The structure of a wedding ceremony

There are certain parts that make up a wedding ceremony. Some of the structure is legal but most of the ceremony is tradition and custom. Apart from the legal parts of the ceremony, you are welcome to remove or add what parts of the ceremony that suit you as a couple.

Entrance – Music can be played as you make your entrance, you can enter together or separately. You can have a procession of your family and then your wedding party before the groom and finally the bride.  The choice is yours.

Welcome & Introduction – I introduce myself, I welcome your family and friends. I can share how you met, your journey as a couple or a family. We can add your love story here if you would like to add it.

Reading, poem or music – For a good balance it is nice to have 2 readings. You can have a singer sing a special song, a friend or family member read a poem or reading. Or you don’t have to have any in your ceremony.

Monitum – the legal words that the celebrant must say to solemnise your marriage.

Asking – I will ask you if you take each other as husband/wife or partners in marriage. This is a legal requirement.

Vows – the marriage commitment, this is where you can write your own vows for each other. Read my blog post about writing custom vows for ideas.

Exchange of rings – There is no legal requirement to exchange rings – it is your choice. Exchanging of rings is just custom. You can have one ring given to one of you or you can both exchange rings. Or you can remove the custom all together.

Other symbols of your union – Optional – candle ceremony, blending of sands, rose ceremony. Not legal but nice to honour a family tradition or cultural custom.

Reading 2 (Optional)

Declaration and Kiss – I will declare you as husband and wife, partners in marriage – or whatever you choose. I then ask you to kiss! The big moment of the ceremony.

Signing the Marriage Register & Certificates – This is the paperwork side of the ceremony. You will receive a decorative certificate on the day. You will need 2 witnesses over 18 to sign with you both.

Congratulations – I will then bring you both back to the arbour and congratulate you both and present you to your guests as married!

“You are my favourite person, and I choose you to be my partner in life.

I vow to take you as my partner in marriage.

My heart is yours. Will you exchange your heart for mine? Will you be my family?”


My biggest tip to you

The one thing I have learnt with organising weddings is that your guests will complain a lot less if they know what is happening.

I learnt this from my own wedding and from walking around amoungst the guests at past weddings I have been the celebrant and/or planner. There is always an Auntie or Uncle who cannot help themselves but complain.

When I am a celebrant, I always ask the couple to let me know what they would like the guests to do after the ceremony? I will add into the ceremony at the end before congratulating you (because I still have the guests attention) what you would like the guests to do immediately after the ceremony. So you may need to talk to your photographer. This is something I would say:

“Julie and Josh would like all of you to come down to the lake and have a photo taken. After the photo, please make your way to the reception venue for a refreshment and the happy couple will join you again at 6.00 pm”

With the ceremonies that I have not made this announcement because the couple did not think it was necessary, I have finished the ceremony and I have seen the guests just wander around like confused cattle. They have no direction and it feels really unorganised. Then I start to hear the older guests complain as they are walking around in circles. This is just what I have observed – letting everyone know the next step will make your guests happy and they are less likely to complain.

I have had a groom tell me that the photographer will tell every one what to do. I think he thought I was being bossy – But no, I am telling you now, the photographer will not step up and do this. That is not their job, it’s mine. The photographer will expect the celebrant to give the next direction. The photographer will give direction when you are all together at the lake. I then step back.

I hope this post helps you and your partner with understanding a little about how the ceremony is structured. Please contact me if you would like anything clarified or if you have any questions.

Always here to help,

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It has lots of ideas of;

  • free outdoor locations
  • ideas for custom vows
  • inspiration for making your ceremony different

I put together this magazine to help you – not drown in all the wedding information.

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