You’re engaged, planning your wedding, checking out dresses, and are super excited to start meeting with vendors. They ask you about your ceremony and you suddenly realize you have no idea how to put together a wedding ceremony! You start to freak out as you add yet another thing to your list of to-do’s that is already a mile long, but take a deep breath and relax for a minute.
A wedding ceremony can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Realistically, the list I have compiled below is what happens in a typical American ceremony. Different cultures will change this accordingly. I have tried to keep this list as bare-bones as possible, just the things that are typical and/or necessary, and labeled everything else optional. If you follow this simple formula you can have a ceremony plan in a few short minutes!
Wedding Ceremony Elements
Processionals – where the wedding party and parents of the couple walk in. Typically the parents are seated by ushers or groomsmen/attendants (attendants = the people standing with the couple up front, not the guests) first, then the groom/partner#1 walks in with the officiant, then bridesmaids/groomsmen/attendants walk in, followed by the ring bearer. Finally, the flower girls/grandmas/people walk in just ahead of the bride/partner #2.
Officiant opening remarks – These are typically short comments welcome, of what makes a marriage work.
Charge to the couple – This is the remark about the couple coming together seeking a committed relationship and that they are here to take the other person as their husband/wife/partner.
Vows – These are your promises to each other. They can be the same to each other or completely different. They can be repeated after the officiant or read from a paper. However and whatever you choose to promise to your soon to be spouse, this is the important part of the ceremony as it is what will bring you together. Spend time on your vows, be honest and committed to what you say here.
Unity event – (optional) I have included this because about half of all weddings have some sort of unity event. Some examples I have seen are unity candles, hand-fastenings, and sand/bead/candy ceremonies, although this could truly be anything that brings two things together into one.
Pronouncement of marriage – “…By the power vested in me…”
Closing Remarks and presentation of couple – “May I be the first to present…”
Recessionals – wedding party walks back in reverse order.
There are many ways to make the wedding ceremony all your own, but as long as you start with this framework you will be good to go.
Comment below to let me know if I missed anything. These are the elements I have noticed in my wedding photography career as going into a typical ceremony.