The Christian wedding ceremony is usually officiated by a Christian minister to join a man and a woman together in holy matrimony. The ceremony can be held wherever the couple prefers. Most Christian wedding ceremonies are held inside the church building where the bride and her family worship, but Christian weddings can also be held outdoors in a lovely garden or even on a beach by the ocean.
No matter where your ceremony is held, you will need to plan the wording of the ceremony, your vows and the itinerary of the service.
Introduction, Opening, or Invocation
After the bride is escorted down the aisle, the officiate typically announces the purpose of the gathering, indicates the names of the bride and groom, welcomes the guests, and solicits them to participate in the ceremony by their presence and, perhaps, their prayers.
Special Wedding Reading or Christian Wedding Song
These are optional but most Christian weddings incorporate a romantic wedding reading or love poem and/or a wedding song at least once during the wedding ceremony. Readings or poems can be recited from the groom to the bride or vise versa. Occasionally, the bride or groom may sing a special song to the other. Typically, however, the wedding reading or song is done by a special friend or relative of the wedding party.
The officiate explains the meaning of marriage and the significance of the bride and groom’s decision to join together in wedlock. This portion of the ceremony might also include religious readings by the officiate or by other persons who have been asked by the bride and groom to speak. The Main Body is sometimes divided into the Question of Intent, the Declaration of Consent and the Charge. The Question of Intent specifically refers to the officiate asking the couple if they come of their own free will to marry; it may also include the officiate asking if anyone has any objections to the union. The Declaration of Consent is when the bride, or the bride and groom, are presented for marriage by a parent or parents. The Charge is when the officiate explains the significance of the vows that the couple will exchange.
The bride and groom individually affirm their commitment to one another, in response to questions posed by the officiate; the responses usually take the form of “I do” or “I will.” This is the point at which they are officially married.
Exchange of Rings
The couple, usually repeating phrases at the officiates direction, declare their commitment to one another and place a wedding ring on the hand of their betrothed.
Many couples choose to have some type of unity ceremony. There are many options here. This ceremony can be performed at various times, sometimes during the main ceremony or sometimes at the end of the reception.
Closing/Announcement of the Couple
The officiate announces that the couple is officially wed. This may also include a final prayer or benediction, the officiate indicating that the groom may “kiss the bride,” and/or the officiate “introducing” the newly married couple to the guests.
This ceremonial order is usually preceded by a processional, in which the wedding-party members enter the ceremonial location, and is followed by a recessional, in which they exit.