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Ceremony Basics


Photo by Feldberyl Images. Wedding of Cheryl and Greg.

As in a fashion show, a wedding ceremony, too, needs some choreography for it to run smoothly. Here are some ceremony basics for a wedding at a Christian or Catholic church.

As your wedding guests arrive, the ushers will show them to their seats in the church and provide them with a wedding programme of the church proceedings and songs to be sung.
The pastor or priest, who is the officiant, will stand at the centre of the altar, facing the guests, and ready to receive the bridal party.

The guests will remain seated as the groom followed by the bestman and the groomsmen enter the church. They walk down the aisle and stand to the right side of the altar. Once the music begins, the guests are invited to stand to receive the rest of the bridal party.

The standard order for a procession party is as follows:

  • Groom
  • Bestman
  • Groomsmen
  • Bridesmaids
  • Maid-of-honour
  • Ring bearer
  • Flower girl
  • Bride on her father’s right arm (or next closest male relative)

The bridesmaids and maid-of-honour will make their way to the left of the altar. The young ones, the flower girl and the ring bearer, may sit with their parents after the procession. When the bride reaches the altar, her father will lead her to the groom and take his seat.

At the altar, the ceremony is guided by the officiant and generally takes the following sequence.

  • Opening Remarks – the officiant invites and welcomes everyone
  • Exchange of Vows
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Signing Ceremony - The couple, their witnesses, and the officiant signs the marriage certificate.
  • Pronouncement – the officiant pronounces the couple husband and wife. The groom is invited to kiss the bride.

With Christian and Catholic weddings, the sequence of events may be interspersed with prayers, readings, and blessings from the bible, lighting of the unity candle, a short sermon with advice on love and marriage, and singing of hymns or songs of worship.

For this entire segment of the programme, you can make your wedding distinctive by having both sets of parents lead the bride and groom down the aisle, trade places with your officiant to face your guests or any other creative ideas. Do consult your officiant about such changes beforehand; discuss any changes during rehearsals.

Once the groom has kissed the bride, the wedding party starts its recession down the aisle with the women on the men’s right arms, in the following sequence:

  • Bride & groom
  • Flower girl & ring bearer
  • Bestman & maid-of-honour
  • Groomsmen & bridesmaids
  • Parents of the Bride and Groom

ExtraOrdinary Weddings Tip

  • For civil ceremonies, this procedure can be borrowed or re-designed accordingly
  • For seating, the bride’s family and friends should be on the left while the groom’s on the right. The first few rows are reserved for immediate family and VIPs.
  • Can’t find a ring bearer or flower girl? No worries, it is not compulsory to have one.
  • Some churches do not hold wedding ceremonies on Sunday, do check with the church and officiant’s availability. A popular alternative is Saturday.
  • Plan a rehearsal a week before the ceremony, and go through the sequence with them.

Related Images
Keywords: Ceremony, Vows, Wedding Planning

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