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A helpful packet to put together your wedding ceremony
OPENING ADDRESS TO THE CONGREGATION (A1) In the joy of this moment, we are gathered together as family and friends. We have come together in this place which reminds us that there is One greater than us who is also present, One whose love has given birth to the love that _______________ and _______________ commit themselves to before you this day. These two persons have chosen to begin this journey in your presence. You are, therefore, not only family and friends but witnesses to a momentous occasion. Marriage is a union that celebrates what is known and testifies to the hope that will guide these persons into their future together. We pray that their love will grow and strengthen with the passing of the days and under God’s continued guidance. (A2) Friends, you have been invited to share in the joy of ____________________ and _______________ who have encountered that mystery we call love and who have made the loving decision to commit themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. In the words which will soon be said, they will embark upon the challenging adventure of establishing a new home and family. Since ______________ and ______________ first met, their love has grown, and we pray that it will continue to grow for the rest of their lives. But mature judgment tells them that love alone is not enough for a marriage to be both happy and successful. It would be our prayer this day that as ___________ and _____________ continue to share life fully together, there may arise a home in which love is fully known and plainly visible. (A3) Friends, we are gathered at this hour to witness to and to celebrate the coming together of two separate lives. We have come to witness the joining together of this man, ________________, and this woman, _________, in marriage, to be with and rejoice with them in the making of this important commitment. In each other these two persons have found one who is lover, companion and friend. They have given to each other gifts of the mind, the spirit, and the heart. The love which they celebrate in your presence today has enriched them both. We pray that it will continue to do so for the rest of their lives together. (A4) You who are gathered here hold an honored place in the lives of _____________ and ______________. You are family and friends, those who have given love, nurture, support and friendship to these two persons. You have laughed and cried with them, known the delight of animated conversation and the calm quiet of companionship. You have invested yourselves in them and they in you. Thus it is most fiting that you are here to witness their commitment to one another and the celebreation of the love they have discovered. You mean a great deal to these two persons. Your love is part of what makes these persons who they are. May your heats and minds be moved by the words which they have chosen and by their celebration of that love which is from God. (A5) Friends, you have been invited here today because ______________ and _________________ have reached that moment in their lives where they wish to testify publicly to the depth, the hope, and the commitment of their love. In different ways and in different times, each of you has been a presence in their lives. They cherish the gifts of love and friendship which you have given them and honor you and what you mean to them by having you present this day. As you have enriched their lives, they have also found in each other one who has brought a measure of fulfillment unknown in their separate lives. Thus it is with joy in our hearts that we have come together to share in this most loving and creative of moments. ______________ and ______________, your family and friends surround you with their love. Enter into this marriage service embraced by their happiness for you. (A6) _____________ and _______________, the people who stand with you and behind you are those who have walked with you in good times and bad. They have known and experienced your joys and your sorrows, your successes and your failures. They have been there for you when you needed support; they have delighted in sharing laughter and good times with you. You also have given much to them. The love, the friendship, and the enrichment have been mutual. Thus you who witness this union hold a very special place in the lives of ___________ and ______________. With all the history you have shared, it is most fitting that you share now in this service of commitment to love’s promise. OPENING ADDRESS TO THE COUPLE (B1) ______________, ________________, the moment has finally come. After months of planning and attending to what have seemed like endless details, the hour is here. In a few moments you will speak words to each other that will change your lives. You will look into one another’s eyes and utter words of commitment and promise. They are to be said and taken with great consideration and respect for both the other and oneself. You are about to enter into a holy covenant. Holy because love is from God; as covenant because the promises mutually bind you to a certain way of being as the years unfold. In the presence of these good people, you will pledge to love and trust each other and face all of life together. This covenant will, we pray, be built upon great qualities of the human spirit; loyalties, memories, imagination, laughter, strength and the courage not to be deterred by life’s difficult moments. With keen appreciation for the work love demands, enter now this marriage service surrounded by our love and immersed in God’s. (B2) _____________, _______________, you stand here to publicly declare your love and commitment to one another. Your presence in this place testifies to your belief in God and to your awareness that marriage will call forth from you your very best. You will delight in much, but rest assured that love will also be tested. In such times may your love be strong and you faith a source of great strength. Created as distinct and unique individuals, you have discovered fullness in your lives with the presence of this other who you will take this day as your partner for life. For all that you have come to know about each other, the future also holds its own mysteries. As