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Designing the Perfect Ceremony

In case you missed my Wedding Tip Tuesday Video this week, or would like more elaboration than a short video will allow, I have decided to start my blog back up with an entry on how to craft your ceremony. If you're using an actual officiant, priest, etc. to make your marriage official, they'll likely already know this or have their own ceremony script template that they can customize, but this post will still be helpful for you to read so you have a better understanding of how your ceremony will go. To make this blog post easy to follow, we'll break it into 3 parts: Details, Script, and Personalization.




Most traditional wedding ceremonies last about 15-30 minutes, so if you're not having a religious ceremony or incorporating other aspects (unity ceremony, etc.), then that's about what you can expect. Although there are many different kinds of ceremonies, this blog post will be focused more on this kind of ceremony. If you're having a religious ceremony, the church will likely have their own script/traditions that get incorporated (and I'm not the expert on every kind of religious ceremony, so I let the church take the lead here!).


For your officiant, you have some options. I have found that an attractive option for couples is to have someone officiate the wedding who is close to them. Since it's relatively easy to get ordained (via online course), this is a great option to involve a more personal aspect. It can be a friend or family member, which can make your ceremony a lot more sentimental. Another option is an ordained elected official, a religious figure, or an officiant for hire. Usually those other options have their own ceremony script that they follow. As mentioned above, this blog post will focus on the increasingly popular option of having someone close to you officiate your wedding.


While it is traditional to get married in a church at an actual altar, that is not always the case anymore. Couples have many different options today of modern ceremony sites like a decorated arch, fun backdrop, gazebo, floral installation (either freestanding or on the ground), boat, building, etc. The possibilities are truly endless, and if you are looking for a unique backdrop you'll want to be sure and look at unique venues in your area.



Most basic ceremonies follow a similar outline.

Here is a basic 6-part outline that we'll go into further detail into making your own:

  1. Welcome/Opening Remarks

  2. Personalized story/scriptures/quote

  3. Vow exchange

  4. Rings

  5. Pronounce as Newlyweds

  6. First Kiss

Read on for how to personalize each of these parts.



Welcome/Opening Remarks

Most officiants will start by welcoming everyone to the wedding, thanking guests for coming, and then transitioning into why everyone is gathered together. It can be explained in many different ways- some of them being "to celebrate love," "to be a part of the next chapter of the couple's love story," "because everyone here means something to the couple," etc. There are many different ways that you can work with your officiant to play around with the verbiage. This (or right before the ceremony begins) is also the best time for the officiant to make housekeeping announcements, like "Please turn off/silence all cell phones," explaining the recess if the guests are playing a part in it (bubbles, tossing flower petals, confetti, butterfly release, etc.), or announcing that for the next minute, guests will have the opportunity to take as many photos as they want of the couple before putting their phones away and being present for the ceremony. The latter has become an increasingly popular option, as it allows all of those grandparents, aunts, and uncles to get the perfect shot of the couple at the altar and decreases the likelihood that they'll get in the way of the professional shots during the actual ceremony.

Personalized Story

After the opening remarks and introduction of why everyone is gathered, the officiant will usually talk about the couple's love story. Sometimes couples like certain stories, scriptures, quotes, or songs woven into this part. If the couple wants to set a certain tone for the ceremony, they can do so by incorporating some humor or something super sentimental. Sometimes couples include a brief version of their love story here, sometimes they include a timeline of events until the wedding, and sometimes they touch on how they met and leave it at that. There a many options for personalization here to reflect your unique style as a couple. From here, the officiant will circle back on how marriage is a commitment, to transition into the exchange of vows.

Vow Exchange

You've all heard the traditional vows that are typically exchanged at weddings. The " Do you___ take thee, ___, to be your wedded husband/wife/spouse, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part?" where it is expected that you answer with "I do." Many couples still use these vows. But many couples also opt to write and exchange their own for further personalization. While writing your own vows to each other may seem like another wedding planning task to add onto your plate, it is a great way to make your ceremony more personal and get creative in brainstorming vows that mean something to you and your relationship (and handwritten vows make for great detail photos too!). Are you wanting to write your own vows and not sure where to start? Check out my blog post on writing personalized vows HERE.


After the vows, the officiant will usually talk about the symbolism of the wedding ring. the rings are brought out and exchanged one at a time, after a repeat-after-me script that your officiant will lead. You can have your rings brought up by the best man, ring bearer, or a furry friend (if you trust they won't run away with the rings!). If you'd like to do a unity ceremony, you can include that after the rings as well.

Pronounce as Newlyweds

Then you're pronounced as newlyweds- easy as that!

First Kiss

The last piece of the ceremony is the first kiss. Although it's called the "first kiss," you'll want to make sure that you practice how you are going to do this BEFORE the wedding day. The kiss can be as quick and sweet, or as passionate and slow as you want. You can incorporate a dip (just please practice that!), and some couples even like to kiss and dip again as the recess back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony. This makes for a memorable photo with your guests in the background.


I hope you found this step-by-step guide helpful in understanding the basic elements of a wedding ceremony and personalizing them to fit your own unique needs as a couple. While it is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all model, I hope that you can take this information as a starting point. And the understanding of each piece of the ceremony will certainly help.

And just think- if this much thought goes into your wedding ceremony, can you imagine the level of detail that goes into an entire wedding? Email me today at and lets discuss the details of your special day. Wedding planning can seem overwhelming, but hiring a professional can help. We keep track of the details so you don't have to!

Until Next Time,

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