Ceremony Order

The key elements utilized in most Western wedding ceremonies, in the most common order are:
  • Introduction - Opening Words - Invocation
  • Main Body : Interrogation, Presentation
  • Question of Intent
  • Vows
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Closing - Announcement of the Couple

The key elements utilized in most Western wedding ceremonies, in their most common order are:

Introduction, Opening, or Invocation -- The officiant typically announces the purpose of the gathering, indicates the names of the bride and groom, welcomes the guests and solicits them to participate in the ceremony by their presence and, perhaps, by their prayers.

Main Body -- The officiant reflects on the meaning of marriage and the significance of the bride and groom's decision to join together in wedlock.  The officiant may also share more casual remarks about the bride and groom as he or she has come to know them, and about the fitness of their union.  This portion of the ceremony might also include religious or other readings by the officiant or by friends or family who have been asked by the bride and groom to speak.

The Main Body is sometimes divided into the Interrogation and the Presentation (either may come first).  The Interrogation specifically refers to the officiant asking the couple if they come of their own free will to marry; it may also include the officiant asking the potentially show stopping question, "If anyone has just cause why these two may not wed, speak now, or forever hold your peace." (With any luck your ceremony will be peaceful.)  The Presentation is when the bride, or the bride and groom, are presented for marriage by parent or parents (the familiar, "Who gives this woman....").

Declaration / Question of Intent -- The bride and groom individually affirm their commitment to one another, in response to questions posed by the officiant; the response usually takes the form of the infamous "I DO".

Exchange of Vows -- The couple, usually repeating phrases at the officiant's direction, declare their commitment to one another.  In the Western Christian tradition, this is the point at which they are officially married.


Exchange of Rings -- The officiant introduces this part of the ceremony by describing what the rings symbolize.  He/she then asks the best man and maid/matron of honor to hand over the rings. The rings may be blessed.  The couple usually repeats a phrase at the officiant's direction.  In the Western Jewish tradition, this is the point at which they are officially married.

Closing / Announcement of the Couple -- The officiant announces that the couple is officially wed. This may also include a final prayer or benediction, the officiant indicating that the groom may "kiss the bride" and/or the officiant "introducing" the newly married couple to the guests.

This ceremonial order is usually proceeded by a processional, in which the wedding parties enter the ceremonial location, and is followed by a recessional, by which they exit.

Resource:  WeddingChannel.com
Carolyn Burke | Officiant | Coordinator 314.821.4844

Wedding Liaison Blog

Carolyn Burke | Officiant | Coordinator
(314) 821-4844
Main Website : CarolynBurkeSTL.com