they unfold, may you delight in your mutual discoveries, finding your lives immeasurably enriched. Your marriage will speak to the world its own unspoken messages concerning love, faith, hope, trust and selfsacrifice. May these understandings form the foundation of that which you are about to do. (B3) _________________, _______________, once there was a time and a place. Two strangers were there: different people, different lives, different histories. In a look, a glance, a word, an exchange of greetings, an introduction, the two strangers, not realizing it a the time embarked upon a journey that would, in the future, unite them. You were those strangers; how far you have come, how much you have experienced together, since that first meeting. You know in your hearts what attracted you to each other. You know the discoveries you have made about one another – and about yourselves – since that first meeting. You are not the same people you were then; your lives have intertwined and you have changed. Once total strangers, today you will enter into one of life’s most promising relationships. You will still be unique and independent individuals, but you will be with and for one another in a new and different way. In the vows you will make, in the promises you will exchange, and in the rings you will wear, there is testimony to the depth and strength and hope of your love. May these understandings comprise the foundation for that which you about to do. (B4) _________ and __________, the love which you have discovered and which today you celebrate is one of the most profound experiences we can have. You may find it hard to define because it lives more in your hearts than in your minds. Perhaps you sense it more than you think it. Yet in the moments before you, you will exchange words with each other that you have thought about. They will express both your affirmations and your hopes. You have built much, but the house is not finished. If you remain vibrant, interested in both yourselves and the world around you, you will hopefully make discoveries about each other for the rest of your lives together. Already you have shared laughter and joy, silence and song, delight and wonder. When you have placed upon your fingers the signs of your commitment and love, you will continue to share such qualities of life, but now with new and deepened meaning. You will journey together now not just as lovers and friends but as husband and wife. You will look and sound the same, but you will be different. Begin this voyage of discovery with God’s blessing and our love. (B5) ________________, _______________, what a great and awesome thing it is that you are about to do. To take another as spouse and to give oneself as a spouse is one of the most significant things we can do in life. Based on certainty, your commitment to each other is shaped with hope. You have dreams about the future, plans for things yet to come. No matter how carefully you plan, rest assured that there will always be surprises! Then you will meet them as husband and wife, not simply lovers and friends. The relationship into which you enter needs to be a balanced one in which neither of you is absorbed or overpowered by the other. You have been, and always will be, unique individuals. Discovering more about what that uniqueness means is one of life’s greatest adventures. There will be times when it will not be easy. Life will test you. Today you commit yourselves to the task of facing all that comes together. It is a commitment of both power and possibility. May it make you stronger and open doors of wonder to you. In this spirit, then, let us venture closer to that moment you have been dreaming about. WORDS OF CONSENT (C1) __________, will you have this woman/man to be your wedded wife/husband? Will you share your life with her/him in such a way that each of your lives will be enriched? Will you care for her/him with tenderness and affection through all the varying experiences of your lives? (Answer: I will.) (C2) __________, in the spirit of love just described, are you ready to establish a home where you can learn to meet ___________’s need for affection and love, and have your own needs met; and where children may grow in calm security; and where you will accept the various duties of a husband/wife? (Answer: I am.) (C3) __________, will you take this woman/man as your wedded wife/husband, to live together in the spirit of God’s love in the holy covenant of matrimony? Will you love her/him, honor and keep her/him in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, remain faithful to her/him for as long as you both shall live? (Answer: I will.) (C4) ___________, will you take this woman/man to be your wedded wife/husband? Will you ber faithful to her/him in tender love and honor, offering encouragement and companionship? And will you live with her/him, and cherish her/him, as love and respect would lead you in the covenant of marriage? (Answer: I will.) (C5) ___________, you are about to embark on a journey of mutual support, encouragement, and discovery. Will you dedicate yourself unfailingly to this task, promising to do all within your power to nurture this marriage and its possibilities? Will you devote yourself to this relationship in such a manner that all other relationships are overshadowed by its power and the depth of its love? Will you remember that God’s love lives in your love, and that as you are nurtured by each other’s love you are also nurtured by God’s? (Answer: I will.) EXCHANGE OF VOWS (D1) I __________, take you, ___________, to be my wedded wife/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 do us part, according to God’s intent for marriage; and to that end I give you my pledge. (D2) ___________, just as I am, and as I hope to be, I offer myself to you as a husband/wife, whose love will try to be tender, patient, thoughtful, and understanding, through all the experiences of our life together. (D3) __________, I love you as I love no other. All that I am I share with you. I take you to be my wife/husband through sickness and health, through poverty and plenty, through joy and sorrow, now and forever. (D4) ___________, just as I am, and as I hope to be, I offer myself to you as a husband/wife, and pledge to share myself openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love; I