The Perfect Wedding Ceremony Length

Determining how long a wedding ceremony should be

Whether eloping or having a mega-celebration with 150 of your besties, figuring out how long your ceremony should be is something every wedding couple contends with. Of course, the rituals you choose to include (or not include) will affect its length.

The wedding ceremony is what makes the day more than a party. You and your guests are gussied up for the moment. You want it to be memorable and meaningful. And, not boring. Terrific! The trend is shorter, especially for secular weddings.

What Officiants Say

To help determine what is the perfect length for wedding ceremonies, we asked the experts: professional marriage officiants! We asked how long they think the perfect ceremony length is. They were almost evenly split: 10-15 minutes or 20-30 minutes. There were a few outliers suggesting as little as five minutes, or as long as 30-40 minutes. None chose more than 45 minutes.

15-20 Minutes ~ The Perfect Ceremony Length

Our decision to omit the 15-20 minute option was deliberate, to force respondents to lean either shorter or longer. Our plan may have backfired, though, since officiants chose both the alternatives at practically the same rate. So, maybe the 15-20 minute is the perfect medium!

Following are comments shared by officiants to justify their positions.

Reasons for 10-15 Minutes
  • I think 15 minutes is excellent. The ceremony will be heartfelt, but succinct enough to keep the guests listening.
  • Long enough to convey what the couple wants to say to each other and no longer.
  • Clear beginning, middle and end. Full-bodied and totally customized.
  • Focus only on the things that matter – and will be remembered by the wedding couple.
  • Folks tend to listen to every word if it is lively and  concise. You will start to lose them if you repeat or include long passages.
  • 15 minutes allows you to include all the basic parts and not short-change yourselves.
  • If it’s less than 10 minutes, they tell me “it was over so fast.”
  • It’s enough time to get in all the essential elements and some personal touches, but not so long that people stop paying attention. Of course, special rituals will add to the time.
Reasons for 20-30 Minutes
  • It is long enough to feel significant, but not so long that guests stop listening and lose interest.
  • Allows for larger processionals/recessionals as well as a ritual  and/or reading.
  • Enough time for the importance to be internalized and yet short enough for folks to not get fidgety.
  • Includes music for processional and exit with an introduction and vows written by the couple.
  • Gives meaning, emotions. and is entertaining and enthralling. Too long and guests get bored. Too short and it lacks meaning.
  • Gives the opportunity to personalize the ceremony.
  • It encompasses the basics of a ceremony without feeling rushed. It gives an accomplished feeling without going into overtime or boredom.

For your ceremony, talk with your JP or notary to determine the right length for you. The officiants on are professionals with years of experience. You can search by town or state to find the perfect fit for you!

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Loretta Jay is an expert in marriage ceremoniesLoretta Jay is the Managing Member of the Justice of the Peace Association. This is the membership organization for professional marriage officiants. All officiants’ profiles are searchable at, the place where Couples who Click can find their perfect JP. 

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