Top 10 Wedding Ceremony Songs (For String Quartet)

I have been playing for weddings for about 20 years, and over that 20 years, I have received a LOT of wedding requests. Some of these requests have been for the ceremony, and others for the reception, but for this post I’m going to stick to the songs that people love to hear for their wedding ceremony.

  1. Canon in D – J. Pachelbel – This is hands down the most requested ceremony song of all time. I think that I have played Canon in D at nearly every wedding I have played, and that’s a lot! Sometimes Canon is played for the bridesmaids, and other times for the bride, but unless you are a cellist, you will agree that Canon in D is a beautiful tune and is quite appropriate for an elegant walk down the aisle. I prefer this tune as one for the bridesmaids, because of it’s understated beauty.
  2. Trumpet Voluntary (aka Prince of Denmark March) – J. Clarke – This commanding tune is most frequently used as the processional. And, what bride wouldn’t want to walk down the aisle to it, really… If you really want to do trumpet voluntary right, you should add a trumpet to this tune. I have even had weddings, where the trumpet and an organist were hired just to play this one tune, giving it a truly over the top sound, when contrasted with the quiet elegance of the string quartet for the rest of the ceremony.
  3. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring – J.S. Bach – To get this tune off on the right foot, the correct pronunciation of the first word in this title is Yay-zoo. The pulse of this tune makes for really good walking music, and it’s another one that is great for the bridesmaids, or even the seating of the mothers and grandmothers. It’s an elegant and memorable melody that will probably get stuck in the heads of some of your guests. Definitely a classic wedding music choice.
  4. Air from Suite in D (aka Air on the G String) – J.S. Bach – This is one of my favorite wedding tunes to play. The interplay between the different instruments makes this Air stunningly beautiful. Bach was no slouch, when it came to writing music, but this is one of my all-time faves. Because this is a slower tune, I have most commonly played this for the lighting of the unity candle, although it works well as prelude music as well.
  5. Claire de Lune – C. Debussy – Although, I haven’t had the opportunity to play this tune as frequently as those above, Clair de Lune is a gorgeous tune. The emotion in this melody is evident from the start. And, passion flows through every second of it. Debussy was a master of using music to express emotion, and this is one of his masterpieces.
  6. Water Music – Finale (Sometimes recorded as Water Music – Hornpipe) – G.F. Handel – The Finale from Handel’s Water Music is a triumphant piece with a jubilant feeling. When your guests hear this tune, they will have no doubt that this is the end of the ceremony. They only risk here is that you may want to skip down the aisle to this one.
  7. Ave Maria – F. Schubert – Ave Maria is a classic – especially for Catholic wedding ceremonies. The violin carries a beautiful and slow melody. It’s bound to bring tears to the eyes of many of your guests. * Special Note Regarding Ave Maria: There are many tunes named Ave Maria because the name means prayer to Virgin Mary. The Ave Maria by Schubert is probably the one you want. 
  8. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade) – W.A. Mozart – If there is only one string quartet tune that you will recognize, it might be Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, (A Little Night Music) by Mozart. Eine Kleine Nachmusik is actually a suite of 4 melodies, but the most popular tune among these is the Serenade. This piece is fun, and fast moving, and is sure to please. Serenade makes a great tune for post lude music as the guests prepare exit the ceremony.
  9. Wedding March – Mendelssohn – Mendelssohn’s Wedding March is the tune you hear in the movies as the recessional. Everybody recognizes it, and it truly is a beautiful tune. It originally appeared at the wedding scene in a musical rendition of Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Nights Dream. If you want to stay traditional, this is your tune, but if not, consider Handel’s Finale from Water Music. *Special Note regarding Wedding March: Some Churches don’t allow this tune because the consider it to be “Secular Music”
  10. Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride) – Wagner – Here is the tune that some people love, and others love to hate. Bridal Chorus originated as a part of Wagner’s romantic opera, Lohengrin. It has been played so often that it is the song people think of first when they think of Weddings. Here Come’s the Bride is the name most people know this tune by. Truly because this tune is so common in our society, my clients rarely have us play it. The reason is that people who hire a string quartet are looking for something classy and different. They want to set themselves apart, and the Wedding March doesn’t do that. However, for the traditionalist, this is your tune for the processional. *Special Note regarding Bridal Chorus: Some Churches don’t allow this tune because the consider it to be “Secular Music”

