From walking down the aisle to the first kiss, we are breaking down the various parts of a traditional wedding ceremony. If you are planning a ceremony on your own and want to learn the basics, this is a great place to begin. This example can be used as is or you can incorporate your own religious elements or add some personal touches to make it more personal to you.
Many couples are choosing to have a friend or family member act as the Officiant on the wedding day in lieu of hiring a professional. While this is a trend I fully appreciate and support, keep in mind that the person you chose to marry you may not have the knowledge or confidence to take on this role. However, by using the example below they will feel much more at ease once the wedding day arrives.
Ceremony Order of Events
The Processional. This is the start of the ceremony where immediate family and wedding party walk down the aisle and proceed to the altar. They will either stand next to the couple or take a seat in front depending on their role.
There are many variations of how to line up the wedding party for the Processional. Some couples are choosing to forgo a wedding party altogether or simply have a Best Man and Maid of Honor. This is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Often times the Officiant or Wedding Planner can help you determine the best scenario for you.
Welcome and Introduction. The Officiant takes a moment to welcome everyone to the venue, introduces him or herself, and thanks everyone for coming together to celebrate and witness your marriage. He or she may share thoughts about love and marriage, your relationship and some background information about the two of you.
Readings. If you choose to have a friend or family member read a passage from a Bible or a poem, this is the moment to do that. Generally readers are sitting near the front in the first or second row so they can easily walk up to the front when it comes time. The Officiant can introduce the readers or they can come up unannounced. Depending on the venue you may need a microphone and sound system to ensure that guests sitting in the back rows will be able to hear. I suggest you practice the readings at the ceremony rehearsal so the people who are participating understand what to do and when they will be called upon.
Vows. At this time the couple would exchange vows which can be something they personally wrote or something they found online that spoke to them. It can be short or long, funny, heartfelt, spiritual, or traditional. Again, this is a personal decision and there is no right or wrong way to do this. My advice: don't overthink it and speak from the heart.
Rings. After the vows while you are still facing each other, rings are exchanged. You can choose to hold on to the rings yourself, have the Officiant hold the rings and hand them to you, or have members of your wedding party hold them. Traditionally the Maid of Honor and Best Man would take on this role. The Officiant will then have you recite words to each other about what the ring represents and the union you are entering into.
Kiss. After the vows and rings are exchanged you can finally kiss to seal the deal!
Pronouncement of Marriage. The Officiant officially pronounces the couple and confirms their union into marriage. You can discuss with your Officiant how you would like to be introduced. At this time the couple faces the guests and everyone cheers.
The Recessional. After the announcement by the Officiant, the musician or music would start playing a song that the couple then exits to. Typically they would hold hands and walk back down the aisle followed by the Officiant, wedding party and then all the remaining guests exit row by row.
From there on, all the hard work is done, your nerves begin to calm down and you can go off and enjoy the party!
Image: Kacie Jean Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.