As wedding officiants, we like to think of ourselves as wedding ceremony experts here at Young Hip & Married. But most of the couples we work with have never planned a wedding before. So naturally, they have a few questions!
In today’s blog post we’re answering all of your marriage ceremony questions! We want you to feel confident planning a ceremony that represents you two and starts your marriage on the right foot.
PS: Don’t see your wedding ceremony question below? Get in touch and ask us whatever you want to know!
What is a wedding ceremony?
First things first: What is a wedding ceremony? Typically, weddings are split into two parts: the ceremony and the reception. The ceremony is the part when the couple actually gets married. They say their vows, sign the paperwork and share their first kiss. The reception is the party afterwards – typically a dinner with dancing and speeches.
Of course, every wedding is going to look a little bit different. These days, some couples are skipping the reception and eloping or doing something totally unique. But generally speaking, the wedding ceremony refers to the part of the event where the couple make things legal.
What happens during a wedding ceremony?
The most important part of a marriage ceremony is that the couple gets married! Usually this is done by sharing vows, exchanging rings, signing paperwork and sealing it all with a kiss. Check out the order of events for a wedding ceremony below.
Do you need a wedding ceremony script?
A wedding ceremony script, or wedding officiant script, is the written version of your ceremony. And we think it’s pretty important you have a ceremony script! Your ceremony is the most important part of your wedding day, so you want everyone involved to know what is going to happen and when. This isn’t something you want to make up on the spot!
Do you need a wedding program?
Wedding ceremony programs are pamphlets given to guests at the beginning of the ceremony outlining the order of events. Some couples get unique and use their programs to share other details, like introducing their wedding party, or turn them into other objects besides a simple pamphlet, like a fan.
Are programs essential? Not usually. Check out when you can skip wedding programs and when you may want to include them.
What is the order of events for a wedding ceremony?
Besides having a ceremony script with the exact words that will be said at your wedding, you may also want to put together a wedding ceremony outline. While there’s no rigid wedding events order for every ceremony, most ceremonies follow a pretty similar timeline:
- Processional of the couple and their wedding party
- Welcome and reflection by wedding officiant
- Optional wedding readings or wedding prayers
- Declaration of intent
- Wedding vows
- Signing of the marriage licence
- Recessional of the couple and wedding party
Check out a sample wedding ceremony timeline here!
How long does a wedding ceremony last?
Wedding ceremonies can range from a short and sweet five minute elopement to a lengthy religious ceremony with lots of traditional elements lasting hours. The most important thing is that your guests know what to expect and are comfortable throughout.
If your guests are standing outside on a hot summer day with no shade, they probably won’t make it through a 75 minute ceremony. On the other hand, if you invite 200 people to your ceremony, they may be stunned when the whole thing is over in five minutes.
Not sure how long your ceremony should be? Talk to your wedding officiant! Your officiant is a ceremony expert and will be able to advise on how to plan your ceremony and what to include. They’re also experts at engaging with crowds and ensuring your guests will be attentive and entertained throughout your ceremony.
What is the processional order for a ceremony?
The processional is how the couple of the hour, their wedding party and any special guests (e.g. parents of the couple) will enter the ceremony. There are traditional orders for the processional, as well as different orders practiced by different religions. Check out 6 traditional and religious processional orders.
But this is your wedding – so enter it in your own way! Check out 8 unique processional orders you may want to consider for your wedding ceremony.
Can you have a non religious wedding ceremony?
Absolutely! Wedding ceremonies do not need to be religious. Traditionally, marriage ceremonies did take place under a religious body, but they absolutely do not have to. If you and your spouse-to-be are not religious, there’s no need to include any religious aspects in your wedding ceremony.
Make sure you chat with your wedding officiant, or whoever is marrying you, to ensure your ceremony is everything you want – and nothing you don’t!
How do you write your wedding vows?
We’re so glad you asked! We are huge fans of personal wedding vows – vows that the couple writes themselves. It’s the best way to make your ceremony unique and truly personalize the promises you want to build your marriage on.
Check out this list of traditional wedding vows for inspiration and get started with our online vow writing course!
What is an unplugged ceremony?
An unplugged wedding ceremony is one where guests have been asked to put away cameras, phones, iPads and anything else that might be distracting. Couples often request to have unplugged ceremonies so their guests can focus on being in the moment, and so their photographers/videographers can capture the ceremony without a bunch of screens in every shot!
