The Service

A church service lasts around 45 minutes and follows a set formula. The couple chooses the music, hymns and readings. The service is in either modern (Common Worship) or traditional wording (the Book of Common Prayer); this is the priest's decision and the couple do not normally have a choice.

Sample Running Order

Music: this is played, usually on the organ, while the congregation arrive and are seated. The groom and best man sit in the front pew, on the right hand side, facing the altar.

Entrance of the bride: the processional music begins and the bride walks down the aisle. She is accompanied by her father, or a person appointed to give her away, who stands on the bride's left.

The Greeting: the priest welcomes the congregation and the couple.

First Hymn

The Marriage: the Vows (usually spoken quietly by the priest and recited loudly by the bride and groom), the Giving of Rings and the Proclamation (where the priest announces the union of the bride and groom before God). Finally, the couple will kneel at the High Altar for the Blessing of the Marriage.

Readings: usually given by family members or close friends.

The Address: this may, with the priest's consent, be given by a family member or friend (who will often be a member of the clergy).

Second Hymn

The Prayers

Third Hymn

Signing of the Register: the civil (legal) element. The register is signed by both bride and groom, the minister and then two to four witnesses (often chief bridesmaid, best man and family members). The bride signs using her maiden name.

Recessional (exiting the church): appropriate music will be played as the bride and groom leave the church followed by the bridal party.

See also Ceremony Highlights

Debrett's wedding guide

Debrett's wedding guide

Debrett's Notebooks

Debrett's Notebooks

Think in Ink Notebook

Think in Ink Notebook

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