When speaking to many couples about their wedding ceremony, laughter always comes up in our meetings. Some couples want to laugh throughout their ceremony while others feel that laughter is a sacrilege. Fortunately, there is a balance. Important to understand is not whether the wedding nuptials are serious, joyous or even down right funny, but rather why do we laugh and is it appropriate in this setting?  

For almost twenty years I have seen tears, laughter and every other emotion that surrounds a couple’s wedding celebration. When thinking about the energy of the ceremony the words that come to mind are “full spectrum.” Life is an amalgam of all interactions and emotions; it is the good, the bad, the ugly and the laughable that make a life and a marriage. Perhaps it is this “being human in a relationship” that is also marked in this special occasion.

What is laughter’s part in a wedding anyway? It feels so good to let out a chuckle, smile or giggle. Simply put, laughter is pleasurable and contagious. When the body reacts in laughter to a thought that is funny, one’s entire physiology responds with a good feeling as it resonates with that thought. When a funny thought is repressed without an outward acknowledgment of its humor that thought remains in one’s head and can even become uncomfortable.

The shared laughter of wedding guests engages the group in an experience rather than being merely witnesses to an event. When there is laughter the energy of the occasion raises to a level that is infectious. We literally feel connected to each other and to the moment rather than waiting for the drinks and dancing to begin.

However, couples need to beware of the “Stand Up Comedian.” This is the officiant who thinks that funny is what people want all the time. Every sentiment ends in a one-liner and the energy is directed onto the officiant not the bride and groom. There is a fine line though. I share things during many weddings that are humorous, often repeatedly, because what is being said is pertinent to the moment, the couple and the guests; everyone can relate, especially to universal expressions.

In outdoor wedding settings any number of distractions and disturbances may occur. A plane or helicopter flying overhead, a flock of birds or even an annoying car horn blaring can bring a spirit of presence and connection since we are all experiencing it together. Rarely, is it good to ignore what is going on around us as that is what keeps guests “in their head” thinking about the distraction and not about the ceremony. We may be in a touching or sensitive moment where laughter might take us away from the moment yet these are the things that might be too good to let go. The thought is in everyone’s mind but when it is spoken about, that energy moves into the body through laughter.

The flow of love, commitment to each other, as well as the challenging times that come with marriage are tempered by joy, laughter and the humorous happenings that occur throughout our lives. Like a bank account, we withdraw these buffers to help us through life’s more serious experiences. When you plan your wedding with your officiant, ask him or her how they feel about humor and laughter during your wedding ceremony. This will give you insight so you can determine if this candidate is the right one for you and who will best reflect your wedding sentiments and desires.


Barry Tuchman