We've all heard the classic wedding phrase "you may now kiss the bride." Traditionally, that's the moment when the officiant announces a couple is married, and they lean in for a first kiss. But if it seems outdated, or you aren't sure about the language, there are plenty of other ways to end your wedding ceremony, should you be looking for an alternative.
Changing it up will also come in handy if you don't want to smooch in front of a room of people, or if you're looking for something a bit more interesting or unique to do, as a way of sealing your marriage. Whatever the case might be, remember the choice is up to you.
This is, after all, your wedding ceremony, so it's certainly OK to personalize the wording, Eric Hunt, a licensed wedding officiant, tells Bustle. For many folks, "the deviation from tradition is simply wanting their wedding to identify with who they are as a couple," he says.
Of course, this will be a lot easier if you're writing your own vows, or if you're having a friend officiate the wedding, since you'll have more freedom in terms of what's said, Amy Grace Collins, a certified event planner, tells Bustle. But even if you're calling in the help of another officiant — who may or may not be more stuck in their ways — don't hesitate to chat with them about your ideas. Here are a few you may want to consider, according to experts.
"You May Now Seal Your Marriage"
This is a sweet way to end the ceremony without putting any pressure on either person to do the kissing. It has a formal touch to it, but "doesn't require that the couple kiss if they are quite shy people," Babinski says. Instead, feel free to kiss, hug, hold hands and turn towards your guests — whatever feels right.
Remember, your wedding is all about what you want as a couple. This ending line a small moment of a much bigger day, but since it's technically the first thing you do together as married folks, you should focus on what feels right to you.
"You May Now Kick Off Your Marriage!"
An exciting thing to say that, again, doesn't make it all about grooms kissing brides, is "you may now kick off your marriage!" This is a fresh take on the traditional wording, and "leaves the option open for the couple to kiss, dip, whatever they want to do," Babinski says.
If your wedding is more informal, this statement will likely get a big reaction from the crowd, since it has a lot of energy to it. Similarly, you could use the wording "you may now begin your adventure of marriage with a kiss," which is "a fun and light-hearted alternative that will set the tone for your wedding day — and your marriage," Karen Norian, a wedding planner for Simply Eloped, tells Bustle.
"You Are Now Legally Married"
If you'd like to get straight to the point, Hunt says, ask the officiant to say something along the lines of "you are now legally married by the laws of the state of XYZ." This is a simple statement, but one that has some oomph to it. Once it's official, you and your partner can take it from there, and chat about what you plan on doing next.
"You May Have Your First Toast"
"This is especially fun for couples doing a champagne toast at the end of their ceremony," Babinski says, "or [for those having] a unity piece involving drinks."
During their wedding, many couples opt for a "unity ceremony," where they light candles together, or pour separate containers of sand into one glass to symbolize their union and the meshing of their lives. But you can also do this with drinks or cocktails, which you can mix together and enjoy.
Or, simply raise a glass to everyone at your wedding, say a quick toast, and take a sip together for the first time as a married couple.
"You Know What To Do, Make It A Good One!"
This one is typically used to add humor, Hunt says, so if you're looking to get a chuckle out of the crowd, it may be the perfect choice of words to end your ceremony.
Similarly, the officiant might say something like "now might be a good time to kiss," Hunt says. If you're worried you might not know when the ceremony is officially over, or if you suspect you might get caught up in the moment and forget to kiss, give them permission to go this route. If anything, it'll end up being really cute.
"Let's Clap For The Start Of Your Marriage!"
Having everyone clap at the end of your ceremony can work out well for a variety of reasons. First, it gets the energy back up and creates excitement as you lean in to kiss, or get ready to run down the aisle together. It's also way more fun to kiss to applause than it is to do so in front of a quiet room, which can feel awkward for some.
But most importantly, this is a big event, so why not clap? Whichever route you choose, make sure it seems like a good fit for you and your partner as a couple, and sends out the vibes you're looking for on your wedding day.
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