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How Long Should A Wedding Ceremony Be?


This is one of the most popular questions I get asked and the answer is: THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER. A wedding ceremony can take anywhere from a few minutes (there are only a couple of “legal bits” that must be said in order to be married), to an hour long, all inclusive, extravagant affair.

There are a few things that can determine the length of a ceremony:

· How many guests are in attendance. Generally, the more guests, the longer the ceremony. When its an intimate affair with only witnesses or a handful of guests, the storytelling portion is excluded as everyone already knows the couple quite well

· Readings and rituals such as candle unities, sand combing or handfasting

· How long the vows are

· Whether or not there is a formal processional at the beginning of the ceremony

· How many participants are in the ceremony – inclusion of parents, children, etc

We’ve all been to a wedding that seems like it will never end! And this is why the most common request I get is for a “short and sweet” ceremony. One that is not “long and boring” like many of the weddings they have attended.

If a wedding ceremony is relaxed and fun, and a good reflection of the personalities of the couple, guests will be more engaged. If it strikes a good balance of storytelling, legalities and content that has meaning for the couple, it will be the right length FOR YOU. The key to a successful ceremony is all in the content. There is no need to add more readings to make the ceremony longer. Or add a ritual such as a handfasting if it has no personal meaning.

It doesn’t matter if your ceremony is as short as 5 minutes or lasts 45 minutes – as long as it covers everything that is important to YOU, the couple, it is the right length.

A good celebrant will listen, ask questions and make suggestions. They will offer advice, guidance and support. A good celebrant will provide script drafts and make adjustments to the ceremony to ensure it is exactly what you want.

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