Published: Friday, Jul. 31st, 2020

Tags: ceremony, wedding-ceremony-planning, marriage-law, ceremony-components, officiants, faq, wedding-and-ceremony-planning


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Are there legal wording requirements in a wedding ceremony?

Ceremony wording

With couples opting for more unique and personalized wedding ceremonies these days, many AMM Ministers want to know if there are any special wording requirements to make sure it is legal. This is a pretty valid question since, after all, marriage is a legally binding contract.


The short answer, though, is no. Believe it or not, a legal marriage ceremony is simply comprised of:


  • an exchange of vows or promises (facilitated by an authorized officiant, unless the ceremony is self-solemnizing)
  • a valid, state-issued marriage license that has been completed and signed


…and that’s it! While no specific words or phrases are legally required to be used in the wedding ceremony, couples still must make / exchange their Declaration of Intent, and the officiant must make the Pronouncement.


The Declaration of Intent is the part of the ceremony where the couple verbally declares that they wish to enter into the marriage contract and intend to legally commit to one another. This is often heard in the form of, “Do you take ______ as your lawful/wedded _______?” and “I do,” but can be worded any way the couple prefers.


The Pronouncement or Proclamation is the part of the ceremony where the officiant pronounces the couple as officially and legally wed. ie, “And now, with the power vested in me by American Marriage Ministries, I pronounce you…” Again, this official proclamation can be made in any way the couple wishes.



This means that ultimately, couples and officiants have the freedom to create an entirely customized wedding ceremony from scratch. As long as the Declaration of Intent and Pronouncement are included, the wedding ceremony can incorporate heartfelt readings from friends and family, the exchange of personalized vows, special unity rituals, and be as long - or short - as desired.


That said, we cannot stress enough the importance of preparation when it comes to writing the ceremony. Whether you’re on your own for the majority of the ceremony or working with the couple’s detailed vision and instruction, our popular officiant guidebook Asked to Officiate is an invaluable resource when it comes to crafting meaningful wedding ceremonies.


Updated March 2021


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