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Published: Tuesday, Dec. 22nd, 2020

Structuring the Ceremony’s Flow

illustrations by Jessica Levey

Minister Vibe MGMT

 

A professional makes their work appear effortless, and for an officiant, the first step is a well-crafted ceremony. Like any other live performance, each moment of a great wedding ceremony should flow naturally into the next. When you officiate, your actions should draw attention to your couple, and your words should be a reflection of their love.

 

But what does that look like in practical terms?

 

To start with, consider the big picture. You have 15 - 20 minutes of material to prepare. Your initial consideration should be the structure of the ceremony, and for a modern wedding ceremony, we have an outline:

 

 

  • Start with a lighthearted joke or an anecdote, to grab the attention of guests and put a smile on everyone’s face.
  • Transition to solemn reflections next, to show that ‘we take this seriously.’
  • From there, tell your couple’s story…
  • Which flows effortlessly into the concluding sequence of a wedding: Vow Exchange, Ring Exchange, and you pronounce your couple married!

 

illustration of clock with parts of the wedding ceremony planned, how to transition between parts of a wedding ceremony

 

In our opinion, the ceremony sweet spot is 15 - 20 minutes. 

 

 

There’s a reason we recommend going with this tried-and-true format. People respond to the cues we've learned from attending other weddings and watching movies and TV. Most couples don’t want to throw their guests a curveball. Save the wild antics for later in the day.

 

That doesn't mean the ceremony will be unmemorable or boring. There are many ways to add a unique touch! Many couples choose to include small rituals, like a handfasting, or have family members give a poetry or scripture reading. These special moments will need intros and outros, and timing should be considered in the context of the entire ceremony. This is a great opportunity for your couple to share their personality.

 

For example:

 

The bride’s niece is going to read a short poem. She has a lot of energy, so let’s make sure that happens early in the ceremony, to keep an upbeat pace. Grandpa wants to give a reading from Asked to Officiate, which will set the right solemn tone before I tell the couple’s story.

 

It's important to consider how each moment will fit into the entire ceremony. If you're unable to decide on where to place a reading or ritual, try writing the transitional language to and from that event to gauge your choices. When it’s easy to write the transitions, you’ll know you have a good ceremony structure.

 

 

illustration of wedding rings bands, what to say at a wedding ceremony, how to perform marriage

 

People respond to a tried-and-true format.

 

 

At the end of the day, there's no perfect wedding ceremony, only what’s right for your couple. It’s not always easy to segue effortlessly from moment to moment in your ceremony but that’s okay. If your couple has told you what they want, do your best with their requests. If you have concerns, express them, but remember that this is their ceremony, not yours.

 

Professionals will tell you, incorporating all of a couple's wants into a ceremony can be one of the hardest things to do. But a skilled AMM Minister will weave all of the moments together, sending everyone away with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts.

 

Learn more about performing marriage and the parts of a wedding ceremony on our Wedding Officiant Training pages and check out our step-by-step workbook, Asked to Officiate in our bookstore.
 

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