Planning your destination wedding ceremony isn’t as stressful as you’ve made it out to be in your head. There’s really no need to worry. There are only a few things you need to prepare ahead of time. And I’ve got you covered there! This guide will walk you through every step of planning your symbolic wedding ceremony in Punta Cana. 

From the decor to the music, vows and ring exchange, and even some extras if you feel like adding something unique to your wedding day. I’ll tell you what you need to know so that you’re on top of planning and can relax when the big day finally comes. You just have to follow me and you’ll be ready for the wedding of your dreams. 


Planning Your Symbolic Wedding Ceremony

Wait… Back up. The first step here is to decide if you’ll have a symbolic, civil, or religious wedding ceremony in Punta Cana. Ninety-five percent of couples have symbolic ceremonies and get legally married back home before their trip. (Pst: This is the easiest and least stressful option, and it doesn’t take away any of the emotions from the day to do it this way.)

If you choose a civil or religious wedding ceremony, your day is going to look a little different. For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on symbolic wedding ceremonies only since that’s what most couples will decide works best for them.


What is a Symbolic Wedding Ceremony?

Well, I’m glad you asked! It’s pretty simple, really. A symbolic wedding ceremony is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a wedding service showcasing your love and your marriage, but without the traditional, legal, or religious pieces. It looks exactly like any other wedding ceremony, and chances are your guests won’t even know the difference. And you’ll save yourself the headache of filing marriage paperwork in a foreign country. 


How Long Does a Symbolic Wedding Ceremony Last?

You might be surprised to find out that symbolic wedding ceremonies only last about 15-20 minutes. If you have any special readings or speeches during your ceremony, it may last a little bit longer, but symbolic weddings are usually short and sweet.

So let’s take a look at the order of your wedding ceremony so you know what to plan.


Symbolic Wedding Ceremony Order

When planning your wedding ceremony, it helps to have an order of events, from the processional to the big kiss.

Here is the typical order that you can follow:

  1. Family & Friends are Seated
  2. Groom Entrance 
  3. Bridesmaids & Groomsmen Entrance
  4. Bride Entrance
  5. Introduction & Words of Welcome
  6. Vows
  7. Exchange Rings
  8. Final Blessings
  9. The First Kiss!
  10. The Recessional

Pretty simple, right? It is!

With that being said, you do have some flexibility here.

If you have little ones, you may want to add a ring bearer and flower girl to your processional. They’re always adorable! Or you may want to incorporate a special reading from a loved one or a unity ceremony after you exchange the rings. It’s totally up to you!

The best part about having a symbolic wedding ceremony is that there are no strict rules. You decide what’s important to you, and that’s all you need.

You’ll also have to select some music to accompany these special moments. I’d recommend one song for your groom’s entrance, one song for your bridesmaids’ entrance, and one song for the bridal entrance. Finally, you’ll need a celebratory song for the recessional. Woohoo! Now it’s time to get the party started!

But wait:

Let’s keep going with the planning tips to ensure your wedding ceremony is amazing.


Have an Unplugged Wedding Ceremony

This is one of the biggest recommendations I can give you to ensure that all of your guests are present and engaged for your wedding ceremony. You’ll ask your guests to silence their cell phones and refrain from using them during the entire ceremony. This means no social media, no photos, and no videos.


You have a professional photographer and videographer booked to capture all of the special moments – so your guests don’t need to worry about it. An awesome photographer will make sure the photos are beautiful, emotional, and breathtaking, and none of that will be possible if there’s a little screen covering each person’s face.


Symbolic Wedding Ceremony Decor

This is one of the most exciting parts of planning your wedding day. How do you envision your wedding ceremony?

You’ll get to choose a beautiful backdrop or wedding arch, the chairs and aisle markers, and even the wedding signs to craft a stunning ceremony space. Head over to Pinterest to get those creative juices flowing.

Thankfully, you don’t have to stress about getting all the materials or setting anything up. You’ll just need to share your ideas with your wedding planner, and they’ll take care of everything. 

Here’s a little inspiration, and don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Destination Wedding Decor.


How to Make Your Wedding Ceremony Unique

It’s nice to keep your ceremony short and sweet, but there are a few simple tweaks you can make to ensure you have a beautiful destination wedding ceremony in Punta Cana.

Let’s get started:


Book an Officiant

Choosing who will officiate your wedding is a big responsibility, and it’s one that is often overlooked. The truth is, the officiant can make or break your wedding ceremony. They set the pace, the mood, and the entire flow of the day. So you want to be sure there’s someone you can trust behind the microphone.

The good news is:

There are plenty of professional officiants in Punta Cana who can make your wedding ceremony amazing. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Wedding Officiant here. Then let’s keep moving.


