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Wedding Ceremony: An Overview

Although each ceremony will vary in length and style based on the religious and cultural traditions incorporated, there are many common elements in every wedding. Here is an overview of the typical wedding ceremony and what to expect during your own.

The Processional
Simply put, this is the part where everyone in the wedding party makes their way to the front of the church. Uncertain about who walks down the aisle when and with whom?  Check out our article entitled "The Procession" to clear up any confusion!

Giving the Bride Away
Once the bride and her father are standing at the front of the church, the officiant asks "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" The bride's father responds "I do" or "Her mother and I." He then turns to his daughter and lifts the blusher veil (if she is wearing one), kisses her on the cheek and joins his wife in the front pew. The congregation may be seated after the father has taken his seat.

Traditionally, the father of the bride gives the bride away. But sometimes death or divorce has changed the circumstances. The bride should choose whoever she feels the most comfortable with. She may choose her stepfather (if her mother is remarried), her brother, her grandfather, a close uncle, a close male friend, or even her mother to give her away.

In the case of a second marriage, it is still appropriate for the bride to be escorted by her father. Instead of asking, "Who gives this woman...?" the officiant may ask, "Who blesses this union...?" Alternatively, it is also quite common for second-time brides walk down the aisle with their grooms, with one of their children, or alone.

Beginning the Service
As the father of the bride and congregation are being seated, the officiant turns and walks to the altar followed by the bride and groom, the maid of honor and the best man, then the flower girl and the ring bearer. At this point the bride hands her flowers to her maid of honor. The officiant will then proceed with the dialogue for the wedding ceremony.

Exchanging Rings and Vows
When it is time, the best man hands the bride's ring to the officiant who blesses it and returns it to the groom. The groom then places it on his bride's ring finger on her left hand after repeating his vows. (Her engagement ring, if separate, should be worn on her right hand during the ceremony.)

Then the maid of honor hands the groom's ring to the officiant who blesses it and hands it to the bride. She places it on the groom's ring finger on his left hand after repeating her vows.
Finally after a blessing and a prayer - maybe a song or two, the minister says "I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride." The groom kisses the bride and the recessional begins.

The Recessional
You've kissed, you've been pronounced husband and wife, now how do you get from the front of the church into your limousine? The bride takes her flowers from her maid of honor and then the bride and groom leave the sanctuary, followed by the flower girl and ring bearer and then the maid of honor and best man. They are followed by the other attendants who step forward and pair off with one usher escorting one bridesmaid.

Next the mothers are escorted out, bride's mother first, and then the grandmothers, bride's grandmothers first. After the grandmothers, the guests are welcome to stand and file out from front to back.





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