Wedding Planning Guide

Wedding Ceremony Order: A Step-by-Step Guide For Your Wedding Ceremony Outline

Whether you’re dreaming up your own wedding ceremony from scratch or using the traditional ceremony format of your house of worship, becoming familiar with the order of a typical wedding ceremony is very helpful. Most ceremonies follow a similar outline, so if you’ve attended (or been in) a couple of weddings, then you’ve probably got an idea of how things will happen.

Of course, different cultures and religions will incorporate other elements or have a specific order of events; also, you can personalize the proceedings with your own touches—songs, readings, prayers, vows you’ve written yourselves—to put a meaningful and memorable stamp on the ceremony.

What is the correct order of a wedding ceremony?

Here’s the good news: there is none! The wedding ceremony order is actually all dependent upon your beliefs and how you want to go about it. You definitely do not need to conform to preconceived notions of how a wedding ceremony should progress.

Feel free to mix it up and be adventurous, but you may want to keep the wedding officiant and wedding planner in the loop to help determine that the ceremony order fits within your wedding day timeline.

The Wedding Ceremony Outline for Your Wedding Style

Whether you’re more traditional or you’re looking for a modern twist to your ceremony, these outlines should help give you the inspiration to make your walk down the aisle one to remember.

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Traditional Wedding Ceremony Order

What you’ll find below is a traditional wedding ceremony order of events to serve as a framework for your own wedding ceremony–but don't feel like you need to include every step or stick to a certain time frame.


Ushers are responsible for welcoming the guests to their seats; this typically happens 30 to 45 minutes before the ceremony start time. Ushers should seat guests from the front rows to the back and also according to designated sides (left side of the aisle vs. right side of the aisle), if the couple has decided to do so.

This can be timed to coincide with the ceremony music start time (with live musicians or recorded music playing in the background). The exception: special guests who have been reserved seats in the front rows.

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In some traditional ceremonies, the immediate family is seated as part of the beginning of the ceremony, and in this order:

  • The grandparents
  • The groom’s mother
  • The groom’s father
  • And finally, the bride’s mother


The entry of the wedding party is often the highlight of the traditional wedding ceremony. This is known as the processional, as the members of the wedding party walk in and take their places at the front.

You and your fiancé can each make your way down the aisle separately, with your parents, or even hand-in-hand together. For a traditional Christian procession, the bride is escorted by her father, while the groom waits up front. For a Jewish procession, the groom’s mother and father walk him down the aisle together, followed by the bride escorted by her parents.


The officiant starts by welcoming the guests and wedding party for this special day. The content of the address will vary from officiant to officiant, but it usually includes what marriage stands for and how the ceremony will progress.

If you are including readings in your wedding, the officiants would introduce the close friends and family members providing those readings.


The vows are the promises you make to one another. You may want to recite the traditional vows—“to have and to hold, from this day forward”—or write your own. (If you’d like to write your own, follow our tips and tricks to writing the perfect wedding vows.)


The ring bearer then brings up the rings and they are exchanged. Keeping with tradition, the groom puts the ring on the bride first, followed by the bride doing the same for the groom. The officiant usually guides the couple in this process.

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The officiant seals the ceremony with the declaration of, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” or “husband and husband,” or “wife and wife.” Make sure your wedding photographer is ready to capture the first kiss!


The officiant seals the ceremony with the declaration of, “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” or “husband and husband,” or “wife and wife.” Make sure your wedding photographer is ready to capture the first kiss!

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Modern Wedding Ceremony Order

In a modern wedding ceremony–it’s all about what you as a couple want to include. So please personalize this wedding ceremony order as you’d like!


In a modern wedding, often guests arrive and have welcome drinks before finding their seats. There are no specific sides, and people can sit where they’d like.

You might still have a special time for the family members to come down the aisle before the wedding party and bride. Instead of the father of the bride accompanying the bride, you might see both parents walking with the bride, or the couple walking down the aisle together.


Like the more traditional wedding, you’ll still have an officiant begin the proceedings, most likely without religious references. They will still welcome the guests and get the ceremony underway.


In a modern wedding ceremony order, the couple often writes their own vows, and reads them from memory or written notes.


The officiant guides the couple in exchanging of the rings and pronounces the couple married, and that it’s time for the first kiss.


