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The Parts of a Wedding Ceremony

All wedding ceremonies follow a template that can be broken down into discrete parts. On this page we will deconstruct a simple wedding ceremony and define the 7 Essential Parts of the ceremony. Tap on the link to each wedding ceremony part to learn what happens in that section and what your responsibilities are as the officiant.

1. The Procession

The procession marks the formal start of the wedding. This is the part of the ceremony when the wedding party enters. Perhaps there is music, and this can be elaborate or simple, depending on the couple's wishes.

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2. The Invocation

The officiant greets the guests, introduces the couple, announces the purpose of the gathering, and shares a few words on marriage. This part of the ceremony announces the formal beginning Don't forget to tell the audience to be seated if they stood during the bride's entrance.

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3. The Declaration of Intent

The couple publicly declares their intent to marry. In some states, this part of the ceremony is mandatory. Even if it is not required (check to see if it is in your state) most guests expect it, and it's a good idea to include it.

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4. The Vows Exchange

The couple exchange their vows. There are lots of ways to accomplish this. It's a great way for the couple to express why they are marrying their partner, and what marriage means to them.

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5. The Rings Exchange

The couple exchange their rings. Since rings are a physical symbol of marriage, this part of the ceremony lets the couple make a commitment by putting rings on each others fingers.

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6. The Pronouncement

The couple is officially declared to be married. That's the "By the power vested in me by…" part. It's an indication to guests that the wedding ceremony is coming to a close.

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7. The Recession

The ceremony ends and everyone exits the room. But for the officiant, leading this part of the ceremony is important. It lets you tell guests what's next, and set the tone and action for the remainder of the day. Make sure to plan this part out, and don't just wing it.

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That's all there is to a basic wedding ceremony. Check out our Wedding Ceremony Template page to see how all these pieces fit together to form a complete wedding ceremony.

The information provided on these pages covers a basic wedding ceremony format. Many weddings include other parts, such as a sand ceremony, candle lighting, etc. that are not described on these pages.


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