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
- A 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
1. Processional - Click here to read about correct order for the 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 ___________ and ___________ 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 ______ and ______ 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 and wife."
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.
You can choose to leave it out altogether.
4. An opening prayer or reading
This will generally set the tone of your wedding. It can be serious, humorous, sentimental or elegant. Typically, it says something about love, relationships or marriage. Examples of wedding readings
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
Sample wedding vow wording
7. Second prayer/reading or song
8. Exchange of rings or gifts
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." Sample ring ceremony vow wording
9. (Optional) Lighting of unity candle or unity ceremony
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.
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. and Mrs. ________," if they are changing their names, or,"I present to you the newly married couple, Jane and John," if they are not. The guests stand and applaud as the couple then leads the recessional out.