This document is just an outline of a typical wedding ceremony. It is intended to make you familiar with different parts of the ceremony. You can choose or write each section for yourself or choose a complete ceremony from the internet, books or from your officiant's collection.
Remember it is just a guide and your ceremony can be arranged or contain/omit any sections you wish. Your officiant should go over your ceremony with you. If you use San Tan Weddings officiant, Tony Martineau, he will sit down with you and guide you through each section, type it up and email it to you for further revision. This can be done as much as needed to get it PERFECT for you.
If you know what you want already or have elements you like from other ceremonies, bring them with you to your consultation.
Outline of Typical Wedding Ceremony
This outline contains elements that can be part of your wedding ceremony. Most important, your ceremony should accurately reflect your values, beliefs, and intentions for your life together. You should be totally comfortable with every aspect of your ceremony, or it's not your ceremony.
The minister, groom and his men are waiting as the bridal party comes to join them. Officiant then ask the one escorting the bride:
Who presents _______________to be married to _______________?
Not everyone wants this question asked. If this is your first marriage, and you want a traditional ceremony, this question is appropriate.
Words of Welcome
Officiant begins by welcoming everyone and putting what is to follow in context. If the ceremony is interfaith (Christian - Jewish, for example), care is given to making an opening statement that is inclusive of both traditions and acknowledges the One God from whom we all come. Secular ceremonies can avoid the word God all together. This welcome sets the tone for what follows.
If you have family or other loved ones who are not able to be present because of illness or distance, Officiant can welcome them among the gathering in Spirit. Though absent they are still part of the circle of love that surrounds you.
This is where Officiant speaks for a few minutes about marriage and the deeper meaning it contains. The inspiration for the actual words comes from conversations with bride and groom. Some themes are: the importance of friendship, love and commitment; marriage as a spiritual practice and means of growth; the relationship between keeping your own identity and individuality as you enter this most intimate of relationships, and so on. These remarks are addressed not only to you, but also as a reminder to those gathered with you. This takes 2 - 7 minutes.
Question Of Intent
This is the question, asked of you both, which signifies your intention to be married. The groom answers first. The question as officiant might phrase it:
________ do you choose ________ to be your wife (husband), companion and friend, and do you promise to love her (him), respect her (him) and accept her (him) as your equal through all of the changing circumstances of your life together? If so, say, "I do."
This question may be phrased in other ways if you wish. This is just one example.
The Blessing of The Gathering
Do all of you give your blessing to this marriage? If so, say, "We do!"
The vows are the high point of the ceremony. Everything builds to this. Some couples choose to write their own vows which they will read or say from memory. Others want to say their own words trusting what's in their heart at that moment and don't want to read or memorize anything. (Brave souls!) Others may repeat after me the traditional vows:
I _____________ take you _____________ to be my wedded (wife, husband), to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; in joy and in sorrow; to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live. I give you this ring as a sign of my promise.
However you choose to do it, it's the moment when you are asked to really be there with each other. Forget that there are people watching and take those moments to see this person standing there with you, and to feel the love you have for each other, and out of that connection, say your vows. Even if no one can hear you, they will feel what you are communicating to each other.
The Ring Vows
If not done before ceremony begins, officiant asks for the rings and speaks briefly about their significance and what they represent. Officiant gives the groom the ring he will give the bride, and her the ring she will give him.
Vows with children
This is where you can include any children who will be brought together by this union. It is a lovely way for the existing and new parent to make vows to love, cherish, protect etc. It is a good time for the children to vow, by writing their own vows or repeating vows, to each of the parents.
Vows of The Community (Optional)
This is where Officiant invites those gathered with you to support you as you grow in your marriage.
Declaration of Marriage
Officiant announces that you are now husband and wife and invite you to embrace and kiss.
Officiant presents you as Mr. and Mrs. __________ or as (however you'd like to be introduced.)
You walk out together, followed by the rest of the wedding party.
Other elements (unity candle, special music, ritual of inclusion for children, wine box, tree planting, hand fasting, jumping the broom, sealed letters of love to be opened in times of discontent or on the 10th anniversary etc.) may be inserted in the ceremony where appropriate.
This is merely an outline of the flow of a typical ceremony. Have FUN!
*** My experience is that many couples will spend a great deal of time finding the right place for their ceremony, selecting the food for the reception, the dresses for the bridal party, the flowers, and a photographer to capture it all, and not really give that much thought to the ceremony itself.
Part of the reason for this is that many who are getting married today are not deeply grounded in any spiritual tradition and simply don't know where to begin.
The ceremony itself should really be the centerpiece of the wedding. The ceremony should have deep meaning for the Bride and Groom.
May your wedding day and your life together be blessed with wellness and joy! - Tony