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.
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.
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. Amen.
Hymn or Song
(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.)
(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.)
Here, the groom takes the bride's right hand with his right hand, and says, after
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
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:
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
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. Amen.
The Lord's Prayer (The minister leading the congregation)
Then the Minister shall say to all who are present:
By the authority committed unto me, I declare
that _______ and _______ are now Husband and Wife, according to the ordinance
of God, and the law of the State.. 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.
May the grace
of God attend you, and the love of God surround you,
that you may live in faith, abound in hope, and grow in love, both now and forevermore.
Then the Minister shall say: You many kiss the bride.
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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.