The term Ceremony conjures images of happy gatherings and big celebrations for most people. In the world of D&D, it’s a little different. The Ceremony spell is not the most popular or common option available, and there are a few reasons why it goes unnoticed. While some forgotten spells are just bad, others are too obscure to get much use. Ceremony isn’t bad on its own, but there are fairly limited situations where it can be used at all. that said, our Ceremony 5E guide is here to show you how to get the most out of this spell.
How Does Ceremony Work in 5E?
You perform a special religious ceremony that is infused with magic. When you cast the spell, choose one of the following rites, the target of which must be within 10 feet of you throughout the casting.
Atonement. You touch one willing creature whose alignment has changed, and you make a DC 20 Wisdom (Insight) check. On a successful check, you restore the target to its original alignment.
Bless Water. You touch one vial of water and cause it to become holy water.
Coming of Age. You touch one humanoid who is a young adult. For the next 24 hours, whenever the target makes an ability check, it can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to the ability check. A creature can benefit from this rite only once.
Dedication. You touch one humanoid who wishes to be dedicated to your god’s service. For the next 24 hours, whenever the target makes a saving throw, it can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to the save. A creature can benefit from this rite only once.
Funeral Rite. You touch one corpse, and for the next 7 days, the target can’t become undead by any means short of a wish spell.
Wedding. You touch adult humanoids willing to be bonded together in marriage. For the next 7 days, each target gains a +2 bonus to AC while they are within 30 feet of each other. A creature can benefit from this rite again only if widowed.
Ceremony 5E Spell Breakdown
Talk about a mouthful! There is no doubt that this spell, which was introduced in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, is one of the longest low-level spells in D&D. In addition to words, this spell adds a lot of something else: flavor. The uses for this spell are as obvious as with message or fireball. However, they are a great thematic fit for the religious classes that have access to this spell.
The most interesting thing about Ceremony is that it is essentially six spells in one. When you cast this spell, you must choose one of the seven types of ceremonies. They each have their own effect, and some of them also have unique requirements regarding the target of the spell itself. We’ll take a look at all six effects as if they were their own spells – since they essentially are.
Atonement is about as situational as it gets. in modern D&D, many tables largely ignore alignment entirely. There are some magical items whose effect on a character depends on their alignment, but how often does that come up? You are probably not going to be casting Ceremony for the sake of atonement very often. When you do, it could be a campaign-shifting event!
Bless water is fine for what it is. the problem lies with creating holy water in the first place. The market price for a vial of holy water is 25 gp. The cost of materials to create holy water with this spell is, you guessed it, 25 gp. Of course, there might not always be holy water available. If you are in a pinch and expect to face an undead or fiend horde, this a fine option (if you have a bunch of silver powder on you, anyway). ideally, just buy the water from someone else.
Another downside to this: clerics and paladins can create holy water without the need for learning Ceremony. If you read the description of holy water, it makes clear both classes can create a vial if they have 25 gp of silver powder and expel a first-level spell slot. Ceremony lets you do this with a ritual, but it takes much longer.
Coming of Age
You essentially give another character a birthday present. Out of the gate, this one is hazy given that it can only be used on a humanoid that is a “young adult.” What qualifies as a young adult? That’s between you and the DM, I’m afraid. This gives the target an extra d4 on an ability check, but as a single use. This is not the most efficient of more than an hour of your time in most cases, but it can’t hurt.
Dedication is the first of these options that has requirements for the target. You can use Dedication on a humanoid you touch, but only if they wish to be dedicated in your god’s service. If they agree to be, they can add 1d4 once to the result of a saving throw. This is essentially Coming of Age, but for saving throws.
This version of the spell doesn’t target a humanoid at all – it targets a corpse. Preventing a corpse from turning undead is almost as niche of a use as Atonement. However, this could be an invaluable option under the right circumstances. The spell text makes clear that this spell is always overpowered by Wish, which is a very specific exception.
Wedding is the most interesting option of the six. to perform this ceremony, you must have two adult humanoids willing to be married. You could be one of those humanoids, of course. In exchange, you gain a +2 AC bonus for the next 7 days so long as you are within 30 feet of your spouse. After the seven days is up, the bonus goes away. What happens to the spouse is up to you, I guess.
In fact, some players make devious use of the last bit of the spell description that says you can only gain the benefit of this spell again if you are widowed. Mechanically, there is nothing stopping you from making yourself a widow and remarrying for the AC bonus alone every seven days. Needless to say, your marriage prospects may rapidly dwindle with this approach.
