The first part of the marriage ceremony officially "opens" the ceremony. On this page you'll find the activities or "Elements" that make up Part 1 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.

Setting of the Altar/Table (optional)
If you are going to be having a Unity Candle, Sand, Wine, or other ritual as part of your ceremony, there is often a table to hold the candles, sand, wine, etc., and this table is usually set prior to the beginning of the ceremony. The table can be set before the ceremony begins, or it can be a formal part of the ceremony. When it is a formal part of the ceremony, it is usually set by members of the bride and groom's family's with some music in the background.

Procession (usually included)
The Procession is where the bride comes up the aisle usually (but not always) accompanied by an escort. Almost anyone is game to come up the aisle including, from most frequent to least frequent, the maid of honor, bridesmaids, junior bridesmaids, flower girl(s), ring bearer(s), groomsmen, junior groomsmen, the best man, the groom, the celebrant, pets. In addition, the groom's parents and the mother of the bride may also be part of the formal processional. Clicking the above link will bring you to a page with several processional formations, along with some altar formations for when your wedding party has reached the front of the ceremony.

Presentation of the Bride (optional)
The Presentation of the Bride represents a tradition that called for the families to "release" their children for marriage. Although this tradition is now quite outdated, this activity still provides a figurative opportunity for the family to provide support to the couple and acceptance of the marriage.

Giving Roses to VIPs (optional)
It's always nice to recognize those people who are supporting you in your life as a couple. One way to do this during the ceremony is to present them with a rose as a symbol of your love, gratitude and respect.

Opening Words (usually included)
Whenever people come together for a formal occasion, some words are needed to "call the meeting to order". The Opening Words of the ceremony are what your Celebrant or Officiant will use to do this, while also stating the purpose of the gathering.

Opening Prayer (optional)
The Opening Prayer is a reminder to all wedding participants and guests that this ceremony assumes the presence of God or some other spiritual entity. The few moments spent in prayer will set a mood for the remainder of your ceremony.

Remembrances and/or Acknowledgements (optional)
Here are several ways to remember those who are unable to be with you on your wedding day, along with some ways to acknowledge the coincidence of your wedding day with an important event in the life or lives of loved ones.

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 2 - Setting the Stage