How does the ring exchange part of the wedding ceremony work?

The exchanging of wedding rings is one of the most important parts of a marriage ceremony. It’s as traditional a wedding feature as you’ll ever find, and a powerful physical symbol of the couple’s love and commitment to each other which they will remember forever.


It is the role of the wedding officiant to lead this element of the wedding ceremony, and guide the couple through it to make the moment perfect. As such, it’s crucial that the minister understands how this part of the ceremony works and how best to lead it.


Some may be surprised to know that it is not a legally required element of a wedding ceremony – though couples and guests would almost always expect it. This also means that there aren’t strict rules around how the ring exchange must work and can be personalized to the couple’s tastes – but there is a generally expected order of how it will proceed which will help shape your wedding officiant script.


Here is what you need to know about how the ring exchange part of a wedding ceremony actually works…


Plan ahead with the couple before the ceremony

Because this is such an important part of the wedding ceremony, the officiant must be sure to plan in detail with the couple how they would like the ring exchange to take place, and who will be involved. The officiant should have this established down to the smallest detail in advance, as the process can also become more confusing if other people in the wedding party are involved and required to coordinate the special moment.


The wedding officiant introduces the ring exchange

First, the minister introduces the ring part of the ceremony. They would usually start this by saying something like, “The couple would now like to exchange their wedding rings”.


The Ring Bearer brings the rings to the couple

Some like to use the bringing of rings to the ceremony as a way to involve other guests in the wedding party, by having them act as a Ring Bearer. This can be a flower girl, best man, maid of honor, or even a beloved pet. In this case, the officiant will call on the Ring Bearer to present the rings.


The officiant gives a speech instructing the couple to now place each ring on the other’s finger

For example, “Please place the ring on your partner’s finger, and repeat after me”


The officiant says lines for the couple to repeat

If the rings exchange includes a lot of words for the couple to say while they are doing it, it can be helpful for the officiant to deliver the lines a few words at a time, for them to repeat simply, a few words at a time – they’ll be so focused on the rings, each other, their guests and the ceremony, that it will be difficult for them to remember long lines of words, too. The officiant is there to guide them through so that they say the correct words as planned.


Ready to become a wedding officiant? You can apply online with AMM right now – for free. Head to The AMM for all the details on becoming an officially ordained minister today.