Many couples today are choosing to go the non-traditional route, whether that means having a non-religious ceremony or being married by a friend or family member. If you're doing the ceremony your way, follow these tips to create a memorable event.
There is no standard wedding ceremony order, but they generally contain most of these elements:
- Wedding processional or entrance of the groom, wedding party, and bride.
- Literature, love poetry, or religious wedding readings
- Romantic ceremony music
- Attendants or witnesses to sign the wedding certificate, ketubah, or marriage license
- Wedding vows
- Exchange of wedding rings or gifts
- A unity candle ceremony or other unity ceremony
- A blessing, benediction, community commitment to support the marriage and/or officiant's sanction of the marriage
- The first kiss as a married couple
- A recessional
You may choose to give an outline of your ceremony in your wedding program.
Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony Script
You will want to ensure you have the correct order for the ceremony processional.
2. Opening words from the officiant.
The wedding should begin by welcoming your guests. This is usually something along the lines of:
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses, to join (Name) and (Name) in matrimony, which is commended to be honorable among all men; and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. If any person can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."
"Friends, we have been invited here today to share with (Name) and (Name) a very important moment in their lives. In the years they have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband/wife and wife/husband."
3. (Optional) The giving in marriage.
The traditional wording is "Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man," but in modern weddings, many couples opt for something a little less antiquated, such as "Who supports this couple in their marriage?" or "Who supports this woman in her marriage to this man?" There are other ways to give away the bride, or you can choose to leave it out altogether.
4. An opening prayer or reading.
This will generally set the tone of your wedding. Wedding readings can be serious, humorous, sentimental or elegant. Typically, it says something about love, relationships or marriage.
5. Definition of marriage.
Here the officiant says some words about marriage in general. He or she will most likely talk about the seriousness of the solemn vow you are about to make and the new life together you are creating.
6. Wedding vows.
There are samples of wedding vow wording for all types of ceremonies, from religious to secular -- you can easily find the vows that fit your wedding style and vision.
7. Second prayer/reading or song.
Like wedding vows, it's not hard to find inspiration for ceremony music of all types and styles.
8. Exchange of rings or gifts.
In the exchange of wedding rings, the bride and groom say something like, "I, [name], give you, [name] this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and commitment to you."
9. Lighting of unity candle or unity ceremony. (optional)
Many couples are choosing to add a unity ceremony. They may choose to do this in silence, with music playing, or they may recite vows about the joining of their families.
10. Closing or sanctioning of marriage.
This could be a poem, a prayer or a sanctioning of the marriage. It is generally the "final thoughts" of the officiant.
11. Declaration of marriage.
The officiant typically says something akin to, "By the power vested in me by the State of _______, I now pronounce you husband and wife. For same-sex couples, it's something like,"I now pronounce you married."
This is followed by the first kiss of the newly married couple. The officiant traditionally says, "You may now kiss the bride," but modern couples often find it strange for someone else to give permission to kiss a grown woman.
Instead, the officiant can say, "You may now kiss each other," or the bride and groom can kiss immediately after the declaration of marriage.
12. Introduction of newlyweds
The officiant says, "I present to you Mr./Mrs. and Mrs./Mr. (Last Name)," if one party is changing their name or, "I present to you the newly married couple, (Name) and (Name)," if they are not. The guests stand and applaud as the couple then leads the recessional out.