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer… For Reals

Just about every bridal website and magazine I pick up has a list of what to look for in your prospective wedding vendors. Usually, the “Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer” makes me laugh or cry, depending on the level of absurdity or uselessness. I mean, sure you can ask me about my equipment if you like, but you’re not really hiring me for my tools any more than you eat at a restaurant for their Viking stove. And let me tell you, I talk to a lot of photographers and A LOT of people about weddings. Regardless of when they got married, where, who did their photography—I ask people what they loved, what they would change, and what they wish they had known before the wedding.  So, here’s what I see as the important things to know about the person you’re hire to photograph your wedding:

1 – Why is photographing wedding important to you?

That really I think is the biggest tell…  You  know that having your wedding photographed is important to you, but is it as important to the photographer? And why? What’s keeping her from burning out, since she goes to a wedding every weekend for who-knows-how-long? I think your wedding photos are marriage-insurance. I think looking back on those photos is going to help carry you through the tough times that may lie ahead. So when I photograph a wedding, I’m doing it for you five, ten, forty years from now. It’s a big deal to me.

And that brings me to 2 – How long have you been a photographer?

There is no substitute for experience, including education. It takes 10,000 hours of deliberately practicing a skill to become masterful. There is no fast track to mastery. If you want to rest assured that your photographer will reliably cover your wedding, you have to spend the extra bucks on an experienced photographer. This is not about style exactly, it’s about being certain that what you see in their portfolio is what you’ll get for your wedding. This is not to say that a kid fresh out of photography school can’t do a great job. You’ll save some money, but you’ll be rolling the dice. After 12 years behind the camera, there are no questions about the reliability of my work.

2.5 How many weddings have you photographed as the lead?

Not that there’s a specific number to look for, but photographing weddings is not like any other photography pursuit. Someone who is great at photographing flowers, landscapes, portraits, etc is not necessarily going to know how to handle the demands of a wedding. First off, it’s a long day. It takes stamina to be “on” from when you get your hair done until the last dance. A full day of shooting also takes diligent management of camera memory and battery power. Second, weddings are chock full of surprises… like the one when the bride assured me that I would be able use my flash during the ceremony, and then after the bride had walked down the aisle, the officiant asked me to put my flash away. I smiled and adjusted, but I can only imagine how panicked I would have been earlier in my career. Lastly, photographing weddings means working joyfully with other vendors, being goofy with children, patient with grandparents, and maybe tactful with strained family relationships. Photographing flowers is relatively simple in comparison.

3. Is this your full-time work?

There are a lot of photographers who shoot weddings on the weekends and then have a 9-5, Monday-Friday. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just important for you to know where you fit on this photographer’s priority list. A part-time photographer will likely take longer to get your photos edited, your prints sent, and your album designed. It might also take him or her longer to answer your phone calls and emails. It also may be an indication as to how solidly committed they are to wedding photography. Even when I first started my business, I considered photography my full-time work, and taught Photoshop part-time. Teaching was second on my list of priorities.

4. What happens after the wedding?

Your photographer, and your videographer if you have one, will be the only vendors you will ever need to talk to again after the wedding. The venue is done, food is eaten, flowers are dead, music is over… but the photographs just begin. I’ve met a photographer or two who just wants you take a disk and never call them again—they don’t like to “deal” with the client after the wedding. And if that’s what you want too, then great.  I tend to fall in love with my clients, and they become my friends. We chat on Facebook, we meet for wine, they come to the little parties I throw now and then. If there’s ever something they would like, I’m here for them. If three years after the wedding they want another print of something, or now they can afford the album of their dreams, I’m here.

5. How long do you save the photos of my wedding?

Photo files get big fast when you shoot a lot. Some photographers promise to keep your photos for a year or so, and then clean out their hard drives. I’ve never been able to bring myself to delete my photos… I love them too much. And so, I’ve got hard drives backed up a couple times over locally and remotely so that I never lose a photo. A few months ago I met a woman who had lost her home in a fire, and she told me that the only things she misses are her photos. If I had photographed her wedding, she could get her photos back.

6. Ask to see one full wedding.

It’s easy to show you a couple great shots from a few different weddings, but make sure you see at least one full wedding. Whether an album on your lap, or an online gallery, look through the photographers full wedding. See if by the end you have a good feel for that wedding day—for the unfolding of the story, for the couple and their party.

