What Happens During a Wedding Ceremony?

Although wedding ceremonies can vary depending on the couple's preferences or religious background, they commonly feature a procession, opening remarks, a vow exchange, a ring exchange and a marriage pronouncement. Ceremonies typically close with a kiss and closing remarks before the couple exits as husband and wife.

In the procession, members of the wedding party walk down the aisle and assume their positions for the remainder of the ceremony. In a typical Christian procession, the groom begins the ceremony standing at the altar, while the bride walks down the aisle with her father. During traditional Jewish processions, the groom first walks down the aisle with both of his parents, and the bride then does the same with her parents.

Once everyone is standing in the correct position, the officiant often says some opening remarks before the bride and groom begin the process of exchanging vows. The vows consist of a series of promises, such as to support one another in both rich and poor times. The bride and groom may prepare their own original vows, or they may choose to use more traditional vows. After the vows and wedding rings are exchanged, the officiant pronounces them husband and wife, signifying that the marriage is official.