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Church Running Order


Traditionally, the groom's family and friends sit on the right side of the church and the bride's sit on the left, so make sure your ushers remember to ask who's who!

The bridegroom usually arrives first with the best man. Once everyone has been shown to their places, the bride is then led down the aisle on the arm of her father or a close relative, followed by her bridesmaids.
Welcome & Introduction

The minister may offer a prayer and will declare the purpose of marriage before asking, as the law requires, if anyone knows any reason why the marriage cannot lawfully take place.


You will be asked to promise before God, your families and friends that you will love, comfort, honor and protect each other and be faithful as long as you both shall live.


Turning to each other, you then make the age-old vows, little changed for 800 years!
To have and to hold, From this day forward
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer,
In sickness and health, To love and to cherish,
Til death us do part.

As each of you speaks, you hold your partner's right hand, symbolising that you are joining together in a new life.


A ring has been included in wedding ceremonies since the 12th century. By exchanging rings, a symbol of unending love, you complete your promises.
With this ring, I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.


The priest or minister proclaims you husband and wife and pronounces God's blessing on you. After the register has been signed and the bridal party has come back into the church there might be a prayer for the couple.

Music and Readings

Either at the beginning or in then middle of the service there is usually at least one reading. Hymns can also be sung during the ceremony and the signing of the register offers another opportunity for a musical interlude, rather than leaving all your guests sitting in silence!

· Processional

· Opening Statement

· Wedding reading/prayer

· Charge to the couple

· Questions of Willingness

· Presentation of the Bride

· Exchange of vows

· Blessing and presentation of the ring(s)

· Declaration of Marriage

· Signing of the Register

· Wedding prayer

· The Lord's Prayer

· Recessional

Who Gives This Woman?

Traditionally, the bride's father gives her away. For some brides this harks back to a time when women were treated like property, whilst other brides relish the chance to share this special day with dear old dad. A bride may have difficulty if her father has passed away or if she's closer to her stepfather than her birth father. Whatever your situation, the walk down the aisle is a matter of personal choice. It's perfectly acceptable for you to walk down the aisle with your mother, your stepfather, your uncle, the groom, or even on your own. Some caveats


Most churches are covered by Christian Copyright licensing, which means you are not allowed to photocopy hymnbooks but you can copy out the words and then have these printed for your order of service. For other readings and pieces of music you may need to write to the copyright holders for permission to use them. Be sure to ask your registrar, minister or musical director for advice well in advance.

Recording the Ceremony

Many couples want a wedding video so they can relive the magic moment again and again. A video is also a wonderful memento to share with friends and family who are unable to be with you on the happy day. There are varying schools of thought on whether it's appropriate for a vide cameraman to be moving around during the ceremony so ask permission beforehand if it's something you're considering. Some churches will allow a video of the ceremony but may charge quite a high fee - several hundred pounds - for the privilege because of copyright legislation.

You shouldn't have any problems with a video recording of a civil ceremony providing the operator is unobtrusive. Don't forget that a civil ceremony is still a serious occasion and needs to be approached with the respect that a marriage declaration deserves. Again, be sure to ask permission from your registrar before booking a professional video photographer and ensure your video company sorts out the copyright legislation and fees for you.

Your Departure

What happens when the ceremony's over? Don't forget to think about what you want to happen after you walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. There's often a lull, as guests don't know what to do next. If you're having a church service, there is nothing like the chiming of bells to herald the start of your new life together.

Traditionally, guests shower the couple with confetti but it's frowned upon at some venues because of the mess, and if it's raining the coloured confetti might stain your dress. Alternatives include fresh or dried flower petals, confetti made from biodegradable rice paper and even clouds of bubbles, which are always popular with any children in the party.

For all these you will need to issue guests with the necessary items and instructions so they're ready to do their bit as you leave. Another idea is to plan a release of doves just after the ceremony. White doves circling in the sky above will symbolise the joy of the day and add a real wow! Factor.

'You and Your Wedding' Jul/Aug 04


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