For some couples, the idea of a 10-minute wedding ceremony is incredibly awkward, while others would love to keep their nuptials short and sweet. Either way, there are a lot of factors that go into how long a wedding ceremony should be. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate or expected for your wedding ceremony length, we break it all down below.
Keep reading to discover the average length of a wedding ceremony, how long yours should be, and the answers to your top wedding ceremony planning questions.
So, how long should a wedding ceremony be?
The average wedding ceremony is usually somewhere between 20-30 minutes long. However, the length of your wedding ceremony largely depends on your religious denomination, the activities you plan, and which traditions you’d like to follow. All of these factors add time to a ceremony, and that’s completely OK! Remember, it’s your day, and the length of your ceremony — and your cocktail hour, reception, and any other events — is up to you.
While there’s no right or wrong ceremony length, the typical 20-30 minute wedding ceremony includes:
One or two short readings
The first kiss
The wedding party exit
Additionally, you may include religious aspects such as blessings, readings of significant texts, and rituals. How much additional time that takes is up to the couple and the number of activities you include.
For example, if you’re blending two families with children, one beautiful wedding ceremony activity is to light a shared candle. Each family member lights one wick to symbolize themselves as a family unit.
Another example we’ve seen is a performance of a song. If one partner is musically inclined, they can sing a song and accompany it with piano for their wedding ceremony. Not only is it lovely, but it also makes the wedding ceremony that much more unique.
Finally, there are big and small traditions that take up space on a wedding ceremony schedule. Adding or subtracting some of these will impact how long your wedding ceremony will be. For example, you may want to skip having a flower girl and ring bearer. This will make the entrances — and the ceremony itself — shorter.
Want to make your wedding ceremony longer? Here are some ideas
While any ceremony length is valid, if you feel as though yours may be too short, you may want to consider adding some events to the timeline in order to get more out of the moment. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
1. Involve the audience
A ring warming is a great way to involve guests in your ceremony. Each guest holds one ring and takes a moment to pray or bless it. Alternatively, you can have a community vow. A community vow is a statement you lead the guests in making, which essentially expresses their support of you as a couple and your marriage ahead.
2. Lengthen your vows
Writing your own vows is a creative way to get started. You can mix and match some of the same vows that you already have written with meaningful stories, religious quotes, or visions you have for your future together.
3. Include other family members
You may want to make children or pets part of your ceremony. Have them give a short speech, make a symbolic gesture, or simply join you at the altar.
4. Host a pre-ceremony event
Pre-ceremony cocktails and bites are ideal for ceremonies that take place later in the day. They’re also ideal for destination weddings. A pre-ceremony event also gives guests the opportunity to say hello to one another before the ceremony officially begins.
Now you know how long a wedding ceremony should be!
Once you have decided how long your specific wedding ceremony should be, make sure you plan out how long your wedding reception should be, too, and complete your entire wedding day schedule!
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