What Should Be Included in a Secular Ceremony?

Sometimes you might want to make the vow exchange a little longer.

what to include in a secular ceremony, how to make a secular ceremony longer
Photo by Caroline Tran

For the vast majority of religious people, planning a wedding ceremony is relatively simple because there are certain traditions that must be adhered to. There may different passages to choose from in regards to readings, but the options are generally limited. If you and your future spouse do not practice any particular faith – or none at all – it may be tough to figure out how to fill time in a ceremony. While the occasion not being as long as a full mass may be seen as a positive, it’s understandable if you want it to be more than the five or 10 minutes that it takes for the processional and vow exchange. After all, your decision to wed isn’t frivolous just because it’s a civil service. In one sense, there is a whole world of options available to pad your ceremony time; however, we know that too many choices can be overwhelming.

Here are some ideas on what to include in a secular ceremony:

- You can still include a reading (or two!) without it being from a religious text. A favorite book, poem, movie, or even a TV show may have a touching passage about love that not only reflects what you and your partner feel about each other, but your personalities as well. This also gives you the opportunity to include more of your loved ones in the ceremony.

- If you have musically inclined friends or family, a performance of a song could be the perfect thing to make your vow exchange unique.

- Whether you have a friend officiate your wedding or hire a professional, you can have them tell the story of how you and your future spouse fell in love as part of the opening before vows are read.

- Though a unity candle is more explicitly part of Christianity, there are other similar practices you could take part in. For example, a wine ceremony, handfasting, planting a tree, and more. 

Read the pros and cons of a church wedding and how to pick songs for your ceremony

Authored by: Emily Lasnier