promise to honor and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your own fulfillment as an individual, through all the experiences of our lives together. (D5) Before God and these witnesses, I __________, take you, ___________, to be my wife/husband. I pledge to love you and to cherish your love. I will protect you, as far as is humanly possible, from all harm. I will strive to make our home a happy one, so that everyone will see the sacredness of the love with which God has blessed our marriage. I will care for you in both good and difficult times. I will support you in our endeavors and in the fulfillment of your dreams. I will always be there for you. (D6) ___________, I take you to be my wife/husband. I cherish all that you are and promise to support you in all that you hope to become. I promise to share myself fully with you and to be your faithful companion through life’s joys and sorrows. When life becomes hard, I will be there for you, speaking words of encouragement and walking beside you in quiet support. I promise to do all in my power to be a love and creative presence in your life. (D7) ___________, I take you as you are, not as I hope you might be. I take you as my wife/husband, knowing that there is much yet for us to discover. I take you with all the memories we already have and with all the dreams we hold. I promise to strive to be the most loving husband/wife I can be in times of success and struggle. I promise to support your individuality and to strengthen our commonality. I commit myself fully to you as your husband/wife. EXCHANGE OF RINGS AND PROMISES Part One: Words spoken by the minister before the exchange of rings. (E1) From the earliest of times, the golden circle has been a symbol of wedded love. Being of one unbroken circle, these rings symbolize love without end. As often as either of you see these circles, you will be reminded of this day and the promises you made. (E2) God, may these rings be possessed of a power that affects not only the eye but also the heart. May they shine with the love which ___________ and ___________ share, bringing light to their moments of joy and mutual support in times of challenge. May they be received with thanksgiving and worn with true appreciation for the gift that is the other. (E3) Gold has been known as the precious of all metals. How fitting, therefore, that it is used t fashion these rings which speak so silently yet so eloquently of the love which are celebrated here today. As you see and touch them over the years, may you be blessed with the memory of this moment and of the promises you make to each other. (E4) In keeping with the declarations you have made, you give and receive these rings. They are a token of your union, a symbol of enduring loyalty. May they ever remind you that your lives are to be bound together by devotion and faithfulness. (E5) You are about to place on the hand of your beloved the most meaningful symbol of your love and commitment. These rings will peak their silent yet powerful messages to the world. Though the ear will not hear their voice, each will speak powerfully of trust, faithfulness, delight, joy, and devotion. Worn physically on the outside, each will sing of truths and dreams and affections worn on your hearts. (E6) Bless, O God, these rings, that those who wear them and those who give them may dwell together in love and in peace. In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the empowering Spirit. Amen. Part Two: Promises made when rings are exchanged. (F1) With this ring, I thee wed, and to thee I will be true, so long as we both shall live. (F2) Receive and wear this ring as a token of my love for you. (F3) This ring I give you as a symbol and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love. (F4) As an outward symbol that all persons may see, and in token of my vows on this holy occasion, with this ring I give my love in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. (F5) As a sign of my faith in your love for me, as a sign of our mutual hope of bringing continued happiness to each other, I give you this ring and pledge you my love and devotion forever. (F6) (the first is said by the groom; the second by the bride) With this ring I present myself to you as your husband. I do so in humility, knowing in my heart that your love to me is a gift, and in the trust that I will share myself with you in ways that will strengthen and support our love. I accept your ring and you as my husband. I now present myself to you as your wife. I do so in humility, knowing that your love to me is a gift, and in the trust that I will share myself with you in ways that will strengthen and support our love. CEREMONY OF THE CANDLES Option #1: The two candles which you hold represent your two separate lives. Each is distinct, each different – and each creates light and warmth. In your relationship, you have indeed discovered those places where you are different. These differences mark you as unique children of God and are to be both celebrated and nurtured, for they will enrich your union. Through these qualities you will complement one another. You have also found similarities: shared interests, values, and perspectives. Being united in these will strengthen and support this new family which you begin today. Thus, as you prepare to light the unity candle, do so in the knowledge that each of you is blessed with unique gifts and talents. To mark your new beginning, I invite you now to light the unity candle, letting its flame, born of two separate ones, stand as a symbol of this new family. The flames of the smaller candles continue to burn, a reminder that, though now one in a loving and creative way, you are and always will be separate individuals. As these candles give off both light and warmth, so also may your lives. May all who encounter you discover persons whose lives are blessed by God’s love and compassion. Option #2: Jesus said to his followers, “You are the light of the world.” Throughout the Bible, light stands as a symbol of the presence of God’s Spirit. In the love which you have discovered and which you celebrate today, it is our prayer that the light of God’s love shines brightly. In love as God meant it to be, there is an unseen presence. The light of these candles reminds you