While it can be easy to get caught up in the glamour of picking the dress, flowers, and cake, your wedding ceremony is really the most important part that everyone comes to see and that you will remember for the rest of your lives. But what happens during a secular wedding ceremony? Is there a secular ceremony script for non-religious couples to follow?
From the moment the bride walks down the aisle to the exchanging of the rings, the ceremony seals the deal and marks a memorable time, declaring you husband and wife.
However, what you actually say during the ceremony might end up as a bit of an afterthought, especially if you’re not a religious person. In which case, you may find yourself scribbling vows to your bride or groom during work breaks or searching for the perfect ceremony script for your wedding day.
Below, we list several great secular wedding ceremony script ideas and examples.
Planning a Secular Wedding Ceremony
As younger people have grown less and less religious, more couples are having entirely secular wedding ceremonies that better represent the bride and groom. A tradition that was once heavily steeped in religion, the wedding ceremony has taken on so many secular, mixed-faith, and spiritual forms, expressing the real lives of couples.
If you and your fiancee do not identify as religious or as particularly spiritual, a secular ceremony is the thing for you. While some older folks may prefer a Christian wedding ceremony, there are plenty of ways to honor the importance of your commitment while respecting your own belief system and living your own lives.
Ideas for Your Non-Religious Wedding Ceremony Script
From the officiant to your heartfelt vows, every part of a wedding ceremony is usually expected and has a typical form. However, times are changing, and many people like to challenge the norms and do something entirely their own for their wedding, maybe even surprising your future husband or wife.
There are so many ways to write a script for a heartfelt and memorable secular wedding ceremony that honors the bride and groom. Keep reading for everything from vow ideas, to readings, to ring exchange from a non-religious perspective.
Who Should Be the Officiant?
The first step to planning your ceremony is to choose an officiant. While many religious ceremonies have a local figure officiate the ceremony, a secular ceremony has more options. Some people would go for a justice of the peace or a celebrant.
However, many people go the route of getting a close friend or family member ordained and having them officiate their beautiful wedding ceremony! This is a special way to celebrate good times with this person and to make your marriage extra inclusive of other loved ones in your life.
Just keep in mind that it’s important to pick someone that knows both husband and wife well. Anyone can get ordained online, either just for the single marriage day or permanently!
The first part of the ceremony script usually comes right after the processional, and that’s the officiant’s welcome. This may be short or long, sometimes containing a short speech afterward (more on that in a minute).
It’s pretty easy to keep religious beliefs out of this part– it’s really just a warm “hello” and thank you for being there for the bride and groom.
A more traditional way to begin is the classic “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of (couple).” This is a movie-perfect way to start, and you can’t go wrong.
However, you may ask your officiant to do something more jovial, like “Friends and family of (couple), thank you for being here!”. This article on how to start the ceremony is a great resource for officiants welcoming guests to the event.
The speech you write for the officiant after the welcome has the opportunity for a bit more variation. From the short and sweet to the entire love story, your officiant and you can come up with pretty much whatever you want to precede readings, vows, and rings. You can even skip a speech altogether if that’s what you’d like!
This article from Officiant Eric has a bunch of script ideas, in a variety of lengths, and most are non-religious. Instead, they contain references to the lives of the bride and groom and the definition of marriage.
You should feel free to pick and choose little bits of these together and to personalize them as much as you feel comfortable with, with the help of your officiant if you’d like.
One of the loveliest parts of any ceremony are the guest readings. A wedding reader may be family members or close friends. For something a bit more traditional, this classic Irish blessing is classic and secular.
This lovely poem discusses the trials and tribulations of married life in a funny but heartfelt way.
For something a bit more “old world”, this classic Shakespearean sonnet is about the lasting power of true love and the importance of acceptance in marriage.
If you and your person are music lovers, you could try bits of song lyrics! “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran is one of the most memorable love songs in recent years and would make a great wedding reading. You’ll be listening to it together for the rest of your lives.
Beautiful Quotes for a Secular Ceremony
You could also incorporate readings through short and simple quotes. This lovely piece from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is a perfect declaration of love for any literary lover, especially from the perspective of a wife.
You could also use a short quote to express your philosophies on love and marriage as you enter the threshold of life together, like this one.
Even if you want to keep the ceremony secular, if you still believe in more spiritual concepts like fate and destiny, you can discuss the belief that your partner is your soulmate in a quote like this one.
Any Winnie the Pooh lover is familiar with this beautiful quote. Infuse some childhood nostalgia and express your endless love for your husband or wife with it.
If you are looking for some quick and easy sample wedding ceremony vows, there are tons of options to express all of your promises. This script is wonderfully down-to-earth and genuine.
This one is so quick, honest, and acknowledges all the presence of family and community of friends that have made time to watch you get married to your husband or wife.
Keep your vows short and sweet with a funny personal anecdote that shows off how much you really love your partner, remembering all the good times.
