The Wedding Ceremony

 

Dear Bride and Groom,

I will be posting another complete wedding ceremony that is more inclusive.  I received a quite nasty letter from the United Methodist Church because I referenced the wedding ceremony in the United Methodist Church Book of Worship.  This should be complete in a few days.  Until then, there is a guide below.

Remember that a Wedding Ceremony in the church (universal) is first of all a Service of Worship to God.  Second, the wedding should be a event in the new life as a married couple not just a time to be king or queen for the day.  If you have come to this page first, please go to the wedding contract page for more information on purpose of the wedding before looking through this ceremony.  Another page that will outline my understanding of and position on marriage is a position paper on the ritual of marriage.  This will help you understand, perhaps a little more, the direction I approach this sacred institute of marriage.  This information is not here to make it hard on you or to talk anyone out of a marriage but to help us stop and see the importance of what we are entering into.

In Christ's love, Peace, and Grace,

Lee Zuehlke

SERVICES OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

Each denomination has the same basic order of worship for a Christian marriage.  In one way or another, they all have ENTRY - PURPOSE - GIVING AND RECEIVING OF BRIDE/GROOM - EXCHANGING OF LIFETIME VOWS - SCRIPTURE - BLESSING OF THE COUPLE AND GUESTS.  Options that add to the ceremony are things like, MESSAGE OF THE PASTOR TO THE COUPLE and HOLY COMMUNION - INVOLVING CHILDREN FROM PREVIOUS MARRIAGES.  Again, all of these should be considered in relation to the creator of love - God.

GATHERING OF FAMILY AND GUESTS

While people gather,  it is normal to have some type of instrumental music offered as a way to introduce two becoming one. 

During the entrance of the wedding party, there may be music.  Look at this time to define your wedding.  Of course, for many, "Here Comes the Bride" is a traditional favorite.  However, don't limit yourself to that.  For many of the Jewish Faith, this is a reminder of the Holocaust and can turn your joyful time that they want to share with you into a different, unpleasant experience.  The congregation may be invited to stand.   There are many resources (too numerous to list here) that are very appropriate for this joyful time.  They reflect who the two of you are and give worship to God at the same time.

Traditionally The woman and the man, enter separately (He waits in front as the bridesmaids and bride come from the back.  But, what about a second marriage when there are children?  Perhaps the idea of having his children escort her and/or her children escort him?   Another idea may be groomsman escort bridesmaids.  Whatever it is - make it say, "this is who we are, once two and now about to be one". 

GREETING

Pastor or someone chosen by the couple should address the people.  Ok, you might say at this point, "Da they know why they are here".  But not all your guests know that this is a "worship first to God's love" second, "God's blessing upon his Gift of Love to the two of you" and third, "a formal and binding contract between the woman and man to be one together".

 Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Name  and Name in Christian marriage. The covenant of marriage was established by God, who created us male and female for each other.  With his presence and power Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee, and in his sacrificial love gave us the example for the love of husband and wife.  Name and Name come to give themselves to one another in this holy covenant.

DECLARATION OF INTENTION

DECLARATION BY THE MAN AND THE WOMAN

Pastor to the persons who are to marry:I ask you now, in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into union with each other through the grace of Jesus Christ, who calls you into union with himself as acknowledged in your baptism. Pastor to the woman:Name, will you have Name to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage?  Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live? Woman: I will. Pastor to the man:Name, will you have Name to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage?Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live? Man: I will.

RESPONSE OF THE FAMILIES AND PEOPLE

Pastor to people: The marriage of Name and Name unites their families and creates a new one.  They ask for your blessing.Parents and other representatives of the families may respond in one of the following ways:We rejoice in your union, and pray God's blessing upon you. or, in reply to the pastor's question:Do you who represent their families rejoice in their union and pray God's blessing upon them?We do.or, children of the couple may repeat these or similar words, prompted line by line, by the pastor:We love both of you.  We bless your marriage.  Together we will be a family.If the woman and the man have been escorted by representatives of their families, their escorts, having blessed the marriage in the name of their families, may be seated. Pastor to people: Will all of you, by God's grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage? People:  We will.

PRAYER  *

The Lord be with you. And also with you. Let us pray. God of all peoples, you are the true light illumining everyone. You show us the way, the truth, and the life. You love us even when we are disobedient. You sustain us with your Holy Spirit. We rejoice in your life in the midst of our lives. We praise you for your presence with us,  and especially in this act of solemn covenant; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUGGESTED PROCLAMATION OF GOD'S WORD AS IT RELATES TO THE HOLINESS OF MARRIAGE

Some Suggested Scriptures

Genesis 1:26-28,31a - The creation of man and woman

Song of Solomon 2:10-14, 16a; 8:6-7 - Love is strong as death.

Isaiah 43:1-7 - You are precious in God's eyes.

Isaiah 55:10-13 - You shall go out in joy.

Isaiah 61:10-62:3 - Rejoice in the Lord.

Isaiah 63:7-9 - The steadfast love of the Lord

Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 - The life of a Christian

1 Corinthians 13 - The greatest of these is love.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 - In Christ we are a new creation.

Ephesians 2:4-10 - God's love for us

Ephesians 4:1-6 - Called to the one hope

Ephesians 4:25-5:2 - Members one of another

Philippians 2:1-2 - The Christlike spirit

Philippians 4:4-9 - Rejoice in the Lord.

Colossians 3:12-17 - Live in love and thanksgiving.

