There’s a trend right now to have a wicked short ceremony, sort of just "get it over with" and then have a great party. While I’m all for parties, I try to remind my couples that the ceremony is what really matters. Getting up in front of those people who matter most to you in the world and telling them that you’ve found this really awesome human being who you love and want to spend the next fifty years sharing the same bed with is what its all about after all. Of course, the wedding ceremony length should always depend on what the couple wants, but I really encourage them not to make it too short. Seriously if I only stuck to the legal stuff you have to include it would be over in two minutes.
I think a ceremony that is less than 20 minutes is too short. You just don’t get enough time to digest what’s happening. It goes so fast anyway, it’s nice to slow it down a bit. Add in some elements. Add in some other voices. Let there be a nice flow to it so it’s not just your celebrant talking for 10 minutes and then it’s over. This is a significant moment in your lives and it’s worth enjoying.
That being said, I also think really long ceremonies can loose their significance. If there are too many readings or songs or interjections, it’s hard to make each one meaningful. Or if the celebrant drags on too long, your guests can loose interest, heck, you can loose interest. And that's not good. We want you and your guests to be engaged, to be present and to be able to reflect upon what's happening as it's happening. Also getting married in summer? Standing outside in the direct sun while you get sun burnt isn’t that awesome either.
A ceremony that is either too short or too long will loose its meaning. I think the sweet spot is a 20 -30 minute wedding ceremony, including the processional. What do you think? How long will your ceremony be?