Bible | Movies | Books | People | Hot Topics | Holidays | Humor | Gallery | Sermons | Prayer | Quizzes | Communities | God | FAQ | Links



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

Charles Henderson

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 Content)

CrossCurrents
Recent Discussions

Please take a moment to let us know you were here!  
Just send us an email to subscribe to our free newsletter.


For those who prefer a form: Click here to subscribe.

If you want to talk with someone in person,  please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
  CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.