Ceremony structure

Who walks down the aisle first? Do we have to say I do? Can we skip the love story bit? Do we sign before the first kiss? How many songs should we choose?

When we begin planning your wedding ceremony, I will have some fabulous tips to share with you that will make your ceremony awesome. After all, it’s really the official start of your wedding and you just have to get it right!

While your ceremony should be unique and reflect you, there are a few basic elements that tend to stay the same. They might not be in this order. Here's what I mean:

A popular ceremony structure

1. Processional (or entry by the wedding party while music plays)

2. Welcome by your celebrant

3. Marriage and your love story (a reading might get popped in here)

4. Asking of intent (or the I do’s )

5. Making your promises and saying the legal vow

6. Exchanging rings

7. Declaring you married and the first kiss

8. Signing of certificates (while music plays)

9. Recessional (or exit by you, the newlyweds, while music plays)

10. Congratulations


Processional or entry by the wedding party

Traditionally a wedding ceremony begins with the playing of music, then the bride and her girl gang make their entrance while the groom and his band of boys wait at the end of the aisle.

But if you want to have the grand entrance of all the key players in your wedding, where each take their turn to walk down the aisle then stand or sit in their position, here you go, this order works:

· The groom’s mum and dad

· The groomsmen then best man (if they’re not going down the aisle with the bridesmaids)

· The groom

· The bride’s mum

· The flower girl and ring bearer/page boy

· The bridesmaids then maid of honour

· The father of the bride (or whoever the bride has chosen) with the bride


Every wedding is different and every couple is different. So let’s toss everything I've just said out the window – it’s your wedding so make it your wedding! What about this?

· The mums and dads walk in

· Your wedding party walk in together and stand on either side at the front (if you have a flower girl/flower boy/ring bearer – let them go first – they always get a loud aww from the guests)

· Then you and your partner walk in together


Or you can mingle with your guests until the ceremony start time then you and your wedding party move to where they have to stand or sit. Or the groom and groom (or bride and bride) make an entrance while their wedding party await them at the end of the aisle. I'm sure you see what I mean...mix it up,make it yours, make it fun if that's your thing or make it elegant and amazing.

Welcome by your celebrant

Once everyone is in their place, your celebrant will get things underway... Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…well that's how it might have started years ago. If that’s how you would like your ceremony to start then go with it, but if not, talk with your celebrant and let them know the things you would and wouldn't like them to write in your ceremony. Make sure you’re 100% happy with your ceremony because you don’t want any surprises on your big day.

Love, marriage and your love story

When I meet couples I ask them how they would like their ceremony to be. Answers often include – short, sweet, funny, not serious, romantic, family focused, no love story stuff, all about us, haven't really thought about it …


My job is to write a ceremony that is all about you and reflects you as a couple. Using the information you have shared with me, for example: how you met, what you love about each other, when and how the proposal happened, will help me write this section of your ceremony.


Asking of intent or the I do’s

Did you know that you don't have to say "I do". It’s not a legal requirement but it is a nice way to show your partner that you are choosing them, the person who you truly love, over all others. This is usually the first time in your ceremony that you both have to say something. (Phew I hear you say!)


Making your promises and say the legal vow

In Australia you must each say a legal vow. For example: I ask everyone here to witness that I, Kate Lee Smith take you, John Daniel Brown to be my lawful wedded husband/spouse. Your witnesses must hear you say the legal vow, then you can go to town and give your personal vow to tell your partner why you love them, how your life is better because of them and what you are promising to do (or not to do).


Remember, this is the moment in your ceremony where you can express your love – it’s not the time to share cringe-worthy stories that will have your guests grimacing or reeling from the information you've just shared.


If you don’t want to do personal vows…you don’t have to. I often get asked to ‘just add a few extra lines to the legal vow’.

Exchanging rings

For the ceremony, you might like to wear your engagement ring on your right hand. Why? Traditionally (I know tradition might not be your thing, but I do love this one) a wedding ring is placed on the finger first so it is worn closest to your heart. (Aww, see how lovely is that?)


When you give your partner their ring, your celebrant will usually say a few simple words for you to repeat like: With this ring I give you my love and my promise to always be there for you.


The moment the ring goes on makes for a great photo. When you place the ring on your partner’s finger, tilt their hand slightly towards the guests, so they can see what's happening and your photographer can capture that special moment.

Declaring you married and the first kiss

Right, by this point in your ceremony, you’ve said your vows and exchanged rings, which means your celebrant will wind everything up and say something like By the power of love I now pronounce you as Husband/Wife and Husband/Wife. Time to seal your marriage with a kiss!


That first kiss is an amazing point in your ceremony. It is one of the money shots for your wedding album. Try not to overthink it but do think about. How do you want that first kiss to be? Probably not a lot of tongue action, but romantic and sweet, and for at least five seconds so your photographer has time to snap several photos!

Signing of certificates

And that’s it! The deal is sealed, well almost, you need to make it totally official by signing the certificates along with your two witnesses who must be 18 years of age or older. You will both sign the certificates, then your witnesses, followed by your celebrant.


This is a time where some music playing will fill a potentially quiet space. I suggest you choose two songs - one that you love and one as a back-up in case the signing takes a little longer than you thought. Use this time to also take a few moments together and soak everything up before you head down the aisle as newlyweds.

Recessional or exit down the aisle as newlyweds

All done! Time to wrap up your ceremony and move onto the reception to party! Your celebrant will say some closing remarks, let your guests know what’s happening next like group photos, family photos, confetti toss – and then thank your guests for sharing an intimate and important moment in your life, and introduce you as the happily married couple/Mr and Mrs/Mr and Mr/ Mrs and Mrs…or whatever you’ve chosen.


To a happy upbeat song, it's time to walk down the aisle together followed by your wedding party then family and guests, with rose petals being tossed or bubbles blowing up into the air!

And that’s it! You’re married…hitched…and you’re happily ever after (and the party) starts.

And that’s it! You’re married…hitched…and you’re happily ever after (and the party) starts.


Thank you to my gorgeous couple Chris and Erica for letting me be a part of their wedding day at the beautiful Vines Resort in the Swan Valley, Western Australia. And a HUGE THANK YOU to the very talented Don Benson for sharing these photographs.


If you have any questions about structuring your ceremony, let me know. Happy wedding planning!

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Anne Miller Marriage Celebrant
Let me tell your love story
info@annemillercelebrant.com.au 
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