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The Ceremony

~ The ceremony is the heart and purpose of every wedding. ~

Things to Consider

  • The Location
  • The Time
  • The Minister
  • The Decor
  • The Lighting and Sound
  • The Seating
  • The Wedding Party
  • The Ceremony Accessories
  • The Order of Service
  • The Guest Book
  • The Music
  • The Programs
  • The Prayers
  • The Readings
  • The Unity Candle
  • The Processional
  • The Giving of the Bride
  • The Welcome
  • The Questions of Intent
  • The Sermon
  • The Vows
  • The Exchange of Rings
  • The Pronouncement
  • The Kiss
  • The Introduction
  • The Recessional

The Location

One of those Big Picture matters . . .

The Time

A morning wedding . . .

  • Usually begins between 9:00 and 11:30.
  • Is usually informal.
  • Is typically followed by a brunch or luncheon.

An afternoon wedding . . .

  • Begins between 12:00 (usually later) and 4:30.
  • Is informal or semi-formal.
  • Is typically followed by refreshments, ranging from cake and punch to a light buffet. Or if the reception begins at dinner/supper time, dinner or a supper buffet may be served.

An early evening wedding . . .

  • Begins between about 4:30 and 6:00.
  • Is semi-formal or formal, or perhaps informal if held before 5:00 ~ or if you're being non-traditional.
  • Is typically followed by dinner or a light supper buffet.

A late evening wedding . . .

  • Begins at 6:00 or later.
  • Is semi-formal, formal, or very formal ~ unless you're being non-traditional.
  • Is typically followed by dinner or a light supper buffet.

The Seating

All seats at the ceremony may be reserved (this is more appropriate for a formal or very formal wedding than for others) . . .

Or, some seats may be reserved ~ at the very least, those for the parents and grandparents (this is easier and probably preferred by wedding guests anyway!).

Facing toward the front of the congregation, the groom's family and friends sit on the right and the bride's on the left. Or, except for immediate family, they may be mixed (unless you're trying to be exceptionally proper!). If either the bride or groom has a higher number of guests, the guests will need to be evened out even at the most formal wedding.

The Ceremony Accessories

Candles, ring pillow, and so forth.

The Music

  • Consider: the prelude, special pieces during the prelude, seating of the grandparents and parents, processional (attendants, bride), special pieces during the ceremony, hymns during the ceremony, recessional, and postlude.
  • Music may be provided by church musicians, friends and family, hired musicians, or a combination. It may also be recorded.
  • If the wedding is held in a church, the music will usually need to be approved by the church or the pastor.
  • Want to know what a piece of music sounds like? Try The purpose of the site is to offer printable music. I haven't tried that ~ but I do like being able get an idea of how the music sounds!

The Readings

  • May be read by the minister, a friend, a relative, or the bride or groom.
  • From the Bible: 1 Corinthians 13

The Unity Candle

  • It's popular, but optional.
  • You can substitute another unity ceremony if you want to.
  • Pre-light the candles before the ceremony so they will be easier to light.
  • You can have the candle-lighters light the two candles before the ceremony. Or have the mothers light them before or at the beginning of the ceremony. Or have the fathers and mothers do it together (the father of the bride follows the candle lighters back out or walks down the side aisle if there are no candle lighters to follow).
  • The bride should lift her veil slightly when blowing out the candle so she won't blow her veil into the flame!

The Giving of the Bride

Option #1 Minister: "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"
Father of the bride: "I do."

The Questions of Intent

Questions of intent may also be used as vows or as part of the vows.

The Vows

  • May be standard traditional vows or modernized versions of them.
  • May be personalized or written by the couple, provided all the necessary elements are included.
  • May be provided by the minister or by the couple.
  • Should be approved by the minister beforehand.
  • Should be carefully chosen and approved by both the bride and the groom. Why anyone would go into the wedding ceremony without knowing what he or she and his or her future spouse is going to vow is beyond me!
  • May be spoken by the bride and groom. You're going to be nervous. Are you sure you can remember them?
  • Or may be spoken by the minister and repeated by the bride and groom.
  • Or may be asked by the minister and responded to by the bride and groom ("Do you . . .?" "I do" or "Will you. . .?" "I will").

The Pronouncement

Option #1 Minister: "By the authority given me by God and the state of ______, I now pronounce you husband and wife."

The Kiss

Option #1 Minister (to groom): "You may now kiss the bride."
Option #2 Minister (to couple): "Now that you have committed your lives to each other, you may seal your agreement with a kiss."

The Introduction

Option #1 Minister: "It is my privilege to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. GROOM'S NAME"
Option #2 Minister: "It is my privilege to be the first to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. GROOM'S NAME.
Option #3: Minister: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be the first to introduce Mr. and Mrs. GROOM'S NAME."



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