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2. Wedding Ceremony Basics - Order of Events

Traditional Ceremony

1. Guests are ushered to pews or chairs.

2. Wedding music - the prelude - is played.

3. Grandparents and other honored guests are ushered down the aisle just before the main part of the processional begins.

4. Parents of the bridegroom and the other of the bride are ushered down the aisle. (In recent times, parents are part of the processional, and each set walks down the aisle, one with their daughter, the bride, between them, and the other with their son, the bridegroom.)

5. After a pause, the music selected for the processional begins.

6. The officiant enters the sanctuary.

7. Attendants take their turns in the processional: bridesmaids and groomsmen first (usually arranged according to height), honor attendants last so they are close to the bride and bridegroom and officiant. Flower girl(s) and ring bearer(s) immediately precede the bride.

8. The bride walks down the aisle, accompanied by her father or between her father and mother.

9. Wedding vows are exchanged according to the customs of the couple and the officiant.

10. Rings are exchanged, or the bridegroom gives the bride a ring.

11. Special wedding prayers, readings, music, or songs are part of the ceremony, with family members of friends participating.

12. Accompanied by recessional music, the married couple comes back down the aisle followed by attendants and family members.

13. A receiving line is held as guests leave the church, temple, or other ceremony site.

Traditional Reception

1. A receiving line is held at the beginning of the reception, if not at the ceremony site.

2. The wedding couple is introduced at the reception by the bandleader or master of ceremonies as, for example, "Mr. And Mrs. James Jones," or "Sally and Jim Jones," or "Sally Smith and Jim Jones."

3. Wedding toasts are offered, beginning with one given by the best man, then the bride's father, then family and friends (or friends and family since the order is seldom organized), and possibly the bride and bridegroom toast each other.

4. Wedding food is served.

5. The wedding couple's first dance takes place.

6. The bride and groom cut the wedding cake, and after they have fed each other the first slice, it is removed to the kitchen to be cut and served.

7. The bridegroom removes the bride's garter.

8. The bride tosses her bouquet to single women attendants and guests.

9. The bride and bridegroom change into their going-away clothes (if they're going on their honeymoon from the wedding).

10. Rice, birdseed or flower petals are tossed as the bridal couple leaves for their honeymoon.

from Weddings for Grownups by Carroll Stoner

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