Hand-Writing Our Wedding Ceremony

How to Write Your Own Wedding Ceremony: A Complete Guide


When we decided to have a non-officiant friend marry us (remember: anyone can marry you in Montana), I knew it meant that I would have to write our wedding ceremony, or at least contribute heavily to its creation. This was high on my list of “cons” relating to not hiring an officiant, but I very quickly came to enjoy that I had the power to word smith our  wedding ceremony in any way I wanted.

If you’re looking to write your own wedding ceremony, I want to share with you what writing our wedding ceremony meant to me, the process I used to write it, some wedding ceremony ideas, and finally, our ceremony text, in case any of these things might inspire one of you to follow the same path.

A writer by trade and a poet at heart, I found that composing the ceremony text gave me not only literal control of our wedding, but also the power to truly imbue our wedding ceremony with our personalities and express the importance of our wedding day to our guests. More than that, writing the ceremony gave me the ability to craft it into a ritual that would work most powerfully to move us (heart, mind, body & soul) into marriage.

One of the challenges I faced when planning the wedding with Mr. CP was thinking of ways that the day would really help us feel married. After six-plus years of dating, a two-year engagement, and over four years of cohabitation, we’d spent more time together than many young couples we know. At this point in our relationship, marriage no longer seemed like a “big step” but a natural progression… which, I think, is a good thing. However, not wanting to diminish the importance of this commitment was part of the reason that we decided to have the wedding in Glacier, a place that is extremely pivotal to our relationship and what I would call a “place of power” for both of us.

In that same vein, I wanted us to feel, as much as we could, that we were passing from one part of our lives into the next. Because the actual act of marriage can seem like a subtle change after you’ve been together so long (we’ve said “I do” to each other in our hearts and heads a thousand times already!), I wanted to give our wedding day the largest ceremonial impact as possible.

This is one of the reasons I decided that I didn’t want to see Mr. CP until he was waiting at the altar. (And, believe it or not, I WANTED to cry.) And this is why I so thoroughly enjoyed being able to write a ceremony that was the perfect ritual to complete our transition to husband and wife.

To begin the process of writing our own wedding ceremony script, I thought first about what sort of ceremony we wanted. This meant thinking more, in actuality, about what we did NOT want and intuiting what we wanted from there. The best way to get started is to ask yourself a lot of questions such as:

  • What religious traditions, if any, do I want to incorporate into my wedding ceremony?
  • What rituals (unity candle, handfasting, sand ceremony, etc) do I like?
  • How long do I want my wedding ceremony to be?
  • Do I want a casual or formal ceremony?
  • Do I want the audience to participate in any way?
  • Will we have readings or other stories incorporated into the wedding ceremony?

Et cetera, et cetera.

Once you have at least loosely answered these questions and others like them for yourself, you have laid down a decent foundation to begin writing.

What I did next was collect inspiration from outside sources, including wedding ceremony text I found online either through Weddingbee or Google (a quick search of ‘write your own wedding ceremony’ yields some nice results), and through The Wedding Ceremony Planner.

The Wedding Ceremony Planner is an amazingly helpful book that has been referenced in the past by several Bees. In fact, that’s how I found it. Reading it will give you a good idea how to start planning and writing your own wedding ceremony. The book also provides copious amounts of sample text and structural outlines for inspiration and wedding ceremony ideas.


I wrote down and saved every little bit of text that I liked, whether it was a single line of verse or a paragraph or an entire reading. Then, I took those elements and worked them into a rough structural outline (Welcome, Acknowledgments, Marriage Address, Vows, etc.). I took out duplicate elements and pieces that didn’t work. Once I had a sort of theme, a rough outline with a feeling of unison, I started writing.

I didn’t feel comfortable using text taken directly from a book or copied from someone else’s wedding, so I took all those themes and verses I liked and reworked them into our own words. Some parts of the  ceremony were still similar to their original in structure or wording… but once I could no longer remember what came from elsewhere and what was original, I was satisfied that we had made our wedding ceremony our own.

I’d like to share our wedding ceremony script with you, in the hope that it might be helpful to you in writing your own ceremony, or in working with your officiant/clergy person to create something that works for you. Please feel free to also download this Word document version of our wedding ceremony script for personal use—we hope it will be useful in sparking some of your own wedding ceremony ideas.

