How Long Should Your Wedding Ceremony Be? (2024)

Let's face it: The reception is usually the part of the wedding that the couple and guests most look forward to, but there's no denying that the ceremony is the heart of the big day. After all, witnessing a couple say "I do" is the whole point of the celebration. This all begs the question: How long is a wedding ceremony? Ultimately, the length of this vow exchange will depend on the pair getting married, their cultures, religions, and overall wishes for this part of the day. While every ceremony is unique, most will feature the "exchanging of vows and rings, as well as the officiant sharing their story," says Heather Balliet, a wedding specialist and the owner of Amorology. "It is a blending of family traditions on both sides." Depending on all that the soon-to-be newlyweds decide to include, the ceremony could either be shorter or longer than what guests are used to from previous weddings. Here, wedding planners shares their expert insight on how long your wedding ceremony should be and offer advice on landing on the perfect timing for you.

Figure out what type of ceremony you want to have.

Before deciding on what you feel is the ideal ceremony timing, do note that there are many different types of wedding ceremonies; each will range in tradition and length. Balliet says most wedding ceremonies last around 20 to 30 minutes, but religious celebrations generally require more time. Xanath Banuelos, the owner and lead planner of XB Destination Weddings & Events, says that non-denominational weddings tend to be around 30 to 40 minutes. "There are also symbolic ceremonies, which are custom made ceremonies compiled by unifying acts chosen by the bride and groom and their families," she says. These, she notes, can be inspired by a religion, poem, or culture, and often last for about 20 minutes.

"When it comes to more traditional ceremonies like Jewish and Christian ceremonies, they tend to be 45 minutes to one hour," shares Banuelos. "For Indian [weddings], the ceremonies are commonly between one hour to two hours; it varies depending on if both the bride and groom come from the same culture and region or if they will be blending in both their traditions into one ceremony."

Think through the pros and cons of a ceremony that's long or short.

How long or short a wedding feels could be subjective to the couple, but Balliet shares that anything over an hour can begin to drag. If the ceremony ends up being too long, guests might begin to lose interest and get impatient, especially with children in attendance. "Less than 10 minutes can tend to feel too rushed or may not offer the opportunity for guests to feel that connection to you as you are being married," she says. "Guests want to experience the love of a couple as they are attending their big day."

Plan out the ceremony details.

One of the biggest traditions featured across all wedding ceremonies is the exchanging of vows, and how long or short your vows are will have a definitive impact on the ceremony's overall length. "Between two to three minutes is a great time frame to aim for on each side, which is about 200 to 300 words and allows you to focus in on the most important promises you are making, while also taking your time to really say what is on your heart," says Balliet. "The vows are followed by the ring exchange and traditionally the groom goes first, but, of course, you can give your own spin on it these days." The processional, depending on the amount of people in the wedding party, the welcome from the officiant, and ceremony rituals, such as a sand ceremony, Balliet notes, could play a role in extending a ceremony's length for non-denominational weddings, as well. Factors that could specifically influence the length of a traditional wedding include a welcoming mantra and prayers, Banuelos says. For instance, in "Indian ceremonies, it is very common for the grooms to kick off the ceremony with a Ganesh Puja, (a prayer to dispel all evils), and about 20 minutes into the ceremony, the priest asks for the bride to come in," she adds.

Talk through what you want for the big day.

Some ceremony adjustments could be possible for couples who may want to avoid having a long, traditional event in a house of worship. "When it comes to intercultural weddings, it truly depends on how traditional the families and spiritual leaders are, very often we recommend having a close friend or family member perform the ceremony," Banuelos says. "In Indian ceremonies, we recommend having some parts of the ceremony done at home, or earlier during the early morning, this way we respect tradition, and we don't put guests through a two-hour-long ceremony." Banuelos adds that at times, it can be possible to custom make a ceremony in different traditions or curate two separate ceremonies. In the case of the latter, "we always recommend for the ceremonies to be done in two different days, otherwise we look at three to five hours of the two ceremonies combined when you take changes of the setup, photos between ceremonies, and changes of outfits in consideration."

For non-denominational weddings, Balliet suggests couples sit down together, along with the officiant, to discuss ceremony preferences. "If you don't want a full sermon or a ceremony filled with anecdotes, make sure to make a note with your officiant on the front end," she adds.

How Long Should Your Wedding Ceremony Be? (2024)

FAQs

How Long Should Your Wedding Ceremony Be? ›

So my own rule of thumb is that a ceremony is not more than 30 minutes (from ceremony entrance to exit) and maybe 45 minutes at a push. But I would say my average is 30 minutes.

