Wedding Day Procedures

Please read the following information in its entirety because it includes a lot of information about wedding day procedures. It would be a good idea to print out and have as reference. Neglecting to read it may result in regrets.


Something may go wrong, in fact, something usually does. But the idea is to keep those bloopers on the negligible side by keeping certain things in your own control and making them a priority.

This is a very exciting time for you and I want your wedding ceremony to go smoothly. This document also includes a rehearsal procedure so please read it in its entirety.

The most important detail is to remember to bring the paperwork the municipality gave you to the ceremony. Without it there will be no ceremony. There is no exception on this point. This is obviously the most important detail of the day.

Point 1 Signing The Marriage Certificate
Remember that I will arrive at your wedding location about 45 minutes before the ceremony start time for the purpose of meeting with your witnesses and to have them sign the certificate (the paperwork the municipality gave you) in my presence. In accordance with NJ law, I cannot perform a ceremony without being in possession of the paperwork before the ceremony begins, NO EXCEPTIONS, so this point is very important. Do NOT FORGET to pick up the paperwork from the municipality on a weekday before your wedding!

Make sure you give your paperwork to your witnesses, preferably, highly responsible individuals who will be at the location 45 minutes early with the paperwork ready to be signed. Avoid witnesses who are getting pictures taken with the bridal party, since that makes it very difficult to get the deed done. I will call the contact you gave me on our contract. If you feel you should change the contact person to someone else in order to better facilitate getting the paper work to me, please send me that person’s name and number asap so I can update this information.

Point 2 Importance of Staying on Schedule

Most officiants and vendors have late fees built into their contracts, or state that they will leave if the ceremony is delayed beyond the contract start time if they need to make their other contractual obligations for the day. This is also my policy. Since I may have other weddings that day, it is vital that you remain on schedule. Even if I don’t have another wedding booked, I may have other obligations and may need to leave. I certainly don’t want to have to leave without marrying you, but I reserve the right to leave if your ceremony is excessively late, delayed beyond 40 minutes. Please remain on schedule.

Contractual times with all your vendors are the times their entire professional day (and billing) is based upon. If your wedding is delayed and you miss twenty minutes of a paid cocktail hour, you have lost twenty minutes of your cocktail hour. In other words,
vendors do not extend time periods just because you are running late. Twenty missed minutes of a cocktail or reception may have cost you as much as $2,000.00. So remember, time delayed means you lost money on something you paid for.


Point 3 The Processional and Ceremony

Something you need to keep in mind about rehearsal is that everyone involved needs to know what is expected of them. Everyone in the bridal party needs to know what they are supposed to do. Please inform everyone involved with the wedding what they will be doing.

Generally, the venues have a procedure and I usually defer to them. Site coordinators know the layout of their venue and they know what works best for their space. If there is no event coordinator present that day, or if they are not well organized, this is the process I recommend. It is a good idea if you review this with your bridal party before the wedding day, perhaps during dinner the night before:

Guests are seated first. (Traditionally, walking up the aisle, the right side is for family/friends of the groom, and the left is for the family and friends of the bride. There is no right or wrong and many people sit wherever they want. But this is information for a traditional set-up.)

The parents of the groom (Traditionally, the 1st seat on the end of the first row is always for the mother of the groom. There is no right or wrong and many people sit wherever they want. But this is information for a traditional set-up.)

The last guest to sit is the Mother of the bride and her escort, unless he will be returning to escort the bride, then he delivers the mother and walks back to the bride (Traditionally, the 1st seat on the end of the first row is always for the mother of the bride.)

The bridal party enters. This can be done a number of ways depending on what the bride prefers, or may be dictated by the venue.

Method #1

The officiant and groom are in place at the head of the aisle.
The groomsmen and maids enter arm in arm
ring bearers and flower girls if any, last

Method #1 works well if men and women are equally matched with the same number.

Method #2

The officiant leads the groom and groomsmen up the aisle in a single file. This would include the little ring bearer if there is one.

We take our places.

The bridesmaids then enter in single file after the officiant and men have taken their places. Flower girl if any, will be last, immediately before the bride. The little flower girl may stand in place with the women or take a seat in the front row if she is too young or gets confused.

Method #2 works well if there are more men than women or vice versa.

Once the last member of the bridal party has taken her place, I will announce that the bride will be entering and ask everyone to stand.

Bride enters with her escort (This person can be any significant person in the life of the bride, most often her father, step father or brothers or even sisters. My adult sons gave me away when I remarried, so you see, it can be a special person or persons. I’ve had brides given away by their daughters, so whoever the bride wants.

Officiant asks the escort: Who gives this woman to this man in marriage (or something similar)

Response: I do, or, her mother and I do. Make sure your escort knows I will be asking this question and tell them the response you want them to say.

Sometimes, if there is music playing, it has to finish its course rather than stop abruptly. If this is the case, make sure your father or escort knows to stand in place until the music stops. That is when I will ask him/her/them the question.

Once the bride’s escort answers the question, he will shake the groom’s hand and kiss the bride. If there is a veil, he will lift the veil to kiss her.

The bride will give the maid of honor her bouquet and the ceremony begins.

The ceremony ends, and you kiss.

If I can get your attention, I will congratulate you before you walk down the aisle, but usually couples are too excited to turn around. 🙂

The bride grabs her bouquet from her maid of honor and down the aisle you go. Remind your MOH that this is one of her details.

Followed by your bridesmaids and groomsmen, exiting the same way they entered as in Method 1 or Method 2.

The parents of the bride exit before the parents of the groom. (Closest to the bride come and go closest to the bride)

All guests exit and I leave immediately after the ceremony.

It’s not that complicated, and I will prompt everyone during the ceremony, but it makes it a lot easier if everyone knows what is expected of them ahead of time.

Brides, the morning of the ceremony, switch your engagement ring onto the finger on your right hand. This allows the proper placement of your wedding band on your left hand without having to remove the engagement ring and risk dropping it, or being unable to get it off quickly due to heat or swelling. The idea is to put your wedding ring first, closest to your heart, according to tradition.

If your best man is holding your rings, give them to him once his suit is on and watch him put the rings in his pocket. This way his suit pocket will be the only place they will be and he won’t risk laying them down and forgetting them.

If a child will be holding the rings, don’t give them to him or her until seconds before the ceremony.


With This Kiss I Thee Wed

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