CLASSIC CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE CEREMONY
This is a very formal, traditional service. Of course, it can be modified to use more modern language. I present it here to give you an example of a complete wedding service that is still used in many churches.
While the people gather, instrumental or vocal music may be offered.
Throughout the service, use of specifically Christian music is strongly encouraged.
The woman and the man may be escorted by representatives of their families until they have reached the front of the church or until they present the woman and the man, at which time their escorts are seated.
Pastor to people:
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses, to join together this man and this woman (Name and Name) in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate, instituted of God, and signifying unto us the mystical union that exists between Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence in Cana of Galilee. it is therefore not to be entered into unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate, these two persons come now to be joined.
DECLARATION OF INTENTION
DECLARATION BY THE MAN AND THE WOMAN
The pastor gives one of the following charges to the persons who are to marry:
I require and charge you both, as you stand in the presence of God, before whom the secrets of all hearts are disclosed, that, having duly considered the holy covenant you are about to make, you do now declare before this company your pledge of faith, each to the other. Be well assured that if these solemn vows are kept inviolate, as God’s Word demands, and if steadfastly you endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Father, God will bless your marriage, will grant you fulfillment in it, and will establish your home in peace.
I charge you both, as you stand in the presence of God, to remember that love and loyalty alone will avail as the foundation of a happy home. If the solemn vows you are about to make are kept faithfully, and if steadfastly you endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Father, your life will be full of joy, and the home you are establishing will abide in peace. No other ties are more tender, no other vows more sacred than those you now assume.
Pastor to the man:
Name, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to her so long as you both shall live?
Man: I will.
Pastor to the woman:
Name, will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to him so long as you both shall live?
Woman: I will.
If the woman is presented in marriage, the pastor asks the presenter(s):
Who presents this woman to be married to this man?
Presenter(s): I (We) do.
If the man is presented in marriage, the pastor asks the presenter(s).
Who presents this man to be married to this woman?
Presenter(s): I (We) do.
The presenter(s) may then be seated.
EXCHANGE OF VOWS
The woman and man face each other, joining hands. The pastor may prompt them, line by line.
Man to woman:
I Name, take you, Name, to be my wedded 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, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge you my faith.
Woman to man:
I, Name, take you, Name, to be my wedded 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, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge you my faith.
BLESSING AND EXCHANGE OF RINGS
The exchange of rings is optional. Other tangible symbols may be given in addition to or instead of rings.
The pastor, taking the rings, may say:
The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of this man and woman in holy matrimony, through the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The pastor may bless the giving of rings or other symbols of the marriage:
Bless, 0 Lord, the giving of these rings, that they who wear them may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The common custom is for the husband to give the wife her ring before the wife gives the husband his ring While placing the ring on the third finger of the recipient’ s left hand, the giver may say (prompted, line by line, by the pastor):
In token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love, with this ring, I thee wed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE
The wife and husband join hands. The pastor may place a hand on or wrap a stole around their joined hands.
The couple may turn and face the congregation.
Pastor to people:
Forasmuch as Name and Name have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands and by giving and receiving rings; I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God hath joined together, let no one put asunder. Amen.
UNITY CANDLE (optional)
If a unity candle is used, the two side candles representing the husband and wife are lighted first, and the center candle representing the marriage is lighted at this or some later point in the service. The side candles are not extinguished because both husband and wife retain their personal identities.
The congregation may be invited to stand, and a doxology or other hymn may be sung.
BLESSING OF THE MARRIAGE
The husband and wife may kneel, as the pastor prays:
Eternal God, creator and preserver of us all, giver of all spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life: Send thy blessing upon Name and Name, whom we bless in thy name; that they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant between them made, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together and live according to thy laws. Look graciously upon them, that they may love, honor, and cherish each other, and so live together in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and a place of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If Holy Communion is not to be celebrated, the service continues as indicated below.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
The husband and wife may continue to kneel, as all pray the Lord’s Prayer.
DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING
God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord graciously with his favor look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and love that you may so live together in this life that in the world to come you may have life everlasting. Amen.
The couple may greet each other with a kiss and be greeted by the pastor, after which greetings may be exchanged through the congregation.
A hymn may be sung or instrumental music played as the couple, the wedding party, and the people leave.