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Guthrie, NC Wedding Ceremony, Choosing an Officiant, Selecting a Wedding Site, Wedding Ceremony Planning

Guthrie, NC Wedding Guide

Wedding Ceremony

The location for the ceremony is as personal as your love for your fiancé. Decide what is best for you as a couple whether you want a religious or civil ceremony. This can be tricky, especially if you are from different religious backgrounds, and your family wants you to be married according to their faith. The final decision is yours and while not everyone may be on board, this is your day and celebration. The ceremony should reflect who you are together. Some delicate conversations and decisions may need to be made, but be patient, work together and you will find you can create the perfect ceremony, and leave a lasting impression on all of your loved ones.

Once you have selected a date, the next step is to find a location for the wedding. This section provides guidance and outlines the considerations you should consider in choosing the right location and planning the perfect ceremony. Based on the formality and religious affiliation of the ceremony, some decisions will be made for you. If you like a less traditional, less formal ceremony, many options are open to you. Utilize the information found in this section to help make some difficult choices or ensure nothing is overlooked.

Wedding Banquet Halls/Reception Facilities; Wedding Chapels; Halls, Auditoriums and Ballrooms; Hotels; Restaurants; Churches; Country Clubs; Museums; Clubs; Theatres & Concert Halls; Resorts; Parks; Historical Landmarks

Where you hold the ceremony is based on several factors. These factors range from religious beliefs, season of the year, size of the guest list, vacancy of location and budget. Perhaps the decision is an easy one due to your religion or you have known for some time where you want to be married.

Timing: If you haven’t decided, begin immediately. Popular or religious locations book up fast due to other couples sharing your same wish, or other events planned on the same date. Confirm as soon as possible if your date and time is available and lock it in as soon as you can.

Options: A wide variety of options are available for holding the ceremony. Do you prefer a church, temple, chapels, synagogue, hotel, country club, museums, beach, ranch, park, historical site, city hall, backyard, etc.? The possibilities are endless. Make sure, as you narrow down the choices, factor in the time of year and if the facility is suitable for the number of guests invited.

Restrictions: Some sites have restrictions that limit some ideas regarding the dream ceremony. Can it be decorated with outside decorations? Does it allow secular music to be played? Does it allow flash photography? Can guests toss rice or birdseed? Check with the facility before booking, to ensure the elements planned for your wedding will be allowed within the setting.

Services: If the site performs a number of weddings, they may provide services you can use. They may provide the tables, linens, dishes, decorations, etc. Some facilities, like hotels, country clubs and higher end event establishments, also have their own in-house catering. Other facilities only rent the room and you will need to decorate it from scratch. Find out before hand how abundant or limited the location is in providing these additional services. This will determine the amount of additional planning required and how much time can be saved by tapping into the resources at the facility. Verify if you are obligated to use the existing decorative items and/or their caterer. Some locations require you to use their services. If you start from scratch, determine what necessary amenities may be lacking. Do they have kitchen facilities? Are there adequate restroom facilities? Will there be places to dress and get ready prior to the wedding? Answers to these questions may alter your decision or could help decide if another location is more suitable. Requiring the caterer to bring a traveling kitchen and refrigeration equipment may be more than the budget can handle.

Outdoors: One of the most important considerations in choosing an outdoor wedding is the date. Consider the time of year you are looking to get married. Make sure you are not competing for attention with Mother Nature. Unfortunately, she wins every time! If you’ve always wanted a beach wedding, an August date may be painful for those involved due to the heat. Avoid any seasonal weather limitations such as a Caribbean wedding during the high hurricane months. Fortunately, tent rentals now come with the ability to add heaters or air conditioning that can make any dream and timing work together. Elaborate tents can also strain the budget if trying to keep costs down. Other points to consider in planning an outdoor wedding are:

  • Is there adequate access to and from the events?
  • Are restrooms available close by?
  • What will it cost to set up and decorate the location?
  • In some cases, this is where Mother Nature becomes your friend. Instead of a competition, take advantage of what she has already provided and work it in to the overall décor.
  • What electrical needs do you have? Will you have access?
  • Will you need special care to protect food?
  • How will you handle a potential bug problem?
  • You might want to consider incorporating citronella candles into your centerpiece arrangements.

