Familiarize the wedding order of events and you’ll avoid bloopers and fails, which certainly destroy the solemn and enchanting mood of a wedding carefully planned by the organizer. Read this guide that will talk about wedding processional order and other pertinent topics such as how wedding receptions, toasts, and speeches should be organized.
There’s no set standard for the correct order of wedding ceremony. It all depends on the culture of the bride and groom as well as the type of the wedding. Let’s take a look at the different traditional wedding ceremony order of events for Jews, Christians, Chinese, and civil unions.
Christian wedding ceremonies are practiced by Roman Catholics, Protestant denominations, and those involved in churches with no denominations. Here’s the typical order of Christian wedding ceremony:
The processional, otherwise called, the bridal march marks the beginning of a Christian wedding ceremony.
In most Christian weddings, the procession is accompanied by a musical piece chosen by the bride and groom played on the piano, violin, saxophone, guitar, or any other instrument. Here’s the typical organization of the traditional wedding processional order for Christians:
The groom’s parents-The groom’s parents are placed first in the order of wedding party for Christian couples. They sit in the first row on the left side of the aisle. The same rule applies if guardians are present instead because the groom doesn’t have parents
Mother of the bride-The bride’s mother marches after the groom’s parents. She takes the first row of the left seat on the aisle nearest to the priest, minister, or any other officiant
Officiant-The officiant of the wedding (pastor, priest, minister, bishop, etc.) marches next. He heads straight to the altar and waits for the bridal procession to finish while standing
Groom and best man-The groom comes next accompanied by his best man. They stand on the right or left side of the altar and wait for the bride to arrive
Bridesmaids and groomsmen-The bridesmaids then follow accompanied by the groomsmen. They separate after reaching the end of aisle. Bridesmaids sit on the left while groomsmen sit on the right. Nonetheless, some prefer to seat bridesmaids and groomsmen in one place
The maid/matron of honor-The maid/matron of honor follows. It must be understood that she walks alone without any companion unless in need of assistance due to an underlying condition
Ring bearers and flower girls-The ring bearers then march followed by the flower girls. The flower girls spread petals on the floor for the bride to walk over
Bride with his father-Ending the procession is the bride’s march with her father. The father then hand’s the bride to the groom. The groom and bride then proceed to march and kneel in front of the officiant
The officiant gives a short speech and addresses the key figures that made the wedding ceremony possible. Some officiants skip this component of the wedding event order but instead proceed to the mass proper or praise and worship.
In Roman Catholic wedding ceremonies, the singing of hymns and the priest’s sermon on the significance of the sacrament of holy matrimony happen after the words of welcome. However, in non-denominational and protestant weddings, more emphasis is placed on praise and worship and the preaching of the minister or pastor. This is also the point of the wedding ceremony where the officiant lectures the bride and groom on their responsibilities as husband and wife.
After the mass proper, the officiant prepares the couple for the exchange of vows. But before this, he will ask if anyone present in the wedding venue is against the marriage. If no one objects, the exchange of vows then follows with the officiant guiding the bride and groom. The bride and groom may follow after a speech made by the officiant or use one they made themselves for each other.
After the vows, the priest will ask for the rings which the bride and groom will fit on each other’s hands. It’s optional but some also do a unity ceremony which is either the lighting of the candles or the donning of cords to the bride and groom by the parents.
This is where the officiant announces the couple is married. Of course, things won’t be complete without the much-awaited wedding ceremony’s kiss.
The recessional is where the bride and groom exit followed by the maid of honor, the best man, the ring bearer, the flower girl, and other wedding parties who took part in the procession. A picture-taking session may be conducted at this point depending on the groom and bride’s preference.
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A significant number of Jews make up the total US population. And so, it’s interesting to look into the order of Jewish wedding ceremony. The following make up a typical Jewish wedding based on a wedding order of events template we found online.
No Jewish couple can be married without the agreement of their families or traditionally called the tenaim. This ritual is marked by the bride and groom’s mother breaking a plate together.
After the Tenaim comes the signing off of the Ketubah on a ceremonial table called the hatan tisch. Jews really mean business when it comes to marriage. The signing of the marriage contract comes first before the wedding ceremony.
