This page explains a typical day-of ceremony activities. It will help you visualize the ceremony, and it will give you ideas on what you might want to customize.
Whatever you wish for your ceremony we will help you do. We've done literally hundreds of weddings and can confidently say that we are very, very good at it. While all ceremonies follow a certain structure, anything is possible - your imagination is the limit. But then, you have us, so there is no limit. (We're also working on our modesty... but it's not easy). More tips and ideas further below, but first here is the engagement process for officiants...
Become a Wedding Ceremony Expert in 10 minutes
The Number 1 most well guarded secret in the wedding ceremony business is that they are all pretty much the same. That is, they follow a simple structure: introduction, readings, questions, etc. Sure, there are many ways to personalize a ceremony so that it is special and uniquely yours, yet from an officiant's point of view, they are basically the same. You need to understand this because many officiants will tell you that they will work hard for you to personalize your ceremony and that they will take care of every detail to create a very special ceremony, and on and on... The truth is that it takes about an hour at most to work out everything there is to work out about a ceremony and if you start the conversation being clueless, you will end up paying $2-3-4-500 more than is necessary. So read on to get some clues and spend your money on something you will keep - like photos - which, according to our "shameless marketing department", we provide as well.
The following wedding ceremony outline can be used for most any wedding:
1. Entrance, processional & music
3. Readings, songs, activities and/or prayers
4. Questions of intent ("Will you have this man/woman?)
5. Readings, songs, activities and/or prayers
6. Wedding Vows ("I promise to love you...")
7. Readings, songs, activities and/or prayers
8. Introduction of the couple, recessional and instructions for receiving line.
Let's discuss the wedding ceremony details
So what next?
In the beginning the crowd is without form, and void; and darkness is upon the ceremony. And the Minister moves up to the front of the crowd and says, Let there be quiet: and it gets quiet. And the Bride hears that it is quiet and the Groom knows that it is good. And the Minister divides bride’s people from groom’s people in two sides and tells them to turn off their cell phones. And they typically do so, with smiles upon their faces. And it is good. And the Minister looks to the bride to see that she is ready and when she nods that she is, the Minister nods at the DJ and the music starts...
1. Bridal Party Entrance & Processional Music
Typically most brides want to have some kind of an entrance "down the isle". The entrance order is Groom (alone, or with his parents or with minister), bride's maids and groomsmen (each alone or in couples), flower girls and ring bearers and then the bride (alone, with Dad or with both parents) - yes, both of you can come in with both parents - and if you want to make your parents proud choose this option, bride's dad is not the onlyt parent who should feel special... Whenever Groom and Bride get to the front it is nice to hug / kiss the parents and then let them go have a seat. When the bride comes in view, the minister tells the crowd to "Stand up for the bride please!" The whole ceremony section can be 2-3 minutes without seeming to be too much.
Time to decide:
2. Wedding Minister's Welcome & Introduction
This is a long way of saying "Thanks for coming, we're going to witness a wedding". This can be funny, serious, religious, spiritual or quite personal, telling people something about you. Most often we say something like this:
Hello and welcome!
We gathered together here in the presence of friends and family to celebrate the love which Bride and Groom have for each other, to give social recognition to their decision to commit their lives and accept each other completely, to learn how to help and understand each other, to build a family, and together, to travel through life.
If any of you has anything to say that might change their minds… they… don’t want to hear it However, they do want to hear from you, that you will always be their friends, and will always support and encourage them as they discover the commitment and dedication needed to make marriage work. And that is why you are here today.
This is a fun wedding introduction, touches on tradition, makes everyone welcome and involved and gets to the point can grabs people's attention. This is a good time to mention [ in the sight of God ] if that is relevant to you beliefs. This section will take 2-4 minutes, total running time so far 4 - 7 minutes.
3. Readings, Songs, Activities and/or Prayers
The wedding is like a short theater play. To set the mood to the main part, you can have the minister and someone say, sing and do something. Whatever you choose, let us know who the performing person is, their relationship to you (friend, cousin) and what they will do. Then, our minister will introduce them, much like they do at Awards shows: "And now, we have a wonderful gift from Bride's friend Frienda..." and Frienda gets up and does her thing.
