How to Write Secular and Non-Religious Wedding Ceremony Scripts

Use these modern tips to personalize your nuptials.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Aug 07, 2020

Of all the special moments during your big day, your wedding ceremony will be one of the most memorable. The ceremony script sets the tone for your nuptials—not to mention, it marks the moment you and your S.O. are officially married. If you're planning a non-religious wedding ceremony, creating the script may take more time since you won't use pre-written religious vows and readings. Many couples who choose to have a secular or non-denominational wedding work with their officiant to add personal touches like anecdotes and creative new traditions. You can even add certain religious vows or readings if you want—it's possible to have a non-denominational wedding ceremony with brief influences from religion. What matters most, though, is that your wedding ceremony represents you and your S.O.  
To help determine how to make your vows represent your beliefs, we break down everything to know about non-denominational and non-religious wedding ceremonies. We've also tapped industry professionals to share how you can create a ceremony script that feels personal to you. 

What is a Non-Religious Wedding Ceremony?

A non-religious wedding ceremony is exactly what it sounds like: a series of vows and readings not tied to any religion. Regardless of your beliefs, you can plan a non-religious wedding ceremony if it's what you and your S.O. want. 

You can also plan a non-denominational or interfaith ceremony if you want to fuse your religious practices with your partner's. In doing so, your officiant will help you include important readings and vows from various religions. Deciding between a non-religious or non-denominational ceremony is a personal choice, and it's one that should reflect your wedding vision. 

How to Write a Non-Religious Wedding Ceremony Script

Whether you want a non-religious ceremony or a custom interfaith wedding, writing your own script will allow you to personalize your nuptials to best fit you and your partner. "One of the best ways to create a personalized ceremony is for couples to write their own vows," says Reverend Dr. Samora Smith, a New York-based wedding officiant. "Most couples today are looking for a unique take on an old tradition. Ceremonies can include the time-honored traditions of vows and rings while also reflecting the unique qualities of each couple. "

When planning your ceremony, your officiant can help identify which aspects of traditional wedding vows are most important to you, along with ways to make your script work for personalization purposes. "Couples who want their ceremonies personalized can also include their children or family members, or they can share stories from early in their relationship," suggests Mathew Anderson, a non-denominational wedding minister.

 "When working with a wedding officiant to create a unique, customized wedding script, couples should be as open as possible," says North Dakota-based officiant Amber Olsen. "The officiant will ask questions about your relationship and why you fell in love with the other person. The more details you can share with your officiant about your relationship, the more detailed and customized your wedding ceremony will be." 

"A great way to personalize your wedding is by incorporating unity ceremonies like ceremonial wine, unity sand or hand wrapping," says Smith. "Readings from favorite movies or writers can also offer a unique tone to the ceremony."

It's possible to include brief nods to religion without committing to a full religious ceremony.  "Couples can also choose to have a semi-religious ceremony, where they may include only one or two mentions of a higher being and just one prayer to open the ceremony, while keeping the rest of the ceremony non-religious," suggests Olson. Adds Anderson: "Keeping traditional nods to religion is easily done when writing the ceremony from scratch." 

Your wedding ceremony script should include readings and vows that are important to you. If you're planning a non-denominational interfaith ceremony, work with your S.O. to choose the religious elements you definitely want to include. 

Or, if you'll be planning a non-religious wedding ceremony, allow your officiant to guide your script writing process. In general, most ceremony scripts follow a specific order of events: welcome statement, declaration of intent, readings, vows, exchanges of rings and pronouncement. 

While just about anything goes for your secular or non-denominational wedding ceremony, length is an important factor to keep in mind when writing a script. Traditional religious ceremonies tend to follow a similar time frame—so when writing your own secular wedding ceremony script from scratch, it's important to include the most important aspects without going overboard. "You can have the perfect ceremony in 12 to 15 minutes," Anderson adds. "Anything longer risks losing focus of the guests." 

What matters most, though, is that your wedding ceremony feels personal. Guests will remember a non-religious wedding ceremony that speaks to who you are as a couple. And, with the help of your officiant, you can create a script that's modern and fun while honoring the most sacred aspects of a marriage ceremony.

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