Write Your Own Vows

If you really want to express how much your partner means to you, writing your own vows is a great way to add that extra personal touch. It’s not an easy task summing up all your love, hopes, and promises in a couple of short minutes, but it is so worth it! 

To help you out, here are 4 things to include in your personal vows:

  1. Share a personal story
  2. Acknowledge that you’ll be there for your partner no matter what
  3. Make promises that you intend to keep throughout your marriage
  4. Say “I love you”

That’s easy enough, isn’t it? But I have a few other pro tips for you to ensure your wedding photos and videos look amazing.

First, write your vows down on paper. It looks much better than a cell phone! Bonus points if you get a special wedding booklet that’s specifically for your vows.

Second, don’t wait until the last minute. I can’t tell you how many brides are writing their vows in the bridal suite the morning of their wedding day. Yes, it happens all the time! But your vows will sound so much better if you write them ahead of time, and re-write them, too, if you need to.

I’d even recommend reading your vows out loud before the ceremony. That way you really know what you’re going to say, and you can look your partner in the eyes as you say your vows instead of looking down at a paper the whole time.

Note: If you feel like reading your own vows is too intimate and you don’t want to share all those feelings in front of your guests, consider writing a letter to your partner to read during the getting ready or during the first look


Unity Ceremony Ideas

If you want to do something special during your ceremony to showcase the bond between you and your new husband, a unity ceremony is a great option! This can be where you choose to incorporate a religious or cultural tradition, or it could be a personalized act that honors your commitment like mixing sand or tying the knot.

Here are some popular unity ceremonies:

  • Sand Ceremony
  • Handfasting
  • Lasso Ceremony
  • Tying the Knot
  • Tea Ceremony
  • Take a Tequila or Mamajuana Shot Together
  • Breaking the Glass
  • Jumping the Broom

Feel free to incorporate any of these into your symbolic wedding ceremony to make it extra special.


Book a Live Musician

There are so many talented musicians in Punta Cana who can add a little spark to your symbolic wedding ceremony. Whether you want to walk down the aisle to a rendition of your favorite song played on the violin or you’d prefer a saxophone solo instead. Maybe a live band is more your style.

Kukua Beach Club has an amazing piano singing duo, loveinpuntacana, who will blow you away. Your options are endless! And you and your guests will love this special touch.


Live Painting During Your Symbolic Wedding Ceremony

Now, this is something you’ve probably never seen before! Book an artist to paint your ceremony in real-time. Capture you and your new hubby, the gorgeous scenery, decor, and your guests into a beautiful painting. How cool is that? Plus, you’ll get a lovely canvas painting to take home with you and cherish forever.

Contact Marina Chernova to set up this service. You won’t regret it!


Live Stream the Ceremony

Having a destination wedding means that many of your friends and family won’t be able to attend. Maybe they can’t get time off work or they can’t afford a trip to the Caribbean right now. Maybe you want to have a small wedding. Whatever the reason – you may still want to share your ceremony with loved ones back home.

How can you do this?

Add a live streaming service to your photo and video package. Your friends and family can log on at the scheduled time and watch your ceremony from wherever they are. Share this special moment in real-time. I’m sure your family who is unable to attend will really appreciate it.


Extra Wedding Tips

Now that we’ve got all the details covered, here are a few extras to ensure your wedding photos turn out great!

  • Walk slowly down the aisle! I can’t say this enough. You only get to do this once. And you look stunning!! So take your time. Walk slower than you think you should. Slower than feels comfortable. You’ll get a lot more photos this way, and then we can also make sure we have time to capture your husband’s reaction when he sees you. (Remind your bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the little ones to walk slow too.)
  • Practice the first kiss. I know, I know. You’ve kissed a thousand times before. But probably never in front of all of your friends and family. Or with your grandmother watching… This is a big moment! So practice. Keep it sweet and simple, but hold it for at least 5 seconds. A quick peck just won’t do. Also: If he’s going to dip you, practice that too. Nobody wants to be dropped at the altar! (Yes, it’s happened before.)
  • Skip the sunglasses. You may have bought wedding favors for your guests with personalized sunglasses for your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and although it’s a nice touch, I’d recommend that your groom and his groomsmen set the sunglasses aside for the ceremony. Your groom won’t be able to really look you in the eyes if he’s wearing sunglasses the whole time. Or worse, he’ll have sunglasses resting on the top of his head for all of the photos. Nobody wants that!


Final Thoughts for your Symbolic Wedding Ceremony

So there you have it! These are some of my favorite tips for planning your wedding ceremony in Punta Cana. From the decor to the music, writing your vows, and sharing the moment with all of your family and friends back home. 

Whether you decide to keep it simple or incorporate some of the extras and create a unique wedding celebration, I hope you have an incredible wedding ceremony in Punta Cana.