Who Can Cast Ceremony?
You will only find Ceremony on the spell lists of two classes: Cleric and Paladin. Of course, there are other characters that can pick up this spell.
It should come as no surprise that clerics have access to Ceremony. After all, what class would be a better fit for magically marrying people or creating holy water with nothing more than a little silver powder. Clerics have access to divine magic, which includes this spell. Ceremony is found in the cleric spells list, making it available to this class at every level.
The major benefit of having this spell as a cleric is that you can make ritual cast it. This prevents you from expending a spell slot on what is likely to be an underwhelming use of your magic.
Paladins are not necessarily priests, and they do not even have to be worshippers of a particular god. However, paladins seem like a good thematic fit for this spell nonetheless. Paladins have the option of picking up Ceremony at level 2, when they gain the spellcasting feature.
Casting Ceremony as a paladin is even less of a good idea than a cleric. Unlike clerics, paladins do not have access to ritual casting. if spending an hour on this spell wasn’t bad enough, paladins also have to burn a spell slot. If that was not bad enough, a paladin must also add Ceremony to their prepared spells list. Given how limited this list is, the odds of Ceremony being more useful than other options is extremely low.
Divine Soul Sorceror
In addition to the base classes that have access to this spell, one subclass can also cast Ceremony: the Divine Soul Sorceror. At level one, you can choose spells from the cleric spell list as well as your standard sorcerer spells. this is a fun option, but you are limited in the number of spells that you know. Given that limitation, you could probably benefit more from other cleric spells.
This option is a bit of a stretch, but it is technically correct. If you are playing a bard, you have the ability to pick up Ceremony as one of your spells. It should be noted that this opportunity does not present itself until you reach level 10, giving you access to the Magical Secrets feature. You can get Ceremony at that point, but should you? The odds are good there are better uses for this feature, but your mileage may vary! Plus, a bard holding a magical wedding sounds like a perfect excuse to have your character go with an Elvis impersonator gimmick.
You have questions about Ceremony, and we have answers. Get them below in our FAQ.
Is Ceremony a Ritual Spell in 5E?
Yes, both clerics and paladins can cast Ceremony as a ritual spell in 5E. In fact, it makes little sense to cast it any other way. The casting time is long enough that you will need to cast Ceremony when nothing else is going on.
This is especially true when it comes to the holy water option. Remember, clerics and paladins have the ability to create holy water without the Ceremony spell so long as they have the components and expend a level one spell slot. If you are not planning on casting it as a ritual, there is little reason to know the spell at all, at least for the purpose of creating holy water.
Is Ceremony Useful in Combat?
No, at least not directly. Even if you do not cast it as a ritual, Ceremony has a casting time of 1 hour. For better or worse, your fight will be over about 58 minutes before you are finished casting your spell. Of course, if you cast Ceremony ahead of time the buffs you dish out with this spell could be pivotal in combat.
Does Ceremony Consume the Silver?
Yes, the ceremony spell consumes the 25 gp silver powder required to cast it. This should come as no surprise, as one of the uses of the spell is creating holy water, which has a set gp value. If the spell did not consume the silver, you could create an endless supply of holy water that could be sold for a tidy profit.
How Can I Marry in D&D?
Ceremony is the only spell in Dungeons & Dragons that is related to marriage. However, it goes without saying that a marriage between characters or NPCs can occur without the need for the ceremony spell. When it comes to roleplaying, Ceremony adds as much flavor to a wedding as it does actual mechanical benefits. You shouldn’t let your lack of this spell get in the way of a good time, though!
How Many Creatures Can Get Married with Ceremony
When it comes to the number of creatures targeted by the Ceremony spell, the description only provides a minimum. The rules allow any number of creatures to be married so long as there are at least two willing to do so.
Wrapping Up our Ceremony Spell Guide
Ceremony is an unusual spell that probably could have been broken up into a series of cantrips or first-level spells. The flavor of this spell is fun, and it is entirely possible that you could build a campaign arc around casting this spell to change a character’s alignment or prevent a creature from becoming undead. Most of the time, it is probably not worth the effort. Getting much use out of the Marriage feature is pretty gamey and likely to annoy a DM. Creating holy water seems fine on the surface, but on closer inspection is largely a waste of time.
There is a proud tradition of hating this spell among many D&D players online, and I’m not here to staunchly defend it. However, I do like thematic flavor in my spellcasting, and ceremony has that in spades. Give it a try if you are building your next cleric or paladin character for D&D.