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Developing staff commitment (hosting a wedding)


Advisers want their staff members to be committed to their work. What greater way to symbolize commitment than to have a wedding ceremony during which all staff members express their devotion to the media for the year ahead. While the type of ceremony will vary from simple to elaborate, the symbolism of the commitment is the main objective.


  • Students will understand the deep commitment it takes to create a great scholastic media product.
  • Students will assist in the planning and execution of a wedding ceremony and a reception.
  • Students will plan a budget for this activity.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


Two class periods (one to plan, one to conduct the ceremony)

Note: This works best if these are not two consecutive class periods, as the planning may involve purchasing or making items outside of school needed for the ceremony.


Handout: Wedding vow samples

Handout: Staff commitment contract

Slideshow: Example –

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Ask students to rate or rank some of the biggest commitments or responsibilities in life. Brainstorm and list these on the board (examples may include having a baby, deciding where to go to college, buying a house, etc.). Lead students to the idea of marriage as one of the bigger commitments known in modern society, making a connection or parallel to participation on student media staff (it’s not always easy, it takes trust and compromise, it’s not something to enter into lightly, etc.). Explain to students that they’ll get to seal their commitment in their own “marriage” ceremony. (At this point, be sure to clarify this as a fun activity with no religious affiliation so all students feel comfortable.)

Explore the reasons to have a commitment ceremony at the beginning of the year. Allow students to suggest the importance of such an event. For example, returning staff members may comment on how the commitment reminder may come in handy during stressful deadline times. Research how other schools conduct their commitment ceremonies by contacting advisers/editors around the country and getting a detailed description of what they do.

2. Group brainstorming — 30 minutes

Divide the staff into a variety of groups based on what you decide you want your ceremony to look like, or let the groups form themselves after the brainstorming has taken place. Invite students to brainstorm the many ways they could extend the marriage ceremony metaphor. They could spend some time contacting any staffs they have worked with in years past or could brainstorm in class what they would like to include. After brainstorming, allow students to choose where they would like to work and allow them in their groups to plan their portion of the activity. If there is need to create a budget for the event, then each group should turn that in for approval to the adviser. Each group should select a chairman, a secretary and a budget director (if necessary). The chairman will make any reports to the class, the secretary will keep minutes/notes and the budget director will keep costs of all items to make sure they stay within the publication’s budget and that said budget is reported to the adviser.

Things to consider including in the ceremony:

  • wedding license (develop a poster that everyone signs to hang in the room)
  • cake (cutting ceremony, feed to each other?)
  • official wedding photos
  • outfits (get tiara, veil, tux jacket/tie, white dresses, black ties, other)
  • candles
  • wedding song
  • processional – ring bearers, flower girls, bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents of the staff, alumni, ushers (designation based on media type or years of experience)
  • recessional
  • flowers
  • master of ceremonies/minister
  • rings (available at party stores or in bulk online, but any kind works)
  • wedding favors to keep forever
  • flutes for toasting (allow students to write toasts to the staff)
  • DJ or musical performers for reception
  • bubbles, sparklers
  • special staff dance (Chicken Dance, Hokie Pokie or similar)

3. Develop an action plan for each committee — 10 minutes

The chairman will do any reports to the entire class, the secretary will keep minutes/notes and the budget director will keep costs of all items to make sure they stay within the publication’s budget and that said budget is reported to the adviser. Groups should script any part of the ceremony/reception that needs to be scripted. Students will take group vows, but might also wish to write their own individual vows to the staff.

Committees may include:

  • decorations
  • food
  • ceremony
  • invitations/save the date cards
  • reception execution (wedding planner-type duties)

4. Follow-up exercise — homework

Students will research the costs of their particular area and will report back to the group so that a staff budget for this event can be created. After a budget is created, the adviser will purchase necessary materials to plan for the ceremony/reception and the students will make any necessary items. They will also complete the development of an action plan for carrying out the ceremony/reception if that hasn’t been completed in class.

Students will write a reflection on their involvement in the planning process and their thoughts about the execution of the ceremony itself.


Advanced students might take on the role of wedding planner or wedding director. If you want to keep the ceremony a surprise as a sort of “induction” for new staff members, veteran staff members could conduct the brainstorming and committee work outside of class and/or using methods like Google Docs. New staff members would experience the ceremony as a surprise, followed by the full-class discussion and reflection afterward.