The third part of the marriage ceremony is where the actual "wedding" occurs - it is where you officially become a married couple! Here are the activities or "Elements" that make up Part 3 of a wedding ceremony. Each is accompanied by a brief description of the Element and its role in the ceremony, including whether the Element is "required", "usually included", or "optional" in a ceremony. Any "required" Elements must be included in your ceremony. "Usually included" Elements are used in most (but not all) ceremonies. "Optional" Elements are those that are used less frequently in ceremonies.

Except for Readings and Rituals (which can occur almost anywhere in a ceremony) the Elements are arranged in the general order they would occur in a traditional wedding ceremony, but feel free to rearrange the order according to what works best for your ceremony. Just click the links to go to various selections for each Element.

Vows (usually included, but required if not using Expression of Intent)
The Vows are one of the most (if not the most) memorable parts of the ceremony. Here, you are making your solemn promises of what you are willing to do for one another.

Blessing of the Rings (optional)
Although the Celebrant's Blessing of the Rings implies a religious or spiritual presence, included here are both some religious blessings and some secular words expressing the importance and symbolism of the rings.

Exchange of the Rings (usually included)
The words you choose to speak to each other when exchanging rings are among the most important of the ceremony.

Unity Candle Ritual, Sand Ritual, or Rose Unity Ritual (optional)
In the Unity Candle Ceremony, couples use two lit taper candles (symbolizing their individuality) to light one big candle as a symbol of their two lives becoming one in commitment. The Sand Ritual and the Rose Unity Ritual are sometimes substituted for the Unity Candle Ritual - especially if the wedding is taking place outdoors, where candles are easily blown out.

Wine Ritual (optional)
The Wine Ritual is sometimes substituted for the Unity Candle Ritual, but it can be an event chosen in addition to the Unity Candle.

Pronouncement of Marriage (required)
The Pronouncement of Marriage is the Celebrant's public and legal proclamation that you are married. It is the exact moment of Marriage.

Permission to Kiss (usually included)
The Kiss is usually the crowning point of the ceremony. The guests often enjoy it, and it represents the sealing of the promise you have made to each other.

Readings (optional)
There are many readings suitable for a marriage ceremony. The readings on this page are divided into four parts - 1. Biblical Readings of the Old Testament; 2. Biblical Readings of the New Testament; 3. Non-Biblical Readings; and 4. Poetry. For each Reading a suggestion will be made as to whom the reader might be - either a guest, the Bride, the Groom, or the Celebrant.

Rituals (optional)
There are many types of rituals you can include in your wedding ceremony. The rituals on this page are divided into five parts - 1. Child Recognition Rituals; 2. Cultural Rituals; 3. Flower Rituals; 4. Religious Rituals; and 5. Family and Other Rituals. For each ritual, we suggest in which part of the ceremony it might occur (i.e. Preceding the start of the ceremony, in Part 1 - the Opening of the Ceremony, in Part 2 - Setting the Stage, in Part 3 - Consummating the Marriage, or in Part 4 - the Closing of the Ceremony) and if the ritual demands a very specific place in the ceremony, we'll indicate that also.

Next: Part 4 - The Closing of the Ceremony