Your invitations aren’t the only bit of wedding stationery you’ll need for your big day. An order of service is a great way of letting guests know what'll happen during your wedding ceremony - as well as making for lovely keepsakes!
Simply put, an order of service for a wedding is a booklet containing a step-by-step outline of how the ceremony will run. It helps your guests know how long the wedding will last and if there are any parts that require their participation, such as songs or prayers.
There are lots of other details you can include, too, such as the names of your wedding party and the celebrant. You could also include the names of the music you enter and leave the ceremony to, as well as any music played while you sign the register. You may like to start or finish the order of service with a favourite quote about love.
Many couples choose to personalise their order of service with their names and wedding date. You'll also find that there are some beautifully designed wedding orders of service to suit your style and colour scheme.
Of course, the wording will depend on what type of ceremony you're having. To help you get started, we’ve created a guide to the order of the ceremony for traditional Christian ceremonies and for a civil ceremony, and loads of order of service ideas for your wedding.
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What Is an Order Of Service for a Wedding and What Needs to Be Included?
A wedding order of service is usually a short booklet or folded piece of card, but it can just be a printed A5 page if that’s what you’d prefer.
When your guests enter your venue, you can designate members of the wedding party to hand out the order of service as they direct guests to their seats. Alternatively, you could have orders of service just outside the entrance for guests to pick up, or put one on every seat ahead of the ceremony.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a religious service, a civil ceremony, a civil partnership or a non-religious blessing, an order of service is a really handy thing to have.
Some orders of service are very detailed and include the lyrics to hymns and the names of readings and poems, but you can choose to keep it simple with a very general outline of the day too. What you need to include are the key moments in the ceremony so that everyone understands what's happening.
Each ceremony will run differently so always check the details with whoever is carrying out the service before you send it to the printers.
It’s not necessary, but on the back page it’s nice to also include details of the reception and a list of everyone in the wedding party.
Here's a basic idea of what the four pages of your wedding programme will cover:
Front Cover - Couple's names, wedding date and venue
Inside Pages - Order of the wedding ceremony, plus hymn lyrics and readings
Back Cover - Names of wedding party, thanks from couple, details of reception
So what will the general outline of the ceremony look like? Here's our guide:
Order of Service Template for Christian Wedding Ceremonies
Church of England Wedding Ceremony Order of Service
There are four key elements to the Church of England wedding ceremony, and these are replicated in their own way in other denominations like Baptist and Methodist.
You can add hymns and readings throughout the ceremony, in consultation with the vicar in advance. There's no hard and fast rule for when these happen, but this gives you an idea of how to structure a Church of England wedding ceremony for your order of service:
Declaration and Vows
Exchange of Rings
Signing of the Register
If you're having a blessing of a civil ceremony, you can recreate the whole wedding up to this part when you won't sign as you already have.
Final Prayer and Blessing
Exit of Couple
Catholic Wedding Ceremony Order of Service
A Catholic wedding ceremony can include mass but doesn't need to. There is not much chance to personalise or change the order of the Catholic ceremony and it will be set out by your priest.
Here's a standard outline of a Catholic wedding ceremony:
Liturgy of the Word
Exchange of Vows
Giving of Rings
The Lord's Prayer
Order of Service Template for Civil Ceremonies
Civil Wedding or Partnership Ceremony Order of Service
Civil ceremonies can take place at a registry office or licensed venue. They are not allowed to contain any religious references. A civil partnership follows a similar template, but there is no requirement to exchange vows. Here's a typical outline of the order of a civil ceremony:
Welcome and Introductions
Reading or Music (Optional)
The Marriage Ceremony
Reading or Music
Signing of the Register
Our Favourite Orders of Service for Weddings
Orders of service can be printed in the same style as the rest of your wedding stationery so it co-ordinates, or you can choose something completely different.
Here are some of our favourite styles:
1. Textured Order of Service - £2 each, Not On The High Street
2. Tropical Order of Service - £20, Etsy
3. Newspaper Order of Service - from £8, Etsy
How much fun is this personalised newspaper order of service! You've got all the usual information, plus games, fun facts and space for lyrics to your first dance.
4. Seaside Order of Service - £3 each, Etsy
READ MORE: How to DIY Your Own Invites
5. Minimalist Order of Service - £2 each, Not On The High Street
We love the calligraphy on this! If you’re having very simple, modern décor then this minimalist design is ideal. It would also work great if you have a very strong wedding theme and want something more subtle for your order of service.
6. Floral Order of Service - £25, Etsy
The little floral watercolour flourishes on the edges of this simple order of service elevates it to spring wedding-worthy.
READ MORE: Gorgeous Floral Wedding Stationery
7. Winter Order of Service - £2 each, Not On The High Street
Snowflakes and a rich navy colour scheme make this order of service ideal for a glamorous winter wedding.
READ MORE: Magical Winter Wedding Ideas
8. Map Order of Service - £1 each, Not On The High Street
If you’re from different parts of the world (or just the country), this map order of service is such a cute idea with little hearts where both of you call home.
9. Watercolour Order of Service - £2 each, Not On The High Street
Using gorgeous purples and blues, this pretty watercolour design is on-trend and great for any season of the year.
READ MORE: 47 Autumn Wedding Ideas
10. Autumn Order of Service - £3.25 each, Not On The High Street
How cute is this autumnal design! If you’re got lots of lovely rich reds, greens and oranges in your colour scheme, match them with your order of service.
11. Historical Map Order of Service - £2.45 each, Etsy
History lovers will adore these historical map orders of service, dating from 1645. Each is personalised with your wedding location, however, if you're having a themed wedding like a Lord of the Rings one, you could have a map of Middle Earth!
12. Rustic Order of Service - from £1, Etsy
Rustic brides will adore this simple floral design made from kraft paper. It’ll fit in perfectly with any homemade, boho or rustic wedding theme.