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Everything about your Wedding Ceremony Outline will be unique to your wedding. In this post I'm teaching you the Basic Ceremony Order of Events so that you can make your own Template. Write your Wedding Ceremony Script with these unique Unity Ceremony Ideas too.

Wedding Ceremony Outlines might be my favorite topic to cover in all of my wedding planning classes and with couples in person. When we finally get to Week 8 of the GEG Team Experience we dive into Ceremony Structure, Design, and Script Writing. We actually devote 2 weeks of the 35-Week Experience to this Project Block. You can learn about it within Project Block 4 in The Project Block System.

READ: How to Coordinate Ceremony Structure | Project Block 4A & How to Coordinate Ceremony Altars| Project Block 4B

READ: How to Write Ceremony Scripts | Project Block 4C & How to Coordinate Ceremony Music | Project Block 4D

Wedding Ceremony Outlines

All weddings are slightly different based on religious traditions and participants, of course. The more family you have, the more you can involve. A Wedding Ceremony officially begins with a Processional or (parade) of important people: the grandparents, parents, groom, officiant, wedding party, ring bearer, flower girl, and ends with the bride making her entrance. Your Processional Order can be determined by religious traditions or all on your own.

READ: Wedding Processionals | Everything you need to know

Once everyone has made their way up the aisle the ceremony begins with the following structure:

  1. Processional. {Every ceremony is different, read more above ^^}
  2. Opening remarks. Once everyone is situated, your officiant will begin
  3. Exchange vows
  4. Exchange rings
  5. First kiss
  6. Recessional
  7. The Marriage License Signing

Wedding Processional Order

I prefer to start all of my ceremonies in this order, but you’re absolutely able to change it based on your own preferences: I send the Officiant first up the aisle. She/He gives us what I call the “Silent Cue” to start the ceremony. All guests notice her/his presence and immediately become quiet. I coach my DJ/Musicians to wait for this silence before they play the first Processional song.

With the Officiant standing at the altar, we get all of their attention. Your Officiant can make an announcement here OR, usually just look glowingly up the aisle so that everyone else turns to look as well. I believe the silence cue to be crucial in giving Processional members their full moment.

When do Guests Stand?

Guests stay seated during the processional until the bride makes her entrance. They will know when to stand when the mother’s stand. In my Rehearsal Workshop, you’ll catch that I coach Mother’s to watch for the flower girl(s) to stop and situate. Once her flowers are all tossed and she’s seated I tell moms to gracefully stand and turn up the aisle. Your guests will quickly follow. Your DJ is then coached to start the bride’s song when all guests are standing.

If you’re planning a wedding for two brides or two grooms, I LOVE the idea of building yourself a double aisle. With this, you have 3 sections of chairs, each divided by their own aisle. Each bride or groom can have her/his own flower girl with petals and grand entrance song up an aisle. This way neither has to assume the opposite role.

All of these cues and the processional should of course be practiced before the wedding at your Rehearsal. I have a Workshop on Teachable with videos:

Enroll: Wedding Planning Workshop | How to have a Rehearsal

Which mother walks down the aisle first?

If there are grandparents involved they would lead the processional, assuming they’re comfortable to walk. If you choose to have them sitting prior to the processional start, that’s a great choice too. Following any grandparents, are the groom’s parents. The bride’s mother is the final family member before the wedding party.

Action Plan: After the ushers have seated all of the guests, the grandparents start up the aisle, followed by the groom’s parents. Then the bride’s mother takes her turn.

Who Escorts the Mother of the Bride?

The Mother of the Bride can be escorted down the aisle by a groomsman or her husband. If her husband is also escorting the bride, he can hustle back to the bride’s side after seating her mother. If there is a step-father who is not escorting the bride, he may be escorted with or escort the bride’s mother in the processional. This is the traditional choice and gives the guy another few moments in the spotlight. If the bride has a stepmother, she would be escorted to her seat by a groomsman before the mother of the bride; the bride’s mom should be the last person to be escorted down the aisle, just before the bridal party.

Who Escorts the Mother of the Groom?

As the wedding begins, the groom’s mother will be escorted down the aisle, following the grandparents. She’ll sit in the first pew, right-hand side. I love to have the groom escorting his mother down the aisle. As the groom’s mother is escorted to her seat, her husband will follow along behind.

Wedding Ceremony Script Writing

The VERY FIRST transition between Processional and Ceremony is a big one. It’s emotional and should be worded carefully as well as rehearsed: The Giving Away of the Bride.

Giving Away the Bride

If you’re a sucker for traditional sentiment this is a big moment for you and your parents. Write out the words, practice the hugs and motions. You won’t regret it. If you’re not traditional, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve informed your officiant of the words you would like used. I’ve written this transition wording as Assignment 1 for Ceremony Script Writing:

READ: How to Write Ceremony Scripts

Opening Remarks

From here, now that everyone is up at the altar and in the proper place, the words begin. Make sure the first words your Officiant says are, “You may be seated” otherwise they’ll be standing for an awkward moment.

Your Officiant might kick off with a personal story or even a cute joke about the first time she/he knew you were meant for each other. After that, the real, legal words must be said. These are the “Words” your witnesses are signing that they heard you say to make this marriage legal. Those important words are:

Expression of Intent

This is the part of your wedding when you’re stating you’re entering this marriage willingly. It is the only mandatory piece of the Ceremony Script that you need to say out loud. Everything else is (wedding) cake from here. In a ceremony, it sounds like, “Is it your intention to marry this woman today?” It could also sound a lot like vows… Read more about that in the READ Post above.

Vows & Unity Ceremonies

From here your Wedding Ceremony Outline can be all your own. Everything that happens after the Expression of Intent is up to you. You can write your own vows, perform a unity ceremony, have readings or songs, and more. All of this happens in the middle and it’s often the most memorable part.

Exchange of Rings

After you’ve said all you have to say, you seal the deal with a ring. The ring is a symbol of your promise to uphold everything said before this point in a ceremony. Therefore, they should come last.

You may Kiss the Bride/Groom!

Once the rings are on, your Officiant will announce you as a married couple. Check out this Wording Assignment in the Ceremony Script Writing Post too. To celebrate your marriage, you get to kiss after your announcement and then trot up the aisle, starting your Recessional. Your Recessional takes you as Newlyweds up the aisle and straight into your Project Block 6 Transition

How to make your Wedding Ceremony unique?

Among all the “required” pieces of a ceremony structure, you’re allowed to toss in anything else you want. You can also customize your wedding to fit the personality of you both as a couple. My husband and I walked out our Recessional to the University of Oregon fight song… because we met in college and we considered it a victory walk. I encourage you to take as many traditions as you want and make them your own. Music is a great place to start.

READ: How to Coordinate Wedding Ceremony Music | Project Block 4D

We’ve also had a wonderful Guest Author contribute his thoughts on the idea:

READ: How to Make your Ceremony as Unique a You | STRUMUSE


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