Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Christian Wedding Ceremony Complete Outline and Planning Guide for Your Christian Wedding Ceremony Share Flipboard Email Print Phocus / Getty Images Christianity Weddings Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament The Old Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More By Mary Fairchild Christianity Expert General Biblical Studies, Interdenominational Christian Training Center Mary Fairchild is a full-time Christian minister, writer, and editor of two Christian anthologies, including "Stories of Cavalry." our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Mary Fairchild Updated April 28, 2019 This outline covers each of the traditional elements of a Christian wedding ceremony. It is designed to be a comprehensive guide for planning and understanding each aspect of your ceremony. Not every element listed here has to be incorporated into your service. You may choose to change the order and add your own personal expressions that will give special meaning to your service. Your Christian wedding ceremony can be individually tailored, but ought to include expressions of worship, reflections of joy, celebration, community, respect, dignity, and love. The Bible gives no specific pattern or order to define exactly what should be included, so there's room for your creative touches. The primary goal should be to give each guest a clear impression that you, as a couple, are making a solemn, eternal covenant with each other before God. Your wedding ceremony should be a testimony of your lives before God, demonstrating your Christian witness. Pre-Wedding Ceremony Events Pictures Wedding party pictures should begin at least 90 minutes prior to the start of the service and be finished at least 45 minutes before the ceremony. Wedding Party Dressed and Ready The wedding party should be dressed, ready, and waiting in the appropriate locations at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Prelude Any musical preludes or solos should take place at least 5 minutes prior to the start of the ceremony. Lighting of the Candles Sometimes the candles or candelabras are lit before the guests arrive. Other times the ushers light them as part of the prelude, or as part of the wedding ceremony. The Christian Wedding Ceremony To gain a deeper understanding of your Christian wedding ceremony and to make your special day even more meaningful, you may want to spend time learning the biblical significance of today's Christian wedding traditions. Processional Music plays a special part in your wedding day and particularly during the processional. Here are some classical instrumentals to consider. Seating of the Parents Having the support and involvement of parents and grandparents in the ceremony brings a special blessing to the couple and also expresses honor to the previous generations of marriage unions. The processional music begins with the seating of the honored guests: Seating of the Groom's grandmotherSeating of the Bride's grandmotherSeating of the Groom's parentsSeating of the Bride's mother Bridal Processional Begins Minister and Groom enter, usually from stage right. If the Groomsmen are not escorting the Bridesmaids down the aisle to the altar, they also enter together with the Minister and Groom.Bridesmaids enter, usually down the center aisle, one at a time. If the Groomsmen are escorting the Bridesmaids, they enter together.Maid or Matron of Honor enters. If she is being escorted by the Best Man, they enter together.Flower Girl and Ring Bearer enter. Wedding March Begins The Bride and her father enter. Typically the Bride's mother will stand at this time as a signal for all of the guests to stand. Sometimes the Minister will announce, "All rise for the Bride." The Call to Worship In a Christian wedding ceremony the opening remarks that typically begin with "Dearly Beloved" are a call or invitation to worship God. These opening remarks will invite your guests and witnesses to participate together with you in worship as you join in holy matrimony. The Opening Prayer The opening prayer, often called the wedding invocation, typically includes thanksgiving and a call for God's presence and blessing to be upon the service which is about to begin. At some point in the service you may wish to say a wedding prayer together as a couple. Congregation is Seated At this time the congregation is typically asked to be seated. Giving Away of the Bride The giving away of the Bride is an important way to involve parents of the Bride and Groom in the wedding ceremony. When parents are not present, some couples ask a godparent or a godly mentor to give away the bride. Worship Song, Hymn or Solo At this time the wedding party typically moves to the stage or platform and the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer are seated with their parents. Keep in mind that your wedding music plays an important role in your ceremony. You may select a worship song for the entire congregation to sing, a hymn, an instrumental, or a special solo. Not only is your song choice an expression of worship, it's a reflection of your feelings and ideas as a couple. As you plan, here are some tips to consider. The Charge to Bride and Groom The charge, typically given by the minister performing the ceremony, reminds the couple of their individual duties and roles in the marriage and prepares them for the vows they are about to make. The Pledge During the Pledge or "Betrothal," the Bride and Groom declare to the guests and witnesses that they have come of their own free will to be married. Wedding Vows At this moment in the wedding ceremony, the Bride and Groom face each other. The wedding vows are the central focus of the service. The Bride and Groom promise publicly, before God and the witnesses present, to do everything within their power to help each other grow and become what God has created them to be, despite all adversities, as long as they both shall live. The wedding vows are sacred and express the entrance into a covenant relationship. Exchanging of the Rings The exchanging of the rings is a demonstration of the couple's promise to stay faithful. The ring represents eternity. By wearing the wedding bands throughout the couple's lifetime, they tell all others that they are committed to stay together and remain faithful to each other. Lighting of the Unity Candle The lighting of the unity candle symbolizes the union of two hearts and lives. Incorporating a unity candle ceremony or other similar illustration can add deep meaning to your wedding service. Communion Christians often choose to incorporate Communion into their wedding ceremony, making it their first act as a married couple. The Pronouncement During the pronouncement, the minister declares that the Bride and Groom are now husband and wife. Guests are reminded to respect the union God has created and that no one should try to separate the couple. The Closing Prayer The closing prayer or benediction draw the service to a close. This prayer typically expresses a blessing from the congregation, through the minister, wishing the couple love, peace, joy, and God' presence. The Kiss At this moment, the Minister traditionally tells the Groom, "You may now kiss your Bride." Presentation of the Couple During the presentation, the minister traditionally says, "It is now my privilege to introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. ____." Recessional The wedding party exits the platform, typically in the following order: Bride and GroomMaid or Matron of Honor and Best ManBridesmaids and GroomsmenFlower Girl and Ring BearerThe Ushers return for the honored guests who are escorted out in reverse order of their entrance.Ushers may then dismiss the remaining guests, either all at once or one row at a time.