An Easy-to-Follow Outline for Writing a Basic Wedding Ceremony Script

Aug 09, 2019

Couple getting married outdoors by a close friend

The increasing trend in wedding ceremonies among millennials is having someone close to the couple officiate the ceremony. It’s an exciting way to make weddings fresh and memorable for everybody in attendance, especially the bride, groom and the lucky person officiating the wedding.

But it can be a risky move.

Pastors have been trained for years and have performed hundreds of ceremonies. They never slip up and know how to conduct weddings as easily as they know how to recite the 10 commandments.

We’re here to get your officiant up to speed for a flawless ceremony. Like any public speaking event, most of the work comes the months and weeks prior to the wedding. Getting a basic wedding ceremony script together as early as possible will make for a great ceremony.

We’ll break down some of the steps that go into creating a memorable ceremony, what people do to make their ceremonies unique and, at the end, provide you with an outline you can customize together.

A word to the wise: If you’re the officiant and you’ve come across this, remember, it’s the bride and groom’s big day. Make sure you take as much of their input as possible. Now, let’s write the best wedding ceremony ever.

What Are the Steps in the Wedding Ceremony?

  1. The procession
  2. Opening remarks
  3. A message to the couple
  4. Guest readings (optional)
  5. The exchange of vows
  6. Wedding unity ceremony (optional)
  7. Ring exchange
  8. Pronouncement of marriage
  9. The smooch
  10. Closing remarks

This is a long version of a wedding ceremony. Not every step needs to be taken, but we highly recommend keeping 5, 7 and 8 in. Here’s how you can wrap all of this into a tidy, basic wedding ceremony script. 

How Do You Write a Wedding Script?

  • Set a time limit
  • Establish the number of people in the processional and walking order
  • Decide on the key points featured in the opening remarks
    • Ask everyone to take a seat
    • Thank everyone for coming
    • Ask them to put away devices. Ex. “The couple will share photos with you all at a later date.” This is why Facebook was invented, right?
  • Come up with a message for the couple
    • Personal story about the couple
    • What they need to know about marriage
  • Establish guest readers and what they will read (poem, Bible verse, etc.)
  • Strategically place moments for prayer (optional)
  • Decide how will the vows be exchanged 
  • What to say for the ring exchange
  • End with a celebratory closing remark

Following these bullet points will transform your seemingly basic wedding ceremony script into a tidy piece of work. Since your officiant needs all the help they can get, let’s jump into what some of this means. While the opening remarks and message are pretty straightforward, there are some finer details in the script that need special attention.

Again, if you’re the officiant, always consult with the bride and groom on these steps before diving into the full script. This will help you get a clearer message of what they want and the details they want you to either include or leave out. Let’s start with the readings. 

How Long Should Wedding Readings Be?

Each wedding reading should be kept under 1 minute. This gives the reader an optimal amount of time to present a Bible verse or short poem to the audience. It’s best-practice to have the bride and groom choose who will be reading and what they’ll be reading.

How Long Should Wedding Vows Be?

Weddings have changed a lot over the years, but what’s stayed consistent is the 1-minute rule of thumb for wedding vows.

If the person officiating the wedding isn't a pastor, it’s likely you will want a modern tone with your vows. There are hundreds of templates you can find online, but sometimes the bride and groom will want to write their own. 

Keep in mind that 1 minute is long enough to keep the attention of the audience and short enough that the bride and groom won’t stumble over what they’re saying, choking up at every passing sentence. 

There will be tears. Try to manage them with digestible, short-and-to-the-point vows.

What Is a Wedding Unity Ceremony?

A unity ceremony is a mini-ceremony tied into the longer, formal wedding ceremony. It symbolizes the bond that’s being created by two families through marriage. 

There are plenty of ideas for how to perform the best unity ceremony but here are 7 quick ideas that you can’t go wrong with, and don’t include lighting a candle:

  1. Planting a tree
  2. Mixing sand in a jar
  3. Group prayer for the bride and groom
  4. Handfasting (tying the bride and groom’s hands together)
  5. Jumping the broom
  6. Mixing a drink
  7. Burying the vows (after exchanging vows, obviously.)

Now it’s time to put together your script! But, before you open the blank canvas that is a Google or Microsoft Word document, copy and paste our outline below for a starting point. There’s nothing worse than writer’s block when scripting a ceremony.

Easy-to-Write Basic Wedding Ceremony Script Outline

THE PROCESSION

(Song)

(Bride entrance song)

Officiant: Please stand.

(Bride walks down the aisle.)

