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The Wedding Ceremony Order Of Service Explained

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The part of your wedding where you and your fiancé move from being engaged to being married is called the wedding ceremony.  As the key element that makes it official, the wedding ceremony is the part of the wedding that many people find most nerve-wracking and also the most meaningful.

The wedding ceremony is the most important component of your wedding and it’s also the reason for all the celebrating at your wedding reception and other post-wedding parties. So what is the wedding ceremony order of events exactly?

Wedding ceremonies differ based on whether the ceremony is religious or civil.  If the wedding ceremony is religious, the wedding ceremony order of service can vary from religion to religion. 

Nevertheless, most modern wedding ceremonies are made up of the same critical parts. 

Each piece of the wedding ceremony has its own purpose and meaning.  Now that you want to become “husband and wife”, you’ll need a basic understanding of the key parts of the wedding ceremony.

Fundamental Parts of the wedding ceremony


The processional is the start of the wedding ceremony and it involves the presentation of the bridal party and eventually the bride.  During the processional, which is usually set to music, first the bridal party walks down the aisle,  and is then followed by the bride.  The general protocol for the processional allows first for the seating of parents,  then bridesmaids walk down the aisle accompanied by groomsmen. Next, the maid of honor follows,  then the flower girl and ring bearer (if used), and then the bride enters and makes her way down the aisle.


Once all of the key people are in position, the minister or officiant welcomes the wedding guests to the ceremony.  This greeting can be as simple as a short thank you to the guests for coming or as more involved with a reading or a brief history of how you and your fiancé met and became a couple.

Statement of Intention

The statement of intention tells all who attend the wedding that the bride and groom desire to be married out of their own free will. The minister or officiant also may take a moment to speak about the commitment and responsibility that is assumed upon entering into the bond of marriage.

Exchange of Wedding Vows

Your wedding vows are the emotionally binding part of the wedding ceremony.  This is where you will make promises to your fiancé about the life you’ll lead together.  You can elect either to use common wedding vows that you can find in a book, online, or receive from your officiant. You can also create personal wedding vows using a wedding vow book or just working from scratch.

Exchange of Wedding Rings

Following the wedding vows is the exchanging of wedding rings. One at a time,  the bride, then the groom each takes a ring and places it on the other’s finger.  As the wedding ring is slipped onto the ring finger, words are said to officially cement the union. Typically the phrase “With this ring, I thee wed” is repeated by both the bride and groom.

Wedding ceremony, wedding planningPronouncement of Marriage

After the exchange of rings,  the minister or officiant formally pronounces you husband and wife.  Typically a few words are added about the sanctity of marriage and to review again that you have consented to be married and have sealed your commitment with wedding vows and the exchanging of wedding rings.  This is also when the minister or officiant says "You may now kiss the bride."

Presentation of the Couple

Now that you’re officially married, the minister or officiant will then present you to your wedding guests for the first time as a married couple.


The recessional is the exact opposite of the processional.  The bride and groom make their way down the aisle together, followed by the rest of the wedding party and their parents. The recessional marks the finish of the wedding ceremony. Congratulations! Now you’re officially married.

These are the basic parts of the wedding ceremony order of events.  It should now be easy for you to arrange your ceremony to your liking.  In addition to the components listed, you can add prayers, readings, special ceremonies or even songs to your wedding ceremony if you choose to do so.  Of course , if you’d rather keep your wedding ceremony short and sweet,  then you can just use the essential pieces and then make your way to your wedding reception and enjoy the party.