Your Wedding, Your Story

by Jennifer Cram - Brisbane Marriage Celebrant © (28/04/2020) Categories: | Wedding Ceremony |
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Pink Booklet with title Our Story ... So
                          Far upright next to white vase containing
                          green eucalyptus leaves One of the first questions I ask couples is Tell me your story. How did you meet?  And naturally, being the first time we meet, what I get in response is a quick summary, usually told by one party with perhaps the odd interjection or comment by the other.

One wouldn't be far off the mark to observe that we all love a story. Particularly a love story. Hollywood proves that, time and again. So sharing the couple's love story with the guests is a common feature of celebrant-led weddings. Where the marriage ceremony is required to follow a set liturgy, as in a church wedding, including details from their story is commonly included in personal vows, for the simple reason that that is the only place where there is some freedom about content.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of making you write your own love story (or journey, as it is often termed) and reading it out as one long chronological narrative at the beginning of the ceremony. In fact, one of my grooms, when I explained my reservation about starting the ceremony with that narrative, laughed and said, "You mean, the wedding eulogy!"

Rather than tell your story in one long monologue, I prefer to ask you lots of questions and weave your story through the ceremony, not necessarily in chronological order. This changes the feel of the ceremony, because the snippets of information pop up throughout the ceremony, keeping the guests engaged. The bonus is that, having shared how you met, when you get to the reception, the speeches will be much more varied because speakers can skip over how you met and other chronological detail and concentrate on telling other stories that give a personal insight into your relationship.

Enter COVID-19. This coronavirus put such a spanner in the works of both weddings and the preparation for your ceremony, that the old ways of doing things needed a rethink. We don't know how long it will be before all restrictions are lifted and you can have as many guests at your wedding as your venue and your budget will allow. So I have been thinking about ways in which you can enjoy working towards your ceremony while not locking yourselves into a big ceremony if a small one is all that is allowed, or if you choose to have a micro-wedding.

One thing will hold true. The fewer people there are present at your marriage ceremony, the more detail of your story they'll already know. So how to work with this, but at the same time do something that includes all the people who aren't able to attend?

I've come up with a solution.
Work together on creating a small booklet that you can give your guests as they arrive at your ceremony and send to guests who aren't able to be there. Besides being the ideal romantic project for the two of you to work on while self-isolating, it is a way to put your personal touch on the story moving it from being a mere narrative spoken by someone during the ceremony to being a great keepsake that will refresh your guests memories of the story of your romance and put them in the perfect frame of mind before your ceremony starts, excited to see the next milestone unfold before their eyes. In years to come, it will also be a great reminder to you both as to why you decided to get married in the first place

Your story booklet

There are two aspects to your booklet
  • The text (your story)
  • The look and feel of it (design)

And you have complete freedom with both. How you choose to tell your story can be the decision that influences the design of your booklet, Or you can choose to go with the design you have chosen for your invitations and other stationery.

Whichever you decide first is likely to influence your choice of the other.

How to tell your story  ... and how much to tell


The process of deciding how to tell your story, and how much to tell, can make for some very lively discussions. To start you off, here are some questions to consider.
  • What tone do we want the story to have? Formal? Casual? A seriously romantic tale? A lighthearted dip into some standout moments? Tongue-in-cheek? Something else?
  • Do we want to include all the significant milestones of our relationship, or just some of them?
  • How much detail do we want to go into?
  • Do we want to end up with the feel of a picture book (simple text plus pictures/graphics) or the feel of a biography? Or something quite different, like a flow chart or a graphical time line?
  • Do we want to write this as one integrated story, or wholly or partly as two parallel stories told from the point of view of each of us?
  • What sort of reaction from our guests are we hoping for?

Having made those decisions, I suggest you leave the final decision about how to present the booklet until you've pulled together a draft or two. As you work on it, you might find what you want for your story starts to develop wings of its own.

Adding pictures

Pictures can be photos of the two of you at various stages in your relationship, or ones that mark milestones, or they  could be pictures or sketches (if one of you can draw or if you can persuade a friend who is great with a pencil or brush). And they can include artefacts, like tickets. Totally up to you

The cover


If you decide to theme your booklet to match your invitations or other stationery, it might be a good idea to involve the original designer. If you used an online printer, have a look and see whether they have menu or ceremony program covers to match. Then it will be just a matter of producing the internal pages. If you're into DIY, you can add ribbons, tassels or other decorations, or pull the whole cover together yourselves. Whichever you do, don't forget to add your names and the date of your wedding. A nice touch, also, is to add something like Our Story ... So Far, or Volume/Season One, or something similar. While fairy stories might end And they lived happily ever after, your wedding day is not the end of your story, just the climax of the first chapter of it.

Add a bookmark


If your story booklet has multiple pages and you would like to provide your guests with an order of service of ceremony program, format the order of service as a bookmark, themed to coordinate with your story booklet.

Share with your celebrant


Don't forget to share the text with your celebrant as soon as you can, if you want to make sure that what is shared in your ceremony fits neatly with the story in your booklet.

Produce several extra copies


In addition to the copies for each of your guests and for friends and loved ones who will not be present at your wedding in person, produce some extra copies
  • A copy to make available to your photographer
    Have it put aside with the items your photographer is likely to include in still-life details photographs.
  • A copy to make available to your videographer
    Have it put aside with the items your photographer is likely to include in still-life details photographs.
  • A copy to put into the box, along with your vows and love letters, if you are including a Wine Box or Time Capsule Ritual in your ceremony.
  • A copy to which you add the text of your vows. Use this one as a living document, and at least once a year, repeat your vows to one another and update your story with the next chapter.

Thanks for reading.

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                          contact Jennifer Cram, Brisbane Celebrant
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