Here I talk about the order of events for a traditional wedding day from a UK perspective. What you can expect the order of events on your wedding day to be with an Independent Celebrant. With a Celebrant you have flexibility in abundance, and can include what you want in your ceremony. So, this is not the definitive who, what, when where and how, rather just a taster of what could be!
The Guests and a little Admin
Traditionally the Ushers (now called Groomsmen) were there to show people to their seats and hand out orders of service. Now, this is the part where your Celebrant will call the guests to gather, take their seats, and get ready for the ceremony to start.
And, it is at this point they will remind to your guests to turn mobile phones off, if you are having a closed ceremony, or at least turn them to silent. There may also be a little reminder not to post any pictures on Social Media – you may want to present your wedding day at a specific time in a specific way.
Here, personally, I like to introduce the photographers and videographers. And it’s always good to remind guests if they are allowed to take photographs, to be aware of where the photographers are! There’s nothing worse than the bride arriving, and all you can see is the back of aunt Sally’s head in the photos!
Traditionally, the Chief Usher would walk the bride’s mother to her seat. The groom and his best man would be off to the side of the alter, and be asked to step forward just before the bride was ready to come in. The flower girl would walk first and then the bride and her father, followed by her maid of honour and the other bridesmaids.
The more contemporary processional is Bride’s mother followed by the Groom’s parents, the Groom and Best man. Then come the Groomsmen and Bridesmaids in pairs, the flower girl and finally the Bride with her father.
BUT it’s your day so you do it your way, anything goes!
Welcome and Opening Words
Here, the Official will welcome everyone, thank them for coming and then talk a little about the meaning of marriage and what it means.
Your Celebrant will welcome everyone and talk about what is important to you in your ceremony, there will of course be your love story and what this ceremony means to you. Some couples like to mention their guests, and why it is important to have them with you on your wedding day.
Traditionally held in Church so any readings would be from religious text and would be read by the Official taking the ceremony or by a member of the congregation.
With a more contemporary wedding it’s possible to have poems, personal stories written by family members or friends. Your Independent Celebrant writes your ceremony to include whatever readings you wish to have, including any religious texts.
This is where the more traditional Official would speak about the sanctity of marriage, the promises the couple were about to make to one another, and then they would ask “if anyone knows of any reason why…
Your Celebrant will speak about the promises of love you are about to make to one another, what they mean to you, of their importance in relation to your future responsibilities to one another making the ceremony personalised to you.
Vows or Promises
Traditionally you state the three sentences required by law to make your marriage legal. The more modern approach with a Celebrant, is that you write your own vows or promises, or your Celebrant will write them in collaboration with you. A Celebrant wedding ceremony is a symbolic wedding ceremony, you will already have completed the legalities stating the three required sentences at your local Register Office.
Custom has it that during the ring exchange you would repeat “I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage …. However, your Celebrant will write what you want to say to your loved one, why you are giving them this ring and what it means to you to have them wear this ring.
Ritual has always been a part of the wedding ceremony, the exchange of rings is ritual but this is where you could light the Unity Candles or you may decide to perform a Sand Ceremony or another Ritual that is important to you as a couple.
The Declaration of Marriage is stated as “ by the power vested in me… man and wife. Your celebrant will write your unique declaration, announce you as you wish to be announced and then that’s followed by your first kiss.
Signing of the Register
This is where you would pop into the vestry and sign the register with your witnesses. Your Celebrant will design a symbolic certificate for you to sign on your day if you so wish. It’s nice to have some music playing at this point.
The closing words are always kind words about the couple, wishing them all good things in their life together and thanking the guests for coming along to witness the binding of the couple together as one. The ceremony comes to an end.
As a married couple you walk out together to some lively, rousing music followed by your guests, filing out in reverse order, so the first rows follow the bride and groom until finally the last row.
Whatever the order of events on your wedding day, there is so much choice available to you today and I am sure you will find what you want, and I wish you both health and happiness in your future life together. Click here if you would like to know how we could work together to write a unique personalised ceremony just for you.
Photographer – Main Photograph – Lara-Jayne Jackson