An Easy Breakdown of Traditional Wedding Ceremony Order

The typical wedding ceremony order can be broken down into nine parts. Here's a standard wedding order of service that you can use as foundation for your own

Updated 07/05/17

Photo by Winsome and Wright

Wondering how to plan out your wedding ceremony order? The great news is that most ceremonies follow a similar format, so if you've been to (or been in) a few, you've probably got an idea of how the wedding order of service usually flows. Of course, different cultures and religions will incorporate other elements or swap things around, but if you're planning to create a ceremony of your own, this is a great place to start. Read on to learn how a ceremony usually runs, from walking down the aisle to the first kiss!

The Wedding Ceremony Order of Events

1. The Processional

First off, the processional. This is when members of your immediate family and wedding party head down the aisle and either find a seat or take their places on either side of the altar. The processional begins with the grandparents, flows through the parents, groom, officiant, wedding party, flower girl, and ring bearer, and ends with the bride making her entrance.

2. Words of Welcome

Once everyone is in place, the officiant will say a few words of welcome. He or she may thank guests for bearing witness to your union, as well as welcome everyone to your venue and your celebration.

3. Opening Remarks and Introduction

Next, the officiant will offer an introduction and some thoughts on marriage. This could be a brief recounting of your love story, words on what marriage means to you, or a statement about the ceremony to come and what it represents.

4. Readings

From there, if you are including readings of any sort in your ceremony, readers will be invited up to share a few words. You could have your officiant introduce each reading and reader or have things flow more naturally between readers.

5. Exchange Vows

After the readings have been shared, the two of you will exchange vows. You could opt to write your own vows, share personal statements and then exchange the same vows, or use traditional phrasing. This is also the part where you'll place rings on each other's fingers as symbols of your marriage.

6. The Kiss

Now, the good part! After you've exchanged vows and rings, the two of you get to seal your marriage with a kiss. You're officially husband and wife!

7. Unity Ceremony

If you're planning on having a unity ceremony, this is a good time to incorporate it. In a unity ritual, the couple does something that physically symbolizes their new union, such as using two candles to light a single candle or binding their hands together with ribbon.

8. Final Blessings

If your ceremony is a religious affair, this is the proper time for a final prayer.

9. The Recessional

The officiant introduces the married couple for the first time. Then, the bride and groom lead the recessional back up the aisle as guests shower you with rice!

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