A wedding ceremony outline typically begins with the arrival of guests and ends with a recessional. Discover the sequence of events in traditional wedding ceremonies.
A Brief Overview of a Wedding Ceremony
A wedding ceremony is a religious ceremony in which two people profess their love for each other and vow to marry. Wedding ceremonies can take many different forms depending on the couple's religion, familial responsibilities, and personal preferences. Weddings, regardless of design, often follow similar structures across religious practices, and all offer the couple a chance to share their love in front of relatives and friends before becoming legally wed.
Readings, holy orders, and other elements that speak to the couple's values may be included in the ceremony. In most cases, the couple will form wedding parties comprised of loved ones who will stand at the altar. The ceremony is presided over by an officiant, and guests are present to witness the union.
Different Types of Wedding Ceremonies
Ceremonies are typically classified according to their spiritual affiliation. The couple may follow certain traditions at religious weddings. In a Jewish wedding, for example, there will be a ketubah, or marriage contract, outlining the spouses' commitment. A Jewish ceremony also includes the Sheva Brachot, or seven blessings ritual. In a Christian wedding ceremony, the couple may commemorate the sacrament of holy matrimony by lighting a unity candle to share a holy deed and emulate Jesus' life, which provided light to the world.
In nonreligious ceremonies, couples may choose to commemorate the occasion with a sense of spirituality. Couples may participate in a unity ritual, such as the Celtic tradition of handfasting. There may not be a bridal party, the officiant may not be religious, and the readings may come from less traditional sources. Couples can tailor their wedding to their aesthetic and personal preferences in these situations.
Outline of a Traditional Wedding Ceremony
Wedding ceremonies come in a variety of styles, and couples can tailor them to their preferences. In more traditional wedding ceremonies, the following beats may be followed:
1. Arrivals: Guests file in, take their seats, and receive a wedding program commemorating the occasion, which includes a list of the newlyweds' names, readings, and music choices.
2. Processional: The ceremony begins with a procession down the aisle. Although the order of the processional varies by denomination, a traditional wedding processional begins with the officiant taking their place at the altar or gathering place. The couple's grandparents will then take their seats near the front of the crowd. The mother of the bride is escorted down the aisle, followed by the groom's parents. The wedding party of groomsmen and bridesmaids follows, frequently arm in arm. The ring bearer will walk down the aisle with a flower girl or boy, who are usually young relatives of the bride and groom. The bride will walk down the aisle with her father or another chosen escort. If the bride is wearing a long veil or train, the maid or matron of honor may accompany her.
3. Opening remarks: After the wedding party has arrived and the couple has been seated, the wedding officiant will begin with some remarks. This individual could be a religious leader or a loved one. They may adhere to a wedding ceremony script template, but they may also have anecdotes or gentle jokes to share.
4. Ceremony readings: Best friends, family members, ushers, bridesmaids, and groomsmen may volunteer to read a selected text. A religious passage, song lyrics, or a poem of the couple's choosing are all possibilities.
5. Wedding vows: In the wedding ceremony order, a declaration of intent is usually next. The exchange of vows allows the couple to read and share their own vows to each other in front of their loved ones.
6. Exchange of rings: The officiant will present the couple with their wedding rings after they have exchanged vows. In modern weddings, the officiant may pass the rings around for guests to hold and imbue with their love.
7. Pronouncement and first kiss: The couple is married by the officiant, and they kiss for the first time as a married couple after saying their "I dos" to confirm their commitment.
8. Unity ceremony: If the couple wishes to include a unity ceremony, such as handfasting or lighting a candle, it is customarily done after the pronouncement.
9. Recessional: Following brief closing remarks or a prayer from the officiant, music is played as the wedding party walks down the aisle, followed by the happy couple.
5 Wedding Ceremony Tips from Mindy Weiss
Consider these wedding ceremony design tips from expert wedding planner Mindy Weiss:
1. Select your officiant with care. In religious ceremonies, the wedding officiant is a priest, rabbi, or religious community affiliate. A friend or family member may also be legally ordained to perform a marriage ceremony.
2. Obey the rules in a place of worship. Wedding ceremony outlines and traditions differ according to religion and culture.
3. Purchase high-quality microphones. During the ceremony, wedding guests must be able to hear the officiant and readers.
4. Make your ceremony unique. Choosing readings and songs that are meaningful to you is an excellent way to personalize your ceremony. You may want to include a poem.
5. Make up your own vows. Vows are an important part of the wedding ceremony.