How to Plan Your Wedding Ceremony from Start to Finish

Categories: Essential Wedding InfoPublished On: January 17th, 20234.8 min read

When it’s time to plan your big day, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the fun reception details: food, drinks, venue, music, photographer, and so on. But what about the wedding ceremony? Isn’t that why we’re all here? Although it’s only a short part of the day, it’s where you get to make your marriage #official — so don’t overlook it! With a few tips of the trade and a little bit of planning, you’ll have the perfect wedding ceremony together in no time. 

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Planning, planning, planning!

Here is where the wedding planning gets exciting! It’s best to not leave one of life’s most important events up to chance. After all, you and your partner only get one chance to say “I do” to each other — make sure it’s memorable!

Here’s everything you need to know to plan a wedding ceremony to remember.

Pre-ceremony

Schedule your ushers to start 30 to 45 minutes before the ceremony starts. You don’t have to plan out where all of your will guests sit but be sure to designate reserved seats for VIP guests. 

Other aspects to consider: Do you want your and your partner’s parents seated together or separately? Will they walk down the aisle before you, with you, or a combination of both? Would you like your ushers to hand out programs? If not, a chalkboard itinerary is perfectly acceptable! Clueing your guests into their evening plans is always helpful! These small-but-significant details allow for smooth execution during your rehearsal and your big day.

Processional

There are a lot of questions to answer about the order and pace of your ceremony processional. Here are a few to consider: 

  • How do you want to walk down the aisle? Will you be accompanied by a loved one or go solo? 
  • What about your partner? Will they enter alone or with a VIP?
  • In what order will your wedding party enter the ceremony?
  • Which songs do you want to play for the processional?
  • Will you have a flower tosser and/or ring bearer?

During the ceremony 

This is where you get to have fun — feel free to make this your own! Lean on your officiant’s expertise. They’ve likely done this a time or two before, so they might have suggestions for what works well and what doesn’t. 

You’ll also want to consider what feels right for you and your partner. Are there traditions you’d like to include? Any you’d like to omit? Will there be any readings and, if so, who will read them? 

If you choose a nontraditional or a very specific tradition, don’t be afraid to have your officiant explain to guests what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. An alternative option is to write it out in your program and tell your loved ones why it’s important to you. 

Recessional 

Here comes the happy couple! Now what? Think about where you and your bridal party should end up. Are you headed off to take formal portraits? Need to find grandma? Ready to hit the bar first? If you have a wedding planner or a venue coordinator, look to them to help you figure out what’s next on your wedding day timeline. 

And just for fun, here are a few bonus tips as you plan the ceremony for your big day:

Consider what you liked and disliked in the past

This likely isn’t your first rodeo — it’s just that, this time, you and your other half will be the ones at the altar! Think about the weddings you attended in the past. What have you enjoyed? Did you find anything strange or out of place? What did you see that was unique and cool? Your past experiences as a guest are your most valuable resources, so ask yourself: What do you wish others would’ve done differently? 

Lean on the experts

If you’ve hired a professional wedding planner and/or officiant, don’t be afraid to ask them for guidance. Oftentimes, they can provide you with a basic outline and you can tailor the ceremony however you’d like. If your officiant or wedding planner knows you and your future spouse well, they may even be able to provide suggestions that help make the ceremony feel more like “you.”

Make it yours

Don’t feel pressured to hold your ceremony to age-old traditions. This is the start of your next chapter, so don’t be shy — make it your own! If you prefer some traditions but want to throw in a few surprises, do it! If you want a ceremony that keeps your guests on their toes, go for it! This is your big day and should be executed exactly how you wish. 

Pick your tone

The music you choose will set the tone for the ceremony, so be sure to pick something that reflects who you two are as a couple. For instance, if you’re a laidback and fun-loving pair, pick a few upbeat songs for your processional and recessional. It’s hard to predict how you might feel at that moment, but try to go with your gut — you know what songs are best for you!

At the end of the day, this wedding ceremony is yours for the keeping, so make it your own. Whatever fits you and your partner best will ensure the ceremony feels natural and flows better for everyone. Pick some comfortable seats, select your favorite songs, welcome your guests, and enjoy the moment! You’ve got this!

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