Beyond these questions, see how interested the photographer is in you. Let them ask you questions and if a fun, joyful conversation flows easily then that’s a good indicator too. After all, this person is going to follow you around your whole wedding day; it’s more fun if you like each other and you’re comfortable with her.

If you have any questions about these questions, please ask. And if you’d like to learn my answers to them, let’s talk. 303-223-6419



Find Your Dream Dress for Every Destination

For the past couple decades, the term “Destination Wedding”  has immediately conjured up images of turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and palm trees gently swaying in the ocean breeze. But, as brides and grooms are continuing to break the mold of tradition and are having ceremonies that truly reflect who they are as a couple, the word “destination” is no longer synonymous with “beach”. A destination wedding can truly be just about anywhere – we even had a bride shopping for her destination wedding being held in Indiana! So even if the concept of a destination wedding is evolving,  what won’t be changing any time soon is the fact that brides want to look and feel great on their wedding day. The question is: Does the location of a wedding have to determine the style of dress?Maggie Sottero Destination Wedding Gowns

We believe that brides should wear what they want regardless of where they are getting married.  Getting married on a beach doesn’t mean you have to wear a bikini, just like getting married in the mountains doesn’t mean you have to wear polar fleece and Gore-Tex® – although you totally could if you wanted.  From sea level to 11,000ft up, brides don’t have to limit themselves to one certain style; they can still have their perfect gown.

Fabric is an important factor to consider when it comes to deciding on the best dress for the occasion.  For instance, a dropped waist gown with a full skirt can look appropriate in any setting, but a thick satin will be warmer and heavier than a lighter weight taffeta. This could make the difference when it comes to being comfortable on a beach or hiking up a mountainside for the perfect photo.

Ballgowns don’t have to be for formal weddings only;  fabric can play a role here too. Tulle or organza skirts will show movement and be more airy whereas satin will have a richer, more structured look and feel. An elegant chiffon or lace gown can look perfect on the coast or on a wooded hillside, and these are usually more streamlined and easy to transport.

Accessories and simple alterations can also transform dresses, making them look perfect against any backdrop. Removing layers of tulle, adding embellishments, sashes, shawls, straps, etc, and of course, bustling the dress can take a dress from mountain chateau to surfside or any place in between. Keeping the gown bustled for the ceremony is also an option if it is more comfortable or better suited for the location.

Remember, the location of a wedding should not completely dictate what the dress looks like and should definitely not force a bride into wearing something she isn’t comfortable in or doesn’t love.  Most styles of dresses can work in any environment. After all, a confident, happy bride looks good in any setting!

If you are planning a destination wedding, here are a few tips from Dora Grace to keep in mind when traveling with a wedding dress:

  •  DO NOT CHECK THE DRESS!! If traveling by plane, carry the dress on the plane with you. It should fit in the overhead compartment. If not, ask if the flight crew would be willing to put the dress in their closet up front.
  • Ask the resort / hotel where you are staying if they have a steamer to use on the dress, research cleaners in the area to see if there is a reputable place to have the dress steamed, or invest in a travel-sized steamer and bring it with you for any touch-up wrinkle control that may be necessary.
  • Keep the dress in a garment bag that closes properly and has no holes in it while traveling. An opaque bag is also a good idea so that you don’t have to worry about any sneak peeks!
  • Hang the dress up someplace safe and let it air out once you get to your destination – this will help with the wrinkles.

And Now, the Music

The music presentation ultimately sets the tone for a wedding celebration. Certainly, music comes in all styles. It can be casual or sophisticated; classical or rock; reggae or jazz; polka or pop; country or R&B, and everything in between. It can be loud or soft; fast or slow. Music appeals to young and old alike. It can make you feel lively or lethargic, calm or excited, or change the mood and morale instantly.

Music subtly augments a cocktail party and enhances dinner guests’ conversations, creating the mood for a celebration, and adding more joy to the experience. Then, if well read, planned and properly programmed by an experienced wedding DJ, it energizes a dance floor continuously for hours before dancing even begins.

Music is a common element for our everyday lives, but with your wedding celebration, the music should be, well… nothing less than extraordinary. That’s exactly what an experienced wedding DJ must be able to consistently do from the first song to the very last dance.

