Home Pastors Articles for Pastors How to Perform a Wedding Ceremony: The Pastor’s Complete Guide

How to Perform a Wedding Ceremony: The Pastor’s Complete Guide


Although it can vary, most wedding ceremonies follow a standard order: procession, welcome, declaration of intent, giving the bride away, sermon, vows, ring exchange, optional added elements, pronouncement, kiss, recessional and closing comments.

1. Procession

Music plays. The pastor, groom and groomsmen enter. The bridal party, ring bearer and flower girl enter. Then, all stand (traditionally led by the mother of the bride standing first) and the bride is escorted down the aisle (usually by her father).

2. Welcome

“Dearly beloved we are gathered here today…”

The pastor greets everyone, explains the reason for the gathering, often stating the purpose of marriage, and then prays for God to bless the marriage.

3. Declaration of Intent

“Do you take this man to be your husband…?”

The bride and groom say “I do” to declare their intention to be married.


4. Giving the bride away

“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

Traditionally, the father of the bride responds to grant his approval to the marriage.

Often at this time, the pastor will also ask people to speak now if they have any reason to object to the marriage.

But instead of a tense moment where everyone holds their breath hoping no one speaks up, I like to include a response of family and friends to agree to support the couple in their marriage.

5. Wedding Ceremony Sermon

The pastor reads a passage of Scripture and delivers a brief message directed toward the bride and groom.

I will also use this time to explain the gospel and how it applies to marriage briefly.

This helps the bride and groom understand how their faith connects to their marriage and also presents an opportunity to share the gospel with those in the audience who may have never heard it before.

6. Vow Exchange

There are two options here: traditional or written vows.

For traditional vows, the bride and groom simply repeat after the pastor pledging their love for one another till death do they part.

If the couple chooses to write their own vows, I encourage them to write them down and read from their notes.

Yes, memorizing and sharing from your heart might be beautiful, but often the bride and groom are so nervous that they’ll forget. Having a piece of paper or a note card that they can read will help them as they fight back the tears or struggle to calm their nerves.

7. Ring Exchange

“May I have the rings, please.”

Typically the best man hands the rings to the pastor. The pastor explains the symbolism of the rings, then the bride and groom place the rings on each other’s fingers.

8. Additional Elements

There a lot of different options that people sometimes like to include in their weddings today.

For example, they may want to take communion, light a unity candle, do a sand ceremony or have a special musical performance.

This part of the ceremony is where many of those options fit best.

So ask if there are any additional elements like these that they want to do as part of the wedding ceremony.

9. Pronouncement

“I now pronounce you as husband and wife.”

10. Kiss

“You may now kiss the bride!”

11. Recessional

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I be the first to present to you…”

The bride and groom exit first, followed by the wedding party.

12. Closing Comments

After the wedding party has exited, close by thanking everyone for coming, invite them to the reception, and provide any necessary details or instructions.