Wedding Ceremony 101: How to Structure Your Nuptials

Ceremony & Vows
How to Structure Your Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Steven Michael Photo

The only words you need to make a wedding legal are "I do," says Los Angeles officiant Rev. Clint Hufft, which means the rest of the wedding is completely up to you! Choose which elements are most important, then personalize away. If you're going to have readings, decide who to ask and whether you'll assign passages or let each reader pick her own. Here's a quick and easy guide for the basic structure of your nuptials.

The officiant should start by setting the tone and telling your story. An opening blessing and reading traditionally follow.

The two of you can say vows you've written to each other, recite the same vows in unison, or repeat vows after your officiant.

See more: 19 Ideas for a Stylish Aisle

Ring exchange
After "With this ring, I thee wed" (or your version of it) generally comes another blessing if you want one, followed by a second reading.

Rituals and final blessings
If you're planning on lighting a unity candle, having a sand or wine ceremony, or incorporating any other rituals, do it now. Religious ceremonies will include a group blessing, often a prayer, and a final blessing.

The officiant introduces your newly married selves to the guests, then everyone walks out, showering you with love — and possibly rice, flower petals, or confetti.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES October/November 2015 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from