How to Keep Your Wedding Ceremony to 20 Minutes (Or Less)

Updated 12/02/17

Harwell Photography

Your wedding day should look, feel, and be timed in a way that makes it special for you and the person you’re marrying. If you want to have a cocktail hour before the ceremony, go for it. If you want to have the reception and then the ceremony, that could work too. But as you are planning out the details of your wedding and wondering what to include in your ceremony, you might find that the program that fits you best is short and sweet.

So, if you are looking to plan a wedding ceremony that is 20 minutes—or less!—here are five tips to make sure that happens.

1. Speak to Your Officiant

Early on in your wedding-planning process, have a meeting with your officiant so you can chat about the right kind of ceremony for you. Make it clear that you want a short and sweet ceremony that doesn’t go past 20 minutes and that you’d like his or her help deciding what to keep in your ceremony, what to ditch, and what you can include that will make your wedding have a unique and personal twist.

2. Write Your Own Vows

Make your ceremony personal and short by writing your own vows. If you set a 30-second or one-minute time limit on each of your vows, you’ll know just how long they will go and will be able to practice them beforehand to make sure they don’t carry on to be 5 or 10 minutes each. Writing your own vows allows you to take control of the ceremony and also keep it memorable in such a short amount of time.

3. Cut Out Traditions

Take a look at the traditional wedding ceremony, or even the one that fits with your religion, and see what traditions you find that you are not excited to do. Perhaps there are traditions you don’t know or appreciate the meaning of or you don't want to include because you’ve seen them at other weddings and they’ve tended to put you to sleep. Your wedding can have the traditions that mean the most to you and the person you’re marrying, even if that means you have just one or two.

4. Have Fewer People Walk Down the Aisle

If you want to shave off some time for your ceremony, cut down on the number of people you’ll have walk down the aisle. Instead of having 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen walk one by one, or in pairs, down the aisle, have them stand up at that altar before the ceremony starts, leaving you and your parents as the only people walking down the aisle.

5. Practice Beforehand

One of the best ways to make sure your wedding ceremony is short and sweet is to practice it full out before the wedding day. Get together with your fiancé, officiant, and anyone else involved in the ceremony for a timed rehearsal so that you can make sure it’s really 20 minutes and not double that when it plays out in real life.

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