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Writing your wedding order of service
Guide your guests through your wedding ceremony with a wedding order of service. Your wedding order of service will outline the proceedings of your civil or religious wedding ceremony and will refer to any readings and music that you have decided to include. As with all wedding stationery, it can be difficult to know what to write in your wedding order of service so we are here to help with guidance about the typical wedding ceremony order of events and some suggestions for your wedding hymns and readings. Take a look at our religious and civil wedding order of service hints and tips for more ideas. You can then display your ceremony proceedings within our lovely wedding order of service booklets, which will match the rest of your wedding stationery!
Typical wedding ceremony order of events
Whilst all weddings are unique, they do generally follow a typical order of events, whether that be a civil or religious wedding ceremony. Before you start planning the personal details of your ceremony, including readings and music, here is a basic outline of a wedding ceremony to give you an idea of how things will proceed on the day.
- The Procession: The entrance of the bridal party, and finally the bride, marks the start of the wedding ceremony. All will walk down the aisle, (usually to music), ready to take their seats or their place in front of the officiant.
- Words of welcome: Once everyone is seated, the officiant will welcome all those attending the ceremony and thank them for being witness to the marriage soon to take place.
- Address to the couple: The officiant will usually emphasise the importance of marriage and the vows that the couple are about to take.
- Readings: For a civil ceremony readings are optional, whilst for a church wedding, it is usually obligatory to have one reading, which then forms the basis of the sermon. It is normal to include reference to the title of the reading in your wedding order of service. Take a look below for suggested readings for both civil and religious wedding ceremonies.
- Legal declarations: The couple must legally declare that they are free lawfully to marry and give their consent for the marriage.
- Exchange of Vows: The happy couple will exchange their vows, whether that be the traditional wedding vows or ones that they have written themselves.
- Exchange of rings: The exchange of rings is optional. Normally the happy couple will exchange rings as a symbol of their love and trust for one another.
- Proclamation: The officiant will then proclaim the happy couple as being married. At this point, the marriage is often sealed with a kiss.
- Closing remarks: The officiant will usually close the ceremony with a few last words, and if you are having a church ceremony this usually involves a blessing and a prayer.
- The signing of the register: The register is signed by the newlyweds and two witnesses.
- The Recessional: The newlyweds exit the ceremony venue, followed by the wedding party.
In order to give you a helping hand with preparing your paper inserts to go inside our order of service booklets, you can start from our list of the order of proceedings above, adding in the details of your hymns and readings. If you are still looking for some inspiration for your wedding hymns and Bible readings then take a look at our suggestions below. Your church will also be able to give you some guidance on what to include in your wedding order of service, with proceedings varying between churches of different denominations. It is also a nice touch to include the names of all those involved in the ceremony on your wedding order of service, as your on-the-day wedding stationery can double up as keepsakes from your wedding!
You can also download our church wedding order of service template by clicking on the links below. This template is available for Microsoft Word and MAC.
Once you have replaced our default text with your order of service, you can print your service sheets in a booklet format using the following settings and then slide them into your wedding order of service booklets.
For Word: Go to Page Setup. On the Margins tab, change the settings for multiple pages to Book Fold. When printing ensure that you select the option to Print on Both Side (Flip pages on short edge). If your printer doesn’t support automatic printing on both sides, select Manually Print on Both Sides, and feed the pages back to the printer when prompted.
For PDFs: Go to File/Print and select the option Booklet Printing from the Page Scaling options. This should automatically format your booklet, you will just need to ensure that your printer is set up for double-sided printing.
For MAC: If you are not presented with a booklet option, you can enter the pages you wish to print, adding 4,1,2,3 to the pages option. You will then need to select Multiple Pages with 2 by 1 pages per sheet of paper and print double-sided, rotating on the short edge.
Wedding hymn suggestions
Hymns are an essential part of a traditional church wedding ceremony and are a lovely way to create a joyous atmosphere. Usually, you will be able to choose two or three wedding hymns. The first usually appears at the start of the ceremony, with the last following the blessing of the marriage. There are plenty of wedding hymns to choose from, but finding hymns that your guests will know is a great way to ensure that everyone will sing along, creating a celebratory mood. Be sure to discuss your choice of wedding hymns with your vicar, but in the meantime here are a few suggestions for wedding hymns:
- All things bright and beautiful
- Amazing Grace
- Give me joy in my heart
- Great Is Thy Faithfulness
- Lord Of The Dance
- Love divine, all loves excelling
- Make me a channel of your peace
- Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven
- Tell out my Soul
- The Lord is my shepherd
Bible readings for weddings
Your choice of Bible readings for your wedding will help make your wedding ceremony truly unique. We are sure that your church leader will be more than happy to suggest some appropriate Bible readings for your wedding, but here are some suggestions to help you find your favourite passage.
- Mark Chapter 10. Verses 6-9 and 13-16. “...Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate…”
- Colossians Chapter 3. Verses 12-17. “...Above all, clothe yourselves with love..”.
- John Chapter 15. Verses 9-12. “...My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”
- Ephesians Chapter 5. Verses 21-33 “...each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
- Song of Solomon. Chapter 8. Verses 6 and 7. "Many waters cannot quench love..."
- 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. “Love is patient, love is kind…”
If you are having difficulty starting off your civil wedding order of service then don’t panic! Use our list of the order of proceedings as a template for your wedding order of service, referring to the important moments of your civil ceremony. Start constructing your wedding program, personalising your wedding order of service with the music and reading of your choice. It is always nice to include the names of those that are reading your chosen poems or texts. If you need some more inspiration for your civil wedding readings then take a look at our suggestions below.
Civil wedding reading suggestions
Readings are a lovely way to make your wedding ceremony unique, and you can use a text that you and your partner hold close to heart. The options really are endless when it comes to choosing your civil wedding readings as the world is full of beautiful texts about love and marriage. You may even find inspiration in your favourite song or novel. Here are some of our suggested readings for your civil wedding.
These I can promise, by Anon
I cannot promise you a lifetime of sunshine
I cannot promise riches, wealth or gold
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads away from change or growing old
But I can promise all my heart's devotion
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow
A love that's ever true and ever growing
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.
Marriage by Anon
A marriage is a promise
That two hearts gladly make
A promise to be tender
To help, to give and take
A marriage is a promise
To be kind and understanding
To be thoughtful and considerate
Fair and undemanding
A marriage is a promise
To share one life together
A love-filled promise meant to be
Kept lovingly forever
To Be One With Each Other by George Eliot
What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?
Marriage Is by Emily Matthews
Someone to believe in
And to put their trust in you
Someone who appreciates
The special things you do,
Someone to be close to,
In your heart and mind,
Someone who’s the love
You might have thought you’d never find,
Someone who stands by you
And whose faith can make you strong,
Someone you will cherish
Every day, your whole life long.
How should I present my wedding order of service?
Now that you have written your wedding order of service, it is time to think about how you are going to present this to your guests. Wedding order of service booklets are the perfect way to turn your service sheets into a lovely souvenir for your guests. These wedding order of service booklets can then be handed out at the entrance of the church by your ushers or laid out on the church pews in advance of the service.
Our booklets are designed to enclose your separate paper inserts. Choose a design to match the rest of your wedding stationery, and personalise the outside cover with your names and wedding date. Once you have printed out your paper inserts, you can attach them to the inside of our wedding order of service booklets with a matching ribbon or even some rustic twine. Take a look at our order of service DIY tips on our blog for more information.
If you would like to print your order of service directly to the inside of our booklets, you can do so as part of our advanced personalised changes. Get in touch with our friendly customer service to discuss how this works, or take a look at our wedding stationery FAQ for more information.