“I am working on my ceremony right now. My fiancé and I are getting married outdoors in the woods. The officiant is a family friend (and this is his 1st wedding). What’s the proper order of events for the ceremony so I know we don’t miss anything? Thanks!“
Great question, Sarah! Whether you’re planning a religious or civil ceremony, the following order of events will be fairly similar. Fill in the blanks with your own touches (particular readings or prayers, songs, etc.) and that’s where you’ll see the personalized parts of your big day come to life. Here is helpful ceremony order of events you can follow to help you plan!
Ceremony Order of Events
The Procession is where everyone walks down the aisle and takes their places for the ceremony to begin. For a Christian procession, the bride is traditionally escorted by her father, while the groom waits up front. For a Jewish procession, the groom’s parents walk him down the aisle, and then the bride’s parents walk her down the aisle.
The opening remarks are made by the officiant. He or she will say something along the lines of, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” or another greeting to welcome guests to the wedding.
The Charge to the Couple
The officiant will read something about the significance of the vows you are about to exchange to one another. *Any readings or prayers being read by family or friends should happen right before this part of the ceremony, if you wish to include any.
The Exchange of Vows
The vows are the promises you make to one another. The standard vows — “to have and to hold, from this day forward” — can be recited or you can write your own. We recommend one of these if you plan to write your own.
The Exchange of Rings
Time to exchange the rings! The groom typically puts the ring on the bride first, followed by the bride putting the ring on the groom. As you exchange rings, the traditional saying is, “With this ring, I thee wed”.
The Pronouncement of Marriage
It’s official! The officiant will say: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Followed by…
… “You may now kiss the bride”. Make it a good one! Note: Don’t rush it — you’ll want your photographer to capture this one!
The Closing Remarks
The officiant will add a few words and possibly a blessing.
This is the grand exit. The bride and groom exit together first followed by the wedding party, parents, grandparents, and immediate family. Guests in ceremony rows then exit in order. If you want to do something special for the grand exit, read this post!
I hope it helps clarify your ceremony a bit better, Sarah! Thanks for writing!
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P.S. If you have a wedding advice question, just Ask Emmaline and your question could appear in an upcoming blog post.