If you are planning a church wedding or have been lucky enough to be invited to one, you may be wondering how long it will be and what you can expect along the way. Well, here is everything you are going to want to be aware of regarding the timeline for your typical Christian church wedding.
So, how long is a church wedding ceremony? The average church wedding will be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. There are a few things that can influence this, like the type of readings, the music played, and even the faith branch of the couple getting married.
Knowing how long your ceremony can be is a massive part of your planning for the day.
Whether you are the couple, a family member, or even just a guest.
So let’s dive deeper into how long a church wedding is and what you can do to shorten the ceremony time – if that’s what you want to do, of course.
How Long Is A Wedding In A Church?
Most church weddings last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours long. Though the exact time will depend entirely on the type of church wedding and even the secular wedding you enter into.
Funnily enough, the ceremony is typically the shortest part of a wedding day.
However, it’s also the most important as it includes the ring exchange, vow exchange, and even the all-important walk down the aisle.
Now, I know not everyone who gets married in a church is religious, but sometimes it is just nice to include something traditional into your day, especially if it’s something that’s been done in your family for generations.
A church wedding isn’t necessary, but if you do decide to go ahead with one, it’s a necessary part of your day, and certain parts need to be covered if you want to be officially married to your soul mate.
Factors That Can Influence Church Wedding Ceremony Duration
If the idea of a two-hour-long wedding ceremony has you quaking in your wedding stockings, then here are a few things to keep in mind that can make your wedding longer – or shorter.
Type Of Service
This is a biggie when it comes to the length of your wedding ceremony.
Each church-based religion has a slightly different way of conducting a wedding ceremony, and this will massively influence how long you have to stand up in front of your guests saying your vows.
Catholic weddings are notorious for being extravagantly long.
On average, they can easily hit the two hours mark, especially if you decide to go for a full traditional mass.
However, by nixing the mass element of your catholic wedding, you can reduce your wedding ceremony length massively.
Christian weddings, this includes most other Christian denominations, aren’t usually as long as their catholic counterparts.
The vows and readings part of the ceremony isn’t going to last much longer than 20-30 minutes.
The hymns you choose will factor into how long your wedding ceremony ends up being. If you’re hoping for a quicker ceremony, choose hymns that are short and sweet.
If you pick 3 hymns that are cracking on for 5 minutes a piece, that’s already an extra 15 minutes you will have added to your ceremony length.
Most weddings only need one or two hymns for the service to work, so you can easily cut your ceremony time by just not adding any extras.
Especially if they don’t have special meaning or you are not particularly religious.
Length Of Readings
Readings are an integral part of a religious church ceremony, but just like the hymns, what readings you choose can make your ceremony so long that your guests will forget what their butt cheeks feel like.
Now, if you have a particular reading that has meaning to you and your spouse-to-be, go for it, but if you can help it and you want a shorter ceremony, stick to readings that don’t go on for sentence after sentence.
Although your church may have requirements for your music choices, they may prefer religious or classical music only; what music you go with can make or break if you are on a strict timeline.
Stick to beautiful music that doesn’t go on for multiple verses. Just enough to see you down the aisle and back again will be plenty.
However, if you do have a very large bridal party, you may actually need a longer piece of music to last long enough to see everyone down the aisle.
Processional & Recessional
The processional – when you and your wedding party walk down the aisle – and you’re recessional – when you all make your way out of the church – can have a massive impact on how long your ceremony lasts.
The more people you have at your wedding party, the longer these parts will take. Think about it, if you only have three bridesmaids and one flower girl, you’ll all be down the aisle in a matter of minutes.
However, if you’ve asked 15 people to join your bridal party, with each one of their daughters being a flower girl, it’s going to take just a little longer to make it to the end.
Arriving on time is key to keeping to a wedding ceremony schedule.
Now, things happen, and people get delayed, but if you’re purposely 20 minutes late for your wedding, that’s an extra 20 minutes your guests have had to wait around and an extra 20 minutes strapped on to the beginning of your ceremony time.
What Happens At A Church Wedding Ceremony?
Although each Christian wedding ceremony is different, there are a few steps they all include.
You already know there are going to be the all-important vows, the giving away of the bride, and the exchanging of the rings.
So what are the other parts of a traditional church wedding ceremony?
- Seating of the parents
- Bridal Processional
- Wedding march
- Call to Worship
- Opening prayer
- Congregations are seated
- Giving away of the bride
- Worship song or hymn
- The pledge – better known as the if anyone opposes this union, please stand now speech
- Wedding vows
- Exchanging the rings
- The pronouncement
- Closing prayer
- The kiss
- Presentation of the new couple
It’s a lot of steps, and this is just the bare minimum when it comes to a church wedding ceremony.
Some weddings, especially catholic ceremonies, will also include communion, lighting a unity candle after the vows, extra hymns, readings, poems, and sometimes even a musical prelude.
What Happens After The Wedding Ceremony Is Over?
There are a few things that may happen after a wedding ceremony has finished, such as the signing of the register, photos, and even the traditional confetti celebration outside the church.
Just like a wedding ceremony, what comes after will depend entirely on the couple and what they prefer to happen.
If the signing of the register hasn’t happened during the ceremony, it is usually tapped onto the end as a little extra once the official ceremony has concluded.
If they decide to go really traditional, they may expect a processional exit from the church.
This is where the bride and groom’s family line the steps outside of the church and celebrate by throwing confetti, rice, or even flower petals over the newly wedded couple.
This is often when the wedding photos begin.
Once a wedding ceremony has finished, most couples will wander off with their photographer and whoever else is to be a part of the photos to have their memory snaps taken.
This can take up to an hour, and most other guests will make their way to the reception venue.
A couples wedding day can be extremely overwhelming, so many couples will now take a few minutes, maybe even an hour, to just spend time alone once the ceremony and photos have been taken.
It’s the perfect moment for the couple to enjoy each other’s company and get excited over the fact that they have finally got married.
Are Church Wedding Ceremonies Long?
How long your church wedding ceremony ends up being is ultimately up to you.
Once all the basics are covered, which should take around 30 minutes at the very most, any extra bits are your choice.
That being said, couples who are getting married in a church because of religion may end up with longer ceremonies.
This is because their wedding isn’t just a joyous occasion but also a deeply spiritual experience.
For couples who aren’t as religious but love the beauty and tradition of a church wedding, they may choose to just stick to a basic ceremony which is, naturally, much shorter.
However you choose to run your church wedding ceremony, it’s bound to be an exciting and loving affair.
Other guides you may want to read:
- How Long Is A Catholic Wedding?
- How Long Is A Typical Wedding Reception? [What Can You Expect]
- How Long Should Wedding Vows Be?
- How Long Do You Need A DJ For A Wedding?
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!