Just like snowflakes, no two wedding ceremonies are alike. Which can make things really complicated when you start to write your own. And there are so many resources and samples online that it’s impossible to know where to begin. So we’ve compiled a handy guide to help point you in the right direction. Consider it a gentle suggestion for timing, not a concrete “must do”. Because the best advice we can give is to use what feels right for you. And if you’re not a writer, don’t worry! Your wedding ceremony is one of the only places where plagiarism is not only acceptable, but encouraged. Pick and choose the best parts of what others have done and before you know it you’ll have a wedding ceremony that is perfectly curated to you.
Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Guide
Timing – Who Walks When
This is the traditional processional timeline. But as mentioned above, feel free to customize!
First: Officiant stands at the altar. They can enter up the aisle or from the side, depending on your venue.
Second: Groom and Best Man enter. Similarly to the officiant they can enter from the aisle or from the side of the altar. This depends largely on your venue.
Third: Bridesmaids and Groomsman walk down the aisle in pairs. Or alone. Odd numbers are common so don’t get hung up on everyone having a partner. If you have a small bridal party they can enter individually too.
Fourth: The Maid(s) and/or Matron(s) of honor walk down the aisle alone. (They can also accompany the flower girl or ring bearer if the kiddos are too small or afraid to walk on their own.)
Fifth: The ring bearer walks alone, follow closely by the flower girl, who tosses flower petals on either side of the aisle. Or, oftentimes they walk together (strength in numbers)!
Last: The bride is accompanied by her father (or brother/friend/mother/uncle/etc)
*Exceptions* – Many couples may opt to have the groom walk down the aisle before the bride, accompanied by his mother. Or to have their grandparents walk and be seated before the formal processional begins. Other times the bride may choose to walk alone. Or if the couple is same-sex they may walk together, or right after each other. The options are pretty endless.
Content – What Do We Include?
This is the general order of events at a traditional wedding ceremony. But have we mentioned you’re free to customize? 🙂
Processional: The aforementioned details. Everyone finds their way down the aisle.
Officiant’s Welcome/Opening Remarks: Everyone is at the front of the ceremony and ready to go. The officiant will greet the audience and the couple. This is probably most commonly recognized as the “Dearly Beloved…” speech. But it can be any sort of formal or informal welcome message.
Officiant’s Address to the Couple: The “meat” of the ceremony if you will. The officiant will address the couple and discuss the significance of the vows they are about to exchange. In religious ceremonies this is often followed by a sermon or reading, emphasizing the message.
Declaration of Intent: The officiant will ask the couple if they agree to the marriage about to be performed. More commonly known as the “I do’s.”
Exchange of Vows: The couple may recite traditional vows or exchange handwritten ones of their own. The groom traditionally goes first, followed by the bride. But many couples will choose who goes first based on who is most comfortable doing so.
Exchange of Rings: “With this ring, I thee wed.” The couple confirms their vows with the exchange of rings. Done in the same order of who read vows first.
Pronouncement: The officiant will now declare you husband and wife! Or partners, or married! However you phrase it is up to you.
The Kiss: Pretty self explanatory. You seal your vows with a big smooch and everyone cheers!
Officiant’s Closing Remarks: The officiant will thank everyone for coming and offer their best wishes for your marriage. This is also a great time to let people know about photo, cocktail hour, or reception details.
Recessional: The bridal party exists in reverse order, with the newlyweds leaving first.
*Exceptions* – Many couples choose to personalize their ceremony still further with songs or readings performed by the bridal party or friends and family. And others may skip some parts altogether and jump right into the vows and rings. Whatever the case, always do what is best you.
And with all of the information packed into your ceremony, don’t forget to clue your guests in! Keep everyone informed and engaged with gorgeous wedding ceremony programs from Marrygrams! Whether they be flat, folded or fans, we have styles for every theme and budget. Get started here!