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Wedding Ceremony Vibes: Flow and Emotion Management

Published Tuesday, Oct. 15th, 2019

Wedding Officiant Matt McMurphy

Let it flow! The secret to writing a ceremony that keeps guests engaged. 




The key to a great wedding ceremony is to make it flow. And when we talk about “flow,” we’re referring to the words and the emotion of the ceremony, and that magical combination of saying the right thing at the right time. 


When planning a wedding ceremony, consider what traditions or readings will resonate with the couple and audience. Choose a prayer, reading, traditional blessing, song lyrics, or poem that speaks to the couple's values and emotional state. Then, decide where to fit these parts into the ceremony. 


Think about the ceremony as a story, with each piece fitting into a logical order.


Consider which pieces fit best leading into or following one another. We suggest writing short transitions between pieces. Not only do these transitions help with the flow, they'll also give you an idea of whether one piece works well following another, based on how easy it is to write the transitional wording.



Image is of a young couple surrounded by friends and family as they say their vows at a wedding ceremony, they stand in front of a wedding arch draped with white flowing fabric, outdoors, with lush green trees behind the ceremony space

You're telling a story with joy, emotion, and gravity!



The kind of pieces that you choose to include, as well as the order you place them in, allows you to manage the emotional flow.


For example, if you have a more lighthearted piece, putting it early in the ceremony (near the invocation or during the couple's story) will help get the couple smiling -- and reduce their nervousness. Doing this gets everyone in a relaxed and joyful state of mind. 


Once you have everyone feeling the way you want them to be (at ease, happy, and excited for what comes next), you can transition into pieces that are heavier or deeper, while still early in the ceremony (e.g. the “we take this seriously” type pieces). 


From there, you can go into personal stories, vows, and the rings exchange, shifting the emotion back to light-hearted. This helps to send the guests and the couple into the reception with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts.


Try this order of components, and see how it feels:


  1. Formal introduction

  2. Happy, relaxed, lighthearted reading or talk 

  3. Heavier/deeper component (remind the audience of the importance of the ceremony and the marriage commitment)

  4. Light hearted and personal components 


If you need an example of a quick example of a light-hearted and personal component, consider a hand blessing. Hand blessings, which typically talk about the gift that the other’s hands are to them, fits perfectly after the ring exchange, because: the couple are most likely already holding hands; the couple’s hands were just the focus of ring exchange; and the piece fits well emotionally following the promises of the ring exchange.


See what we mean? The ring exchange flows right into a hand blessing!  


We know it’s not always possible to create the perfect flow -- it depends on what your couple wants to include in the ceremony. However, taking flow into consideration as you create and format your script will go a long way toward making the couple's day - and ceremony - perfect. 


Check out our popular workbook, Asked to Officiate, for many more details on creating a proper ceremony flow.



Image is of a copy of Asked to Officiate ceremony planning workbook on a desk, surrounded by other wedding planning guides and a cup of coffee with the AMM logo printed on it.



Ultimately, the amount of thought and homework involved in a wedding ceremony is the biggest indicator of how successful it will be.


Asked to Officiate unlocks the tips, hacks, and professional insights that will make guests think you’ve been officiating for years -- even if it's your first time!


(Visit our Wedding Books storefront to see all the ceremony planning books we carry.) 



Updated June 10, 2021


You might also like: 


Right Before You Step on Stage: A Wedding Officiant’s (Very) Last Minute Checklist

Structuring the Ceremony’s Flow

Wedding Ceremony Stage Fright: Tips for officiants (and couples)


Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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