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How to Include a Moment of Silence in Your Wedding Ceremony

Published Tuesday, Sep. 14th, 2021

How long should a moment of silence last during a wedding ceremony? When should you add it, and what should you say before and after it? 




Adding a moment of silence, or ‘remembrance ceremony,’ to your wedding ceremony is a beautiful way to honor the memory of a deceased or absent loved one.


Although your loved one isn’t there physically, they’re with you in spirit. You can pause to remember a mother or father, grandparent, mentor, sibling, or close friend -- anyone who has held a meaningful place in your life or relationship, and still holds an important place in your heart. 


Some couples include a moment of silence to honor their ancestors, or to thank the generations who came before them for making their love and marriage possible. 

If you’ve decided to include a moment of silence in your wedding ceremony, you might be wondering: 




  • How long should a moment of silence last during a wedding ceremony?  


The answer: About 10 to 15 seconds. (But there is no right or wrong length.) 


A moment of silence can last just a few seconds or up to a full minute, depending on the kind of impact you want it to have. Longer pauses (30 seconds or more) can create a powerful impression, but run the risk of interrupting the flow of the ceremony and creating a sad or somber tone that’s hard to shake when you want to pivot to light hearted parts of the ceremony.


To keep a ceremony ‘on track’ and keep the mood light and joyful, we recommend a moment of silence that’s 10 to 15 seconds or less. 



  • What should the wedding officiant say before and after a moment of silence? 


Let guests know who the moment of silence is honoring, and why they were important to the couple. After the period of silence, the wedding officiant can simply smile warmly and thank the crowd for being part of a special moment, and move to the next part of the ceremony.


This part of the ceremony script is very personal, and can be written any way the couple wants it to be. 


What to say: 


Example 1:

“Alex and Toni have asked us to pause now, to remember the beautiful woman that helped Toni learn to love herself, and showed her how to love others -- Aunt Kiki. Kiki helped Alex and Toni through those early days of puppy love, and we know she’s here smiling down on them today, as they take this important step together. So with that in mind, let’s pause for a moment of silence, and send out some love to Kiki.”


Example 2:

“Carin and Amory’s parents can’t be here with us today, but we know they’d be full of love and pride to see these two up here -- offering their support, probably cracking jokes, and giving more than a few suggestions on where to take the honeymoon. Let’s pause for a moment, to remember Connie and Denise, and Phil and Marrianna, who passed on a love of travel, God, and family to Carin and Amory.” 


Example 3:

“Before Ronald and Danelle take their vows, they wish to honor the ancestors, as their spirits gather around us tonight to bless this union.”


Example 4:

“Davis and Mark are honored by your presence here today and thankful for your love and support. They also hold a place in their hearts for loved ones who can’t be here --  Margaret, Adeem, Michael, and Karen, you are missed and forever loved.”


For a loved one who's still alive, but isn’t able to be at the ceremony: 


“Nicee’s mom Bettie couldn’t be with us today, but as the badass, loving matriarch of the Gilbert family, we know she’ll be on a plane here as soon as she’s able to. Bettie, we love you!” 




  • When is the best time to add a moment of silence during a wedding ceremony?


After welcoming the guests, and before beginning the invocation and couple’s ‘love story.’ 


The beginning of the ceremony is the simplest time to include a remembrance ceremony without interrupting the flow. After welcoming the guests, the wedding officiant pauses to acknowledge those who can’t be present.


A remembrance ceremony can also be combined with a candle lighting ceremony (or another unity ritual) later in the ceremony. In this case, the couple might light an extra candle for a loved one, or tie an additional knot in a handfasting cord to honor the support of their ancestors or parents, followed by a brief pause.




Next : Honoring the Memory of Loved Ones in Your Wedding Ceremony




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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