Wedding2point0: How long is a wedding ceremony?

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How long is a wedding ceremony?

This is a frequent question. Here are some basic timings.

You can use this info for an elopement, or any basic wedding ceremony.

A basic civil ceremony is 7 minutes in City Hall, 13-18 minutes with an officiant, because it's the bridesmaids, music, prayers, mass, sermon, etc. which add the extra time to a wedding.

I usually tell people they can have the "2 subway stop wedding" (8 minutes, if you're between 2 stops in New York), or the "3 stop" (15 minutes) or the "bus ride" (half an hour, cross-town traffic in NY). Anything longer, and people are starting to get hungry and fidget.  Sample ceremonies in these time lengths can be found on our website,

A basic ceremony consists of:

THE GATHERING (seating the guests, or gathering round on the beach/under a tree, etc.)
THE PROCESSION (Bride and Groom and officiant walk to the front, 1 minute) OR the parents and the grandparents and the groom's party and the 15 bridesmaids and the junior bride and the junior bridesmaid and the 3 cute kids with the flower petals and FINALLY the bride walk into to music - (this can take 15-20 minutes).
THE FAMILY BLESSING. This used to be "who gives this woman to be married", but now it's usually a short request for the family to bless the wedding, mention of any absent family, lighting of candles or short moment of silence for anyone who has died. In an elopement or small private wedding, we might mention family or friends who are not present. (3 minutes, optional)
THE READINGS This can be religious or poetry, or a piece of music, read by Officiant, Couple, or Friends and Family. This is basically a break/transition and a good time to seat late guests. (2-4 minutes, optional)
THE INTENTION "Is it your intention to take this person as your husband/wife"?  (1 minute)
This is where the officiant offers a short statement or a reading indicating this is a wedding, not just a party, a picnic, or an engagement. (reading optional, 1-2 minutes).
VOWS (1-2 minutes)
RING EXCHANGE/VOWS (1-2 minutes. optional)
BLESSING, 2nd READING, UNITY CANDLE, WINE BLESSING, SAND CEREMONY, etc. , any one of several optional ceremonies to demonstrate the newly married state of the couple (2-4 minutes, optional in all or in part)
DECLARATION ("In front of us all this couple have pledged their vows...and it is with the authority vested in me, that I declare they are man and wife,...") (30 seconds)
KISS (length to be determined)
PRESENTATION /PRONOUNCEMENT ("I have the honor to present to you...") Lots of clapping and excitement, (15 seconds).
RECESSIONAL (reverse order, everybody goes out, all the time you want)
Add the SIGNING OF THE LICENSE, which can be done before the wedding, during the wedding (4 minutes) or after. The Declaration is often given after the license signing.
TOTAL time: 14-18 minutes.Copyright, Mary Beaty Creative Commons License
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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

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