Wedding Officiant Help Desk

Tips and Scripts for the Wedding Emcee and Officiant

Wedding Ceremony Script
Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

What is the Traditional Structure of a Wedding Ceremony?

A wedding ceremony is filled with time-honored traditions, symbolism, and rituals. While couples can customize their weddings to reflect their unique style and love story, most ceremonies follow a Structure of a Wedding Ceremony and flow organically developed over decades. Understanding the traditional outline can help you thoughtfully plan a meaningful event.

Here is a detailed overview of the standard Structure of a Wedding Ceremony, including some special elements and Ceremony Order of Events you may want to incorporate:

Pre-Ceremony Announcement Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

The pre-ceremony is a chance to set the tone and get guests settled in before the bride’s grand entrance. The officiant makes any necessary announcements to the audience and reminds guests to silence their cell phones. They may also formally ask guests to stand when the bride enters to honor her arrival. This is an opportunity to share any special instructions so guests are prepared for ceremonial rituals ahead.

Processional

The processional officially signals the start of the ceremony as the wedding party proceeds down the aisle to music. Traditional weddings have the groom, groomsmen and officiant waiting at the arbor before the pre-ceremony announcements, so they are there ready for the arrival of the bridal party.

The ring bearer and flower girl sprinkle petals as they walk down the aisle, followed by the bridesmaids, and the maid of honor. There may be a change of song before the bride is escorted by one parent or both.

Welcome - Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

After the processional concludes, the officiant formally welcomes everyone and states the purpose for gathering today to witness this marriage. In Australia this is the perfect time to mention the officiant’s name and both couple’s full names as the legal requirements state.

Acknowledgment of Country

If appropriate, the officiant may open the ceremony by thoughtfully acknowledging the land’s traditional custodians. This pays respect to indigenous history and heritage. Honoring the native people who resided on the land long before colonial settlement brings awareness to their sacred connection. This reflection recognizes the past and brings hope for unity in the future between all people.

Acknowledgement of Family Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

The officiant warmly acknowledges immediate family members from both sides, especially the couple’s parents and grandparents. This is a chance to sincerely thank them for their love, guidance, and support of the bride and groom standing before them today. This is important to have for a Structure of a Wedding Ceremony.

Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

Acknowledgment of Wedding Party

The officiant formally introduces and wholeheartedly thanks members of the wedding party for their friendship, guidance, and participation in standing up with the bride and groom on their special day. 

Acknowledgement of Family and Friends who can't be there - Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

The officiant may acknowledge and recognize loved ones who have passed or could not physically attend the wedding ceremony. Parents, siblings, grandparents, and absent close friends can be named and warmly acknowledged, or a more general acknowledgement of absent friends can be taken. This is an emotional opportunity to honor cherished people who deeply wished they could witness this marriage firsthand. 

Couples' Individual Stories Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

The officiant shares a short summary of fun details about each partner’s background, upbringing, childhood interests, and accomplishments. This provides a humerous brief history for family members and friends to reflect on.

First Impressions - Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

A Structure of a Wedding Ceremony can include fun and lighthearted element is having the officiant read aloud the entertaining story of the couple’s first impressions of each other. Amusing mishaps, endearing descriptions, and embarrassing incidents from their first interactions and dates are described. Laughter fills the air as guests delight in learning how the relationship began unfolding. This is also a good time to mention what they both had as their Tinder profile pics 🙂

Reading #1

It is traditional to include 1-2 carefully selected readings reflecting love, relationships, unity, or marriage during the ceremony. Close friends or relatives are often gifted with reading well-chosen passages or poems aloud. Their selections set an emotional, optimistic tone, and the insightful words resonate with guests.

Proposal Story

Sharing the heartwarming proposal story always adds a personal highlight to the ceremony. The officiant enthusiastically describes how, when, where, and why one of the newlyweds popped the question. 

Reading #2

A second reading is not super common, but can be included. Carefully selected poems, religious verses, or song lyrics can be read by a friend or family member. This is often the place for a religious reading in an interfaith wedding. As a civil celebrant I usually opt for another person to read any religious exerpts.

What Marriage Means to the Couple – Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

Using our Guide to Officiating, you’ll see the officiant explains the significance of marriage according to the couple and what it means to them, collectively and separately. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone else says marriage is, it is what it means to them personally. This may include cementing their lifelong partnership, bringing their families together, embarking on parenthood, or cherishing a lover and best friend.