1 John 3:18-24 - Love one another.

1 John 4:7-16 - God is love.

Revelation 19:1, 5-9a - The wedding feast of the Lamb

Matthew 5:1-10 - The Beatitudes

Matthew 7:21, 24-27 - A house built upon a rock

Matthew 22:35-40 - Love, the greatest commandment

Mark 2:18-22 - Joy in Christ as at a wedding

Mark 10:42-45 - True greatness

John 2:1-11 - The marriage feast of Cana

John 15:9-17 - Remain in Christ's love.

SERMON OR OTHER WITNESS TO CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE

INTERCESSORY PRAYER FOR THE MARRIAGE, COUPLE, FAMILY, AND OTHERS

A No great undertaking should ever be entered upon without first asking God's blessing and presence.  Therefore before the exchange of vows, all should ask God to guide, lift, support, strengthen the bride and groom's resolve for each other.  It can be quite effective for for a family member or friend to give this prayer.  (suggestion is that they write it out so 1. they don't have a blackout during the prayer, 2. they give real thought to what to say over just winging it.  3. so the pastor of the church can help or address any issues by accident.)

Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all life, Author of salvation, Giver of all grace: Bless and sanctify with your Holy Spirit Name  and Name,  who come now to join in marriage.  Grant that they may give their vows to each other in the strength of your steadfast love.  Enable them to grow in love and peace with you and with one another all their days, that they may reach out in concern and service to the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

EXCHANGE OF VOWS

The woman and man face each other, joining hands. The pastor may prompt them, line by line or they may exchange their own vows each have written for the other.  The following is only an example and follows the traditional vows through the ages but can and should be tailored to this couple directly.

Man to woman:

In the name of God, I, Name,  take you, Name,  to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

 Woman to man:

In the name of God, I, Name,  take you, Name,  to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for  worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.  This is my solemn vow.

In place of the vows given above, one of the following may be used: I take you, Name,  to be my wife (husband ),  and I promise before God and all who are present here  to be your loving and faithful husband (wife )  as long as we both shall live.  I will serve you with tenderness and respect,  and encourage you to develop God's gifts in you. Name,  in the name of God,  I take you to be my husband (wife ) from this time onward,  to join with you and to share all that is to come,  to give and to receive,  to speak and to listen,  to inspire and to respond,  and in all our life together  to be loyal to you with my whole being,  as long as we both shall live.

BLESSING AND EXCHANGE OF RINGS

The exchange of rings is optional. Other symbols may be given in addition to, or instead of, rings.

The pastor, taking the rings (or other symbols), may say a blessing upon them as symbols of each person's love for the other:

These rings (symbols ) are the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to us the union between Jesus Christ and his Church.  These rings (symbols ) are the outward and visible sign  of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of Name  and Name  in holy marriage.

 The pastor may bless the giving of rings or other symbols of the marriage:

 Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings (symbols ), that they who wear them may live in your peace  and continue in your favor  all the days of their life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

While placing the ring on the third finger of the recipient's left hand, the giver may say

Name, I give you this ring as a sign of my love and vow that with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you and always will.  I do so with the help and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

If a unity candle is used, the two side candles representing the husband and wife are lighted first from the altar candle representing Christ's love for the church), and the center candle representing the marriage is lighted at this or some later point in the service. The side candles may or may not be extinguished.  How you see this relationship is the key.  Both are one but both retain their personal identities would indicate keeping both lit.

DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE

The wife and husband join hands. The pastor may place a hand on their joined hands and declare them one.  Traditional words are:

You have declared your consent and vows before God and this congregation.  May God confirm your covenant and fill you both with grace.

 The couple may face the congregation and are declared to the world, that they are now one with each other joined by God.

Now that Name  and Name have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands, [and the giving and receiving of rings ,] I announce to you that they are husband and wife; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Those whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder. Amen.

BLESSING OF THE MARRIAGE *

The husband and wife may kneel, as the pastor prays:

 O God,  you have so consecrated the covenant of Christian marriage  that in it is represented  the covenant between Christ and his Church. Send therefore your blessing upon Name  and Name,  that they may surely keep their marriage covenant,  and so grow in love and godliness together  that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If Holy Communion is to be celebrated, consult with the pastor of that congregation for proper form in that church.  It is approperate for the Holy Communion to first be given to the couple and quite effective for the couple to offer the Holy Communion to the congregation.  If Holy Communion is not to be celebrated, the service continues with a Prayer of Thanksgiving:

Most gracious God,  we give you thanks for your tender love   in making us a covenant people  through our Savior Jesus Christ  and for consecrating in his name  the marriage covenant of Name  and Name . Grant that their love for each other  may reflect the love of Christ for us  and grow from strength to strength  as they faithfully serve you in the world. Defend them from every enemy. Lead them into all peace. Let their love for each other  be a seal upon their hearts,  a mantle about their shoulders,  and a crown upon their heads. Bless them  in their work and in their companionship;  in their sleeping and in their waking;  in their joys and in their sorrows;  in their lives and in their deaths. Finally, by your grace,  bring them and all of us to that table  where your saints feast for ever  in your heavenly home; through Jesus Christ our Lord,  who with you and the Holy Spirit  lives and reigns,  one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

SENDING DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING

Pastor to wife and husband:

God of love, keep you in love with each other,  so that the grace of Christ may abide in your lives and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit abide in your home. Go to serve God in the love he has given you.

Pastor sends the people with blessing:

GOING FORTH

Music may be played as the couple, the wedding party, and the people leave.

 

 

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