Religious Wedding Ceremony Guide: Order of Events

All wedding ceremonies tend to share the same basic order, but there are also many differences. Here's a rundown of the most common religious ceremonies.

religious wedding ceremony guide
Photo by Dove Wedding Photography

Roman Catholic Ceremony

  • These wedding ceremonies—which must take place in a Catholic church—often occur during a nuptial mass, which lasts from 45 minutes to an hour.
  • They may be held at any time as long as they don't conflict with the weekend mass schedule, with the exception of several holidays during Easter week—Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
  • Introductory rites are followed by the Liturgy of the Word, in which the couple's selections are read.
  • Afterwards, the priest gives a brief homily concerning marriage.
  • The rings are blessed and exchanged after the Declaration of Consent, and the vows are taken.
  • Afterwards, the mass continues with the Liturgy of the Eucharist and concluding rites.

Eastern Orthodox Ceremony

  • Several rituals are preformed—each three times to represent the Holy Trinity—during an Eastern Orthodox ceremony.
  • The priest blesses the rings and places crowns on the heads of the bride and groom, lit candles are held during the ceremony, and, after a Gospel reading, the couple shares a cup of wine.
  • Then the congregation sings "God Grant Them Many Years" while the couple circles the ceremonial table, hand in hand.
  • The wedding ceremony, which takes place during a mass, is similar to the Roman Catholic wedding ceremony.

Protestant Ceremony

  • Based on the Book of Common Prayer, the Protestant wedding ceremony is a fairly short service, beginning with the couple welcoming wedding guests and the Prayer of Blessing.
  • Scripture passages are read before the Giving in Marriage, when the couple's parents give their affirmation.
  • The congregation responds, vows and rings are exchanged, and the Lord's Supper is celebrated.
  • Then the couple lights the Unity Candle, and the wedding ceremony concludes with the Benediction.

Jewish Ceremony

  • Most Jewish wedding ceremonies are held in a synagogue, but this is not a requirement.
  • The wedding ceremony cannot take place on the Sabbath, during Passover, or on other holy days.
  • The Seven Benedictions are recited and the bride and groom drink blessed wine.
  • Then, rings and wedding vows are exchanged, the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) is read, and the groom smashes a ritual wineglass with his foot.