An experienced wedding DJ should play a wide variety of music styles as part of their music programming, to embellish the dancing portion of your special day and help make it a huge success. It is possible to seamlessly combine ethnic tunes, oldies, and today’s hottest hits masterfully and strategically into a cohesive presentation to allow your guests the opportunity to participate in your celebration and enjoy themselves on the dance floor.

How does this all work?

Music releases a chemical in the brain that has a key role in setting an environmental mood – dopamine. It produces a feel-good state in response to other certain positive tangible stimuli like food, lighting and more. A professional wedding DJ clearly understands that guests often express their identity through different types of music. It triggers certain emotions shared by guests, enabling them to connect with and convey their inner feelings, without needing to define them. The ideal soundtrack for a wedding affects emotions and behaviors and helps create a sense of belonging.

Something as simple as tempo has a big impact. The tempo (or the speed and pace) of specific music selections affect a guest’s perception of time. A slow tempo creates a sense of well being and makes guests want to stay longer, while a fast tempo increases emotional feedback and makes customers perceive waiting times to be shorter.

An experienced wedding DJ should understand this and know precisely which music selections will enhance the environmental flow to create the atmosphere and enrich something as simple as the cocktail and dining experience. It goes far beyond just playing Kenny G or Yanni for these two hours like many amateur DJs do. Proper music selections in the hands of a professional are just as important as using the right colors, lighting and temperature to create a festive atmosphere.

How to Handle Music Requests at your Wedding Reception

Wedding Reception Dancing - Doing the DipDo you want the DJ to take music requests from the guests at your wedding reception – or not? Some couples do, others prefer not to. There is no right or wrong answer; but please remember, when a guest requests a song, that it’s not possible for a DJ to have every possible song that might be requested – no matter how big a DJ brags his music repertoire is.


There are other challenges that requests can present. Sometimes, guests may request songs that simply do not “fit-in” with the music programming, or a requested song may completely alter the mood or environment contrary to what you want. Playing heavy metal or gangsta’ rap, for example, will likely upset or displease some of your guests, especially the older ones. Certainly, songs containing objectionable, foul or sexually graphic language should not be played.

Wedding Reception - Danced So Much My Feet HurtIt’s just tacky to play any song with the “f-bomb” being dropped every fourth word at a wedding. Even though you may like a particular song, you’ll survive if you don’t hear it. Obviously, you don’t want to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable. Your wedding celebration won’t be hampered by a song that isn’t played, but could be significantly and instantly damaged by a song that is played.

An experienced wedding DJ will use their personal experience and professional judgment to know when it is acceptable to honor requests, while amateur DJs may be inclined to play any song that is requested.  (Remember, if inappropriate requests are played, these songs will make you look bad.)

Your Special Songs

You may have specific songs that you want to hear during your reception, dinner or dancing. That’s great, but there’s certainly no need to pick them all. That’s why you are hiring a truly polished professional wedding DJ. That person should know how to properly read a crowd, play the right tune at the right time, maintain music volume and seamlessly enhance the atmosphere.

In fact, outside of your special wedding dances (1st dance, father/bride dance, etc.), all you probably need to do is select a handful of songs you especially like to provide a flavor of what you wish to hear. Maybe it’s the first song you kissed to, or the very first song you danced to. If you would like supply an additional list or specific artists or songs beyond just a few, it’s often best to permit the experienced wedding DJ read the crowd and mix them in where and when appropriate.

Beef – It’s What’s for Reception

Baron Beef Reception EntreeAs wedding budgets tighten, more and more brides are looking for a way to provide a consistent, high quality meal, and keep the price reasonable. It’s always best to start with a consultation with an experienced wedding caterer in person to discuss exactly what you are looking for and at what price range.

Many caterers offer meal choices and service options that can range from the low teens to hundreds of dollars per person. When meeting, your caterer should be able to provide several choices to the taste and liking of each individual client, including family favorites and factor in budget considerations.

Beef Pricing

Most brides are not aware of the tremendous rise in beef prices over the last couple years. Many premium choice cuts of beef, such as prime rib, are now near $10 per pound wholesale. One option, is for a Bride to consider a select cut instead of choice or prime cut. The difference between the two is minimal in taste or texture, except to the most discriminating pallet.

