Whether you are planning a secular wedding for this year or looking for ideas for next year (wedding planning starts increasingly earlier!), I will do my best to help you by posting more often on this blog of mine that means so much to me. If you have questions or a specific theme you’d like me to address, feel free to drop me a line. At the moment, I am full of ideas, I simply lack the time to share them all here.
As the first article of the year, I’ve chosen to tackle a broad topic where options are often little known: the exchange of rings in a secular ceremony. From the person who will carry them to the way of exchanging them, let me share my ideas and experience. Feel free to comment or share your thoughts!
Who will bring the rings?
- A child
Can you imagine something cuter than your child, your godchild, your nephew or niece, or the child of a friend bringing the rings? Not only will the moment be full of emotions, kids are often very proud to be tasked with such an important role. In a theme wedding, it is such a wonderful moment to dress the little ring bearer in a matching outfit.
You can also have a small staging: have the children arrive in a small car, hand in hand if there are two of them, or with a sign that asks their mummy if she’d like to marry their daddy (for the children of the newlyweds). For our secular ceremony, my husband and I chose to place the rings in a music box, which my husband’s nephew and godchild was winding up as he walked towards us (the music was La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf). Our guests and we have thoroughly enjoyed that very endearing moment!
- The best man or maid of honor, a groomsman or a bridesmaid
You can entrust the rings to your best man/maid of honor, or a bridesmaid/groomsman. If they are standing close to the newlyweds during the ceremony, the officiant will ask them to present the rings for the exchange. Entrusting the rings to these loved ones can help relieve some of the stress for the newlyweds as they know the rings will be in good hands.
- A pet
For an original tweak, you can have your dog participate in the secular ceremony by having him wear the rings around his neck! Note that a rigorous training may be in order! And it’s important to take your furry best friend’s character into account: is he well-behaved? calm around crowds? Someone you can trust should be in charge of him.
- Place the rings in situ
If you’d rather pick a simple and low-key option, you can place the rings on a nice box/dish near the newlyweds and the officiant. At the right time, the officiant will present the rings to the newlyweds for the exchange.
What kind of ring box/dish should I choose?
Depending on the theme of your wedding, you can choose a matching vessel. There are many possible original ideas depending on the atmosphere of your ceremony. Here are a few ideas I gathered on Pinterest
How to exchange rings?
- Guided by the officiant
That’s one of the most traditional options. The officiant asks the newlyweds if they want to take each other to be their spouse with all of their heart, or something to that effect. Each of them says they do and then places the ring on the other’s finger. The newlyweds can add a short sentence to strengthen their commitment.
- By repeating sentences after the officiant
Here is another fairly traditional option for couples who want to be guided through the process but still want to express a few promises. The officiant asks the newlyweds to play the rings on their respective fingers, then expresses different promises that each spouse repeats. These promises will be created with the wishes and personality of the couple in mind.
- By replying to commitments or promises
In this layout, the officiant words some promises asking the couple if they commit to honoring them. After each commitment/promise, the newlyweds reply that they do. It’s a fairly nice option, which can be completely personalized and which can contain a lovely touch of originality.
- At the end of the ring exchange
This is one my favorites, so moving: at the end of their vows, the newlyweds speak a few words to each other, or a promise, then place the rings on each other’s fingers. It is also possible for the ring exchange to be simple, silent, following the vow exchange.
- With music
Some powerful acts do not need words, or can be paired with a song whose lyrics are exactly on point. Why not choose an instrumental music or with evocative lyrics?
I’ve recently celebrated a ceremony where an overwhelmingly moving ring exchange happened over the words and melody of “Je te promets” by Johnny Hallyday. It was just fantastic!
- Before or after a ritual
The ring exchange can also happen right before a ritual so that the ritual follows naturally thereby giving more power to the commitment that the couple wants to express. Similarly, the rings can be exchanged at the end of the ritual, always with the idea to mark the connection between the two.
Here are a few ideas to inspire you to create a ring exchange that is completely yours, and true to what you are and believe in. If you have any different idea, feel free to share!