Wedding Readings: whether literary, poetic or religious - a reading is a nice, simple way to customize your wedding ceremony. Some people want to hear something nice, some people have a favorite scripture psalm and some people want to make a statement about marriage, relationships, the world and our place in the universe. Whatever makes you happy on your wedding day, is perfect!
Ceremony Songs: if you know someone talented who can sing or play an instrument this is a very nice time to integrate them in the ceremony service. Playing your favorite song on a CD while your are standing on front of the crowd would be kind of weird. It might work if you two danced for the 3'45" duration of the song, but overall this is not a good idea. Voice and instruments: good; CD: bad. Keep the thought for an activity though.
Ceremony Activities: another thing you can do is recognize parents, absent dear ones or anyone and anything that is meaningful to you. For example, the minister can explain that you will be giving roses to parents and hugging them to say thanks for everything they've done to raise you... during this time you could play a portion of your favorite CD song.
After 3-5 minutes of mood setting, you are ready for the main part. Total running time so far 7 - 12 minutes.
4. Questions of intent
Of course you are here on your own accord but tradition is to ask you, just in case. So the questions of intent are just that, to establish that you want to marry the person in front of you. Questions of intent can be long or short, religious or not, and can reflect some of the things that are important to you and you hope for in your marriage. Here is a sample:
BRIDENAME "Do you take GROOMNAME to be your wedded husband, to share your life openly, standing with him, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in hardship and in ease, to cherish and to love, so long as you both shall live?"
Answer: I do / I will / Yes / Sure thing / Yah, you betcha
GROOMNAME "Do you take BRIDENAME to be your wedded wife, to share your life openly, standing with her, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in hardship and in ease, to cherish and to love, so long as you both shall live?
Answer: I do / I will / Yes / Sure thing / Yah, you betcha
If you need extra time to think up an answer... we'll wait. Take your time.
This will take 1-2 minutes. Total running time so far 8 - 14 minutes.
5. More Readings, Songs, Activities and/or Prayers
If you want to keep it simple you can skip to Vows. Otherwise you can have another reading or an activity. If you want to light a unity candle or mix unity sands this is the time. Anything described above at Readings, Songs & Activities can be done here. Here's the type of thing the minister will say for a Unity Candle ceremony.
BRIDENAME and GROOMNAME will now light up a unity candle; each of them using a candle whose light represents the love of the family that nurtured them into the people they are and you have come to love; the light of the unity candle signifies the love which they have for each other, the family they will start here together before you, and, hopefully, the new life they will nurture together.
This will take 1-2 minutes. Total running time so far 9-16 minutes.
6. Wedding Vows
Alright, this is the big moment. The vows are the promises you will make to one another. Often they are the same for both bride and groom, but they do not need to be. Find some vows you like and then customize them to be yours. Here are samples of a variety of vows.
May we have the rings please?
GROOMNAME, place the ring on BRIDENAME's finger, please look at her and repeat after me
I, GROOMNAME, promise to love and cherish you BRIDENAME. To give you strength, to help you in good times and in bad. To respect our individuality, to make our home one of love and understanding. I promise to be faithful to you, giving you all of myself, all of my tomorrows, all of my life.
BRIDENAME as you place this ring on GROOMNAME ‘s hand, please repeat after me
I, BRIDENAME promise to love and cherish you GROOMNAME. To give you strength, to help you in good times and in bad. To respect our individuality, to make our home one of love and understanding. I promise to be faithful to you, giving you all of myself, all of my tomorrows, all of my life.
This will take 4-5 minutes. Total running time so far 13-21 minutes.
So what next?
7. Readings, Songs, Activities and/or Prayers
This is another opportunity for some wedding related content. On occasion we've had parents read letters. The sky is the limit. Anything that makes you happy can be done.
This will take 1-2 minutes. Total running time so far 14-23 minutes.
8. Introduction of the couple, recessional and instructions for receiving line
Finally, the kiss and the the introduction of the couple. Choose how you want to be presented. Here is a sample.
Mr. GROOM, you may kiss your bride.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present to you, for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Reallyhappydudes. Congratulations!
At this point the recessional music is played and you two would walk down the isle. Stop wherever you want the receiving line to be. The bridal party walks out after you and the minister thanks folks and instructs them to follow you for the receiving line and anything else you want to communicate to them.
This will take 1 minute. Total running time 15-24 minutes.
This is it.
So what next?
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