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A Christian Wedding Ceremony: Traditional Version

A Christian Wedding Ceremony

Traditional Version

Marriage Service: Traditional

Annotated with practical suggestions for planning your own celebration

(For those interested in a more contemporary ceremony)

(Or you may want to consult our complete marriage and wedding planner)

Most marriage services begin with music both to set the mood and to provide background
as the wedding party marches down the isle of the church.

Prelude

Processional

Words of Gathering

God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them. This is
the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Greeting

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in God's presence to witness and to celebrate the
marriage of _______ and ________, and to ask God to bless them so that they may be
strengthened for their life together. We are called to rejoice in their happiness, and find in
their love a reason to renew our own commitments to those whom are near and dear to
each of us. God gave us marriage for the full expression of love between a man and a
woman so that husband and wife may cherish and delight in one another; comfort and
help each other in sickness, trouble and sorrow; provide for each other in temporal things;
pray for and encourage each other in the things that pertain to God; and live together
faithfully all the length of their days.

Opening Prayer (minister)

Almighty and ever-blessed God, whose presence is the happiness of every condition, and
whose favor hallows every relation: We beseech you to be present and favorable unto
these your servants, that they may be truly joined in the honorable estate of marriage, in
the covenant of their God. As you have brought them together by your providence,
sanctify them by your Spirit, giving them a new frame of heart fit for their new estate;
enrich them with all grace, whereby they may enjoy the comforts, undergo the cares,
endure the trials, and perform the duties of life together, under your guidance and
protection; through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Hymn or Song
First Reading

(From the Bible, poetry, literature, so something meaningful to the couple their family and
friends.Such readings are a good opportunity to have friends and family participate in the
service)

Musical Interlude

Second Reading

(The number of readings may vary, but will normally include at least one lesson from the
Bible.)

Declaration of Intentions

(The minister to the groom)


_______, will you have this Woman to be your wife, and will you promise your life to her in all
love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with her, cherish
her, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?

The groom shall answer: I will

(The minister to the bride)


_______, will you have this Man to be your husband, and will you promise your life to him, in
all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with him, and
cherish him, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage?

The bride shall answer: I will

Here the Minister shall ask: Who gives this Man and this Woman to be married?

(There is a lot of variety in the ways people handle this. The traditional wedding has the
father of the bride do this, but many variations are possible, including the father and
mother of the bride saying, "We do," or all four parents doing so.)

Charge to Family and Friends

Marriage is not something that two people invent, or construct by themselves. It takes a
far wider community of family and friends to make any marriage work. Each of you have
been invited here today because you are a part of that community. Therefore, having
heard _______ and _______ state their intentions to each other and to God in this Service of
Marriage, do you, pledge to support their union and to strengthen their lives together, to
speak the truth to them in love, and with them to seek a life of love for others?

The people (or the congregation) shall answer: Yes, we do

Minister's Comment (While it is appropriate for a formal sermon to be preached at this


point, my own preference is for somewhat less formal comments by the minister.)
Marriage Vows

Here, the groom takes the bride's right hand with his right hand, and says, after the
Minister:

I, _______, take you _______, to be my wedded wife; And I do promise and covenant; before
God and these witnesses; to be your loving and faithful husband; in plenty and in want; in
joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health; as long as we both shall live.

Then the bride takes the groom's right hand with her right hand, and says likewise after
the Minister:

I, _______, take you, _______, To be my wedded husband; and I do promise and covenant;
before God and these witnesses; to be your loving and faithful wife; in plenty and in want;
in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health; as long as we both shall live.

Exchange of Rings

Then the ring for bride shall be given to the Minister, who shall pass it to the groom, who
shall then put it upon the bride's fourth finger, saying after the Minister:

This ring I give you; in token and pledge; of our constant faith; and abiding love.

Then the ring for the groom shall be given to the Minister, who shall pass it to the bride,
who shall then put it upon the groom's fourth finger, saying after the Minister:

This ring I give you: in token and pledge: of our constant faith: and abiding love.

Wedding Prayer (the Minister)

Let us pray.

Most merciful and gracious God, in whom we live and move and have our being, bestow
upon these your servants the seal of your approval, and benediction; granting unto them
grace to fulfill, with pure and steadfast affection, the vow and covenant between them
made. Guide them together, we ask, in the way of justice and peace, that, loving and
serving you, with one heart and mind, all the days of their life, they may be abundantly
enriched with the tokens of your everlasting favor, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer (The minister leading the congregation)

Pronouncement of Marriage

Then the Minister shall say to all who are present:

By the authority committed unto me as a Minister of the Church of Christ, I declare that
_______ and _______ are now Husband and Wife, according to the ordinance of God, and the
law of the State; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Then causing the bride and the groom and to join right hands, the Minister shall say:

Whom therefore God has joined together, let no one put asunder.

Benediction

The grace of Christ attend you, and the love of God surround you, the Holy Spirit keep
you, that you may live in faith, abound in hope, and grow in love, both now and
forevermore. Amen.

Then the Minister shall say: You many kiss the bride.

