Ceremonies can come in various formats, depending on the couple’s faith or preferences, but here is one example of a ceremony outline with the parts described, to give you an idea of what you might see.
This includes a welcome of the guests (Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…)
It includes a few sentences to get the couple focused on each other (Name1 and Name2, today you proclaim your love to the world…).
If a family member will be asked for their blessing, this is also a part of the opening (Who gives their blessing to the marriage of this couple?).
DEVOTIONAL / READING / SONG
For a religious ceremony, this is where scriptures and prayers may be placed.
For non-religious ceremonies this area can contain readings and poems.
Readings can be delivered either by the officiant or other people designated by the couple.
This is also the place to put special songs or similar presentations.
DECLARATION OF INTENT
Typically, this is the “I do” part of the ceremony. The purpose is for the officiant to verify that both people consent and intend to be married to each other. While it can be worded a number of ways, this is the only part of the ceremony that is mandatory, besides the proclamation at the end. You can follow this link to see an example of a Declaration of Intent that I use frequently.
EXCHANGE OF VOWS AND RINGS
This is where the couple exchanges vows, and it often includes an exchange of wedding rings that symbolize the vows. Typically, the couple will repeat after the officiant for the lines of their vows, but couples may opt to read or say their own vows as well. You can follow this link to see an example of Ring Exchange Vows that I use frequently.
UNITY CEREMONY / ADDITIONAL READING OR SONGS
If the couple wishes to include a unity ceremony to further symbolize their bond, it will be placed here. There are hundreds of types of unity ceremonies, but some of the most common are: candle lighting, sand blending, handfasting, broom jumping, wine blending, oathing stone, planting, painting, coin and lasso, bread and honey or salt, etc.
Additional readings, scriptures or songs can also be added here.
CLOSING AND PROCLAIMATION
These are final words from the officiant to bring the ceremony to a close, and it typically ends with the couple kissing (By the powers vested in my, I now pronounce you…).
In formal weddings, after the couple kisses, they will turn to face the audience, and the officiant will introduce them as a couple for the first time (Dearly Beloved, I am honored to present M. and M. Name). The audience stands and cheers and the couple starts the recession.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND DISMISSALS
In formal weddings, after the wedding party members have all recessed from the front of the room, the officiant can be asked to deliver announcements (The couple would like to invite you to join them at [location] for appetizers; the reception hall will open for seating at 0:00pm).
The officiant may also be asked to dismiss the audience, starting with the family and honored guests up front, and then releasing rows one at a time to manage the exit of the crowd.
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