How Long is a Wedding Ceremony?

Your wedding ceremony is the culmination of months of planning, where your friends and loved ones gather to celebrate the love between you and your partner. It’s a beautiful and romantic time when you start a new chapter of your life with your soulmate.

Did you know that the length of a wedding ceremony can vary depending on a number of factors? Everything from your religion to your personal preferences can have a huge effect on how long your wedding ceremony will be.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at how long wedding ceremonies are, including the different reasons for longer and shorter ceremonies, and the length of different types of ceremonies across the UK. 

What’s the average length of a wedding ceremony?

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Because there are so many different types of wedding ceremonies in the UK with so many different variables, it’s hard to put an exact figure on how long a wedding ceremony lasts. Some religious ceremonies can last an hour or more, while non-religious ceremonies, like registry office weddings, might only last 10 minutes.

What factors can impact the length of a wedding ceremony?

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The length of a wedding ceremony is determined by many factors, from the number of traditions you want to include to your budget. Every wedding has to follow some of the same steps to ensure the marriage is legal, and unless you’re having a religious ceremony that follows a set structure, you’re free to personalise it however you like.

Below are some of the factors that can impact the length of a wedding ceremony:

  • Your religion and beliefs – Because there can be several traditions and rituals in religious wedding ceremonies that have to be included, they can sometimes be among the longest.
  • Your culture – Many cultures have traditions that are important, for example, there are many black wedding traditions that couples like to include to honour their heritage.
  • Your officiant or celebrant – Some officiants will want to engage your guests more than others, especially at a religious ceremony. Similarly, if you’ve hired a celebrant, their job is to add personalisation to your ceremony, which also means it’ll be on the longer side.
  • Your budget – If you’re working with a smaller budget, you’re more likely to have a shorter ceremony as it means fewer personalisations.
  • Your venue – Sometimes your chosen venue might have restrictions or limitations that mean you can’t include all of the personalisations you might like, or some aspects have to be shortened. This is especially true if you’re getting married outside and the weather isn’t on your side.
  • Your preferences – At the end of the day, your wedding ceremony is all about you, so include (or remove) whatever you like to make sure it’s perfect.
  • Your guests – The more guests you have, the longer your ceremony might take, especially if you have a large wedding party.
  • The type of wedding – Some ceremonies are naturally longer than others, for example, a traditional wedding ceremony is around three or four times longer than a registry office wedding.

For more information, read our ultimate wedding ceremony guide.

Why are wedding ceremonies relatively short?

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Your wedding ceremony will be one of the most memorable times of your life. And yet it’ll be over in what feels like a flash! So why are wedding ceremonies often so short? Here are just a few reasons:

  • They’re a legal process – Some legal processes can be drawn out and laborious… but thankfully, getting married isn’t one of them. There are surprisingly few legal steps to take, which are mainly making declaratory and contracting vows and signing the register. Religious ceremonies take a little longer as you’re not only making a promise to each other (and your loved ones), but also to God.
  • They’re emotionally charged – Weddings are super emotional, with parents, grandparents and others crying lots of happy tears. Now just imagine how draining it would be if the ceremony went on for a long time!
  • They follow traditions – Throughout history, wedding ceremonies haven’t really changed all that much, and still include many of the same traditions and structures as they have for hundreds of years. Though you probably didn’t see as many photographers around at medieval weddings, so a few things might have changed a tad.
  • They suit your guests – Sitting still for a long time can be tough, especially for younger guests. Shorter ceremonies mean there’s little risk of some guests getting fidgety. Plus, the shorter a ceremony is, the quicker you can get to celebrating with your loved ones!

How long are different types of wedding ceremonies?

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From traditional wedding ceremonies to Hindu wedding ceremonies, no two are ever exactly alike. Some might last a few minutes, while others could go on for well over an hour. Below, we’ll take a look at a variety of different wedding ceremonies and let you know approximately how long they last.

How long is a traditional wedding ceremony?

A traditional wedding ceremony is usually between 45 and 60 minutes, but this can vary slightly depending on your personal preferences. For example, if you choose to include readings or hymns, it will push your ceremony closer to 60 minutes.

Traditional ceremonies are among the most popular types of ceremonies in the UK. They can take place in a wide variety of venues, are highly customisable and couples of many faiths can have one. They include a lot of the most recognisable parts of a UK wedding ceremony, including the processional, the declaration, the first kiss and the signing of the register.

How long is a registry office wedding ceremony?

A registry office wedding is one of the shortest ceremonies you can have, with most taking around 10 to 15 minutes. They don’t include any references to religion and quickly get to the legal process without a lot of the pageantry that comes with traditional ceremonies.

Usually, after the officiant welcomes you and your guests, you’ll go straight to the vows. If you’ve chosen to have one, this may follow a reading before the rings are exchanged and you go on to sign the register. 

How long is a Catholic wedding ceremony?

When you have a Catholic wedding, which always takes place in a church and is officiated by a priest, it often includes a communion and full mass. When it does, a ceremony will take around an hour, but if it doesn’t it’ll take around 45 minutes.

A Catholic wedding not only focuses on your commitment to each other, but also on the commitment you’re making to God, which is why it’s often longer than a traditional wedding ceremony.

How long is a Jewish wedding ceremony?

A Jewish wedding ceremony will often last around 30 to 45 minutes. The ceremony usually includes a lot of Jewish wedding ceremony traditions, such as the breaking of the glass and the circling of the fire.

How long is a Muslim wedding ceremony?

A Muslim wedding ceremony, known as a Nikah, typically lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. However, this doesn’t include the toble, which takes place before the ceremony itself. There are several traditions, such as the Nikah-Namah and Savaqah, which are included in most Muslim wedding traditions.

How long is a Hindu wedding ceremony?

A Hindu wedding ceremony, much like the overall celebrations, is one the longest around. Because there are so many traditions, a ceremony will usually take around 90 minutes. Some of the traditions include the milni, kanyadaan and jaimala exchange.

Following the ceremony, the celebrations and festivities can go on for days – sometimes for as long as five!

How long is a non-denominational wedding ceremony?

Most non-denominational weddings last between 30 and 45 minutes, but they can be longer or shorter. The great thing about a non-denominational wedding is that it’s super personalised, so can be as long or short as you want it to be.

Plan your perfect wedding with Bridebook

Now that you know how long many of the UK’s most popular wedding ceremonies last, you can start planning your own big day and make it as personal to you as you like. Sign up to Bridebook for all the handy tools, information and resources you need to plan the wedding of your dreams.

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Happy Planning!