It’s the part of the ceremony that has no rule book. The end of it all. From the first kiss until you get wrapped up in cuddles by all your guests, there’s no real guide for what to do, and everyone tends to just do what everyone else does. They don’t teach this stuff in engagement school, and maybe they should…
This post is here to help you remove as much uncertainty/awkwardness as possible from the end of your ceremony – the signing, and the dreaded aisle walk. After you’ve focussed and nailed the fancy signatures in the correct spots, you get to leave the ceremony. You never know whether to stop and greet people, or just barrel down like you’re in a real hurry to take serious advantage of cocktail hour, or whether you’re supposed to walk really slow, or where to look, or… arrrrrgh! Way too difficult to process at a time when your brain is happily mush.
Let’s simplify it.
Here’s the standard formula for ending a ceremony. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you can do things different to make it feel even better.
- First kiss. Everyone claps and maybe your parents cry.
- You walk over to sign documents off to the side with your two witnesses whilst your brother frantically tries to connect his phone to the Bluetooth speaker to play your aisle exit song. He’s really fucking this up so far, and you’re low-key disappointed in him.
- You sign all the forms, and the celebrant suggests you get a posed photo with the certificate. You cave in and just do it, because you’re on another planet right now with happy feels*
- You walk back over to the middle and the celebrant announces you and sends you off into the world as a married couple.
*unless you desperately want this photo for sentimental reasons (maybe you want to replicate your parents’ photo of the same moment), then you don’t need to do it. It has potential to make you feel a bit awkward.
Let’s mix this up. Let me give you three ways to make the end of your ceremony feel as amazing as possible.
- Sign everything later, not during your ceremony. Not heaps later – just not as a part of your ceremony. Let me talk you through how it can work.
The legendary Anthony Cribbes is a celebrant that loves doing it this way, and I love it too. Basically, you have your first kiss, then he says some nice words, and then you go down the aisle. When you get to the end, you get to cuddle everyone and cop all those sweet sweet congratulatory hugs that us photographers love to capture. You’ll be feeling amazing because you literally skipped the part that requires focus, so you’re still riding the high of that first kiss to your new husband/wife. There’s no interruption to the flow of the good vibes – everyone just clapped and cheered for your first kiss, and now they’re going bananas with love and support as you walk down the aisle. You’re not asking them to cheer once and then try to build it back up 5 minutes later for another attempt. The excitement levels stay high, and everyone is STOKED.
You can sign it as you sit down for dinner, like Ali and Todd did.
Or you can sign it once you have given most people a hug and a hello, before you go away for family photos, like Sian and Mark did. They signed it on the bar in front of the coffee machine, and then got straight back to all their guests. Epic. Good one Nat Sproal, their amazing celebrant that really cares and gave them an awesome experience.So that’s one way to keep the vibes high and end your ceremony on a BIG high!!
This one is conditional on a few things though – mainly being whether your celebrant is hanging around (either as an MC, or just to enjoy a champagne with you). They may have to rush to another ceremony after yours, or they may just want to get back to their family… but it’s worth an ask!
- Invite your parents/siblings up to congratulate you during the signing. This sounds weird, but hey you’ve read this far, so you can read a bit further.
Once you’ve signed your things, you can signal to your folks and get them to walk up and give you a cuddle whilst your witnesses are signing. You don’t need to stand there and watch your witnesses sign – you may as well be giving your parents the time and love they deserve. This is so much better than going over to give them a cuddle as you begin the walk down the aisle – it’s weird if you stop. Then the 2nd row thinks you’re stopping for everyone, and then it’s just an all-in riot with arms and those weird little horse-shoes thingos flying everywhere. The photos of the couple coming back down the aisle are always so special, as it’s truly a moment of pure happiness and anticipation. A super special moment in time.
So, by getting your parents up while you sign, you can talk to them for 10 seconds, or 5 minutes – you just send them back when you’re ready. Noone is rushing you. Then you can walk down the aisle, and get epic photos of an epic moment in time. BOOM. These photos are of Lara and Tom, that did it this way.
While we’re on the photo topic…
- If you’re doing a petal/confetti (biodegradable of course)/leaves/etc toss as you walk down the aisle, then plan this with your photographer/videographer – stop about half-way down the aisle and face each other, and have a kiss while everyone showers you with confetti all at once. This is the best way to get a sick photo out of it all. Preferably, stand in the section where your rowdiest friends are, as they will toss bulk confetti.
Then when you’ve done this, your aisle exit is D-O-N-E. You can just get swamped by everyone, and your photographer/videographer are right there to capture all those candid moments with everyone. Lovely!
And that’s it folks! I have to stop typing now because I’m getting really nostalgic and missing weddings… But it’s worth putting some time into how you want the ceremony to end. Go out on a big high, and then rock the rest of your day!!