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Newly Married Couple Leaving ChurchWhen you and your partner decide you want to get married, planning the ceremony can be both an exciting and daunting prospect. While a general wedding ceremony definition includes any ritual in which people make a public commitment to be married to one another, the specific details of each event vary widely. Before you dive fully into the planning process, it may be helpful to discuss a few frequently asked questions. 

What Is a Wedding Ceremony?

There are only two wedding ceremony requirements necessary to make it consensual and official. First, both parties must verbally declare their intent to marry. This is the "I do!" portion of the service in which they agree to the vows. Second, at the end of the ceremony, the officiant pronounces the couple married to everyone present. This signals the start of their lives together as a wedded couple. 

Of course, the wedding ceremony would be pretty short if the declaration of intent and the pronunciation were the only components. To extend the celebration and make it more meaningful, you and your partner must decide not only who is going to be involved in your special day but also what roles you will ask them to perform.

What Are Some Common Wedding Ceremony Components?

There are many ways to have a wedding. Most events share some basic wedding ceremony components, though. The wedding typically begins with a processional and a welcome from the officiant. A traditional ceremony may also include readings from poems, scripture or another text that holds special meaning for the couple. 

The second half of the ceremony often includes specific rituals that are important to the couple. For example, some couples light a unity candle to symbolize the melding of the two families. Then they exchange rings and vows to declare their intent. After the official pronouncement, the minister often invites them to share their first kiss as a married couple in front of the people gathered there.

Who Is Involved in the Wedding?

Every ceremony involves the two people getting married, the ordained minister who officiates the proceedings and at least one witness. Depending on the size of your wedding and what all it entails, you may delegate responsibilities to people in other roles:

  • Wedding planner
  • Attendants
  • Ring bearer
  • Flower girl or boy
  • Ushers
  • Parents of the couple
  • Photographer

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start when planning your event. If you want more specific guidance about where to begin, a professional planner, after a brief consultation, can provide several wedding ceremony examples that incorporate all the different roles you want to include. Giving people their own specific tasks at your wedding makes them an important part of your day. 

What Makes a Marriage Legal?

No matter how elaborate your wedding ceremony is, your union with your partner is not legally binding until the marriage license has been signed and submitted appropriately. This is the job of the ordained minister who officiates the wedding. Discuss the action plan for making this important step happen during the planning process.

Every state has its own specific rules about how to file a marriage license. For example, some require filing in the county where you live while others may require it to be filed in the county where you are married. There is also typically a deadline for doing so after the ceremony has occurred to secure its validity. Review the rules for your state so that you can make sure your officiant understands the local procedures, particularly if he or she lives in another state.

Having a firm understanding of everything that goes into planning a wedding ceremony can ease some of the stress and help you approach the process with joy. Make sure everyone knows what they are meant to do on your big day.

Category: Ceremonies


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