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Planning Your Wedding Ceremony

The ceremony is the heart and soul of your wedding because it seals your union, marking the start of your new journey as one. Today's wedding ceremonies range from highly traditional to extremely personalized and unique, but their purposes and outcome are all the same ... to complete the union and join the lives of the couple.

When planning your ceremony, it can be helpful to create a ceremony worksheet. This will help ensure you haven't overlooked anything important. The outline below can serve as your guide. Be sure to speak with your officiate for his/her input, as well. If you are marrying in church, temple, or other religious venue, there can be specific rules and requirements by which you must abide.

Ceremony Planning Checklist

Ceremony Site Information
Perhaps more than any other decision that you will make in planning your dream wedding is choosing the ceremony site. Once you have made that choice, be sure to gather all the pertinent facts about the location so that you will have all the information at your fingertips when it comes time to order your invitations and write the wedding announcement for the newspaper. Things to include are:

Planning your wedding ceremony
  • Formal Name of Ceremony Site
  • Address of Ceremony Site
  • Ceremony Date
  • Confirmation of Ceremony Date
  • Ceremony Time
  • Cost of Using the Site
  • Amount of Time Included in Ceremony Site Reservation/Contract

Ceremony Officiate Information
It is a good idea to have the contact information of the person you have chosen to conduct your wedding ceremony. Even you are absolutely sure that you won't need it, being prepared is sometimes the best way to ward off disaster! Things to include are:

  • Name of Officiate
  • Telephone Number
  • Cell Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Officiate Fee

Ceremony Participants Information
Your wedding attendants are a big part of your wedding. It is important that you be able to reach them in case of any last minute changes to the schedule. Things to include in this section are:

  • Full Names of Participants
    This helps in writing the wedding program
  • Telephone Numbers
  • Dates for Fittings
  • Date to Pick Up Wedding Attire

Ceremony
The wedding ceremony is broken down into four basic parts: prelude, processional, ceremony, and recessional. Keeping a list of all that you want to happen during each part will help you to know what aspect of planning your wedding you should work on next.

  • The Prelude
    This is very first formal part of the wedding. Things to plan for include:
  • Names of Ushers to Seat Guests
  • Titles and Composers of Music to be Played
  • Names and Contact Information of Performers
  • The Processional
    This is the part of the wedding in which in the wedding party enters the ceremony site. Things to plan for include
  • Titles and Composers of Music to be Played
  • Names of Musical Performers
  • Who will Seat the Parents
  • Order of Appearance of Attendants
  • Bridal Escort
  • Who will Give the Bride Away
  • Ideas to Make this Unique
  • The Ceremony
    Many churches, temples, and synagogues has very specific orders of service for marriage ceremonies. Still, it is important to make note of all that will take place. Things to plan for include:
  • Names of Prayers/Readings to be Used
    Be sure to include the chapter and verse
  • Names of People who will be Presenting each Reading or Verse
  • Bride's Vows
  • Groom's Vows
  • Exchanging of Rings
  • Unity Ceremony, if applicable
  • Communion or Other Religious Rites
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
    Be sure that you officiate knows how you would like to be introduced for the first time as husband and wife.
  • Benediction/Marriage Blessing
  • The Recessional
    This is part of the wedding where you walk back down the aisle arm-in-arm for the first time as a married couple. Things to plan for include:
  • Music to be Played
  • Order in which Wedding Party Members Leave

Signing of the Marriage Certificate
Most of the time the signing of the marriage certificate is done at the conclusion of the ceremony. However, depending on the restrictions of your location and/or officiate, you may be able to incorporate this into the ceremony. You wedding officiate should be able to let you know if this will be possible.

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