of that power. The candles which each of you hold signify not only your own lives but the love which you have chosen to share with this person who is now your spouse. As you light the unity candle, merging two flames into one, you testify to that unity of spirit which binds you together as a couple. The single flame of the unity candle is a reminder of your union; the flames of the two smaller candles symbolize your individuality and uniqueness. Their warmth points to the warmth which you bring to each other and which, together, you will convey to those whose lives encounter yours. CLOSING WORDS TO THE COUPLE (A) In a few brief but wonderful moments your lives have changed. In the company of God and these people you have voiced your lifelong commitment to one another and shared promises that will guide you in the months and years ahead. Our prayers and best wishes are with you as you begin this new, exciting and challenging adventure. Standing here today, you harbor hopes and dreams for what those future times will hold. We hope those dreams come true. We pray that you will be there for each other in such ways that you lives will continue to be enriched and encouraged. When life is good, celebrate its goodness. When it challenges your thoughts and feelings, your courage and your energy, face it firmly together. Intentionally those times and experiences that will bring you together in shared ventures. Appreciate, upon occasion, the gift of silence. Grant each other time to think and respond. When you disagree, be fair and honest. Accept differences as normal, challenges as opportunities for mutual discovery rather than roadblocks to growth. Intentionally nurture your love in the future as you have in the past. Remember, as the apostle Paul wrote, that “love is patient and kind.” When you entered today, you were engaged. As you turn now to leave, you do so as a married couple. It is an awesome wonder – and responsibility. Go forth now to celebrate your marriage in the company of family and friends. Delight in the laughter, the company, the memories. And above all, stand in wonder before the step that you have taken this day. (B) ___________, ___________, one of my favorite stories concerns a couple who had been married for many years. Sitting together in the living room one evening, he was hidden behind a newspaper and she was knitting. Finally she said to him, “I have a wonderful idea! Why don’t you read to me while I knit.” Not to be outdone in the idea department, he came back saying, “I have a better idea. Why don’t you knit to me while I read.” It is a good story – and it also makes a telling point: we all have to work at love and the communication that is such an essential aspect of a sound relationship. Though there are certainly times when silently being in one another’s company is a blessing in and of itself, for the most part it is in the sharing of thoughts and feelings that new and vital discoveries will be found. These are the realities which will prompt the growth and change that are essential for a vibrant marriage. Commit yourselves to growing and sharing together, and the road ahead will be built upon a secure foundation. (C) ___________, ___________, the moment you have longed for has finally arrived. Dresses, suits, flowers, invitations, reservations, meal plans, seating arrangements, photographs – your wedding has put before you many, many decisions. As important as they may all seem, they pale in comparisons ot the decision which you celebrated here today. Now you are married. Husband and wife. You have said your vows and your promises and public. These family members and friends have witnesses something of great importance. You have spoken words that invite us, for a brief moment, into your hearts. In the recitation of a few words, you have made a commitment for life. I trust that the significance of that commitment and all that it means and requires will firmly root itself in your hearts and minds. Though you may not feel as if you have changed, you have. Life is different. You are different – and for – one another. Today you have taken a step that is humbling for what it will demand of you in the future. May you take joy in each shared moment and find in the remembrance of these vows and promises the courage to face the inevitable challenges that will come. Go forth now from this place surrounded by our love for you and with God’s blessing. (D) And so it begins, this wonderful, mysterious, challenging new creation we call marriage. Now you call him husband – and he calls you wife. Simple words, yet profound in their meaning. Each is repository of dreams and visions, realities and possibilities. As you prepare to leave this place and begin your new venture, you have asked me to share a charge with you. Having had the pleasure of declaring you to be husband and wife, I now charge you with the following: I charge you to remember that love is like the most beautiful of gardens: it needs tending and nurturing. Love may at first spring surprisingly and somewhat spontaneously, but its continuance requires mutual care. I charge you, as the months and years go by and life changes, to do those things necessary to keep the excitement of your love alive. I charge you to continue to grow in the deep knowledge of both yourself and the other; to create those changes in yourself that will deepen and nurture your relationship; to maintain the capacity for wonder, spontaneity, and humor. I charge you to affirm not only your own strengths but those of the one whom you have chosen to be your partner in life, to encourage that other in his or her special endeavors and discoveries. I charge you to remain pliable, warm, and sensitive. I charge you to trust the strength of your love and to share your true feelings with each other. To remember that, though one in marriage, you are now – and always will be – unique and distinct individuals. I charge you, as life changes and time makes everincreasing demands upon you, to save time for each other, to create those moments that will be spiritual oases amidst life’s pressures. I charge you to remember that the Spirit of God lives in your love, to draw upon that presence and its strength when life presents its inevitable challenges, and to be forever for each other lover, companion, and friend. THE