The Grading

In essence, beef is graded on an evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness, and flavor). These factors include maturity, firmness, texture, color, and the amount and distribution of marbling throughout. However, marbling (the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean beef) is the primary determination of beef quality. In general, the higher the degree of marbling, the more tender, juicy, and flavorful that cut of beef is.

The Magic of Proper Preparation

Proper seasoning, searing, and then slow roasting a large cut of meat is the first key for excellent taste.  Then, the real trick is to hold the meat at the perfect temperature to allow the juices to disperse evenly throughout the cut to help ensure the quality of beef being served.

A Bride certainly does not want to compromise the beef quality at the wedding celebration dinner, but an experienced wedding caterer can make suggestions to help stretch the budget with minimal taste difference (if any). Our advice: do not be afraid to ask what quality of cuts your caterer is specifically using at the exact price you are being quoted, and how it will be prepared and served. You may be surprised at the answer…


Wedding Flowers: Professional Florist or DIY?

A bride can find so much information online about flowers: what’s in season, colors, styles and even suggestions. However, it’s consistently hard to find relevant information on proper care, handling, hardiness, and climate (indoor vs. outdoor weddings relative to the location). A professional florist/designer should be involved at the very beginning in selecting, then designing your wedding flowers.

The selection and initial design of your bouquets, centerpieces and personal flowers are equally as important as the artistry and mechanics of putting them together to look simply amazing; and then hold that same look. I often hear brides comment about recent wedding flowers from other weddings that featured brown, dead boutonnieres and some bouquet flowers wilted only two hours into the reception.

Both of these problems are quite common with inexperienced floral designers or DIY brides that don’t have the knowledge and experience to know which flowers are best to use, under what conditions and why. When selected properly, flowers should withstand the elements and look just as beautiful and fresh as when you receive them as they will at the end of your wedding…and even days afterwards.

When selecting your flowers, it is important to consider which flowers will endure best in heat, or wind, or cold weather or even all of them. Consider an outdoor summer wedding and reception, or extensive photos taken in the middle of winter in Estes Park outside for 40 minutes with beautiful snow scenery in the background. It happens a lot! Not all flowers are equal; especially because many popular wedding flowers are delicate and often require special handling, preparation and care.

Most wedding flowers are available year around due to a robust global flower market with relatively little to moderate price fluctuations. For example roses, hydrangeas, orchids and lilies can be purchased year around from all over the world, but not all flowers can withstand changing seasons, climate, or shipping conditions that may be required to get them here. So, working with a professional florist/designer to help guide you along the process based on practical availability, and their network of providers is truly cherished.

Every day brings new learning experiences in this industry. New flower designs are continually available that require testing for hardiness, usage, durability, season and climate to design the perfect wedding flowers for a bride’s very special day….and a professional florist/designer is the best place to start!

Three Critical Facts You Should Know Before Hiring a Professional DJ Entertainer

Fact #1: When Brides are asked what they want to remember about their wedding day five years from now, the typical response is: “that everyone had a great time,” “people danced,” etc. Why? Simple. Because no matter how perfect everything else is, people will always remember if they had a good time – or not.

 Fact #2: Over the last several years, Amore’ DJ Entertainment has specifically asked our brides, “what significance did the professional DJ you hired have in making your reception a total success?” The typical response has been: “Amore DJ Entertainment had at least an 80% responsibility” as to why the reception was a total success above and beyond anything else! (In fact, most of surveys state 100%)

 Fact #3: According to The Knot (2011), the average U.S. bride spent $27,800 for her wedding. At 6 hours for the ceremony and reception, that’s $4,633 per hour! Fortunately, it’s a little less here locally in Colorado, but surprisingly, not by much. The average 2011 bride spends between $19k and $21k for her wedding in Colorado. Most quoted “Wedding Experts” suggest that a practical bride should expect to spend from 5% (as an absolute minimum) to up to 10% of her budget for QUALITY reception entertainment for her wedding. So, broken down based on that methodology, here’s a range to expect for QUALITY entertainment for the reception:

  • 5% of $19,000 = $950
  • 6% = $1,140
  • 7% = $1,330
  • 8% = $1,520
  • 9% = $1,710
  • 10% = $1,800

(*Add in an average of $300 to $500 for QUALITY ceremony music, musicians, and/or ceremony sound support for the ceremony.)

Most importantly, “The amount of money a couple spends on their reception entertainment is in direct proportion to the quality of entertainment they will receive…and ultimately, the sole impact on the total overall success of the wedding reception.”

