Understanding The Wedding Ceremony
Whether you’re dreaming up your own unique chapel ceremony from scratch or using a standard format, becoming familiar with the order of a typical wedding ceremony is very helpful. You might have a good idea of how things will happen if you’ve attended or been in a few weddings.
Chances are you may remember the big beautiful windows in the wedding chapel, the luscious flowers, or lavish decor before you can recall the details spoken at the ceremony.
Check out this dreamy shoot at Laura May Chapel at Addison Woods, styled and photographed by Reed Gallagher Photography.
There can be special cultural and religious elements that may affect the ceremony or order of events, but you can also personalize the proceedings with your own touches—songs, readings, prayers, vows you’ve written yourselves, etc.—to put a meaningful and memorable stamp on the ceremony.
What you’ll find below is a traditional wedding ceremony order of events to get you familiar and serve as a starting point for your own wedding ceremony. Don’t feel like you need to include every step or stick to a certain time frame.
This is the part of the marriage ceremony where your bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle to assume their places at the altar (at Addison Woods, we have a raised altar in our chapel). You and your fiancé can each make your way to the altar separately, with your parents, or even hand-in-hand together. If you’re following a traditional Christian procession, the bride is traditionally escorted by her father, while the groom waits up front. For a Jewish procession, the groom’s parents walk him down the aisle, followed by the bride escorted by her parents. There are so many other unique ways of conducting the processional - comment below if you have any special processional traditions in your religion or culture that we may not be familiar with!
This outdoor ceremony was held under The Oaks at Addison Woods, photographed by Fleeting Photography.
Once everyone is in place, the officiant will say a few words of welcome everyone and to kick off the ceremony. This may ring a bell: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…”
Charge to the Couple
Next, the officiant will offer an introduction and some thoughts on marriage and the significance of the vows you are about to exchange to one another. This could be a brief recounting of your love story, words on what marriage means to you, or a statement about the ceremony to come and what it represents. Any readings or prayers being read by family or friends should happen right before this part of the ceremony, if you wish to include any.
This wedding ceremony featured simple decor such as white petals and a sash for the cross, included in your rental for your chapel wedding in The Woodlands. Emily Figuerelli Photography
Exchange of Vows
Your vows are the promises you make to one another. You can always recite the traditional vows—“to have and to hold, from this day forward”—or write your own. Consider custom vow books like the ones you can find on Etsy here.
Exchange of Rings
Now’s the time to exchange the rings. Typically, the groom puts the ring on the bride’s finger first, followed by the bride putting the ring on the groom’s. As you exchange rings, the traditional saying is, “With this ring, I thee wed”. We love working with Shannon Jewelers, who is local to The Woodlands and is family owned, just like Addison Woods.
Pronouncement of Marriage
It’s official! The officiant will say: “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Followed by…
… “You may now kiss the bride (or groom!)” It’s time to seal your marriage with a kiss! Make it a good one and don’t rush things —this is something your photographer won’t want to miss!
Credit: Reed Gallagher Photography
The officiant will wrap things up with a few last words and,if you’re holding a religious ceremony, a blessing.
This is the grand exit and the wedding recessional order is basically the reverse of the processional. The bride and groom exit the ceremony together as newlyweds, followed by the wedding party. Once the wedding party has exited the room, then guests exit the ceremony row by row to make their way to the reception.
To help with all of this, we recommend working with a wedding coordinator. At Addison Woods, require a day of wedding coordinator at minimum, because we understand how important their role is in your wedding day. For a list of Houston area wedding planners and coordinators, please reach out to us directly. We have a number of planners who we love working with and they are not only familiar with Addison Woods but also other Houston wedding venues you may be considering.
Credit: Reed Gallagher Photography