How Long Should My Wedding Ceremony Be?

Now that you are engaged, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning. One of the first questions we ask couples on our video calls is “how long of a ceremony do you want?”. Of course the answers run the gambit. Usually a third of couples are looking for something over 45 minutes, a third are looking for the “sweet spot” 20-30 minutes, and about a third (usually our super shy couples) want a super quick and simple 10-15 minutes. 

More Is Not Always Better 

The couples that want a very long ceremony (over 45 minutes), often pick this number out of the sky. A few are basing it off of religious church weddings, which have a lot of ‘pomp and circumstance’, blessings, offerings, rituals, etc. 

If you are thinking that you would like a longer ceremony, we encourage couples to do a practice run. Ask a (really good) friend to select a book of their choosing, have you stand up, as if you were at your wedding, and listen. Forty-five minutes may be the right amount of time for some couples, but when you actually put yourselves into the position of listening to someone speak for 45 minutes, it can be a bit overwhelming. Now factor in if you have some older family or friends sitting (or standing) in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. 

The “Sweet Spot” on Ceremony Times

We have found over twenty years of performing ceremonies, that most end up coming in between 20-30 minutes. Not too long, not too short. A good amount of time if you are standing under a hot Tuscan sun or sitting outside for a winter wonderland celebration. The 20-30 minute ceremony is the perfect length for just about everyone. This time can include the processional of the bridal party and also include any rituals, or simply be the time of the ceremony itself. 

We have never had a couple come in and say… “Wow, I wish it had lasted longer/ shorter”. In our opinion this gives plenty of time to say it all, including reading your handwritten vows. 

 A Little (Too) Short and Quick

Honestly, these are some of our favorite couples. They want is short, sweet and to the point. Generally, no processional or recessional, they don’t want to read their vows. No story of how they met, or poetry… they want it short and to the point. Period. (And honestly, this was us too, 28 years ago…)

But, once we start talking to them, they eventually loosen up a bit. At first, maybe they didn’t want to recite their vows in front of others, but they eventually agree to something short and sweet. (Often these are the ones that go on for 5+ minutes)! 

We tell all our couples, especially the nervous and shy ones, that once you get down the aisle, the world will melt away. You will forget about all of your friends and family seated behind you, you will forget about your bridal party standing guard, you will only be aware of the celebrant and your partner. Suddenly, everything is so much easier when it is just you two. Words come easier, you smile more radiantly, your eyes look deeper…

The perfect ceremony for you and your beloved is not bound by minutes and seconds. Try not to think of a required length of time that you need to fit into. This is your time to profess your love for and your trust in the one you hold special above all others. This is your time to tell them, your family and friends just how special they are to you. How they make you feel each and every day and why you have chosen them among all others. Do not short yourself this opportunity. It is a magical moment and one that is difficult to recreate, so take full advantage of it while you can. 

Do you have any advice for couples about to “take the plunge”? For couples that are struggling with their ceremonies or how long it should be? Tell us about your ceremony!


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