Cost: Negotiate in advance the cost of the location and include all services you will use from the facility. You may have some bargaining power, depending on how much you decide to utilize, which could save some budget. This may also be true if the ceremony and reception are at the same location. Not only can it make wedding planning lighter, but also the budget.


A growing trend in marriage ceremonies is to make them more personal and unique to the couple.  Most couples want to make their wedding day special and exclusive to their tastes and personalities.  For some this could include writing their own vows and for others, they may change up the ceremony entirely.  The options of how far you can stray depend on the location and officiant.  Check with everyone, prior to making final decisions, to avoid frustrations.

Officiant:  Who performs the ceremony is a personal decision. It will dictate the tone and format of the ceremony.  Make sure you have a personal relationship with whoever performs the ceremony and you are open and truthful with them.  Sit down with them and let them get to know, as a couple.  This will help make the ceremony more personal. 

Religious:  As a wedding officiator, you may choose your longtime clergy to perform the ceremony, or need help finding someone of your faith.  Ask friends and family who they recommend or look online to see who is available in your area., the Valley Yellow Pages online directory, has a variety of officiants ready to work with you and help create the ceremony of your dreams.  In choosing a religious officiant, some require you to go complete marriage counseling before the wedding.  Make sure this is something you agree with and are comfortable completing.   As you sit down with the officiant, be sure to ask questions that to you in your wedding planning:

  • Are they available on the chosen date?
  • Will they be willing to travel to the location?  Are they willing to perform the marriage if it takes place outside their religious meeting place?
  • Is there a fee that is charged?
  • What type of ceremony do they plan to perform?
  • Will it be more traditional or can it be a personalized ceremony?  What are the options?
  • Do they allow for secular music to be played or secular readings?
  • Will song choices need to be made from a pre-determined list of music?
  • Can musicians be brought in or will it be required to use those of the religious facility?
  • Are there any restrictions on decorating the site?
  • Can unique vows be written and read?
  • How long have they been performing marriages?
  • What happens if they are sick or unable to perform the wedding on the specified day?  What is the backup plan?
  • Are they available on the date of the rehearsal?
  • Would they like to attend the reception and rehearsal dinner?
  • Do they file the marriage license or will the couple need to?

Civil:  Perhaps you are looking for a justice of the peace or a public official to perform the ceremony.  If you want someone outside the clergy to perform the marriage, make sure they are legally licensed to perform a civil marriage in the state you marry.

Costs:  Confirm if there will be a cost in securing your officiant.  Depending on the choice, there may be a cost involved.  There is a fee with a civil marriage and some clergy require a fee or a donation to be made.  Plan for this cost in the budget so there are no surprises.

Seating:  Traditionally, weddings in the United States seat the bride’s family and friends on the left side, as you enter the ceremony location and the groom’s on the right.  Depending on religious affiliation or preference, you can follow this tradition or mix it up.  In today’s weddings, guests are seated where they desire or placed on both sides, regardless of party, ensuring the sides are equally filled.  While sides are blending, some tradition remains the same.

Ushers:  Ushers assist guests to their seats and ensure everyone finds a seat.  If limited on help, choose your groomsmen to usher. Or fill the spot with a brother, friend or relative who is not a groomsman.  The standard guideline is 1 usher per 50 guests.  If the ceremony is small and intimate it may not require ushers.  Instruct them before hand where you would like key family members to be seated.  Ushers typically take a woman by the right arm and escort her to her seat.  If the woman is with a date, he follows behind as the usher shows them where to sit.  It is a modern practice today to have the usher greet guests and ask them to follow him to their seats.

