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How to Structure a Typical Wedding Ceremony

Your wedding ceremony involves a number of components and a symbolic structure that are designed to set the scene for the most important part of the ceremony, the vows.  Below is a guideline of how a basic wedding ceremony is structured. While every wedding ceremony is unique, this can be a good start to take you to the right direction.

Prelude

This is the part where your guests start to arrive. While they begin to mingle with other guests, it is recommended to have great background music, either from a playlist or from live musicians. Some light refreshment is a must on a hot summer day, but keep the alcohol hidden until after the ceremony.

Seating

As soon as you instruct the wedding guests to take their seats, the ceremony is officially beginning. However, this differs depending on the location but most venues allow seating for guests. This is also a great time to ask everyone to turn off their digital devices and encourage them to be in and enjoy the moments with their eyes and ears. This is now commonly called “unplugged weddings”.

Procession

This is the part where the wedding party makes the grand entrance. Most of the time, the groom, and his groomsmen are waiting in front. But on some occasions, you can have the groomsmen escort the bridesmaid down the aisle. The celebrant should definitely ask everyone to stand to this magical occasion. The music for the walk down the aisle is usually just one song. However, some brides choose to have a different song as she walks down the aisle. It can be a song dear to her heart or a song that his groom has dedicated for her. The bride can choose whether to walk alone or accompanied by her father.

Welcome

After the procession, it is the time where the celebrant/officiant to welcome all the guests and family of the couple. This sets the tone of the ceremony whether it is relaxed or a more traditional type. Moreover, this is a great opportunity to warm up the wedding guests and make them feel that they play an important part in the ceremony.

Giving of the Bride

This is the part where the celebrant/officiant will:

  • Ask the question of “Who gives (bride’s name) to be married?”, or
  • Ask the parents to give their well wishes or blessing and their support

In some events, guests are also asked to participate, together with the couple’s family.

Sharing of Readings, Words or Songs

This part is where you can ask a number of guests or family to offer their words of wisdom, advice or well wishes. It could be through a form of reading, a poem, a song or a meaningful verse that perfectly fits the characteristic of the couple and their relationship.

Wedding Message

A personalized script is prepared by the celebrant/officiant based on the information provided by the couple. This includes how they met, their love story, memorable moments, etc. It is also a great opportunity for the couple to share their thoughts on what makes their relationship works, their qualities, their thoughts on marriage and many others.

Vow Exchange

This part is where most of your family and guests get teary-eyed, in most times. This is where the couple exchanges their undying words of love and promises to make their love and marriage work.

Ring Exchange

As soon as the vows are done, the couple will now exchange rings. Make sure that it is placed on the correct hand and finger.

Pronouncement

The celebrant/officiant will officially declare the couple as “Husband and Wife” or “Partners in Life”. And ready your cameras, it’s “You may kiss the bride” time.

Signing of Marriage Documents

To make it official and legal, the couple will now sign marriage documents, witnessed by two guests.

Final Words

This is an opportunity to share a few final words from family and friends of the couple, or even the officiant. It is also a great way to round it all off with a toast to the couple.

Recessional

Finally, the celebrant/officiant will now introduce the new couple. The bride and the groom will exit, followed by the bridal party. This is a good opportunity to congratulate the newlywed couple as they head out of the ceremony.

Remember, this is only a guideline. At every stage of the ceremony, you can add as little or as much personalized items that you want to reflect your love story.

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