Writing Your Own Secular Vows
If you want to make things more personal, definitely consider writing your own vows. Writing your own vows is a super cute and fun way to make your wedding ceremony uniquely yours, your promises unlike anyone else’s, and more intimate for your friends and family.
If you’re unsure where to start in writing your own vows, this list of prompts can get the creativity going. By remembering all of these special times and reasons for marrying your beloved, you’ll be sure to write something beautiful and personal, forgoing traditional wedding vows.
Declaration of Intent
After you read your vows, there’s the declaration of marriage and exchanging of rings led by the officiant. This is where the bride and groom say “I do!”. This script for that part of the ceremony is traditional, but entirely secular.
This one is a bit shorter, and also brings in some real-world issues to your vows.
While it calls back to your grandparent’s vows, this one also roots your marriage in larger themes about your lives and speaks from the heart.
For a longer declaration and exchange, this one tackles several aspects of a marriage while remaining non-religious.
Exchange of Rings
After declaring your intent, you can exchange the wedding rings. This is a short part of the ceremony and is very traditional, where you put your rings on the other’s finger.
If you wish to forgo the rings, feel free to declare your intent and then kiss, and by the power invested in your officiant, you will be married! However, the rings typically go in the middle, and symbolize handing the other person a piece of your heart.
There are plenty of secular ways to phrase the ring exchange. From something as simple as “with this ring, I thee wed” to longer dedications of friendship and commitment that the ring on the finger symbolizes, this is another great part of the ceremony that you can customize with your officiant’s help.
Traditional Ceremony Themes
As seen in all of the examples so far, there are a handful of themes that come up repeatedly in the majority of wedding ceremonies. Almost all wedding ceremonies, religious and secular, talk at length about the love between the couple and about the meaning of their commitment. These things seem obvious– it’s the whole point of getting married!
However, there are other, more personal themes and values you can incorporate. If you feel that your relationship is deeply rooted in friendship, or maybe you and your fiance started out as friends, the friendship aspect of marriage might be important for you to highlight.
Similarly, if you’ve faced a lot of challenges in your relationship, you can talk about always climbing mountains together. Think about what makes you unique as a couple and hone into it for your script.
Unconventional Ceremony Actions
Some people choose to bring certain ceremonies or actions into their wedding. For example, the pagan tradition of handfasting ties your hands together with a rope, representing your bond and acting as a non-religious blessing.
Some people do a sand ceremony, in which they fill up something like an hourglass or bottle with two different colors of sand, representing them as individuals. As time goes on, the two colors of sand will fully integrate, showing the closeness of the new union you’ve built.
The vessel that holds the sand will be a beautiful keepsake of that moment in time.
For a similar idea but more woodsy feel, plant a tree together, and then eventually re-plant the tree in your backyard. As it grows, it’ll represent the growth of your love and union of marriage, making all the times you look in your yard extra meaningful.
You could also do something like a unity candle. Both of you light single candle sticks and join the flame together on a third candle. As the two flames become one, so do you and your partner.
Themed Ceremony Scripts
For a couple with very unique interests, you could write your theme into the ceremony! There are all sorts of ideas for themed ceremonies, from classics like a Disney theme and a woodlands theme, to very niche, like a Steampunk ceremony and other fandom-related interests.
This theme can be incorporated not only through decorations, but through references in your officiant’s speech, readings, and vows. If you and your bride or groom have a certain interest that’s important to your relationship, see if you can find fun ways to incorporate it into the beginning of your union.
Don’t forget to thank your readers with gifts or handwritten notes for their contribution to your wedding day!
Simple Ceremony Scripts
If anything themed makes you want to cringe, you can always try keeping it as simple as humanly possible. There are plenty of quick, 5-minute ceremony scripts you can make use of to keep your ceremony short and sweet.
This basic script from another officiant’s blog is probably the quickest wedding ceremony you can get with zero frills attached. This is another way to have a secular wedding without keeping it too busy, honoring your commitment as bride and groom.
Civil Ceremony Scripts
If you’re getting married at the courthouse, the notary or justice of the peace that’s there will probably already know what to say. You may get an opportunity to talk with them beforehand, but it may not be enough time to write an entire ceremony script.
In general, a civil ceremony will likely not have much personalization, nor will be it be waxing poetic about your love. It will probably be very quick and focused on the legal aspects of your union. Learn what to expect for your courthouse wedding.
Incorporating Kids into Your Ceremony
One thing that many couples may wish to do is to incorporate their kids into the wedding ceremony. This is a great idea, as long as your kids open to it! There are tons of different places where your kids can be a part of your ceremony.
For one, they could be ring bearers, helping with the exchange. If older, they could also do a reading, as long as they’re comfortable in front of a crowd. You could also do something like the sand combination or tree planting– these symbolize your children being a part of the day as well.
Secular Ceremony Venues
If you’re still in the beginning of planning, you may be wondering where to have a secular wedding ceremony. Lucky for you, lots of people are moving away from having their weddings in churches. There are so many options for beautiful spaces and venues.
More About Wedding Ceremonies
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