Family:  The first three to five rows on both sides are reserved for family.  Siblings are seated first, followed by grandparents and great-grandparents.  Siblings, generally, are seated in the front row along with the parents, while the grandparents sit in the second row.  The bride’s mother is always seated last and on the front row.  Just before she is seated, the groom’s mother is escorted to her seat, also on the front row.  Seating for parents may vary depending on religious wedding tradition. 

Vows:  The most personal part of any wedding is the couple’s vows.  It is an intimate moment, shared publicly to declare your love for one another.  How traditional and personal you make this moment is up to you.  Perhaps you have been thinking of what you will say since the first night he proposed.  Maybe you have a special poem or song lyric just for this moment.   As you contemplate the words and write the vows, check with the officiant to make sure it is allowed within the guidelines of the service.

Vows should represent the feelings of your heart.  Choose to surprise each other at the ceremony or write them together.  Maybe you prefer to write one set of vows and say them both to each other.  Regardless of the method, really consider the words.  Don’t wait until the last minute to write them.  This is a representation of your love, long lasting devotion, and commitment.  As you write the vows, keep a few things close to mind.

Consider the Tone: Be careful using humor in the vows. Consider leaving humor to the toast. The vows you utter are a declaration of your love and should reflect the importance and seriousness of the ceremony.

Look for Inspiration: There are a number of resources you can use to help with the vows. Look back to any notes or letters your fiance may have written you. Consider romantic poems and song lyrics to spur inspiration. Listen at weddings for phrases or wording that deeply touch you. Keep a notebook with you, as you continue to date and spend time together, to capture phrases and tender moments. If, after a few weeks, you are still having trouble, look online for examples of other vows and pick and choose wording to create your own voice.

Keep It Simple: Your vows should only take a minute or so to express-any longer and you lose the attention of guests. If you have more to say, write your fiance a special letter or share it with him at another time. If you plan to surprise each other with vows, agree before hand on the length. You don't want one set of vows to take 3 minutes and the other 30 seconds.

Write It Down: Write your vows on cue cards and pull them out when it is time to read them. You do not have to memorize them. The importance is in the words, not your ability to remember them under pressure.

Review Them with Your Officiant: Show them to the officiant to approve the wording. Give it to them at least a week prior to the wedding so they have time to review them. Perhaps they can deliver them back at the rehearsal, if there are no suggested changes. If changes need to be made, take them in stride and remember the somberness of the moment they are looking to protect.


Before the big day take a practice run.  Gather the wedding party together and run through the motions a couple of times.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to confirm times and responsibilities and set expectations of how the ceremony should run.  The officiant can take a moment to address everyone and give any special instructions regarding the site or ceremony.  While you may be anxious to get on to the party afterward, take advantage of this valuable time to work out any last minute problems.  This will save a potential heartache the next day.

As part of the rehearsal, discuss the order of the processional and how everyone should enter the location. If no processional is planned, review the standing order so everyone knows where they should be. Then discuss the recessional, again depending on the formality or casualness of the ceremony. Work with the officiant to establish the format for the ceremony and run through it at least once with the entire wedding party. While this is not an actual re-creation of the wedding, walk through the motions to ensure everyone is comfortable with where they should be and what they should be doing.

Get It in Writing

Before signing contracts for the ceremony site, review it for its full contents.  Make sure it includes:

  • Names, dates, times, locations and contact information.
  • Identify the name and specific duties of the location manager.
  • Specify services included, any music, catering, decorating, etc. In order to ensure you have included everything necessary, refer back to the contract considerations of each section and make sure they are included as well.
  • Include specific set up and take down time for either location staff or outside vendors.
  • Map out the location and specify where certain events will occur or where certain tables and decorations will be located.
  • Outline where parking will be available and any details if valet service is included or scheduled.
  • Detail the final costs and payment schedule.
  • Identify the cancellation policy and what refund would be available.

If using the ceremony site as a one stop solution, this could be a very large contract. Ensure you carefully review it to avoid headaches and save budget. 

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