“We just want our ceremony to be short!”
“We don’t want our ceremony to drag on and on. It’s going to be short!”

Often when I meet with an engaged couple planning a non-church ceremony, I hear some variation of this. I can understand this – if you’re not incorporating religious rituals, your ceremony will be a lot shorter than a Catholic wedding, which includes a full mass. You may feel like your guests will be bored having to sit through a ceremony, and you don’t want it to drag on. This is especially a concern for summer weddings outdoors in a sunny spot, or late fall or early spring weddings when it might be a bit cold.

Pittsburgh Wedding Ceremony-17But is it really the shorter, the better?

I recently photographed a wedding that flew by so quickly, I actually checked the time stamps on the images to check how much time had passed. Five minutes! No exaggeration here. From the moment the bride walked down the aisle with her father, to the time she walked back down the aisle with her husband, a total of five minutes had elapsed. Now that is a short ceremony!

I absolutely respect every couple’s choice to make their ceremony exactly what they want it to be. If you really and truly want a five minute ceremony, have at it. But, before you make your decision, here are a few thoughts to consider.

  1. A really short ceremony limits your photography.
    Your photography team very much wants to provide you with a variety of images from your ceremony. Wide angles of the entire space including all of the guests. Close-ups of family members watching the ceremony – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Children being children. Your bridesmaids and groomsmen looking on, laughing, smiling, handing you a tissue. We also want to be sure that we capture you saying your vows, exchanging rings, smiling at each other. If your ceremony isn’t at least 10 minutes long, it’s going to be very difficult for us to do this. More time means we can cover more ground and capture more memorable moments and glances.
  2. Allow time to take in all your preparation.
    You’ve taken the time to decorate your ceremony space with flowers, lanterns, painted trees, snowflakes, wreaths, bows…. well, hopefully not all of those, because that’s visual chaos. But, the point is, you’ve put some effort into creating a nice place to get married. Whether it’s a library, a garden or a ballroom, why not give yourselves and your guests a little time to take it all in? If you rush in and out you’ll hardly have an opportunity to appreciate it.
  3. Allow time to take in the significance of what you’re doing.
    A wedding is a rite of passage. You’re pledging to spend the rest of your life loving and respecting another person. That’s a big deal! Pennsylvania law only requires that you say a few Pittsburgh Wedding Ceremony-17words of consent to be married. But if you’re taking this huge step of commitment, incorporating some personally significant words or readings into your ceremony will make your ceremony feel more meaningful, and not like you just dotted an i and crossed a t.
  4. Let your friends and family take it in too.
    Your friends and family have been looking forward to this moment, just as you have. Let them have a little time to soak it all in and process the big step you’re taking.
  5. There is a happy medium.
    Of course you don’t want your ceremony to be too long, either! I personally think 20 minutes is a great length for a non-church wedding.

It can be overwhelming to think about writing a ceremony. But there’s no need to stress or obsess. A little internet research on wedding ceremonies will bring up all kinds of ideas. Even better, contact a wedding officiant who can help you through this task and come up with a ceremony that’s a perfect match for you and your personalities.  Check out Rev. Mark DeNuzzio of A Simple Vow, a fantastic Pittsburgh wedding officiant.



Christina Montemurro Photography specializes in photographing Pittsburgh weddings. Christina’s approach is genuine, low-key and focused. Using a photojournalistic style, Christina provides extraordinary attention to detail and customer service. Christina loves to work with happy couples who want to look their best in their wedding photos, but still look like themselves, not models in a styled shoot for a wedding magazine.

Contact Christina now to check availability for your engagement session, wedding, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah. Christina has been rated among top Pittsburgh wedding photographers. You can read reviews by Christina’s past brides and grooms here and here. Some of Christina’s favorite venues include the Carnegie Museum, Heinz History Center, Edgewood Club, Edgewood Country Club, Hotel Monaco, Omni William Penn Hotel, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Sheraton Pittsburgh Hotel at Station Square, PNC Park and Twelve Oaks Mansion.