Wedding Ceremony 101: How to Structure Your Nuptials

Updated 10/01/15

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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.

Introduction

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

Vows

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.

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.

Closing

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.

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