This wedding ceremony, including vows, is about 20 to 25 minutes long.

Kat & Justin’s 9/6 Wedding Ceremony

Welcome! Good afternoon, family and friends
We have come here today to celebrate the wedding
of Kathryn [Lastname] and Justin [Lastname]

On behalf of Justin and Kat, thank you for joining us
They are delighted that you have come to share in their joy
During this special day
By your presence, you celebrate with them
The love they have discovered in each other
And you support their decision to commit themselves to a lifelong relationship

Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection.
By making this commitment today, Kat and Justin’s relationship
will become stronger, better, and deeper
Today, Kat and Justin demonstrate their devotion to each other
By dedicating themselves to a life together
And they show their respect for each other
By setting forth to honor the vows they have created
Today, their lives, which began on separate paths, will be joined as one

Today represents not only the joining of Kat and Justin
But also the joining of their families and friends

Kat and Justin would like to recognize their parents on this occasion,
They offer their profound gratitude
For all the love and care their parents showed in raising them.
Parents, the unconditional gifts of love and support
That you have continually offered
Have inspired them to become who they are today,
And they thank you, from the bottom of their hearts,
Without you, this day would not be possible.

They are blessed to share their wedding day with you, their family and friends,
And thank each of you for making the long journey here

As much as today it is a celebration of Kat and Justin’s marriage,
It is also a celebration of their love,
Which is built upon the last eight and a half years they have spent together
And all the experiences encompassed by that time

They have invited you to this beautiful place, to Polebridge,
to Glacier National Park
And show you a glimpse of an important piece of their love,
To share with you these mountains, these forests, these lakes
Because during their years together,
They have come here many times, on days like today, together
So humbled and awed by the purity of their surroundings
That Glacier has become a shelter, a respite, and a temple to them

They wanted to show you the beauty of these fields and these rivers
Because this is where their hearts have made their home

They have invited you here because their love is connected to this place
Their time spent here has always been a time of peace, of connectedness,
And of a deepening respect for the divine, for nature, and for each other

They ask that you open your hearts and minds
To the timelessness of this place
And to the love we are here to share through this ceremony

Kat and Justin have also asked that we take a moment
To honor those loved ones who are not with us today

[Names of those acknowledged here]

And as we remember those who are not with us,
We also recognize those
Who are still denied the civil right of wedded union
And forbidden the social and legal benefits of marriage
We have come a long way toward treating all men and women as equals,
And yet, we acknowledge that we have farther still to go
And more we can do to respect the choice to love, and be loved

As you look out over the mountains,
Please take a moment of silence for those we have recognized.

[Moment of silence]

Deep abiding affection,
the magical and compelling shared impulse
that makes us seek each others company,
is among the greatest gifts of the human experience.
Any of us who has been fortunate enough to find and express
the kind of loving devotion that we are celebrating here today
knows that it is an awesome and beautiful thing.

This understanding brings me to the first of three suggestion
I will offer to you, Kat & Justin;
be constantly grateful for the presence of this precious person
who has chosen to make a life with you.

My second suggestion is this:
Make each other the recipient of daily kindness.
The world can be a tough place
and any of us can be subject to rough handling.
Be generous with compliments.
Be attentive and helpful.
Each of you can, by your tenderness toward each other,
kind words and thoughtful actions,
make your marriage and your home an uplifting refuge.

Last, but perhaps most importantly,
make truth the unfailing bedrock of your lives together.
A happy, loving marriage is built on trust and respect.
That trust and respect can only be sustained
if you are both deeply committed to always being open and truthful
in every exchange no matter how small.

My hope for you is this;
that you have many long years to delight in each others company,
to feel gratitude for your great good fortune
in having found and loved each other,
to a make home together that is at once sheltering and welcoming,
to each do meaningful, productive work at home and in the world
and to love and be loved by the friends and family
who have come here today to support you”¦

Now, I ask that these friends and family stand,
And that you turn and acknowledge them, as they acknowledge you

[Audience stands]

As family and friends,
You form a community of support
That surrounds Kat and Justin
Each of you, by your presence here today
Is being called upon
To uphold them in loving each other

Always stand beside them, never between them
Offer them your love and your support
Not your judgment
Encourage them when encouragement is needed
And listen to them when they ask for advice

In these ways, you can honor this marriage
Into which they have come to be joined today

Do you offer your love and support
To strengthen their marriage
And bless this family created by their union?

