Is Ritual the Same as Ceremony?

Larissa Conte
3 min readSep 28, 2021

As I do the last preparations to officiate my brother’s wedding ceremony this weekend, I’m inspired to share my thoughts on ritual and ceremony and how I’ve come to understand and define these two words.

These words are commonly used interchangeably, which has long stoked my curiosity — especially as a self-described “ceremony designer.” So I’ve been meditating on their distinctions for the past few years.

Are there meaningful distinctions?

The Context

Especially in this last year, “ritual” and “ceremony” have become hip words more prevalent in many arenas of culture in the U.S. including the language of culture-forward organizations. But I often see people use both of these words with little understanding or consideration of what they mean.

Here are some definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

RITUAL //

“The established form for a ceremony”

“An act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner.”

CEREMONY //

“A formal act or series of acts prescribed by ritual, protocol, or convention”

--

--

Larissa Conte

Founder @Wayfinding // Aliveness, Leadership evolution, and Power that serves the whole