vIf wedding receptions are where the party’s at, then we think ceremonies should be where the passion’s at. So, we wanted to offer up five ideas for a passionate wedding ceremony. Read on, and be prepared to for a ceremony that’s full of fiery, fierce, unforgettable passion.

1. Include Family Photos and Heirlooms at the Altar

We’re all for a great floral arch, but we love the idea of personalizing the altar a bit more. After all, it’s a space that will live on for centuries to come in photographs. We love the idea of suspending black-and-white portraits of your closest loved ones from fishing wire as a backdrop for your ceremony (weaving single suspended flowers in between each, to add some life and dimension to the backdrop). Or, why not set up a small table space at or near the altar to display special family heirlooms? You can even have your officiant work these items into the ceremony script itself—after all, nothing will move the audience to tears like hearing the story behind that beautiful engagement ring your grandfather gave your grandmother decades ago.

2. Include Loved Ones in the Ceremony Script

We love the idea of having your closest family and friends perform readings during the ceremony, or even share short stories about you as a couple. While this is often saved for toasts during the reception, there’s no rule that says you can’t incorporate a few short words of wisdom and love from family and friends during the ceremony. Hearing from multiple people (as opposed to just the officiant) is a nice way to freshen up the ceremony and keep people on their toes. Plus, chances are loved ones who’ve known you a lifetime will be able to offer up more passion and personal touches than your officiant ever could.

3. Display Your Vows at Large

Why not have a calligrapher write your vows on a massive tapestry and use that as a backdrop for your altar? Vows are so special and personal, yet your guests likely only hear them once during the ceremony. By displaying them at large in writing, guests can have a chance to really ponder what it is you and your new spouse promised each other. Plus, you’ll have a great take-home design detail that you can then display in your house for years to come.

4. Toast At the Altar

We love, love, LOVE the idea of having a post-nuptials toast right from the altar. We often spend so much money and time on creating the perfect altar space, but, with nerves running rampant and short ceremony times, don’t get to truly enjoy it. We love the idea of having champagne or a signature cocktail passed out quietly toward the end of the ceremony. Then, after the officiant pronounces you officially married, have a family member give a toast (or give it yourself if you and your spouse want to say a few words). Photos of the seated guests raising their glasses while you face them from the altar and raise yours back are sure to turn out stunning.

5. Implement a No-Phone Policy

Nothing takes the intimacy and passion out of a wedding ceremony like having 70 percent of your guests stare at you from behind a screen. Plus, you have a professional photographer—so, as hard as it may be, resist the urge to collect as many photos as possible on your Big Day. Let your photographer do her or his job and ask that your guests focus on being present for the ceremony instead of playing amateur photog. Display a sign at the entrance of your ceremony that asks guests to turn off their phones, or include this information in the printed program. You’ll be glad you did when you’re able to make eye contact—rather than iPhone contact—with your crowd.

Photo courtesy Bradley James Photography

Flowers and Planning by Rhiannon Bosse