We’ve all been there – you roll up to a wedding anticipating a short and very sweet ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. Except, that “short and sweet” ceremony you were expecting has dragged on for over an hour, with no end in sight. What gives?
While there’s no rule book for how long wedding ceremonies should be, some research quickly shows that the average wedding ceremony is between 20-30 minutes. However, this length will change based on several factors like your personal religion, location, vows, and more.
So, what should you consider when deciding your wedding ceremony length? Let’s break it down.
What Makes a Ceremony Longer?
There are several reasons one wedding ceremony might be longer (or much longer) than the average. If you have one or more of these aspects at play in your ceremony, you can expect it to last a bit longer, and your guests should know to go ahead and get comfortable.
Religion is one of the top factors that will make a wedding long because the ceremony includes several aspects of a religious tradition that aren’t included in a secular marriage.
Catholic marriages, for example, are some of the most extended ceremonies, taking about an hour or even longer. Guests who have never attended one before might not realize the ceremony itself is simply part of a larger, more extended mass that all guests must prepare for.
Aspects of the Ceremony Itself
Aspects of the ceremony itself can add time to the ceremony and aren’t always necessary.
If you want several readings done before your vows, this adds time. Other components people like to add that can extend the length include:
- Wine blending ceremonies
- Sand ceremonies
- Musical performances
- Candle lighting
- Religious or spiritual traditions
Any number of added events during a wedding ceremony will extend the timing.
If you have a wedding at a huge location, or if the ceremony location is far from where the bridal party will walk out, by nature, it will take longer because the processional will take much longer. Each person will have to walk a further distance, taking up more time in total.
How to Make Your Ceremony Shorter
Want to shorten your ceremony? Try any of these tips to keep it to the point and keep your guests engaged.
- Choose a secular ceremony – If you have the option, choose a secular ceremony and consider a separate religious ceremony with a much smaller audience.
- Cut the fluff – Cut out aspects of the ceremony that aren’t necessary. While things like candle lighting and sand pouring can be beautiful and symbolic, it also adds time that you could use on more fun things (hello cocktail hour!).
- Keep your vows personal – Vows are by far the most private part of any wedding. While it can be nice to share them with all your friends and family, you could opt to share them privately before the ceremony or even send them as letters to read before walking down the aisle. The bonus is that it saves time!