When you sit down to start planning your wedding you soon realize that there are a lot of ways to do pretty much everything. From cakes, to dinner styles and even the ceremony. It’s true! While the gist of the ceremony remains the same – to get married – no two ceremonies are alike. Even for couples who chose the same vows or the same religious ceremony, every pair has a unique mix of the officiant, music, rings and remarks. So, if you’re worried about your ceremony feeling a bit too ‘cookie-cutter’ don’t worry, you can still follow the typical wedding timeline and have a ceremony that is unique to your relationship. Here is a traditional ceremony timeline, that you can tweak to fit your relationship. Include what you want or exclude things that don’t ring true to who you are and of course, be sure to communicate with your partner during the whole planning process!


Before the ceremony begins, your officiant will call to attention and make any necessary announcements – like how you don’t want cellphones out during the ceremony, or any audience participation. He/she will have your guests stand and get ready for the ceremony to begin!

1. The Procession

This is the part where the wedding party walks down the aisle and takes their places for the ceremony. Usually, you each make your own way to the altar and later leave together to symbolize you coming together as a couple. If you are looking to have a traditional religious ceremony, check with your religious leader for any suggestions they have.

2. Opening Remarks

‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…’ This is the start of your ceremony and will usually be a little bit about marriage and the importance of weddings. Chat with your officiant to find opening remarks that are right for you.

3. Addressing the Couple

Your officiant will talk directly to you as a couple, reminding you of the significance of the vows you are about to take.

what will your wedding day look like heres your typical ceremony timeline, 1

Photo Courtesy of Whitney Heard Photography

4. Exchange of Vows

Your vows may be standard ones that you repeat after your officiant, or you may choose to write your own. Whatever you do, these are the words that will carry your marriage forward. If you would rather not write your own but don’t want the typical ‘till death do us part’, chat with your officiant about different options.

5. The Ring Exchange

You and your spouse, will exchange rings to symbolize your love for each other.

6. Signing the Marriage License

After your vows and rings have been exchanged, your officiant will escort you, your partner and your witnesses to the signing table where you will sign your marriage licence. Usually there is music playing during this time.

7. The Pronouncement of Marriage

Your officiant will escort you back to the altar, and usually say a few words of advice or a blessing – then they will pronounce you for the first time as a married couple!

8. The Kiss

Really the only reason anyone likes weddings – your first kiss as a married couple! Tip: now is the time to ham it up a little for your photographer and guests!

what will your wedding day look like heres your typical ceremony timeline, 3

Photo Courtesy of Lori Waltenbury

9. The Recessional

You and your new spouse (eek) will exit back down the aisle with your bridal party. This is usually a little more fun than the processional so feel free to pick some up beat music!

10. The Closing Remarks

Your officiant wraps things up with a few last words and announcements for your guests.