Planning an On-site Wedding Ceremony

Planning an on site wedding ceremony

Congratulations! You’ve decided to host your wedding ceremony at the same location as your reception…. Now what?

While there may be a bit more work than if you were getting married at a place of worship, there are so many benefits to having an on-site wedding ceremony , most importantly being able to truly customize your ceremony.  

Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when planning your on-site wedding ceremony.


Knowing the duration of your wedding ceremony is important when coordinating with your venue.  While most on-site wedding ceremonies are less than 30 minutes, if you know you’ll need more time, make sure to plan accordingly.  If you can select a specific start time for the ceremony, consider things like traffic to your venue and sunset, when planning your on-site ceremony.  To save on time, and allow you to attend the cocktail hour, consider doing a first look so that all your photos are done before the ceremony begins.   

planning an on site ceremony


Selecting who will be officiating the on-site wedding ceremony is a very important decision to make.  If you would like certain religious aspects to be incorporated, you may want to look at a Rabbi or Minister who can officiate the on-site wedding ceremony.  Hiring a Justice of the Peace is another popular option.  These individuals are professional wedding vendors who are licensed by the state to marry you.  You get a wealth of knowledge, and most likely some tips and tricks from someone who has experience.  The Justice of the Peace often meets with you and your beloved to customize aspects of the ceremony to include personal touches.  Your third option is to have a friend or family member get ordained for the day and be able to officiate your ceremony.  This is a deeply personal, and often quite fun way to start your lives together.  Selecting someone who knows you both guarantees a ceremony that is uniquely you!  


Live music is a great addition to your onsite wedding ceremony.  Occasional Brass and Strings is a company well versed in providing ceremony music and can arrange for any instrument combination you can think of.  Think of the overall tone you are going for.  A harp or string quartet is certainly  different from a brass quintet or trumpet fanfare.  Looking for something to really WOW your guests? Ask your guests to assist with coordinating a flash mob! 

If you are having a DJ for your reception, you often can pay an additional fee to have them handle the music for the ceremony.  With a DJ, there is an endless selection of songs for you to choose.  Choose from traditional wedding music to romantic pop songs, or even acoustic or piano versions of your favorite tunes.  Take this opportunity to walk down the aisle to your favorite song! 

You’ll need to select some background music for when guests enter, like a song for the wedding party processional, the main processional and, of course, the “let’s get the party started” recessional song, as you take your first walk as a married couple! 

Lastly, make sure you have the right amount of microphones for your officiant and any readers as well!

The Ceremony Itself

on site wedding

Now is the time to really plan out how you’d like the ceremony to be.  Do you want sentimental and sweet, or something with a bit of a twist to have your guests laughing?  Are there certain religious or cultural aspects that are important to include?   Think about whether you want to include any readings, whether they be religious, a meaningful poem or even a special song. Are there any special people in your lives that may not be in the wedding party, but you want to include?  Reading is a great way to have them take part in your ceremony.  

Programs are a nice touch if you’d like guests to follow along with the order of the ceremony, or if you want to introduce your wedding party.  Another option is displaying one large sign as guests enter the ceremony location that gives them the low down.  

If you’re having an unplugged ceremony or would like guests to sit wherever they like, additional signage may be needed to clearly communicate this to your guests. 

Unity Ceremonies 

If you’re blending families, or if either of you has a child who will be a part of your new family, having an aspect of the ceremony where you are saying vows to them is an important consideration.  This can be done just with spoken vows or using a unity symbol such as pouring different color sand into one vase.  A unity candle is another touching tradition. 

The Order and Rehearsing

Once you have the on-site wedding ceremony planned, you’ll need to determine in what order your wedding  is walking down the aisle.  Do you want the wedding party walking down the aisle in pairs, or walking separately only to be joined during the recessional?  Parents and Grandparents should also be considered for the processional;-and, don’t forget someone to escort them, if needed.  Ask your venue to ensure the front row is reserved for your immediate family!

A rehearsal will be a great way to ensure that everyone knows what to expect on the day of the wedding.  Your coordinator will review what time everyone needs to be in place, the order of the procession and recessional and location of each key player during the ceremony.  Just a thought, if the officiant is a 1st timer, will they have enough experience to offer tips and tricks for ensuring a smooth-running event?  

Hope for the Best but Plan for the Worst

We all know how unpredictable New England weather is.  At the Four Points by Sheraton Norwood, our outdoor Pavilion for the Tiffany Ballroom, and Garden Terrace for Zachariah’s, both get booked with a contingency plan for bad weather.  It is important that you know what your backup is, and at what point the determination will be made if the ceremony needs to be moved inside.  Knowing you have a backup plan will alleviate the stress of inclement weather on your wedding day.

Want to learn more about having an on-site ceremony and reception at the Tiffany Ballroom? We’d love to chat! 781-255-3159