AMERICAN WEDDINGS BLOG

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 12th, 2021

Tags: ceremony-writing, professional-officiants, ceremony-preperation

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Write a Wedding Ceremony Using a Classic Story Arc

Story arc wedding ceremony officiant officiate training how to
Illustrations by Jessica Levey


Wedding ceremonies should tell a story! Wedding officiants can use classic story structure to write ceremony scripts with the power of timeless fairy tales and the excitement of Hollywood-esque happy endings. 


You know the tale: Once upon a time, there lived two unique souls, going about their daily lives, totally unaware that their paths would soon cross. One day, fate brings them together, and boom! They fall in love. Love, sweet love! 

 

But the story doesn’t end there… Life comes at them with its inevitable ups and downs, joys and sorrows, testing their love to its limits. Will they make it? Have they really found a love that lasts? (The audience holds their breath… and then… ) Yes! Despite it all, they triumph! With their bond stronger than ever, they head off toward the horizon together to begin their next adventure. 

 

This is a great example of a classic story arc — a writing structure that takes an audience from the beginning of a story to its end. It’s engaging and recognizable, and leaves plenty of room for unique twists. 

 

By finding the ‘arc’ in a couple’s love story, wedding officiants can channel this storytelling power in their ceremony writing. Because all good wedding scripts tell a story. 

 

 

classic story arc at a wedding ceremony, for wedding officiants and ministers

 

A classic story arc presents the couple's story in a compelling way, from the day they met to the wedding day.

 

 

Use each of these familiar story arc elements to guide the questions you ask couples, and come up with your own twists. Then, use their answers to write the first draft of your custom ceremony script and tell the world their love story.

 

(Visit our sample ceremony Script Library, too.)

 


Exposition and Background: Learning about the couple

 

What were these lovebirds up to before they met? Who are they on their own? What are their individual passions and hobbies, what are their values, and what kind of experiences shaped their lives before they fell in love?  

 

(For more guidance on meeting and talking with the couple, read Collaborate with the Couple.)

 

 

Inciting incident: First meeting

 

This is the event that sets our couple on their journey together: how they met! Find out how their paths finally crossed. 

 

Ask them about those earliest days, what drew them together, and what they first noticed about each other. Do they have a funny first date or meet-cute story? Were they brought together by friends or a well meaning aunt or a layover in a distant airport? Don’t miss a single detail!

 

 

image of a couple kissing, to show the couple's story progressing

 

What brought them together?

 

 

Rising action: Overcoming obstacles and having adventures

 

Life is not without its challenges, even when a couple is perfect for each other. What obstacles have the couple faced together during their relationship? What did they learn about each other and themselves while meeting these challenges? 

 

Joys and excitement make for important story action, too. What adventures or travels have they been on together? Have they worked together on any projects, raised children together, or celebrated personal milestones together? What is their favorite, happiest memory?

 

 

Climax: Everything changes

 

For the purposes of a wedding ceremony, this can be the moment in which everything changed and the couple knew they would spend their lives together as married people. 

 

Ask them when they knew they were ready to make lifelong promises to each other. Talk to them about their shared values. Ask them what loyalty, trust, love, and partnership mean to them, and why they felt ready to get married. Use their words to celebrate this commitment, a sacred bond that changes everything. 

 

 

Falling Action: Finding comfort in togetherness

 

In a story, this is usually a time when our main characters finally get to breathe, relaxing after a period of hard work and overcoming the odds. For a couple on their wedding day, this might be described by the comfort, safety, or understanding they find in knowing and loving one another. 

 

Ask them how their partner makes them feel now that they’ve been together for awhile. Ask for examples of how they support one another from day to day, or how their trust shows up from day to day. Do they feel safe knowing they’ll meet any new challenge together - whether that’s being stranded on a deserted island together or just navigating tense holiday meals?

 

 

 

illustration of a couple and all of the shared activities they enjoy, to incorporate in a wedding ceremony by officiant

 

How does their relationship make them feel? What are they looking forward to doing together in the future?

 

 

Denouement: Setting up the next story 

 

A wedding is never the end of a couple’s story. In fact, it’s just a new beginning. This can be the most important part of a ceremony story, when an officiant invites the guests to imagine the couple’s future in happy detail before pronouncing them married. 

 

Ask the couple what they hope for in the future and any plans they have for what comes next. Will they start or expand their family? Will they buy a house, start a band, take up a new family hobby, or continue to make blanket forts in their living room while watching 70s horror movies and baking cookies? (If this last example feels surprisingly specific, good! Love is in the details…)

 


Happy writing! 

 

If you get stuck, remember that AMM has an entire library of sample ceremony scripts, and we’ll walk you through each part of the ceremony, too. Head to our Ceremony Script Library for examples of handfasting ceremonies, civil ceremonies, Christian & Jewish ceremonies, ceremonies with children, and more. Or visit our Wedding Officiant Training pages to find out everything you need to know about the ceremony.
 

GET ORDAINED
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Become a Wedding Officiant with Our Free Online Ordination!