Tori asks:

I have my first ceremony coming up in a week and a half (for a good friend), and while I am feeling pretty on top of things overall, I am still trying to work out what I will use to read from on the day. I was hoping you could talk a little bit about your experience/thoughts on using a tablet (which I’ve noticed quite a few celebrants tend to be doing?) VS something like a nice looking binder. Any specific tips/considerations either way (e.g. if you use a tablet, do you find a cover for it that you can tuck vow cards into?), and if you do go the binder/folder route, any ideas for where to buy something appropriate? Last question! If you do tend to use a tablet, do you always have a hard copy as backup anyway?

First of all Tori, congrats on your first ceremony coming up! It’s an exciting and nerve wracking time all in one, but I’m sure you’ll be great πŸ™‚

I’m answering this one because Josh doesn’t read from a script, so he’s of no use whatsoever for this question πŸ™‚

I have literally tried all of the things when it comes to what I read my ceremony from.

For my very first ceremony, another celebrant had told me that an A5 folder was easier to manage than an A4 folder. So I promptly went out and bought a (very ugly) A5 binder and some A5 plastic pockets, and read my ceremony from that. One fairly major problem: I found myself holding the folder against my stomach to steady it, and I couldn’t see the ceremony over my boobs. Sorry if that’s too much information, but they’re kind of big and it was a legitimate issue! So I did away with the A5 folder, which was just as well because it really was very ugly.

(As an aside, my aunt was also horrified by the ugliness of the A5 binder, so my uncle played around with some leather offcuts in his shed and made me a beautiful leather A5 folder and an A4 one, which was lovely, but by then I’d figured out A5 wasn’t going to work for me, and I’d found the A4 folder I’ll talk about below, so they didn’t get a lot of use.)

I headed back to my favourite shop of all time, Officeworks, and spent a long time in the display folder aisle. Eventually I found a black, hard cover display folder with a normal book spine, not ring bound or with that big ugly plastic thing you usually see on display folders. They don’t seem to stock them anymore, but this is the closest one I could find.

I bought a bunch of those and I still use them to display my Ceremony Builder Booklets and other info for taking along to couple meet and greets. They look nice in my hand, they’re hard cover so they don’t flap around, the plastic sheets are thicker than normal so they’re better on windy days, and overall I was pretty happy. I still had the boob problem, but I solved that by printing my scripts with an 8cm margin at the bottom of every page. Oh, and for the record, I printed my scripts in 14pt Calibri font at 1.5 spacing, with normal margins at the top and sides (2.54cm) and the 8cm margin at the bottom.

Black folder front cover
Black folder nice spine
Black folder open (and sideways, sorry about that!)

There are lots of places to buy lovely folders that aren’t Officeworks. I know several celebrants who’ve had folders custom made by a book binder, and many of the quirkier stationery shops (think Typo, Kikki K, etc) also have nice folders.

Towards the end of my first year as a celebrant I got sick of other people looking after the music at my ceremonies and ALWAYS GETTING IT WRONG. So I decided I was going to take charge of the music; I bought a Bluetooth receiver to plug into my PA system and a small iPod that I keep just for ceremonies, but I knew using my folder could be problematic – I knew I could velcro the iPod to the inside cover of the folder, but I’d then have to flip the pages back to get to it when I wanted to press Play. That was not going to work. So I decided to give my Kindle a try.

Now I’ve been a Kindle fan for years; I’m a heavy reader and the last time I went overseas I had a significant extra weight charge because of all the books I was carrying. I got my first Kindle for my birthday in 2010 and I haven’t looked back. So I knew how to work a Kindle, I felt comfortable with reading from the screen, and I was happy to give it a shot. My original Kindle had buttons at the side to press to move back and forth between pages; my current one is a touch screen, so you tap on the left side of the screen to go back and page, and the right side of the screen to go forward a page.

The big issue was figuring out what size font I needed to save my document in so that when the A4 page of my document shrank to the size of the Kindle screen, it would still be readable! After a bit of trial and error I settled on narrow margins (1.27cm) all around, and 26 point Calibri font at 1.5 spacing. So I prepare the document as usual in Word, print it to PDF, then email the PDF document to my Kindle account email address (which you can find if you go into your Kindle account information online). Lo and behold, the next time I connect my Kindle to wifi, the document downloads, ready to go!

A page of text on my Kindle (sideways, sorry!)

Because the Kindle is so small and fits cradled in one hand, I don’t need to rest it against my stomach; I tend to hold it at chest height, so my boobs don’t get in the way πŸ™‚

Kindle fits in my hand

I have a plain black case for my Kindle (it’s a responsive one, so when I close the case the Kindle switches off). I know others have gone down the track of getting larger covers that they can fit vow cards and tissues etc in, but I stuff my tissues in my bra (sorry, TMI again!) and give the vow cards to the second groomsman to hold (the best man usually has the rings, so this gives the second groomsman something to do).

I have a Velcro strip on the back of my iPod, and Velcro dots on the left inside cover of the Kindle, and that’s my ceremony kit. I can hold it comfortably in one hand, and move the pages back and forth and control the iPod with the other hand. I wear a headset microphone so that I have both hands free for this reason. If there’s live music and I’m not needing my iPod, the Kindle comes out of its case and I just hold it and control it with the same hand.

Kindle with iPod attached (upside down, sorry)
Kindle out of its cover

I always have a paper copy of the ceremony with me as well; I like to give the couple a keepsake copy of their ceremony on pretty paper, so that’s in my bag if I need it. On the odd occasion when my Kindle threw a hissy fit though, I’ve just opened up the Dropbox app on my iPhone and read the ceremony from there – I save EVERYTHING in Dropbox, so I can access it from my phone, iPad, or any computer anywhere.

I personally don’t like to use an iPad; I’ve seen many photos of celebrants with an eerie glow on their face from their iPad screen. A Kindle isn’t backlit, which makes it easy to read in the sunlight (it’s just like reading from paper) and it doesn’t shine a light on my face. I also find my Kindle easier to hold onto than my iPad; it’s just that bit smaller and more comfortable in my hand. I’ve also heard far too many horror stories of iPads shutting down in the heat; I’ve yet to have that happen with my Kindle, although I am careful to keep it out of direct sunlight as much as i can.

(And yes, I’ve heard the arguments about being able to make edits on the go if you’re using an iPad, and about being able to control the music from the same device you’re reading your script from. I’m very bossy with my couples and don’t allow edits on the day of the ceremony; in over 280 weddings I’ve only had one wedding where they insisted I add something on the day, and it was minor enough that I could remember it. And for the same reason I didn’t want to be flipping pages in my folder, I don’t want to be switching between apps to play music and read my ceremony. That’s just me though.)

I still use my hard copy folder for funerals, because I don’t have to control the music and I always have a lectern to put my folder on, although I am considering trying my iPad at a funeral ceremony or two to see how that goes. Having said that, at burials lately I’ve been using my Kindle/iPod combo because it’s just easier at the graveside rather than dealing with the pages in my folder.

So that’s my journey through different tools for reading my ceremony! I hope it’s been useful πŸ™‚ (And sorry that I’m so useless with images and some of them are sideways or upside down!)