In general, experts recommend that you take at least one year to plan your wedding. There are so many variables that go into planning this massive event and you will reflect upon your big day for the rest of your life. Of course, you will want everything to be perfect, and that includes the wedding ceremony itself.
With that said, there are tons of different choices you can make regarding your wedding. You can make it uniquely you or follow more traditional wedding ceremony steps. The order and traditions vary based on culture, religion, and location.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s helpful to have an idea about the traditional wedding ceremony held in the USA. Read on to learn how to conduct the perfect wedding ceremony – step by step!
1. Guests Are Seated
You want to allow a good amount of time before the ceremony begins for people to be seated in your wedding venue. The guests may need help finding their seats so it’s best to have some ushers there for assistance. These can be groomsmen or just some extra helping hands.
Guests should be seated from front to back with a couple of rows in the front reserved for immediate family members. Seats will need to be reserved for anyone involved in the ceremony that won’t be standing the entire time such as the flower girl or ring bearer’s family. Parents and grandparents are generally seated last.
There are some traditions that specify where certain people are supposed to sit. Others choose to follow a more relaxed flow and let people choose where to sit excluding the reserved portions for family.
2. The Processional
The processional is the beginning of the ceremony. The officiant will come and stand at the alter joined by the groom to his left. At this time, you’ll likely choose to turn up the music or begin it to signal to the guests that the ceremony is about to begin.
Once the officiant and groom are in place, the rest of the wedding party will start to arrive. You may have the groomsmen walk separately or escort the bridesmaids. They will take their places next to the bride and groom – groomsmen to the groom’s side, bridesmaids to the bride’s side.
The matron of honor will be the last to take her place. They are followed by the flower girl and ring bearer. They will be followed by a brief pause to clear the aisle.
Last but certainly not least, the bride will walk down the aisle. She may walk alone or be escorted by one or more parents or someone else of significance.
3. Officiant Remarks
After everyone is in place, the officiant will open the ceremony with a few remarks. This varies greatly and is something you’ll need to discuss with them during the planning process.
They will address the guests and then the couple. The opening remarks might include another person giving a speech or reading, a prayer, special ceremonies like unity candles, and so on.
Once the opening of the ceremony has been completed, the vows will be exchanged. You have lots of options here as well. The vows can be created by the officiant and read. You may choose to share your own personal vows by having them written down and read aloud or simply read by the other person.
No matter how you choose to do your vows, remember that these are the promises that you are making to the other person. They are also like a love letter to them reminding them of all the things you value most in your relationship. Go ahead and add those to your wedding ceremony checklist!
5. Exchanging Rings
Following the vows, the rings will be exchanged. The best man and matron of honor might be the keepers of the weddings bands. While you are exchanging rings, the officiant will have you repeat a series of phrases and instruct you on what to do.
6. Pronouncement of Marriage
Now that you’ve made your promises, exchanged vows, and have your rings, the officiant will pronounce you as married. Those days you spent dreaming of the magic phrase “I now pronounce you husband and wife (or married)” is here!
7. The First Kiss
The officiant might say “you may now kiss the bride” or some variation that fits your situation. You are sealing the deal with this kiss. The pressure is on to have that picture-perfect kiss!
At this time, the guest will begin to applaud and cheer.
8. Closing Remarks
Depending on the type of ceremony you have chosen or what you’ve worked out with your officiant, there could be some closing remarks. For some this includes a blessing, for others, this is just a quick little snippet.
Your officiant can advise the guests of what is to follow and where they should head for refreshments or celebrations (receptions).
You will be introduced as the newly married couple and you’ll cue the music. You and your partner will then lead the wedding party out of the venue in reverse order than they arrived.
Planning a Wedding Ceremony
Truly, there is no wrong way to plan a wedding ceremony. This step-by-step guide is a great starting point for you to lay down the bones of what you and your partner want. Whatever values you are following, be sure to make the wedding uniquely you!
Are you searching for the perfect wedding venue? Book a tour with us today to see our amazing spaces to say “I do.”