Recessional

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A Christian Wedding Ceremony

Contemporary Version

Marriage Ceremony: Contemporary

Annotated with practical suggestions for planning your own celebration

(For those interested in a more traditional ceremony)

(Or you may want to consult our complete marriage and wedding planner)

(Most marriage services begin with music both to set the mood and to provide
background as the wedding party marches down the isle of the church.)

Prelude

Processional

Words of Gathering

God is love, and those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them. This is
the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Greeting

Minister: We are gathered here today before God, our families, and friends to celebrate
the marriage of _______ and _______. We are gathered to rejoice in the gift of love that our
Creator shares with us. We affirm today that God who is both the Creator and Sustainer of
life desires us to fully experience our humanity. None of us can be an island isolated
without need of community with others. We offer praise and thanks to God who has
blessed us with the wonder of life, breath, hearts, minds and souls. We rejoice in the
realization that we are most alive when we wholeheartedly embrace the gifts that God has
given us, especially God's gift of love in all the ways that gift is bestowed.

Hymn or Song

Prayer

Minister:
Let us pray. Gracious God, you are always faithful in your love for us. Look mercifully upon
_______ and _______, who have come seeking your blessing. Let your Holy Spirit rest upon
them so that with steadfast love they may honor the promises they make this day, through
Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

Readings

(From the Bible, poetry, literature, so something meaningful to the couple their family and
friends. Such readings are a good opportunity to have friends and family participate in the
service. The number of readings may vary, but will normally include at least one lesson
from the Bible)

Declarations of Intent

Charge to the Couple

Minister: _______ and _______, to create a life together with the blessing of God requires that
you honor the divine in each other and in yourself; that you honor the many voices of the
soul the joys, the delights, the love, as well as the anger, the fear, the illness, and the
unhealed wounds; that you not ask your life partner to be any less than a fully formed
person, committed to you in love, but still possessed by that strange and sometimes
bewildering gift of freedom. We are to accept our life partners for all that they are,
embracing each other in all our complexity -- in times of delight, in the fulness of dreams,
in moments or sorrow, conflict, or loss. This is both God's blessing and charge to you: to
live together with courage and honor whatever time in its unfolding mystery may bring.
Are you prepared to accept this challenge?

Couple: Yes, we are.

Here the Minister shall ask: Who gives this Man and this Woman to be married?

(There is a lot of variety in the ways people handle this. The traditional wedding has the
father of the bride do this, but many variations are possible, including the father and
mother of the bride saying, "We do," or all four parents doing so.)

Charge to the Witnesses

Minister:
An ancient proverb teaches that it will take a community to support this couple. You stand
here representing their friends and their families. So, having heard _______ and _______
state their intentions to each other and to God in this Service of Marriage, before God do
you pledge to support their union and to strengthen their lives together, to speak the truth
to them in love, and with them to seek a life of love for others?

Witnesses: Yes, we do.

Minister's Comments
(While it is appropriate for a formal sermon to be preached at this point, my own
preference is for somewhat less formal comments by the minister.)

Hymn or Song

The Vows

Exchange of Vows and Rings

Vows

________, I ask for nothing more from this good life than to live out its days with you. I give
you my hand, my heart, and my soul, and trust completely that they will be safe with you.
May our days be long and filled with peace, love and understanding.

________, I have only one way, and that is with you. So, on this day, as freely as God has
given me life, I join my life with yours. Wherever you go, I will go, whatever you face, I will
face. For good or ill, in happiness or sadness, come riches or poverty, I give myself to you
and to no other.

Exchange of Rings (Bride and groom say in turn)

I give you this ring as a sign of my love and commitment to you as my life partner now and
always. Wear it as a reminder of our trust and faith in each other and in the beauty of our
relationship.

Pastoral Prayer and Lord's Prayer (in unison)

Minister:
Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace:
Look with favor upon the world you have made and redeemed, and especially, _______ and
_______. Give them wisdom and devotion in their common life, that each may be to the
other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow and a companion
in joy. Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your
Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and each other all the days of their
life. Give them the grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and confess their fault,
and to seek each other's forgiveness and yours. Make their life together a sign of Christ's
love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness
heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.

Give them each fulfillment of their mutual love that they may reach out in concern for
others. Grant that all who have witnessed these vows today may find their lives
strengthened, and that all who are in committed relationship to each other may depart
with their own promises renewed. Enrich with your grace everyone of us: parents and
children, colleagues and friends that, loving and supporting one another, we may serve
those in need and be a sign of your kingdom. Grant that the bonds by which all your
children are united to one another may be so transformed by your Spirit that your peace
and justice may fill the earth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Declaration of Holy Union

Minister: Now that _______ and _______ have pledged 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, a new family, and life's partners in the name of God
beyond us, God within us, and God between us. Those whom God has joined together, let
no one put asunder.

Blessing and Benediction

As God's own, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness and patience, forgiving each
other as the Lord has forgiven you, and crown all these things with love, which binds
everything together.

The grace of Christ attend you, and love of God surround you, the Holy Spirit keep you,
that you may live in faith, abound in hope, and grow in love, both now and forevermore.
Amen.

Music

Recessional

You are invited to join our Forum


and discuss any issues
pertaining to faith or the search for it.
Your comments are published here instantly.
CrossCurrents Forum

(To see the current list of topics your browser must allow Active
Charles Henderson Content)