A wedding ceremony is the official start of your life together, a first ritual, a time of transformation. This is the ceremony that sets the foundation for your life together. Many couples may have attended a worship service together, or a family holiday ritual. If you come from different faiths, or the same background, this will be your first ceremony together – a ceremony about your unification and a ceremony that unites your lives. Your wedding ceremony is the first ritual that represents who you are as a couple, and speaks about you and the life you are creating together.
Your wedding ceremony is a time set aside for solidifying your relationship and giving your marriage a meaningful send off. The wedding ceremony creates the foundation for the new family being birthed by this marriage. Whether it’s a religious or humanistic ritual, weddings are a sacred rite of passage. As I say in many of my ceremonies, “Through the power of the spoken word, something amazing is going to happen.” It is up to your officiate/minister to craft the sacred words, to hallow the time, and add the spark. Your officiant is the voice and the reflection of your love and the love of the family and friends.
Elements of a Wedding Ceremony
Like all rituals, wedding ceremonies contain many elements. As I tell couples, the law requires just three things:
1. Couples make a promise to one another of their own free will.
2. The couple is pronounced husband and wife by someone legally sanctioned to do so.
3. The couple presents a valid license and it is properly signed and returned to the county clerk.
The rest of the ceremony is filler. But the filler is the stuff that makes the ceremony special, unique to the couple, and creates sacred space.
A good ceremony will help you set the tone for your lives together. The words that are said are the public statement about the lives you intend to lead together. It is a ritual that truly transforms you and your lives. And it is quite amazing that a few words from you, the minister, are the catalyst that makes this all happen!
Below is the basic order of a ceremony. This is not etched in stone, but is offered here as a guideline. As a wedding celebrant, I create for you. The ceremonies I write for each couple do not come straight from an ancient text or a book of prayer. These ceremonies are based on the couples I serve. Your ceremony will represent you accurately on your special day and to give you a ceremony that is authentic to you and your beliefs.
Order of a Wedding Ceremony
Below is the basic order of a wedding ceremony. Know that this is not set in stone. Each ceremony has its own flow, and I adjust the order as needed, particularly moving around readings and rituals as they make the most sense. I will sometimes combine elements such as personal vows with ring exchange or candle lighting with vows, etc.
Welcome – Welcome the bride and groom and acknowledgment to those
Invocation – Calling in a higher presence. Create sacred space.
Remembering Loved Ones Passed – Spiritually inviting those who have passed to the ceremony, and/or mentioning those who could not attend, but are very special to the bride and groom.
Reading or Sharing – Friend or family member shares a reflection on the couple, a reading on marriage or love.
Minister’s Address –A short sermon about marriage, love and/or a personal story about the couple.
*The Intent – “I do.”
Personal Vows – Promises made to each other.
Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Rituals – Wine ceremony, candle lighting, Satapadi, incense, rose ceremony.
Benediction – Blessing the couple.
*required by law