Marriage According to the Law

The officiant states the legal definition of matrimony and the rights and obligations marriage entail under the law of that Country or State. This confirms the couple fully understands the legal commitment they choose to enter into according to the law.

Eg. “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. 

Before you are married in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. 

Marriage, according to the law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

Ritual

Meaningful rituals can also be included in the ceremony, such as a handfasting ceremony, ring warming ceremony, quaich ceremony, sand ceremony, unity candle lighting, tree planting, or gift exchange. These traditions often represent two separate lives now joining seamlessly as one family. The symbolism resonates with all and adds an elemnt interactive personalization.

The Asking (I Do’s)

The highlight and climax of every structure of a Wedding Ceremony is the pronouncement of vows followed by the time-honored exchange where each partner answers “I do” to enter marriage willfully. The officiant guides the couple through this sacred rite of passage marked by the classic call and response.

Processional

Personal Vows Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

In addition to the traditional vow promises, a great Structure of a Wedding Ceremony for most couples now exchange intimate, personalized vows speaking from the heart in their own genuine words. Partners thoughtfully craft these sentiments in advance, sharing why they chose each other and what their enduring love signifies. It is nice to offer vow writing guidance to the couple, give them individual feedback, and print the personal vows off for the couple so they look nice in the photos on the day.

The Ring Exchange and Legal Wording

While looking joyfully into the eyes of each other and placing wedding bands upon fingers, in Australia the couple must repeat the legal wording whispered by the officiant.

Eg. “I call upon the persons here present, to witness that I

(FULL LEGAL NAME OF PARTY 1)

take you (FULL LEGAL NAME OF PARTY 2)

to be my lawful wedded wife (OR husband / wife / spouse / partner in marriage.)”

The Pronouncement and Kiss

With the vows declared and rings exchanged, guests finally hear the officiant’s long-awaited pronouncement: “I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss!” The newly pronounced couple seal their marriage with an enthusiastic kiss while all cheer. This milestone moment is worth the wait.

The Signing – Structure of a Wedding Ceremony

The newly pronounced couple and officiant sign the marriage license during the ceremony along with 2 witnesses as music plays throughout. In Australia, these witnesses can be friends or family members, who are over 18 and have understood the ceremony. After signing, let the photographer take a photo with the couple, the witnesses and their certificate. Then pass the bride her bouquet and head back to the ceremony positions.

Post-Ceremony Announcements

Before the recessional, the officiant shares pertinent logistics about what happens post-ceremony. Things to mention are the reception location, bar openings, special activities, games, family photos and where, that guests are invited to personally congratulate the newlyweds and enjoy cocktail hour until reception events begin. Also if you are not going to be taking on the master of ceremonies roile at the reception, introduce the person who is and get them to give everyone a wave. Also inform guests to have their flower petals / confetti / or bubble blowers in hand.

The Future

A final section of the ceremony looks optimistically towards the couple’s future together and provides an uplifting, forward-looking closing sentiment. 

The Recessional

The newly married couple gleefully exit back down the aisle together, commonly to an upbeat recessional song. They may pause for an intimate kiss halfway up the aisle before heading to an open location nearby ready to greet their guests. The wedding party follows the couple, followed by guests row by row.

Group Photo

As guests complete passing on their congratulations to the happy couple, now is a good time to announce the group photo. Work in with the photographer to help capture a large photo of the entire group. Then the bride, groom, and both extended families gather for priority photos just after the ceremony concludes.

This is the structure of a traditional modern wedding ceremony and contains an assortment of symbolic rituals and intimate moments perfectly placed within the flowing outline. From time-honored traditions to personalized modern infusions, couples can thoughtfully craft a unique ceremony sequence that suits their style while upholding the integrity of the marital rite of passage. For more guidance on wedding traditions, Check Out an article I wrote for Polka Dot Wedding

Special Thanks

Photographer: (open in new tab)
Venue: (open in new tab)
Celebrant: Marry Us Gary

Marriage Celebrant

Gary is dedicated to ensuring that wedding officiants and wedding emcees like you excel in creating unforgettable wedding experiences! With a passion for celebrations, he is an enthusiastic, down-to-earth, and fun Wedding Celebrant and Professional Wedding MC, operating in Australia.
 
Count on Gary to provide expert guidance and a relaxed approach to help you deliver remarkable ceremonies and receptions. His goal is to empower you to curate the best possible wedding day for couples, where every detail is thoughtfully arranged, and the party atmosphere is electrifying!