= Bride =Both
= Groom = Worksheet


Your wedding officiant is one of the first people you should contact when planning your wedding date. Many clergy require a period of pre-marital counseling before they will agree to perform the ceremony, and this must be worked into your schedule before making final plans. Nine months is not too far in advance to consult your clergy.

Interfaith marriages are not uncommon, but some clergy will not bless them. When clergy from two faiths officiate, you must coordinate two schedules, so make arrangements as early as possible.

Even though marriage is a rite of the church, it is also a civil matter governed by the state. The ceremony can be held in a club, hotel, park, garden or any number of places as well as traditionally in a church. It may be presided over by a clergy person, judge, justice of the peace, and others...check your own state laws. Some clergy will permit visiting clergy to perform the ceremony in the church in which they are the officiant, others will not.

When the location for the ceremony is determined, ask about rules concerning decorations, times, photography, music, dress, etc...many churches will give you a written copy of rules.

Some churches have set rates for clergy for performing the ceremony, others leave it to the discretion of the groom. The check is usually made out to the individual, not the church. There may also be set rates for director, sexton, organist, etc., and you may be required to hire specific staff people.

Some churches will not permit the use of the piano/organ except by their own musicians. If "canned" music is to be used, check for electrical outlets, and plan to provide your own equipment.

Blood tests are required in most areas so allow yourself time for this before applying for the marriage license. The license usually must be obtained in the county in which the marriage is to take place...check local laws and waiting time. The license should ideally be given to the officiant at the rehearsal, but may be given to him/her just before the wedding. The best man takes care of the license on the wedding day.

Some religions permit female clergy, and others do not. If you plan to use a female clergy person, check the rules of the church.

A typical ceremony may proceed as follows, but it is important to remember that the bride and groom's wishes take precedent over tradition, and there is no single right way.

  1. Candles are lit 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time for the ceremony to begin by one or two groomsmen.
  2. Music is played beginning at the time the candles are lighted.
  3. The first row in the sanctuary is not used for seating unless there is a partition in front of the pew or there is a severe shortage of space.
  4. Grandparents of the groom are seated in the third row on the left (facing from the pulpit toward the back of the church) unless the parents of the groom are divorced...then they are seated on the fourth row.
  5. Grandparents of the bride are seated in like manner on the right side of the church.
  6. The parents of the groom are seated in the second row on the left unless divorced...then the mother of the groom is seated on the second row, the father on the third row and grandparents on the fourth row. Often the mothers (or both parents) will light the side candles of the unity candle just prior to being seated. The groomsman escorting the mother should carry a candle and a lighter, discretely light the candle when in front of the unity candle, hand it to the mother, and step aside. The mother will light one side candle. The groomsman will then escort the mother to the seat assigned. The father follows immediately behind the mother.
  7. The mother of the bride is seated in like manner on the right. After the mother of the bride is seated, no guests are seated, but latecomers may be quietly directed to seats in the back or down side aisles.
  8. If a runner is used, it may be unrolled at this time.
  9. The groom, best man, and clergy usually enter from the side or front when the processional music begins.
  10. The bridesmaids and groomsmen enter (there are many ways for the processional to enter - bridesmaids and groomsmen may enter together, groomsmen first, followed by bridesmaids, alternately, etc....whatever the bride wants.
  11. The maid/matron of honor enters followed by the ring bearer, and then the flower girl.
  12. The bride and her escort enter with the bride holding her escort's left arm. The mother of the bride should stand to signal to the guests to do likewise - when the mother sits down, the guests will follow suit.
  13. The actual order of the ceremony will be determined by the officiant, bride and groom, taste, tradition, etc.
  14. After the ceremony, the bridal party (usually in pairs - bridesmaid/groomsman follows the bride and groom to the back of the church.
  15. A designated groomsman returns to escort the mother of the bride, followed by the father of the bride to the rear of the church. When the mother is out, designated groomsmen will escort mother of groom, and then grandparents out in like manner.
  16. All guests may then leave.

 Basic Plan (calendar)  <<  Previous chapter  Next chapter  >>  Flowers and decorations  

Worksheets available (click on the blue arrow to the right of the file to download it below)
 GWedOfficial.xls = Clergy/officiant
 Sexton.xls = Sexton/janitor/maid (cleanup)
 WedLoc.xls = Wedding location

Edna S,
Aug 15, 2013, 10:34 PM
Edna S,
Aug 15, 2013, 10:33 PM
Edna S,
Aug 15, 2013, 10:32 PM