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What is a Wedding Order of Service & What Should You Include?

Whether you're having a religious wedding, civil ceremony or something more casual, here's everything you need to know about your order of service

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two brides in a wedding dress and suit illustrated on the front cover of an order of service wedding booklet

Your invitations aren’t the only bit of wedding stationery you’ll need for your big day. A wedding 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.

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 Civil Ceremonies

a minimalist order of service wedding booklet

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

Order of Service Template for Christian Wedding Ceremonies

Church of England Wedding Ceremony Order of Service

a person holding a floral order of service for a wedding with botanical flowers behind

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:

  • Processional
  • Welcome
  • Declaration and Vows
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Bible Reading
  • 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
  • Hymn (Optional)
  • Exit of Couple

Catholic Wedding Ceremony Order of Service

two white and pastel blue floral order of service wedding booklets, one is open one is closed

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:

  • Entrance Rite
  • Liturgy of the Word
  • Gospel
  • Homily
  • Exchange of Vows
  • Giving of Rings
  • The Eucharist
  • The Lord's Prayer
  • Holy Communion
  • Recessional

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 coordinates, or you can choose something completely different.

Here are some of our favourite styles:

1. Couple Illustration Order of Service - £POA, Gaze Bridal

a couple illustration on a wedding order of service booklet

If you're into personalised wedding stationery designs, styles like this order of service wedding booklet by Gaze Bridal will be right up your street. 

The talented artists can paint or draw a sketch of you and your partner in your wedding day outfits in advance, to be used as the front page of your order of service. 

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2. Pastel Paint Effect Order of Service - £POA, Something's Brewing 

a white order of service wedding booklet with pastel grey font and a pink top

Something's Brewing offer stylish and contemporary order of service wedding designs, and this one is one of our favourites. The pastel colours will work with almost any colour scheme and theme, and the paint-style font gives it an artistic feel. 

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3. Skeleton Tarot Order of Service Design - £POA, Birdhouse 197

two order of service wedding cards in black and white tarot card designs

Couples who want alternative and unique wedding stationery designs will love the work by Birdhouse 197. Their designs are based on tarot card, spiritual and celestial themes, but they also offer a bespoke service where you can request a particular design or theme. 

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4. Floral Wedding Order of Service Designs - £POA, Created by Magic

three different floral simplistic order of service wedding cards fanned out on a white background

Are wedding flowers playing a big role in your special day? If so, why not incorporate your chosen blooms into your order of service wedding cards? These designs by Created by Magic are romantic and intricate, and can be tailored to suit blooms in any season. 

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5. Hand Painted Gold Orders of Service - £POA, Crimson Letters

a black and gold floral order of service weddingc ard with ribbon behind it

Crimson Letters offer luxurious, bespoke hand-painted wedding stationery and create gorgeous order of service wedding cards. Their creations are of premium quality and would perfectly suit weddings at gorgeous, luxury wedding venues

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6. Magazine Style Order of Service - £POA, The Occasional Press

a couple holding a wedding order of service newspaper open and reading it

The Occasional Press are a company who offer wedding stationery in the most unique layout - magazines and newspapers! They can create wedding magazines as invitations and thank yous, but also offer on-the-day order of service wedding magazines with all of the information your guests could possibly need and more inside. 

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7. Textured Order of Service - £2, Project Pretty


This berry and gold textured design is the perfect order of service for a winter wedding. This double-sided card is simple and stylish and you could always swap out the berry colour for a hue that better suits your big day's theme. 

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8. Tropical Order of Service - from £4.30, Etsy

Wedding order of service

This tropical floral print order of service is totally on trend and would really suit a summer wedding or wedding abroad.

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9. Newspaper Order of Service - from £8, Etsy

A personalised Newspaper Wedding Program

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. This takes the idea of a wedding newspaper to a whole new level. 

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10. Seaside Themed Wedding Order of Service - from £3, Etsy


No wedding at a coastal venue or near the sea is complete without this seaside-themed order of service. The sea pays homage to the location and we love the little detail of having string tied on the edge. 

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11. Minimalist Order of Service - £2, Pear Paper Co.


We love the calligraphy on this, and 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.

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12. Floral Order of Service - from £25, Etsy

Wedding order of service

The little floral watercolour flourishes on the edges of this simple design elevates this order of service wedding booklet, making it perfect for a spring or summer wedding. 

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13. Winter Star-Themed Order of Service - £2.65, Project Pretty

star themed order of service wedding booklet in navy and gold

Stars and a rich navy colour scheme make this order of service ideal for a glamorous winter wedding, or a celebration of two people whose love was written in the stars. 

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14. Watercolour Order of Service - £2, Not On The High Street


Using gorgeous purples and blues, this pretty watercolour design is on-trend and a great wedding order of service booklet for any season of the year.

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15. Historical Map Order of Service - from £2.45, Etsy

wedding order of service

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!

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If you’re after more beautiful ideas for your wedding stationery, then check out our favourite botanical wedding designs or 1920s vintage wedding invite ideas.

Need to send out invitations? 💌
Request pricing and information from local Wedding Stationery suppliers