CLOSING PRAYER (G1) Eternal God, your love gives birth to all love. Out of the happy experiences of two lives coming together, a new love has been created between _____________ and ___________. It would be our prayer this day that their love may continue to grow and strengthen with the passing of the days and under your continued guidance. Before all who hear these words, we ask your blessing upon this newly formed couple. Grant them peace and happiness all the days of their lives, but where that is not to be, instill within them such courage and hope as they will need to bear up under the challenges of life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G2) O God, as you love these two with unending patience and forgiveness, so may __________ and __________ love one another. May they rejoice in the small gifts of the spirit that they give one another; may they accept as gifts the unfolding of thoughts and feelings which each has the courage to share; may they respect each other’s right to silence upon occasion. Bless them with courage of heart and greatness of spirit to meet the inevitable challenges that lie ahead. May the find in you, in their faith, and in their shared love the foundations for a long and loving life together. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G3) God, we are thankful for all the events and words that have brought ______________ and _____________ to this hour of joy. May your loving and creative spirit remain with these two persons who have just pledged their love and faith to one another. Guide them in the making of their decisions and in the resolution of their differences. Make them always aware of love’s need to be fed; may they never take each other for granted. May their home be a place of peace and understanding. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G4) Gracious God, _____________ and ______________ begin a new journey today, one already filled with hopes and dreams. Grant to each of them that courage of mind and heart that will be required to transform dreams into realities. As they gaze into each other’s eyes, may they see reflected there the souls of two people who have pledged themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. May they, in all times and places, know joy and love and appreciate the work it requires. May they be a comfort to each other in difficult times; may they increase one another’s joys. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G5) Eternal and loving God, we pray that your Spirit may remain firmly with __________ and ___________. May the home which they establish be one in which love reigns supreme; where warmth and humor are contagious; where laugher echoes throughout the rooms; where friendship and understanding are freely given. Bless them with continued amazement at the wonder of their love and the strength to mutually conquer the inevitable challenges that will come. Be present with them to help transform their dreams into reality; may they continue to find in one another lover, companion and friend. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. THE BENEDICTION (H1) _____________, _______________, may God bless you and keep you. May God always be close to you and you to God. May God’s love shine brightly in your marital love, granting you thankful hearts for the gifts of each other and the perseverance in the pursuit of your dreams. Amen. (H2) And now may the love of God so fill your hearts that your love will grow and strengthen with the passing of the days. May you find in each other each day the good and beautiful things which have brought you here today. Find in each day the seeds of new beginnings, moments to express your love, joy in discovery, and delight in each other’s company. Amen. (H3) _____________, _____________, go forth from this place with God’s blessing. Delight in each other’s company. Increase your joys. Support and encourage one another in difficult moments. Find pleasure in simple things. Stand in awe before love’s power and resilience. Strive always to be the very best you can be for one another. Amen. (H4) ______________, ______________, you depart now as husband and wife, persons united in heart, mind and spirit. As you are compassionate to each other, be compassionate to all of God’s children. May your love and lives reflect God’s care, your generosity God’s love. Never take each other for granted; grow together as life affords such opportunities. Find a time each day to utter life’s three most powerful words: “I love you.” Amen. (H5) Gracious God, _____________ and ______________ begin a new journey today, one already filled with hopes and dreams. Grant to each of them that courage of mind and heart that will be required to transform dreams into realities. As they gaze into each other’s eyes, may they see reflected there the souls of two people who have pledged themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. May they, in all times and places, know joy and love and appreciate the work it requires. May they be a comfort to each other in difficult times; may they increase one another’s joys. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. ead. May the find in you, in their faith, and in their shared love the foundations for a long and loving life together. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G3) God, we are thankful for all the events and words that have brought ______________ and _____________ to this hour of joy. May your loving and creative spirit remain with these two persons who have just pledged their love and faith to one another. Guide them in the making of their decisions and in the resolution of their differences. Make them always aware of love’s need to be fed; may they never take each other for granted. May their home be a place of peace and understanding. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. (G4) Gracious God, _____________ and ______________ begin a new journey today, one already filled with hopes and dreams. Grant to each of them that courage of mind and heart that will be required to transform dreams into realities. As they gaze into each other’s eyes, may they see reflected there the souls of two people who have pledged themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. May they, in all times and places, know joy and love