In Jewish families who strictly follow tradition, the groom is compelled to cover his bride’s face with a veil after the signing of the ketubah. This is traditionally called bedeken, which is followed by the processional. The order of wedding ceremony processional starts with the rabbi/cantor, grandparents of the bride, grandparents of the groom, groomsmen, best man, the groom, bridesmaids, maid of honor, ringbearer, flower girl, and the bride.
The bride and groom then enter the chuppah (traditional Jewish wedding tapestry and symbolic of the home to be built and nurtured). There’s no standard wedding ceremony entrance order prescribed here. The rabbi or cantor sings the baruch haba and blesses the bride and groom. The bride circles the groom seven times before both drink from the cup held by the rabbi or cantor.
After the singing of the baruch haba, the wedding ceremony proceeds to the ring ceremony. The groom inserts the wedding ring on his bride’s finger while reciting his marriage vows.
As we said earlier, Jews mean business when it comes to marriage. This is why their marriage contract, traditionally called the ketubah, isn’t only known to the parties concerned. The rabbi or cantor takes the ketubah and recites it in front of the crowd.
Next to the reading of the ketubah is the speech of the rabbi or cantor as well as the bride and groom’s parents. This is where suggestions for rearing up a family are discussed and personal blessings are relayed.
The seven blessings are an integral part of the Jewish wedding ceremony. These are either sung or recited in Hebrew or plain English. The rabbi, cantor, the parents, and even close associates may recite the seven blessings for the bride and groom.
Jerusalem has a great cultural, religious, and historical value for the Jews. It’s destruction in the past has left a mark in Jewish history. And to commemorate this, the glass of wine used during the recitation of the seven blessings is smashed into several pieces.
A recessional follows the breaking of the glass. Here’s the usual bridal party order for the recessional-bride and groom, bride’s parents, groom’s parents, the grandparents, ring bearers and flower girls, best man and maid of honor, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and rabbi or cantor.
Asians, similar to the Jews, thrive the US in large numbers. Out of these, Chinese nationals are the most numerous. Families who still closely observe their grassroots even after staying in the US opt to do the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony.
A Chinese wedding ceremony lasts throughout the day. This is made up of different events or rituals ordered from early morning up to the evening:
The bride and her family wakes up early to prepare for the groom’s arrival. They eat breakfast (traditionally called Sibling Feast) consisting of sweetened rice dessert cooked with lotus seeds, dried magnolia petals, dried longan, fish, meat, and vegetables.
The bride then to groom herself with the help of a good luck woman designated by her family. This good luck woman tends to the bride’s clothing, makeup, and hair. Note that the good luck woman plays a significant part in the bridal party order of entrance for Chinese couples as she might escort the bride during the trip to the groom’s house.
The groom’s early morning routine isn’t as complex as that of the bride. He eats the usual breakfast with his family. After eating breakfast, the groom makes preparations to fetch the bride using the hua jiao (chinese bridal sedan chair).
The groom and his groomsmen leave the house to fetch the bride. The lighting of the firecrackers and the iconic sound of the gong marks the start of the procession. The order of wedding ceremony walk for getting the bride in Chinese weddings is simple. At the front are the groomsmen, musicians, and lion dancers followed by the palanquin, groom, and a male child.
Upon arriving at the bride’s house, the groom plays some wedding gate games with the bridesmaids. These games are designed to be tricky in order to test the groom’s resolve in shouldering a married life.
Once the games are done, the groom gives some wedding gifts to the family of the bride. The groom enters the house and pays courtesy. The bride’s brother or the good luck woman then opens the door of the hua jiao as the groom and bride exit the house.
Another procession takes place after the bride enters the hua jiao. At this time, the order of entrance for wedding is made up of bridesmaids, the groomsmen, the bride’s good luck woman, and a male child.
Firecrackers will be lit up again and mark the arrival of the bride at the groom’s house. The groom’s family will be waiting at the entrance wherein a carpet is laid on the aisle. Before both enter, the bride must step over a ceremonial saddle or light a ceremonial torch. Both of these are required to chase away bad luck.
Upon entering, the groom would wait at the family altar where the wedding ceremony will take place while the bride proceeds to a specially arranged room. She changes her outfit and then meets the groom.
The bride and groom meet at the family altar. They pay homage to heaven and earth by kowtowing. After this, the couple serves tea to the groom’s family. The wedding ceremony culminates with the groom and wife bowing and offering wine, sweetened rice, or any other ceremonial food to each other.