How long should your wedding ceremony be? ›

Balliet says most wedding ceremonies last around 20 to 30 minutes, but religious celebrations generally require more time. Xanath Banuelos, the owner and lead planner of XB Destination Weddings & Events, says that non-denominational weddings tend to be around 30 to 40 minutes.

Is a 15 minute wedding ceremony too short? ›

“A normal ceremony”

The average ceremony is “short and sweet”! That's right, in today's standards, a wedding ceremony lasts about 15-20 minutes.

Is 30 minutes enough for a wedding ceremony? ›

Wedding ceremonies typically last between 20 and 30 minutes, which is ample time to cover the basics (words of welcome, a few readings, your vows, the ring exchange, and the final pronouncement).

How long should an officiant talk at a wedding? ›

When it comes to the length of an officiant wedding script, all you need is some fun, friendly, and informative content to make your guests smile and capture the essence of your relationship. An average wedding ceremony script for officiants should be 5-15 minutes long, but that varies based on the type of ceremony.

Is 4 hours enough for a wedding ceremony and reception? ›

4-5 hours will be your best bet for reception length. Do note that the ceremony isn't included in this, as it's just the reception (and co*cktail hour, if you'd like to count that). Some people think that less than 4-5 hours is perfect and I really feel that even 3-4 hours would be plenty.

What is the 30 5 minute rule for weddings? ›

The concept is based on the theory that anything that takes five minutes to do in your everyday life, such as getting dressed or going to the bathroom, will take about 30 minutes on your wedding day. 'Putting on a wedding dress is not the same as getting dressed for work in the morning,' she explained.

Is 5 minutes too long for a wedding speech? ›

While many experts will tell you to keep your talk to 3 minutes or less, Chertoff says the best wedding speeches usually last three to five minutes. Gottsman agrees, saying "The perfect speech lasts around 5 minutes, give or take a minute or two."

Is 2 minutes too short for a wedding speech? ›

Time your speech to land between 2-5 minutes. There is nothing wrong with something short and sweet, especially if you dread public speaking.

What time do most weddings end? ›

You can expect a more conservative reception venue to end the party around 11 pm or midnight depending on a few different factors, including:
  • what they have booked the next day.
  • how they plan their clean up (some do it immediately, others wait until the morning, others expect you to handle it before you leave)
Nov 16, 2021

Is a 100 guest wedding small? ›

How many guests are typically invited to each size wedding? These numbers may vary a little depending on who you're speaking with, but a small wedding typically includes 50 people or under, a medium wedding has a guest list of anywhere from 50-150 guests, and a large wedding has over 150 attendees.

What is the most popular time for a wedding ceremony? ›

In the summer the sweet spot seems to be between 1:30pm and 2:30pm but for a winter wedding I'd definitely consider a 12-1pm ceremony to make the most of the little daylight you have for some amazing portraits.

How do you introduce yourself as an officiant? ›

The audience will want to know who you are and why you're up there. So, start by introducing yourself—briefly—and explain why you were chosen or how you know the couple. Then, share those two or three specific stories you brainstormed or crowd-sourced. And lastly, zoom out.

Who should speak first at wedding? ›

The traditional order for wedding speeches starts with the father of the bride (a lil heartfelt few words about how great she is, and also welcoming the guests), then the groom, followed by the best man. Today, weddings look a bit different to the traditional set up, so with that in mind, its honestly up to you.

Does the officiant walk out first? ›

Who walks with who? Whatever you decide as a couple. the traditional order is: Mother of Bride, Mother of Groom, Grandparents of Bride, Grandparents of Groom, Groom, Officiant, the Wedding Party, Maid of Honor and Best Man, Ring Bearer, Flower Girl and lastly the Bride and her Father.

How long does the ceremony last for? ›

Typically civil ceremonies last around 30 minutes, and church ceremonies last about an hour. Of course timings can always differ and depend on the amount of readings and hymns you choose as well.

Is 3 hours too long between ceremony and reception? ›

A break of 60 to 90 minutes is fine.

Anything longer and guests will start getting antsy, but it's impossible to avoid in some instances (like when you're hosting a church ceremony that can only happen at 12 noon).

How long is your average wedding? ›

The average wedding reception lasts between four and five hours, while the ceremony itself typically lasts between thirty minutes to an hour. Most weddings will run 15–20 minutes behind schedule at some point during the day or night, but will make up for lost time elsewhere.

Is 6 30 too late for a wedding ceremony? ›

If your wedding is in the SPRING or FALL (late March-May and September-October), your ceremony time should be begin around 5-6 pm. The sun sets around 7:30 pm late spring and early fall and around 6:30pm in early spring and late fall.

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