Wedding Ceremony Guide: How to Plan a Traditional Ceremony

There's nothing old-fashioned or dull about sticking to traditions, especially when it comes to your wedding ceremony!


Planning the order of your wedding ceremony can be a real ordeal for some couples.


Although many modern-day weddings will now have a more alternative and quirky layout to the day, there’s still plenty of couples who opt to host a traditional wedding ceremony with all the trimmings.

READ MORE: Amazing Wedding Ceremony Rooms You Need to See


Image – Cripps Barn

We’ve enlisted the help of Kelly Mortimer, a seasoned professional when it comes to wedding planning. She oversees wedding coordinators at 45 venues across the UK in her role as Group Wedding Director for the Principal Hotel Company.

So if a traditional wedding ceremony is right for you and your partner, here’s how to do it!

The Seating Plan

Knowing where everyone should sit is a key aspect to figure out before you start thinking about the order of service.

Traditionally, you would have a reserved seating area at the front of your ceremony room. These are usually kept free for your bridal party, the groomsmen, you and your partner’s parents and any guest readers you may have.

The Roles

Make sure your wedding party know who’s doing what. For example, the ushers should be on hand before the ceremony to ensure all of your guests are politely welcomed, that everyone’s seated, and hand out an order of service if you have one.

Make sure they know other useful info too, like where the toilets are, and where to meet after the ceremony for any transport to the reception.

READ MORE: Usher Duties Explained

As mentioned before, you may have guests doing readings during the ceremony. If this is the case, ensure they know when they’re supposed to do so and are ready for their part.


Image – Shearsby Bath

The Details

Things like having accessible parking places for guests (to minimalise lateness) and wedding ceremony music are all aspects that need to be considered before the day.

Speaking of which, the wedding ceremony music is an important factor to consider for the ceremony. Are you having background music as guests are seated, will you have a bridal entrance song, and a ceremony exit song? Will the music be live (for example, a harpist or orchestra), or do you need to prepare a USB stick or CD? Preparing these in advance will guarantee a stress-free and seamless order of events.

SEE MORE: The Best Wedding Ceremony Songs


Image – The Principal York

Consider having a “no photo” policy to avoid your photographer taking pictures of guest’s screens instead of their faces.

Where will the processional line up prior to the ceremony (out of view of guests)? What order will everyone walk in? And where will they stand once they reach the end of the aisle?

Once at the top of the aisle who will do the final “fluff”? It’s likely your dress or veil has moved as you walked down the aisle – to ensure perfect photos ask someone responsible to fluff before the registrar begins!

READ MORE: Bridesmaid Roles Explained


Image – The Blossom Company

The Order of Service

We’ve put together a list of the traditional elements of a wedding ceremony, in the order they tend to happen.

SEE MORE: Order of Service Wedding Stationery

Carefully walk through the steps of each section, ensuring timings have been carefully calculated and consider the logistics of each section, don’t leave any decisions to the big day.

The bride’s entrance – Where you and your bridal party arrive at the ceremony, the guests stand for your entrance and are then seated.

Songs or a reading – There tends to be a song or hymn at the begining of the ceremony but you can replace this with a reading if you’d prefer.

The marriage ceremony – The official marriage ceremony itself should start now, this can be as long or as short as you like.

Prayers – This is only for couples who are having a religious ceremony. If you’re having a non-religious ceremony, but still want something similar, you can replace this with a spiritual or inspirational passage read by your registrar.

Reading – Another reading (if you opted for one at the begining).

Song – Whether it be a hymn or a non-religious song, this should follow after the reading.

Signing of the register – You and your partner will now sign the official marriage documents. It might be worth having some background music playing whilst you do this as your guests will be sat for a few minutes whilst you do so.

Exit – You and your partner now leave the room to your exit music.

The Confetti Shot

This needs coordinating! Most venues and churches won’t allow confetti on the aisle, so this may happen outside your ceremony room or even later in the day (on pretty steps for example). Have the groomsman arrange guests at your chosen location and THEN hand out the confetti to the guests, and get ready for that perfect photo!


Image – Benni Carol Photography

READ MORE: The Best Wedding Confetti Shots

And finally… Kelly’s two top ceremony tips are:

Groom tip:

Choose if you’ll watch your partner walk down to you or look straight ahead and then turn when your partner is at your side. Looking, then looking away during their entrance looks like your terrified! Pick a view and stick with it!

Brides and bridesmaids tip:

Many brides and bridesmaids hold their flowers at chest height, hiding their beautiful dresses and creating hunched shoulders! Practice holding something of similar size to your bouquet at your belly button height in front of the mirror and see your shoulders go back and the relaxed appearance it gives. The perfect photo!


If you’re still searching for your dream venue then don’t miss our list of the essential questions you need to ask your wedding venue.