The bride and groom enter the bridal room. This is where the groom is allowed to lift his bride’s veil and glance at her face. Afterward, both drink from a cup of wine interlinked by a red thread and then exchange cups.
The wedding banquet is integral to a Chinese wedding. It’s not only to celebrate but to publicly announce that a couple is legally united. The groom’s family arranges the wedding banquet. In here, gifts and further blessings are given to the bride and groom.
Some opt for a civil wedding. Civil weddings are budget friendly and don’t require a lot of planning. After all, for marriage to be legal, what’s needed is only the signing of the marriage contract.
Traditional wedding ceremonies are just solemnizing elements that can be replaced by a much simpler gathering officiated by the registrar or any other official prescribed by law to oversee a civil union. Here’s a typical civil wedding ceremony order of events.
Processionals are sometimes done at civil weddings. The order of wedding party entrance for civil unions is exactly the same for Christian unions-groom’s parents, mother of the bride, and so on.
After the processional, the registrar and parents of the bride and groom give a brief speech. After this, the soon-to-be newlyweds proceed to the signing of the marriage contract.
The wedding reception is the final highlight of a wedding ceremony. This requires careful planning as much as the wedding ceremony itself. Here’s the order of wedding reception program that must be followed:
Guests will be tired and hungry after attending the wedding ceremony. Meals must be served first before carrying out fun activities during the wedding reception.
Speeches, cake-cutting ceremonies, and toasts are the second part of the wedding reception order of events. Families, close relatives, and friends can then give their speeches to the bride and groom after or during the dinner. When all wishes have been relayed, the cake-cutting ceremony of the bride and groom then follows. The crowd then proceeds to offer their toasts for the bride and groom.
No wedding reception will be complete without a dance. The order of dances at wedding depends on whether the ceremony is a Jewish wedding, Christian wedding, Chinese wedding, etc.
As we said, speeches must be a part of wedding receptions. It’s meaningful for the bride and groom to hear the wishes and suggestions from family members, friends, and close relatives. But who goes first? Here’s the standard speeches order at wedding:
Mother/father of the bride
Mother/father of the groom
A relative of the bride or groom
A close associate of the bride
A close associate of the groom
Any other person who knows the bride and groom
Dances at the wedding may depend on what special dances the bride and groom want to include. Here’s a more in-depth discussion of the standard order of dances at wedding
The first dance. This is the key first dance between the bride and groom, which is intended to start off the dancing.
Father of the bride/Mother of the groom dance
Any other special dances the bride or groom might want to have with family members (stepparents, etc)
The wedding party is called out onto the dance floor
Everyone gets to dance!
Encouraging members of the wedding party to join the dance floor can help break the ice and encourage others to start dancing too.
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It also pays to figure out the order of how food will be serviced to the guests. A good example order of service wedding would be to start with the appetizers. It’s important to avoid serving wine early to avoid guests from getting drunk and causing a commotion before the important activities in the wedding reception initiate.
The main course must be served after the appetizers. Of course, in simple wedding receptions, the order of service for wedding will start with this instead of the appetizers. Wine can be served at this point. However, be sure to limit the consumption of guests to light drinks.
Finally, the wedding cake must be served but only before the cake cutting ceremony has happened. Note that cake used for the cutting ceremony might not suffice and so it’s smart to have extra cakes ready.
The receptional toast follows the cake-cutting ceremony of the bride and groom. Further speeches can be made here. Following the standard order of toasts at wedding, the best man gives his toast, followed by the maid of honor, one of the bridesmaids, and one of the groomsmen.
Putting up a wedding sign can help guests prepare for your order of events, especially in cases where you might have an extended wedding or unusual activities. Wedding signs will also help the guests confirm that they have attended the right wedding reception.
Event venues can create custom wedding signs upon request. However, if the bride and groom want to make sure that the sign is really catchy and fits the tone of wedding reception, then signage and illustration companies are more than happy to help.
Many event planners invest in business insurance that can help them ensure that the bride and groom's special day goes off without a hitch. In addition, however, the soon-to-be newlyweds may need their own insurance coverage, including life insurance policies, health insurance, and more. Compare quotes by clicking the “Get Quotes” button on this page.
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