Please answer by saying : WE DO

[Guests: WE DO]

Thank you, you may be seated.

[Audience sits]

Kat and Justin, do you, with family and friends as your witnesses,
Present yourselves willingly and of your own accord to be joined in marriage?

[Kat & Justin: WE DO]

Will you promise to care for each other in the joys and sorrows of life,
Come what may,
And to share the responsibility for growth and enrichment of your life together?

[Kat & Justin: WE WILL]

Then please turn to each other and share the vows you have written.


[Justin’s Vows:]
Kat, I have known you for many years and I have watched you grow
from the girl I first met and befriended into the woman that I love now.
In that time I have learned to love you
for who you have been, who you are and for the many possibilities that lie before us. Thank you for coming so far with me
and for always seeing in me the person that I strive to be,
even when I have stumbled along the way.
Thank you for your trust and support
and know that I will always trust and support you in return.

Thank you for always being my sanctuary, my comfort and my light when life is dark. Kathryn, above all else, thank you for your courage in taking this chance,
beginning a new journey and coming here today to be my wife,
and in doing so, making a gift of yourself and your life
and for accepting the same from me in return.

Today I promise you that though the world may change
and though we may change with it,
I will always love you, always treasure you and will always share my life
and all that I am with you.

[Kat’s Vows:]
Justin, today I join my life with yours
To share with you in all that is to come:
All of the joy, and all of the pain;
Not just to grow old together
But to grow together, as we have over these last eight years

I vow, from this day forward
To give you in even greater measure
The gifts of my heart:
I will listen, when you need a friend, so that you will never be alone
I will support you, through laughter and tears, in the largest and smallest of your endeavors
I will do my share, with my hands and with my heart, to build a life for us that is happy and abundant
I will make your dreams as important as my own, in order that we may share one dream for a future together
I will respect you as I respect myself, for your successes and despite your failures
I will be truthful and never withholding, so you have no reason to doubt the sincerity of my vows
And I will love you, deeply and without constraint, through whatever life may bring

Wherever our path leads us, it leads us together
I am proud, from this day forward, to be called your wife

For thousands of years,
Lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows
Let these rings be a sign that love has a past, a present, and a future
Through you and within you

Justin, take Kat’s ring and place it on her finger and repeat after me:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

Kat, take Justin’s ring and place it on his finger and repeat after me:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

Kat, take Justin’s hands palms up,
so you may see the gift that they are to you:

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love,
that are holding yours on your wedding day,
as he promises to love you all the days of his life.

Now Justin, please take Kat’s hands, palms up,
so you may see the gift that they are to you:

These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young, and carefree,
that are holding yours on your wedding day,
as she promises to love you all the days of her life.

Now, please join hands so that they may be fasted in the ways of old.
Remember then as your hands are fasted, these are not the ties that bind…

[Cords are held aloft]

The love already shared by your hearts
Has been strengthened by the vows you have taken
You will be bound by your love as you are bound by your clasped hands
From now until the end of your days

[As the following is recited, the couples hands are wrapped with cords]

These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.

These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you build your future together

These are the hands that will hold you whenever illness, fear, or grief may find you.

These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.

These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children

These are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours

[Binding is finished and cords are knotted]

Bless these hands that you see before you this day.
May they always reach out with love, gentleness, and respect.
May they build a loving relationship that lasts a lifetime.
May they always be held by one another.
If you follow these words and heed this sacred binding,
your hands will heal, protect, shelter, and guide.
Now, you may remove the cords,
but remember the knot as a lasting symbol of your binding and commitment

[Cords are removed stowed]

Kat and Justin, we have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage.
We recognize and respect the vows you have made here this day
Before each one of us as a witness.

In the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here today,
And in accordance with the laws of the state of Montana
It is my honor and delight to declare you henceforth
To be husband and wife
You may seal your vows with a kiss

[Kat & Justin kiss]

Now, may the love that has brought you together
Continue to grow and enrich your lives
May you meet with courage the problems that arise to challenge you
And may your relationship always be one of love and trust.

May the happiness you share today be with you always
And may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.

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