Humanist wedding ceremonies are fantastic as it allows you to structure your ceremony how you want. We can make them long with lots of guest speakers or incredibly short and sweet. There are no legal rules making us say specific words. We just include what you want. The most common question I get is how do I structure my wedding ceremony?
Like all good stories your wedding ceremony structure needs a start, middle and end. For a simple ceremony you can have the entrance, vows and exit. That’s it, all done. Most of my couples want a little bit more so here is a traditional structure with all the bells and whistles. Add or remove as you like. Remember you celebrant is an expert you are paying for so ask for their opinion. They will come in handy especially when it comes to the placement of yourself and those in the wedding party.
Call To Guests.
This is the time where the celebrant asks guest to be seated and organised. Any wedding party standing at the top of the aisle can take their places. If there are any notices such as no photos and phones switched off this is mentioned now.
Whilst traditional weddings have a grand entrance by the bridesmaids and bride, modern weddings I have overseen can include all of the wedding party. It is common both sides of the wedding couple to be walked down the aisle by their parents. My tip for this is to inform your venue to ensure the aisle is a bit wider then normal.
Here is an example of a full entrance where you can remove the parts you don’t want.
- Entrance first persons support group (groomsmen/bridesmen/groomsmaids/bridesmaids)
- Person 1 with both parents
- Ringbearers and Flowerpeople. It is always helpful to have someone at the top of the aisle that young people know. They often veer off to a friendly face and a known relative waving at them keeps them on track!
- Entrance second persons support group (groomsmen/bridesmen/groomsmaids/bridesmaids)
- Person 1 with both parents
Welcome and Introduction of Ceremony.
This is a moment for the couple to take a breath and hold each other’s hand. The celebrant will welcome your guests, thank those who have travelled far and acknowledge those who couldn’t be there.
All my ceremonies have included symbolic moments that represent a departed relative. I like to include this detail here so that guests can understand why a particular song is one that grannie liked or why her photo is on display at the entrance.
This is a great moment to have a friend or relative stand up and recite a special passage. It can be a poem, prayer or even song lyrics! Perhaps you want everyone to sing your favourite song together. Fantastic! I’ll get everyone to stand and sing at the top of my lungs with you all!
The Couple’s Story.
The moment that is all about you! Sharing you story with your guests creates a personal atmosphere that makes this your ceremony. How did you meet? What funny things do you remember? Any particular quotes from family or friends we can add?
Vows and Promises.
Writing vows often result in writers block. Don’t worry I have you covered. When we work together I have a list of options you can cut and paste from. I also have a tried and true formulae that has resulted in a 100% success writing personal vows.
Looking to add some tradition or pizazz to your ceremony. This is the time to add it. You can have symbolic actions of hand fasting (my favourite), warming the rings, or sharing a cup of wine. There are endless possibilities here and I am always inspired by my couples’ story as to what sort of symbolic action is perfect for them.
A lovely moment between the couple where they place the ring on each other’s fingers. This can be done with words of promise or silently as you wish.
Pronouncement of Marriage – The Kiss!
The best bit where I declare you married and cheer with your guests as you kiss!
Signing of Wedding Book or Keepsake Ceremony.
Always a nice touch you can have your wedding party sign with you or have a book where we get all your guests to sign during the night. A lovely keepsake of the ceremony and something to treasure later with your official copy of your ceremony from me.
A calm moment where I get my couples to hold hands and face their guests. A good time to remind people to throw confetti and rose petals. I also like to tell people what is happening next.
Exit as a Married Couple!
It is good to have a space you can retreat to as you leave from the ceremony space. Take a few moments to yourself as a newly married couple and enjoy it!
Ceremonies can run however you choose. Hopefully this has been helpful to get you started and thinking about your day. If you are ready to book me as a celebrant, please do get in touch. Jessica