 Simply put, a mere 5 to 10 percent of the average bride’s total budget is responsible for 80% of the wedding reception’s total success, and…as the old adage states, you get what you pay for.

Why Would a Bride Want to Hire a Wedding Planner?

You just got engaged, Congratulations! What now? Where do you begin? You’ve never planned a wedding before and you haven’t been to many weddings to begin with. There are so many details, that it’s almost overwhelming! Where and when are you going to find the time to do all of your research and calls? (especially for the out of state bride)

These questions can be easily answered when you hire a competent and professional wedding planner. A wedding planner can be a god-send when you work full time or you are a full-time student. The best part, is that a wedding planner can be hired during any part of the wedding planning process. However, brides state that is less stressful to hire a wedding planner at the very beginning of the process. An experienced wedding planner has already planned numerous weddings, already knows and works with the best vendors, and most importantly, can help keep you within your wedding budget.

Once your realistic budget is set in place, the wedding planner will start to get to know who you both are, tastes and style. The planner can research venues and vendors for you scheduling venue and vendor appointments whether in person, over the phone or on skype. The planner is the liaison between you and the vendor often times asking questions that you might forget or not even know to ask during meetings. Don’t think of the planner as the person who will ‘take over’ your wedding but rather, your guide to help accompany you effortlessly through the planning process.

When the big day arrives, all you have to worry about is walking down the aisle! The planner will have every detail completely taken care of for a seamless wedding so that you and your family and friends can enjoy the best day ever!.

How much is peace of mind really worth to you on your most important day of your life?

Why Hire a Professional For Your Wedding Ceremony?

At a gala wedding I attended at one America’s National Monuments, The Ben Franklin Institute in Philadelphia – where no expense was spared (the groom’s dad was extremely successful and generous), friends of the couple offered to help and wound-up officiating, photographing and DJ-ing the wedding.

On a scale of one to ten, the catered food and drinks, the décor, the cake, the flowers, the Planetarium and the Grand Hall, the amenities, the dresses and tuxedos, the rings, the parents, the attendees, all were elevens. Over the top, world class. In fact, a Ben Franklin impersonator even gossiped and schmoozed through out the night with most of the three hundred guests. There were dozens of staff serving and coordinating everything beautifully: decorating, welcoming and seating guests, serving appetizers and dinner, coat checking, and a valet parking cars.

As to the friends who worked the wedding (officiant, DJ and photographer), well, they were in way over their inexperienced heads. For starters the “DJ” friend provided the officiant-friend with a microphone, black iron mic-stand, and hundred foot cord. The black rig was center stage amidst the white-lit white stage adorned with hundreds of white roses. The black cord snakes its way across the stage in every photo taken and now a permanent scar of the ceremony forever present. The two inexperienced friends with cameras never thought to mention the distraction of the cord (if they even noticed) or mic stand.

When the ceremony started, the officiant-friend never did ask the guests to stand for the bride as she came down the aisle. Seated towards the back, I stood on my own initiative for her. Only then, did the three hundred guests finally stand to welcome the bride down the aisle. Unfortunately, the friend officiating the ceremony forgot to tell guests when to sit down; thereby leaving guests to stand the entire forty minute ceremony! Yes, even the elderly aunts and uncles (some in their nineties) and the mothers with babes in their arms.

The officiant was competent enough to monotonously read the ceremony she and the couple had written, but as to the logistics for conducting an actual wedding ceremony, both were absolutely clueless. Neither her voice nor the staging was engaging, inspirational or conducive for good photographs. The bride and groom stood in the same spot for the entire ceremony, their backs to the guests, divided by the black microphone chord as if they were intentionally being “divided.”

During the ceremony, guests never glimpsed the blissful faces of the bride and groom, except for a moment in profile when they kissed in the middle of the ceremony without any dramatic build up. The touching love letters that the bride and groom wrote for each other were read without the benefit of the microphone that their celebrant cradled in her arms. Aside from the procession and recession, the attendants stood stiffly in place like backups of a chorus line with no part in the actual ceremony.

My suggestion: at your wedding, have friends be guests, not workers. Inexperienced and friendly is no replacement for experienced and professional. Every bride deserves a wedding ritual, fit for a queen, not a hodgepodge of elements cobbled together by friends.