After the kiss, the newlyweds will lead their wedding party from the ceremony location and the rest of the guests will follow. The couple may then take photos while guests enjoy a cocktail hour before the reception.

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Jewish Wedding Ceremony Order


The rabbi leads the processional, followed by the bride and groom’s grandparents, who will sit on opposite sides of the aisle. The groomsmen enter next in tow with the best man.

The groom and his parents walk to the chuppah next. The bridesmaids move in, along with the maid of honor, the ring bearer, and the flower girl. At the end, the bride proceeds to the chuppah along with her parents.


The chuppah is a structure that represents the new home that the newlyweds will live in. The vows take place inside the chuppah. The bride and the groom have the option of going through with this part of the ceremony with or without their parents.


Once at the chuppah, hakafot, a form of ritualistic circling, commences. In the hakafot, the bride walks around the groom seven times which symbolizes a protective wall. In more modern Jewish weddings, the couples do the circling thrice each to symbolize an equal division of roles in the marriage.


The groom puts the ring on the bride while the ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, is recited. Traditional ceremonies demand that the blessings and the prayers be read in Hebrew, but more modern ceremonies use English as well to accommodate non-Jewish guests.


The seven blessings, or the “sheva brachot,” are chanted over the newlyweds. The officiants do the needful or you might find it prudent to choose certain immediate family members or guests to recite the blessings. After the blessings are concluded, the bride and groom drink wine from the same cup.


The most anticipated part of the ceremony, where the couple steps on a cloth-wrapped glass together and the guests yell out, “Mazel tov!”


This happens at the end of the ceremony, where everyone else exits in the opposite order that they entered in, with the newlyweds leading the way.

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Hindu Wedding Ceremony Order


Traditionally, the bride’s family is in charge of organizing the wedding ceremony. The celebrations are kicked off when the groom arrives with his entourage, the baraat. The groom will most likely be riding a decked-out mare while all his family and loved ones dance around him to lively music.

The ceremonial ride from the groom’s house to the wedding venue is all done on foot.


After arriving, the groom meets the bride’s parents and her closest confidants. Tradition dictates that he be given a good luck charm, the shagun (usually money or new clothes).


The bride enters, accompanied by male family members (usually uncles or brothers). They then walk to the father, who is waiting before the altar.


One of the most emotional moments of the entire wedding ceremony follows, where the father of the bride will give her away to her husband-to-be. This is a tenet of Hindu tradition, wherein the bride is not available to the groom until she has been offered to him.


The action shifts to the mandap, or the ceremonial tent, where the bride and groom exchange garlands. The ceremony commences with the priest chanting prayers in Sanskrit.


The sacred fire is lit with the aid of clarified butter and wood. This is done to invoke Agni, the god of fire in Hindu mythology, and to ask him to witness the union.


The groom’s scarf and the edge of the bride’s saree are tied together and they walk around the sacred flame seven times. After this, they are officially married.


This signals that the ceremony is at an end, as the bride and groom are showered with rice, saffron, and other choice items, symbolizing a prosperous married life.


After the rice shower, the bride and the groom bow to the gathered crowd. Their parents bless them with tender embraces and words of advice and the happy gathering proceeds out of the wedding area.

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Catholic Wedding Ceremony Order

A truly spiritual experience, Catholic weddings are held in a church and befit an air of solemnity and piety. A number of unique events differentiate it from traditional weddings, with ceremonies like the Liturgy of the Word, the Gospel Acclamation, the Homily, and many others.


The priest and the ministers walk to the altar first. Only then do the rest of the members of the processional enter, in the following order: groom, best man, groomsmen, maids of honor, bridesmaids, ring bearer, flower girl, and the bride and her father.


In a ceremony called the Liturgy of the Word, family members or designated guests read selected passages from the Bible.


Everyone stands as a selected Biblical passage is read by the priest, which is then interpreted by him in a sermon.


One has to abide by the set of vows decided by the Catholic Church. The way to go here is by affirming with the effective “I do.”


One of the main events of the wedding, the priest will sprinkle some holy water over the rings and pray over them. Then the bride and the groom put the rings on each other’s fingers.


Pre-selected guests will walk down the aisle to present the pair with gifts.


