groom, mother of the bride with her escort, and then bridesmaids escorted by the groomsmen, ring bearer, then flower girl, then the bride escorted by the father of the bride. 

This might work for some couples, but it may not be right for everyone. I often see the groom walking in with both his parents, which is a lovely new tradition. Or if it’s a wedding with two brides, having them walk down the aisle together holding hands. Or having the groom and his groomsmen with sunglasses come down the aisle together to a fun, upbeat song. Or if it’s a wedding with two grooms, having one escort his mom to her seat and take his place at the front and the other walk down the aisle with his mom. There are just so many different options. Do the one that feels right for you!”

How to Select The Readings & Music to Include

“Selecting your music and readings should be fun! Think about who you are as a couple and what you’re both passionate about. Where did you meet? What do you like doing together? Use the things you do as a couple to inspire your choices. It’s always better when the readings and the music have a personal connection. If that’s too daunting, find a reading that resonates with you both. Most importantly, make sure the person reading it is comfortable with it. I feel so bad when the couple chooses a complex reading for someone who isn’t a natural public speaker.”

Tips on Finding the Right Officiant.

“Finding the right professional wedding officiant should be a joyful process! You’re looking for that special someone to stand with you on one of the most important days of your life. Beyond the obvious things like do they offer flexibility with crafting the ceremony and will they have sample scripts, readings, and vows, here are a few deeper thoughts to consider when looking for your prospective officiant: 

  • Can you feel that weddings are their passion? 
  • Do you feel an authentic, warm connection with them? 
  • Does their energy make you feel calm, relaxed, and safe? This is important because the wedding day will be wonderfully chaotic, so you need someone to help ground you.
  • Are they established in their wedding community? Do they have contacts with other wedding professionals? This will be important if anything goes awry. Their strong relationships with your vendor team can make all the difference on your wedding day.
  • Do they have excellent reviews that specifically call out qualities you value, like professionalism, promptness, responsiveness, kindness, humor, etc.?
  • Do they seem like the kind of person who can be an authority without taking over? This one is a little tricky, but you’re looking for someone who understands their role is to be a loving, grounded, confident figure while ensuring they make the ceremony all about you (and not about them). 

We all know there is a trend to have a friend or family member officiant, but consider the value of these qualities above. Ask yourself if your friend or family member understands the depth and importance of this role. A professional wedding officiant is experienced in the nuance of organizing, facilitating, and performing a masterful ceremony that reflects you as a couple and one that will resonate in your hearts and your guests’ memories for years.”

Tip on Writing Your Own Vows: 

“Writing your own vows can feel very daunting and overwhelming. How do you write about love in a way that isn’t cliche, right? Don’t worry, I can help you! I created a downloadable workbook called Vows that Wow to walk you through the process of writing unique, creative, and heartfelt vows that won’t sound trite or cliche.

If you’d rather not use the workbook, here are a few prompts to help you write meaningful vows that could only come from you to your beloved. 

  1. Discuss your journey. How did you meet? What were your first impressions? How and when did you know this person was The One? 
  2. Discuss your present life. Why does this person make you happy? What about them brings you joy? 
  3. Discuss your future. What does the future hold? Where do you see your relationship going? What dreams do you want to accomplish together? 

Take your time! Start writing your vows at least one month before the wedding. Trust me on this. You will have so much going on with wedding details leading up to the wedding, and if you don’t set aside time to write your vows, you’ll be stressed writing them the night before your wedding. The one thing we’re trying to avoid around your wedding is stress, so take my advice and start writing well in advance, especially if you’re not a strong writer or it’s hard for you to express emotions in writing.”

Important Ceremony Factors to Consider

Location Selection

Select from our array of picturesque locations across our property to exchange your vows regardless of the season or weather conditions. French’s Point provides indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony settings to make your ceremony unforgettable.

Here’s a full list of the ceremony location options at French’s Point: 

Outdoor Ceremony Settings:

  • Bluff’s Edge Gazebo Promenade- 200
  • South Terrace- 200
  • West Porch*- 40
  • Oceanfront Lawn*- 200
  • East Terrace*- 100
  • Private Beach*- 100

 Indoor Ceremony Settings: 

*Indicates this is Only Available May-October. Event Settings Listed by Maximum Guest Capacity for Seated Ceremony Format.

Host Your Dream Wedding at French’s Point

Planning your wedding ceremony is an opportunity to infuse your love story and personal style into your special day, and carefully considering the details ensures a memorable experience for everyone involved. If you dream of a luxurious and unforgettable wedding experience, French’s Point in coastal Maine is the perfect venue to bring your vision to life. With breathtaking views, luxurious accommodations, and exceptional service, French’s Point offers the ideal setting for your dream wedding. French’s Point is one of Maine’s premier indoor and outdoor wedding ceremony venues; contact us today to learn more about how French’s Point can make your wedding dreams come true!

Photography Credit: Marie Cowan