Wedding Planning Guide

a sample wedding ceremony

More and more couples are playing a larger role in how their ceremony goes down—and we’re all for that! But most of us haven’t studied the ins and outs of wedding ceremonies, so that can lead to another problem: What does the traditional wedding ceremony look like?

We can help! Read through our sample wedding-ceremony script for a traditional, secular ceremony; we borrowed it from a member of our own team (with their blessing, of course). Use this example for inspiration to help craft your own script, guide your officiant, or simply copy and paste portions of the script as-is. We’ve scrubbed some of the more personal details but kept the rest to give you an idea of when and how to incorporate something uniquely “you” into your ceremony. After all, at the end of the day, your wedding is all about you two!

Wedding cake

Photo: Milou + Olin

Traditional Wedding Ceremony Script

The Introduction

Please be seated.

First, I’d like to begin by welcoming everyone and thanking each and every one of you for being here on this most happy of days. It’s no accident that each of you are here today, and each of you were invited to be here because you represent someone important in the individual and collective lives of NAME and NAME.

I truly can’t think of a better venue than _________ [“paradise” for a destination wedding, “this beautiful church” for a more religious affair, etc.] for an occasion that I know is not only monumental for the wedded-couple-to-be, but for all of us who are lucky to know and love them as individuals; but even more so as a perfect pairing.

The most remarkable moment in life is when you meet the person who makes you feel complete. The person who makes the world a beautiful and magical place. The person with whom you share a bond so special that it transcends normal relationships and becomes something so pure and so wonderful, that you can’t imagine spending another day of your life without them. For NAME, that happened about 20 years ago when s/he met me and we became best friends [add some humor if your officiant is a friend]. But about X years ago s/he met NAME, who is pretty wonderful, too. I know how deeply these two care for and love one another, and I feel privileged to be here today among all of you as a witness of their commitment to a lifetime of love for one another.

I think I’ve had the good fortune to meet most of you here today at some point or another, but for those of you whom I haven’t met, my name is [short biographical info about how the officiant knows the couple].


The Love Story

Now, NAME and NAME have asked that I keep this speech short, classy, and family-friendly, and politely asked me to leave out stories that are unflattering to either of them. So I’ve had to redline stories about previous flings...drugs or alcohol...encounters with the police...but I do feel comfortable saying, “I told you so.” Which is exactly what I said when I learned that NAME and NAME’s relationship was becoming truly serious.

As a third-party spectator to their developing love, it was extremely clear that the two of them represent a perfect pairing because each of them complements the other so well. They balance one another, and while each of them are tremendous individuals on their own, together they are even better. And being better together, as a team, a unit, and partners in crime, is what has been many years in the making and ultimately leads us to being here today, witnessing their commitment to one another in front of those they love most.

I wish I could tell you a single story about NAME and NAME that summarizes their relationship and how they enrich each other’s lives, and the lives of each of us, but the truth is there isn’t one single event that is a good encapsulation of what they mean to me, to each other, and to all of us. But what I do know is that both of them care deeply and passionately for each other; they protect each other; they make each other laugh and think outside themselves; that time magically seems to both fly and slow down when they’re together. They help each other in ways that are obvious and unnoticed, but always appreciated.

I also know that it’s not just anyone with whom you can have communication with simply a look, or remember the weirdest names of each other’s Lyft drivers, or surprise each other with reservations at a restaurant you’ve been eyeing for years, or say “I’m sorry” every time it’s warranted (...eventually). They do that for and with each other.

But it’s also my personal experiences with NAME and NAME that highlight the quality of their love. It doesn’t matter if I’m with them in person, or simply in a bizarre group text with them—when I’m engaging with NAME and NAME, I am always enjoying myself. And I am certain that that’s part of what makes them so special to each of us: how happy and contented we feel when we are with them. And what I wish for them on their wedding day is that their lifetime together as a team is one of complete contentment; full of those moments that they wish would never end, and that they continue to make one another smile and laugh as they make each of us do.

So, without further ado…


The Vows

Dearly beloved and honored guests:

We are gathered together here to join NAME and NAME in the union of marriage.

This contract is not to be entered into lightly, but thoughtfully and seriously, and with a deep realization of its obligations and responsibilities.

The grooms/brides/bride and groom have each prepared vows that they will read now.

[Exchanging of vows]

And now:

NAME, do you take NAME to be your husband/wife?
Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect him/her, forsaking all others, and holding only unto him/her forevermore?

[“I do.”]

And NAME, do you take NAME to be your husband/wife?
Do you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect him/her, forsaking all others, and holding only unto him/her forevermore?

[“I do.”]


The Rings

NAME and NAME will now exchange rings as a symbol of love and commitment to each other. Rings are a precious metal; they are also made precious by you wearing them. Your wedding rings are special; they enhance who you are. They mark the beginning of your long journey together. Your wedding ring is a circle—a symbol of love never ending. It is the seal of the vows you have just taken to love each other without end.

NAME, please place the ring on NAME’s left hand and repeat after me:
As a sign of my love
[“As a sign of my love”]
That I have chosen you
[That I have chosen you”]
Above all else
[“Above all else”]
With this ring, I thee wed.
[“With this ring, I thee wed.”]

And NAME, please place the ring on NAME’s left hand and repeat after me:
As a sign of my love
[“As a sign of my love”]
That I have chosen you
[That I have chosen you”]
Above all else
[“Above all else”]
With this ring, I thee wed.
[“With this ring, I thee wed.”]


The Good Wishes

To make your relationship work will take love. Continue to date each other. Take time to show each other that your love and marriage grows stronger with time.

It will take trust to know that in your hearts, you truly want what is best for each other.

It will take dedication to stay open to one another—and to learn and grow together.

It will take loyalty to go forward together, without knowing exactly what the future brings.

And it will take commitment to hold true to the journey you have both pledged today.


The Declaration of Marriage/"The Kiss"

And now by the power vested in me by _______________, it is my honor and delight to declare you married. Go forth and live each day to the fullest. You may seal this declaration with a kiss.

[Kiss]

I am so pleased to present the newlyweds, NAMES.

[Directional line about where guests should go or what happens next after the ceremony is finished, e.g., “Please join us downstairs for cocktails.” or “It’s time to celebrate!”]

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