The bread and wine are symbolically transformed into the body and blood of Christ with the liturgy of the Eucharist. This is followed by the entire congregation being led into a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.


Congregation members gather to receive the Holy Eucharist. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you may abstain.


The priest tells the groom that he may kiss the bride and then the priest reads the nuptial blessing afterward.


The reverse order is followed when the wedding congregation and the newlyweds walk down the aisle and out of the church, with guests throwing rice at the couple.

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Wedding Ceremony Order for Second Weddings

It’s a blessing to get a second chance at this declaration of love, and for your second wedding ceremony, you can choose a traditional wedding outline, or a more pared-down version like we have included here. Minted can be your loyal companion during this time, with a bounty of ideas for casual wedding invites and wedding orders.


This is not a mandatory part of wedding ceremony orders for second weddings (or really any), but it’s a good way to involve your kids and other family members in this moment of your shared happiness.


Unlike a first wedding, there is less pressure to maintain seat orders or sides. The guests can seat themselves and be closer to the bride and the groom as they wish.


Most likely, you’ll still have an officiant involved who’ll kick off the proceedings by welcoming guests and starting the ceremony.


Vows will depend on what faith you are marrying under. For a comprehensive list of vow inspiration, head here!


The officiant greenlights the exchanging of the rings and pronounces the couple married, as they lean in for the picture-perfect kiss.


After the kiss, the recessional commences and everyone walks out in reverse of the order that they came in and the preparations for further festivities take place.

Nondenominational Wedding Ceremony Order with Unity Candle

Nondenominational weddings offer a lot of flexibility with regard to the exact wedding ceremony order and, as a result, couples who want modernity in their wedding tend to opt for that. Minted has you covered with its wide selection of nondenominational wedding invitations and programs.


The groom leads the processional, with the best man, groomsmen, bridesmaids, maid of honor, ring bearers, flower girl, and the bride with her parents.

The groom and the groomsmen can also enter from the side and wait for the wedding party to enter down the aisle. After the processional, the officiant begins the proceedings.


You might wish to assign your favored persons to read prayers, favorite passages from books, poems and so much more. It’s up to you how many readings you’d want.


Nondenominational ceremonies typically call for couples to light a unity candle, which, as the officiant will tell you, symbolizes unity and commitment. This is followed by a unifying ritual which can be anything that you feel is meaningful as a display of your love for each other.

It can be anything from handfasting to creating a time capsule to planting a tree to meaningful quotes.


Your vows can be entirely bespoke and you are free to express yourself as you would want to. Be sure to utter your declaration of “I do!” with the brightest smile possible.


The rings are put on next, a symbol of your fidelity to each other.


The kiss seals the deal. Ideal for moments that are conducive to photography. Congratulations to the newlyweds!


The bride and the groom exit the ceremony area to spirited celebrations by the attendees.

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Wedding Ceremony Outline FAQs

It’s normal to have a bunch of questions about your wedding. Making the process effortless to understand for your guests is a well-written wedding program. Make sure that all your guests have that handy.

How to Determine Your Processional Order

Your wedding ceremony order depends mostly on the kind of wedding you want to have. If it’s a traditional wedding, it’s preferred that you start with the oldest first (usually the grandparents), and then move on down.

But, a lot of people choose to do something different for their wedding.

How to Organize Your Bridal Party

Who goes down the aisle first? Where does the bridal party stand? Are the groomsmen waiting at the altar, or escorting the bridesmaids?

A lot of it depends on what you want for your day. It’s becoming increasingly common that only the bride and groom stand at the front, with the bridal party and groomsmen seated in the first row. But of course, some have all parties standing with the bride and groom.

Read our guide on the traditional wedding party processional order!

Do I Need an Order of Service?

It’s entirely up to you. Some folks like to print out orders of service or wedding programs so that the guests can expect some of the things in the ceremony.

If you’re planning an unconventional wedding, you can go ahead and design an order of service, but if it’s a conventional wedding, you could easily do without one. That said, wedding programs can be a beautiful touch to your day.

We’ve curated some wedding program examples here.

Wedding Ceremony Script Example

Now that you have a better idea about your wedding ceremony order, it’s also helpful to create or refer to a wedding ceremony script example for a more detailed layout of what will be said during your ceremony.

Head to our traditional wedding ceremony script as you continue to plan your wedding ceremony!