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Ceremony 101


A traditional wedding ceremony typically lasts just 10-15 minutes, so responsibility to craft exactly the personal message and intent you want to represent your love for each other falls on the intended couple and your minister. Standard ceremonies flow in the following order, and typically, your minister will speak in just 3 of the sections - the Invocation, the Declaration of Intent, and the Pronouncement. 



  • Procession - Here comes the bride...


  • Invocation - We are gathered here today...


  • Vows Exchange - Couple exchanges vows...


  • Ring Exchange - Couple exchanges rings...


  • Declaration of Intent - Do you take...


  • Pronouncement - I now pronounce you...


  • Recession - Celebration Time...



Additional Ceremony Components


Many ceremonies have additional sections to reflect the beliefs, values, and personal preferences of the couple. Below are some of the more common ceremony additions that a couple may choose to include in their wedding, but the sky is the limit and creativity and your vision are key to making your ceremony reflect your unique personality.


  • Blessing - A blessing to the couple can be offered by the minister or a member of the wedding party. Blessings can be religious or secular.


  • Charge to the Couple - Similar to the Declaration of Intent, a charge has the minister reinforce the seriousness of the marital contract to the couple. It is often punctuated by acknowledgements such as "I agree" or "I understand".


  • Giving of the Bride - The minister calls out to the wedding party and asks who gives the bride in marriage. Traditionally, the father and/or mother of the bride reply that they consent to giving their daughter in marriage.


  • Prayer - Many religious ceremonies include a prayer lead by the minister.


  • Readings - Poems, scripture, and/or literary passages can be read by the minister and/or members of the wedding party.


  • Sermon - Many religious ceremonies include a sermon given by the minister.


  • Unity Candle - A unity candle ceremony involves the ceremonial merger of flames. Two candles are lit and the couple joins their individual flames together to light a third candle (representing their two lives joined as one). Variations include participation from family, such as candles for children to join in the union of the new family.


  • Jumping the Broom - An African wedding tradition that represents the joining of two families and the couples new home together.


  • Releasing of Doves - Dove releases are often incorporated into ceremonies and milestone celebrations as sentimental symbols of  Purity, Peace, Fidelity, Joy, or Commemoratives for lost loved ones. They can vary greatly, and include the release of a single dove or many.


  • Sand Ceremony - Sand ceremonies are a variation of the unity candle symbol. Two separate vessels of sand are poured together, mixing the sand as one. Each grain of sand is representative of a thought, feeling, or experience. A common variation is to give each member of the wedding party a small pebble. Each person offers a blessing as they deposit their pebble into a vessel, which is then used as the couple combines their sand.


  • Honoring the Dearly Departed - Honoring a lost loved one is an intimate and vulnerable element in a ceremony, and should be incorporated with dignity and respect. A minister or officiant should work closely with the couple to acknowledge this person's absence in a way that both pays tribute, and maintains the intended tone of your special day - whether shared publicly with your guests, or incorporated via a private and subtle remembrance. 



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