OPENING REMARKS

(Music stops)

Officiant: You may be seated. Good afternoon, everyone. (Bride’s Name) and (Groom’s Name) would like to welcome you…

1-2 minutes welcoming people to the destination of the wedding and setting the ground rules. No phones, no photography, etc. Introducing the bride and groom and asking the audience to come together in support of their unity.

MESSAGE TO THE COUPLE

Officiant: 

This is the meat of the ceremony. Quick weddings will skip this altogether, but it’s a good opportunity to explain the officiant’s relationship with the couple and why they were called here for the ceremony. It’s then the officiant’s job to get the bride and groom ready for their journey ahead. This message can be anywhere from 5-15 minutes, depending on the stories they tell and wisdom they inspire. 

READINGS

Officiant: (Bride’s Name) and (Groom’s Name) now invite their loved ones — (Reader 1) followed by (Reader 2) — to share a couple of readings.

(Title of the Reading)

Reader 1: (Short Bible verse, poem or song lyric)

(Title of the Reading)

Reader 2: (Short Bible verse, poem or song lyric)

Officiant:

Thank the readers and give the audience (if it’s a religious wedding) time to say a brief prayer to the couple. 

UNITY CEREMONY

Officiant:

Use this time to explain the purpose of a unity ceremony and what the couple has chosen to do. Making sure the audience knows why the couple has chosen this ceremony and what it means to the two families going forward, united by the couple getting married. 

Have a script ready for the unity ceremony, whether it’s lighting a candle or planting a tree. Explain what it symbolizes.

THE VOWS

Officiant:

Transition to the vows portion of the ceremony by introducing the first reader, bride or groom, or tell the audience if they’re saying their vows together.

Bride & Groom: Vows… 

Officiant: (Groom), please repeat after me.

(Bride’s Name), I take you as you are

Loving who you are now

And who you are yet to become

I promise from this day forward

To be grateful for our love and our life

To be generous with my time, energy and affection

To be patient with you and with myself

To love you completely

These things I pledge before you, our friends and our family.

Officiant: (Bride), please repeat after me.

(Groom’s Name), I take you as you are

Loving who you are now

And who you are yet to become

I promise from this day forward

To be grateful for our love and our life

To be generous with my time, energy and affection

To be patient with you and with myself

To love you completely

These things I pledge before you, our friends and our family.

EXCHANGE OF RINGS

Officiant: The ring is a simple symbol, yet it perfectly embodies the gesture it represents. It has no beginning and no end. A circle, for love that is given comes back around. Your rings are precious because you wear them with love. They symbolize your commitment in marriage. 

(Groom), as you place this ring on (Bride’s Name)’s finger, repeat these words after me:

This ring symbolizes my love for you

and the commitments we make today and every day.

(Bride), as you place this ring on (Groom’s Name)’s finger, repeat these words after me:

This ring symbolizes my love for you

and the commitments we make today and every day.

DECLARATION OF LOVE AND CONSENT

Officiant: (Groom), from this day forward, do you choose (Bride’s Name) to be your wife, your best friend, your only love … do you choose to live together, to play together, to laugh together, to work by her side and dream in her arms, do you choose to fill her heart and feed her soul, to always seek out the best in her, to protect her, always loving her with all your heart ‘til the end of your forever? If so, please say “I do.”

Groom: I do.

Officiant: (Bride), from this day onward, do you choose (Groom’s Name) to be your husband, your best friend, your only love … do you choose to live together, to play together, to laugh together, to work by his side and dream in his arms, do you choose to fill his heart and feed his soul, to always seek out the best in him, to protect him, always loving him with all your heart, ‘til the end of your forever? If so, say “I do.”

Bride: I do.

PRONOUNCEMENT

Officiant: (Bride) and (Groom), you have come here today of your own free will and in the presence of family and friends, have declared your love and commitment to each other and have each given and received a ring as a symbol of your promises.

By the power of your love and commitment to each other, and by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

(Groom), you may now kiss the bride. 

(Pause)

Friends and family, I now present to you Mr. & Mrs. (Last Name)!

(Processional song plays.)

  • Bride and groom walk down the aisle together
  • The wedding party leaves in the reverse order as they arrived
  • The officiant walks out

Time for the Reception

Whether you’re about to perform your first wedding ceremony or have your best friend officiate yours, remember there’s a reception afterward where you can cut loose and have fun. Writing a script can be daunting, but no one said having a successful wedding was easy. Now, on to the next order of business: Let’s make sure your best man knocks his speech out of the park.

And, of course, we have to say it: Don’t forget your groomsmen gifts! For those of you on a budget, we happen to have over 327 options that cost less than $25 each.



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