While every ceremony can certainly be unique to each couple there are basic parts that are universal with most all ceremonies. Today I’m going to walk you through the basic outline of a wedding ceremony.
The processional is what starts every wedding ceremony. This is the part where the VIPs of the wedding enter the ceremony location and walk down the aisle to take their place in the audience or standing at the front. While you are free to change things as you see fit, the traditional order for the processional is:
- Groom’s mother
- Bride’s mother
- Groomsmen (if they’re not going down the aisle with the bridesmaids)
- Best Man
- Wedding Officiant
- Bridesmaids (and possibly groomsmen)
- Maid of Honour
- Flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s)
- Father of the Bride and Bride
Once all of the VIPs have walked down the aisle and/or taken their seat, the officiant will start. If it’s traditional, you’ll likely hear a phrase you’ve heard a time or two before, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join __ and __ in matrimony….”. What your officiant says in their opening remarks is something you’ll want to go over with them beforehand so there aren’t any surprises for anyone on the day of your wedding.
Address To The Couple
After the ceremony introduction by the officiant, he or she will then address the couple. This part is a reminder of the importance of the vows the couple are about to exchange to each other. Depending if the ceremony is religious, this address will vary by religion and the type of ceremony you are having.
Exchanging of Vows
This part is a common one that everyone is familiar with; the time when the couple says their vows to each other. You can choose to go with traditional or pre-written vows, or choose to write your own personal vows. This is the time to express your love, so be creative if you want to.
Exchanging of Rings
Now is the time to place a ring on the other’s finger (and vice versa). As you exchange rings you usually say a phrase or vow as well, such as “With this ring, I thee wed”.
This part is optional and is increasing in popularity in today’s weddings. The purpose of this ritual is to symbolize the joining together of the couple and is shown through rituals such as a candle lighting, tree planting or a sand ceremony. Some couples choose to do this ritual with just the bride and groom, while others choose to include their children or parents to represent the families coming together.
Declaration of Marriage
Now is the time that you’re almost officially married! This is the time where your officiant will say something along the lines of “by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife”.
Your officiant will then instruct you to kiss each other. This is your first kiss as husband and wife and is one of the key photos from your wedding ceremony so don’t be too quick otherwise your photographer might not get it.
This is the legal paperwork portion of your wedding. At this time you, your now husband and two witnesses (traditionally your maid of honour and best man) sign the marriage license to make your marriage official.
Your wedding officiant may say a few words and congratulations as well as any instructions for the cocktail hour or reception to follow that you wanted your guests to know of.
This is when you and your new husband walk back down the aisle followed by your wedding party, then parents, and finally your guests. Typically your recessional is cued by an upbeat or dance song. Your cocktail hour (or reception) starts after your recessional and that’s when the party begins!