Learn more about why you want to have an unplugged wedding ceremony (and how to ask your guests to put away their phones) in this blog post!
Who gets invited to the wedding ceremony?
One of the biggest challenges in wedding planning is deciding on your guest list. This can get even more complicated if you have capacity or budget constraints, or if you’ve decided to invite different people to different events.
Typically, the same people who are invited to your wedding ceremony are also invited to your wedding reception. However, after the pandemic, there are really no rules when it comes to invite lists. Some couples prefer to have a smaller ceremony, with just themselves, their wedding party or close loved ones, and then a larger reception.
Check out what every guest wants at your wedding ceremony!
Who is involved in the ceremony?
The most important players in a wedding ceremony are: the couple getting married, the wedding officiant and the witnesses who need to sign the marriage licence. Everyone else is just a bonus!
Here are a few more people you may want to involve in your wedding ceremony:
- Your wedding party. Typically your wedding party will walk in (processional) and walk out (recessional) with you and they may stand at the front during your ceremony.
- Your parents. Many couples choose to invite their parents, and any other special family members, to join in on the processional and recessional. They may also be involved in special traditions or cultural moments during the ceremony.
- Readers. Many couples choose to incorporate readings or blessings into their ceremony and ask special guests to recite them.
What about your guests? Check out how to involve guests in your wedding ceremony!
Do you have to have a wedding ceremony?
Yes and no. If you want to be legally married, you do need to have some sort of ceremony with someone who can legally marry you where you will declare your intention to marry each other in front of witnesses and sign a marriage licence. But do you need to have a big event with processionals, readings and vows? Not if you don’t want to!
Your wedding ceremony should reflect what you and your partner want out of your wedding day. If you’re private people, opt for a small elopement with just two witnesses. If you’re lovers of words and music, incorporate favourite songs and quotes into your ceremony. Your wedding officiant can work with you to plan a ceremony that you’ll love and look back on as the best part of your wedding day.
How do you include your family in your ceremony?
If it’s important to you to involve your family in your wedding ceremony, there are so many incredible ways to do that. From giving them positions of honour, such as members of the wedding party or part of the procession, to asking them to do a reading, there are so many ways to honour and include your family in your ceremony.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Ask your grandparents to walk you down the aisle
- Include your children in a family vow
- Ask mom to do a reading from her favourite book
- Incorporate a family heirloom, such as a passed down veil, into your ceremony
For more ideas, check out to how to include your blended family in your wedding ceremony and special ways to include your kids in your wedding.
Should you have wedding prayers, blessings or readings at your ceremony?
A great way to personalize your ceremony is to include wedding prayers, blessings, readings, quotes or music into the order of events. Some advice: Only include elements if they are meaningful to you and not just because you think you should. Every word said at your ceremony should be important and included because you want it there.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Songs
- Romantic Wedding Ceremony Readings
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from TV & Movies
- Wedding Ceremony Readings from Literature
- Offbeat Wedding Ceremony Readings
- Alternatives to 1 Corinthians 13 for Your Wedding
- The Best Wedding Prayers & Blessings for Your Wedding Ceremony
- 33 Wedding Love Quotes to Include in Your Wedding Ceremony
Overwhelmed with choice? Talk to your wedding officiant! They’ll be able to suggest awesome additions to your ceremony and help you decide which elements make the final cut.
How do you make your wedding ceremony unique?
If every couple is unique, why have we all been to the same boring ceremony one hundred times? That’s something Young Hip & Married wedding officiants are trying to change! We believe your ceremony should be done in your style. From the person marrying you to your wedding vows, every element should be unique and reflect what’s most important to you two.
Any decision you make to personalize your wedding will make it that much more unique and representative of your specific marriage. Check out 23 creative elements to add to your wedding and our guide on how to plan a unique wedding ceremony.
How do you make your wedding inclusive?
We believe that all couples getting married deserve to tie the knot in a way that is legal, joyful and a celebration of who they are. We also believe that everyone in the wedding industry – vendors, guests and couples – plays a part in creating a more inclusive space that allows everyone to share their love!
Check out how to have a welcoming and inclusive wedding ceremony, as well as how to ensure your wedding ceremony language is inclusive.
Now that you know everything you need to know to plan your wedding ceremony, there’s only one thing left to do: Get in touch to book your Young Hip & Married wedding officiant!