When you think about your wedding ceremony, what's the part that touches you most deeply; the part you dream about and picture as the moment of absolute happiness and connection for you and your beloved?   Is it that moment when you place  your wedding rings on each other's fingers joining your lives with this outward symbol of your innermost love?  Or perhaps it's the moment when you first see each other, your handsome nervous groom smiling with a tear in his eye as you walk down the aisle as his beautiful bride?   Or maybe it's that first delicious moment when you embrace and share your first kiss as husband and wife as your family and friends cheer and applaud the brand new Mr. and Mrs.?

All those moments, to be sure, are rich with beauty, symbolism and love and will, no doubt,  be cherished through all the years of your married life.

For me, as a Wedding Celebrant and Marriage and Family Therapist, the most memorable and meaningful part of a wedding ceremony is when you exchange your vows of love and commitment with one another.  The words that you share are the promises you make to your beloved to love them and to partner with them to fulfill both your individual and shared hopes and dreams for a joyous union and a bright future.

Vows can be as simple as saying "I do" after your Officiant asks you if you want to marry your partner , or they can be the heartfelt expression of your commitment and love for your partner shared with them as solemn vows made for today and every day you are together.

You can have your Officiant show you a selection of Vows (I have many vows to choose from)  or you may want to write your own.  If you decide to write your own, be sure that they are about the same length as your partner's and set the same tone i.e. heartfelt, funny, romantic or ...?  If not, when they are shared at the service, they may be too different in length and tone to flow together well.

However you share your vows; just remember if you honor the vows you make to your beloved on your wedding day, you will surely have a joyous and wonderful life together as husband and wife. 

Your Marriage License

Photo by Maria Sbytova/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Maria Sbytova/iStock / Getty Images

Obtaining your marriage license is the first step in legalizing your marriage.  When you go to the County Recorder's Office to obtain your license, be sure to bring picture identification for both the bride and the groom.  Check with your Recorder as to the method of payment they will accept:  i.e.: cash, check, credit card.

You'll be asked to review a copy of your license once the Recorder has typed it out and before s/he officially prints it as a final copy.  Read  every line and box checked for accuracy before you give the copy back to the Registrar for issuance.   This is a permanent record.  Mistakes happen.

 Designate a responsible person to bring the license and paperwork to the ceremony and give it to your Officiant immediately upon arrival.  Your Officiant is legally charged with checking the license to be sure it is still current before s/he can marry you. Your Officiant is further charged with filing the completed license in a timely fashion after the ceremony.  

Decide on either one or two people who will sign the license as your   witnesses.  They should be people who can follow directions carefully as the license must be filled out correctly (or it will be rejected resulting in a several weeks delay and an additional re-issuance fee.)  You can ask anyone you like to sign as your witness,  but its nice if someone from both the groom's and the bride's side is given this honor.   

Your photographer will want to start taking group pictures immediately after the ceremony. So as not to hold up the Officiant from leaving,  tell the one or two people who are signing as witnesses on your license, to immediately go to your Officiant and fill out their portions on the license and then join the family for photos.  Your Officiant will appreciate this.

You may obtain a Confidential license which requires no witness signatures.  But be aware that you must marry in the same county in which this license is obtained.  Regular licenses permit you to marry anywhere in California. 

County Recorders have different requirements for obtaining certified copies of your license.  Be sure to read all the material you are given to find out what the requirements are in the county which has issued your license.

 If you are in a hurry for your license to be filed and certified copies provided, it would be a good idea to get your license in Santa Barbara as larger counties may take weeks longer to get your license filed and certified copies back to you.   For an extra fee,  the receipt of certified copies can be expedited.

It's a good idea to always check with your Recorder's office for the latest changes to fees, issuance, obtaining of certified copies, etc.  




Photo by Purestock/Purestock / Getty Images

Photo by Purestock/Purestock / Getty Images

Did you know that when you get nervous, your fingers swell?  In the heightened excitement and  anticipation of that magical moment when your beloved  places your wedding  band on your finger,  you might  find that the ring which has slipped  on so effortlessly  in rehearsal, now won't go past  your first knuckle!    Now what?

First, what not to do!  Don't attempt to cram the ring onto your mate's finger.  It will make for nervous laughter among your guests,  not to mention  it will not be a physically pleasant moment for your mate.

Instead, slide the wedding band just as far as it will comfortably go.  It won't fall off, no one will notice,  and in a moment, your spouse's  fingers will return to their normal size and the ring will  easily slip all the way on.

You can also choose to place a small amount of hand lotion on your ring finger so that your ring will effortlessly slide  all the way on the first try!

Whichever you do, as you  exchange your wedding rings, treasure this amazing  moment when your beloved gifts  you with your wedding ring;  the symbol of their eternal love for you. 




Photo by Wavebreakmedia/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Wavebreakmedia/iStock / Getty Images

Premarital  counseling is an excellent way to get your marriage off to a great start.  Believe it or not love is not enough!  Communicating successfully with one another, resolving conflicts in a constructive way and practicing the art of gracious compromise are all learned skills.  Resolving  differences in spending patterns, housekeeping, interacting with in-laws, and blending families are all issues that can cause unnecessary strain on in otherwise strong marriage.

Premarital  Counseling enables you to take these areas of possible conflict and turn them into opportunities for growth, harmony and greater closeness.  It's the best investment you can make in your marriage .

I have been a California licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 35 years and can provide you with the tools you will need to create the lifelong happy marriage that you desire and that is wished for you by all who love you.

Rev. Terri 



Finally!  The moment has arrived.  Your Wedding Celebrant smiles at you as you gaze at your new wife or husband of 30 seconds, and says ":  You may kiss the bride."  Somewhere in the background you hear celebratory yelps, whistles and  applause, and, happy and relieved, you lean in to share your first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. While there is something to be said for spontaneity at this delicious moment, there is also something to be said for planning this first kiss with some forethought.

So, here are a couple of  things to think about for your first PDA as a married couple.

I.  Your photographer is going to want to get several shots of your first kiss so be sure to kiss long enough or even several timesto be sure that your  photographer can offer you several pictures to choose from.

2.  What kind of kiss shall you exchange?  Quick and polite?   Disappointing to your friends and the photographer.    Deep throat and handsy? -  Embarrassing to the bride's family, and makes folks feel like voyeurs watching your preamble to the honeymoon night.  Just right:  Put your arms around each other, kiss, look at each other, smile, kiss again.  Hold each other close.    Tender lingering kiss on the lips.  Perfect..

Congratulations to you both.  You did it!! 

Rev. Terri