Creating a Ceremony Script
You’ve decided to have a friend or family member officiate your wedding – now what? You need to decide the processional detail, create a ceremony outline, choose any prayers or readings and create a very detailed script. We’re here to help guide you through the process of creating the perfect ceremony script.
This guideline works for nonreligious and religious ceremonies, each will be unique in its own way. Each ceremony should be unique to the couple’s cultures, faiths and/or beliefs, and there are aspects that could be included that may not be listed below.
The best place to begin creating your ceremony is to determine the basic parts of the ceremony structure. Below are some elements you can include or exclude based on your preferences (helpful hint: use this outline to create your programs).
- Processional – this is how and when the officiant, parents and bridal party will enter the ceremony and should include music selections
- Declaration of Intent
- Exchange of the Rings
- Recessional – this is how and when the bridal party, family and officiant will exit the ceremony and should include how guests will exit
This is a portion of the script that the couple can write, the officiant can write, or they can write it together. This portion is where the officiant might welcome everyone to the union, and give a little story or introduction about the couple.
There are some details they’ll want cover too. They might ask for guests to turn off and put away their phones, and you may include the traditional question of “who gives this woman or man away?”. They’ll want to include asking everyone to take a seat after the bridal entrance (believe it or not, I’ve seen a ceremony where this wasn’t said, and the guests stood the entire ceremony!)
The introduction is usually about 3-8 minutes in total. Here are some examples of an introduction script that may help in developing this portion of the ceremony.
We recommend one or two readings and/or prayers during the ceremony, depending on the length of ceremony and the couple’s preferences. These can be done back to back, or separated to create the best flow. We encourage couples to choose these based on their personalities – they don’t have to be traditional or commonly used readings. They can be excerpts from your favorite poem or book, or a verse from a song – anything that has meaning to the couple!
If you’re unsure where to start with these, google “religious or nonreligious ceremony readings” or “best readings for a wedding” or “unique wedding readings” and you’ll find plenty of resources to get you started!
Declaration of Intent
This is just a short portion of the ceremony where the couple declares their intent. It’s often just a sentence or two, and each person replies with “I will.” or “I do.” The declaration of intent can be just one sentence, or it can be a few; it can be traditional or more unique as well – here are some ideas to get you started.
First, decide if you’ll write your own, personal vows or use scripted vows. The choice is totally personal preference, but both people should agree on the tone and style of the vows. There are tons of resources available for inspiration on writing your own to each other, or creating a unique or traditional vow script for both partners – check out this resource to get the inspiration flowing.
Exchange of Rings
This is exactly what it sounds like – the part where rings are exchanged. The officiant might give a brief explanation of the rings and then there is usually a couple of sentences that are repeated as each person places the wedding ring on their partner’s finger. Some traditional and modern wording can be found here.
There are so many options to adding rituals to your ceremony – many rooted in religious history and tradition, and many new modern ideas for symbolizing unity. Most of these rituals are meant to show the unity of two people or two families – choose what makes sense for your cultures and beliefs.
If faith is part of your ceremony, there may be religious rituals you want to include here. Circling, jumping a broom, reading a ketubah or lighting a unity candle are just a few examples. Other non-traditional options are becoming popular, and even traditional ones stemming from other beliefs can be adapted to fit each couple. Tree planting, tying a knot, presenting mothers with flowers and time capsules are just a few ideas.
Ask your family if there are any traditions they’d like to see incorporated, or if there are any traditions other family members have included that you could also include. Choose something that will have meaning for you, and don’t feel pressure to do something just to do it!
Pronouncement and Conclusion
At the end of the ceremony, the officiant will pronounce the couple, choose your preferred wording for that declaration. Example: “By the power invested in me by the state of Ohio, it is my pleasure to introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Brown!”
Let’s not forget the best part – the kiss!
The officiant will likely need to provide the guests with guidance on how to exit the ceremony. This can occur before the pronouncement or after the recessional. Example: “The bride and groom request that extended family remain in their seats for pictures after the ceremony. Jane and Jon will greet the rest of their guests at the reception.”
Be sure to think the ending through so it flows, and remember to cue up the recessional music at the right time. Pro Tip: provide the musician with the exact last words or actions to cue their music appropriately.
If this is all overwhelming, there is an option to have a professional ghost-write your script. It’s not as impersonal as it sounds – the officiant I recommend for this service spends quality time getting to know the couple, asks very detailed questions and does an excellent job creating a ceremony script that fits the couple perfectly!