The Norm Kickin’ Ceremony

norm kickin' ceremonyIn 1947, my parents got married. My trendsetting grandmother wore a black dress. OMG! You’d have thought she’d robbed a bank (or so I’m told!)

Back then, my Granma’s choice of “attire” RAISED A STINK. Black was unheard of, and even though my grandmother was known for being her own person, some things should not be done.

Deva Lillian didn’t care what the norms were. Eventually the whispers died down. Life went on and ultimately I was born. And the world was happy once again. 🙂

Every Generation

Every generation has their own turn at norm-kickin’. This is true socially, politically, environmentally, professionally. It’s called evolution.

Weddings are no different.

Your wedding can be as traditional as you want it to be. Or it can be absolutely a norm kickin’ ceremony.

BUT you DON’T  have to step into anything different if you don’t want to. Challenge the unchangeable. Norms were made to become un-normal.

Here’s a few aspects of a ceremony you should feel free to vamp on:

Size — Should you host lots of guests or just a few?

Elopements and Minimonies are desirable for many reasons nowadays, money-saving being one of the big ones)

Where you stand during the ceremony.

norm kicking ceremonyIn this photo, the groom (Jason) and bride (Laura) were on the opposite site they usually are so their family members could see their face instead of their backs.

Who your attendant(s) are

If your favorite people are the opposite sex, s/he doesn’t have to stand up with the one of you who’s the same sex.

Solemn or humorous 

Some of us are petrified to stand up in front of others, and making promises in front of others can be truly nerve-wracking. But that’s the point! Because making your commitment in front of others can help make the whole of you understand this relationship is different. 

However, this doesn’t mean you have to be stoic or feel bad about being nervous. Many of us Officiants would love to add some humor or levity to your ceremony, so feel free to lighten up

Religious or non-traditional

Many many couples have no affiliation with any religious group. When or if you are religious, your priest, pastor or minister may not be allowed to conduct a wedding ceremony outside of your church.

But to be meaningful, your ceremony doesn’t have to be religious. It can be very non-traditional in that you can refer to or incorporate non-Christian traditions such as the Handfasting or Mead Ceremony. Jump the Broom or tie the Sailor’s Knot. (I have over 20 different special ceremonies to choose from).

Add an element you’ve created yourself or in cahoots with your Officiant. (Personally I love this)

Who can do or say what during a ceremony

Most full-blown, all out wedding ceremonies include stories about the couple, or feature a fav reading of some kind. Lyrics are great to include or even sing. While most Officiants know something about vocal variation it’s still nice to have another voice to break up the Officiant’s tone. 

This is another way to give people who care about you a chance to participate in a meaningful way in your ceremony.

Last but not least, if your Officiant is NOT religious but you want to use scripture or offer a prayer, s/he may be very open to a family member or friend do the honors of setting the religious/traditional tone.

Professional Officiant or Friendiant

Well.  I had to bring this up but I should say first of all, “Don’t get me started.”

And you didn’t. I started this. Wha wha… Here is my opinion:

Friends love to be friends at your ceremony. Unless they’re experienced Officiants. It doesn’t matter if he or she is an accomplished public speaker or they’ve planned 20 ceremonies in their short lifetime. Public speaking nor wedding planning nor fun-loving friend does NOT an officiant make. More wedding professionals complain about the messes Friendiants make of a wedding ceremony than I care to tell you about. A professional Officiant like myself may be more expensive but in the end you’ll be glad you did NOT kick the tradition to the curb. (And like I’m trying to tell you — we’re not all that traditional!)

Norm kickin' ceremony

Bay Harbor, MI Wedding Photography | Kate + Michael | © Dan Stewart Photography |

Pronouncements  of Mr., Mrs, husband(s), wife(wives) or not

You do not have to be introduced as Mr. and Mrs.  Or Mrs. and Mrs. You get the point. You don’t even have to be pronounced at the conclusion of your ceremony if you don’t want to be.

Original vows or repeat after me vows

Many more couples are writing their own vows these days. In the packet I provide my couples, I’m fine if they cute and paste or totally disregard anything I provide. They can repeat after me something short, maybe two to three sentences long. Anything longer than that should be read to each other. 

For personal vows, I always recommend Vow Booklets so when you read your vows to each other, they don’t flop in the wind like they were written on a napkin 30 minutes ago. (LOL). You can order all kind of vow booklets from Just make sure they aren’t so big you could use them for a mileage log. 

Because I’ve been doing weddings for 31 years now, I’ve put together a pretty good guide for writing your own vows. Check it out:  Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Symbolism of the rings

norm kicking ceremony

Over the years I’ve heard lots of different interpretations of the meaning of the rings. What do you think the meaning is? What will they remind you of when you wear them through the years? 

I always like to find out if there’s anything unusual about the rings, the materials they’re made out of, did they belong to Gramma Elizabeth (that would’ve been a nice one from my mom’s mom!) or did you design them? These kinds of stories enrich your ceremony and while this won’t kick norms to the curb, they add interest and depth to your ceremony.

Color schemes and styles

My goddaughter married her husband wearing East Indian Red. She looked stunning. And gramma — well, her touch of black set the tone for my preferences before I was born.

And while I’m at it, you don’t even have to choose between a ballgown, mermaid or A-line dress. You can wear a suit, a mini-dress, polo-shirt, un-tuck-it, or tux it up.

One last assumption to norm kick:  I am ordained through the Unity “seminary.”  Seminary trained doesn’t mean stuffy, pious OR religious. I’m open, and I believe your love makes the world a better place.

I WILL show you how I emphasize this fact in your ceremony, norm kickin’ or not. Contact me for more information today.

Norm Kicking

Rev Crystal Yarlott, Professional Officiant and lover of all styles of ceremonies


PS – I don’t bite!