Take a Look, Inside a Ceremony Planning Book

What falls below is essentially a book review. An unpaid, unsolicited book review. I don’t know Judith Johnson, anyone at Sourcebooks, Inc., and no one asked me or paid me to do this.

I’m not sure why we decided we want to write our own ceremony. I mean, writing our own vows is intimidating enough! But when we thought about it, our ceremony really begs to have a completely unique ceremony. We want our family members involved, and we wanted to incorporate some of our favorite poems and readings.

But when we started drafting our ceremony, it became painfully obvious we had no idea what we were doing. I’ve only been to 3 weddings, and Dustin has been to a grand total of ZERO. And let’s face it, weddings in the movies are just like births in the movies–painfully truncated and lacking any evidence of hard work.

We’re meeting with our officiant soon, and she’ll be able to help us out with the fine tuning, but in the meantime, we needed help. We needed to build a skeleton, but I quit being a biology major after a year, and now I can’t tell a hip bone from a neck bone, if you will.

Enter The Wedding Ceremony Planner, by Judith Johnson. I bought it for just under $12 on Amazon, and it’s chock full of basic ceremony outlines, sample readings, explanations of common ceremony elements, and several complete ceremony scripts. A few things about it: it’s directed toward ministers new to performing weddings and brides writing their own ceremonies; it’s got a religious (particularly Christian) bent, though it provides ample opportunity to be modified non-religious couples; it’s fairly heteronormative, but a creative person could wade through it and cull the non-gender specific examples; it’s a pretty traditional text, meaning I’ve heard a lot of the readings in this book before, and if you’re wanting more off the way readings or texts, you’ll have to go somewhere else.

Anyway, The Wedding Ceremony Planner is really easy to read, and you can easily skip past the parts you’re not interested in. It’s divided into three main sections: Part 1 focuses on helping you figure out the basics of your ceremony–who’s there, what kind of feel you’re going for, how people will be involved, setting up the ceremony site, and more. Part 2 is the meat of the book–here’s where Johnson explains each possible component of a ceremony. Want to know how the vows are different than the “I Do’s”? She explains that (thank goodness, because for the longest time I wondered why people said vows twice). She goes through the types of readings, how to seat guests, how to exit, and gives a few pages worth of info for Jewish and “ethnic” weddings (I told you, this is mainly written for a Anglicanized, Christian audience). Part 3 is where she gives sample ceremony scripts, as well as checklists and worksheets for yourself.

All this being said, The Wedding Ceremony Planner did its job, for the most part. I wish there was an abridged version, one that didn’t offer so many traditional readings, because honestly, they all felt a little stale, but mostly, decidedly not us. I loved Part 2, though, because as someone who likes order, but had no idea how to achieve it, this part of the book was tremendously helpful in getting the basic bones of our ceremony down.

What resources have you used in planning your (or someone else’s!) ceremony?

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About AshleyGee

I'm a graduate instructor at a completely Southern (Football, Rush Week, and lots of "Hey Y'alls!") university. I teach freshman comp, study
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