This month I have the privilege of officiating two weddings. It is a joy to have a part in these special days and as I was preparing for their services I decided to reread my wedding service. Reading these words reminds me of all the people who came to support us as we entered into this covenant. Also, it reminds me (after more than 8 years of marriage) of the many people in my life who have only known me as married.
I am unable to give credit to those who wrote some of these words. I know they were picked and pulled from a variety of sources, written by us, and written by our officiant, the always amazing, Rev. Kristi Foster.
In the spirit of wedding month, I share these special words with you.
The two mothers will be escorted into the church and brought forward to each light one of the candles, representing each of their children.
Richard and his attendants will walk onto the altar with Pastor Kristi. After the attendants are in place, the bridesmaids will process down the aisle: Elizabeth, Heather, Julie, Becky. Then the music will change and Susannah will process down the aisle. After taking her place, Susannah will hand her bouquet to Becky and she and Richard will face each other and join hands.
I greet you in the name of Christ. My friends, we have come together from many places on this day, to join together the love of Richard and Susannah in the celebration of marriage. We witness, by our joy, that the happiness these two find in one another is unique. And yet, it is no more than the happiness which all people might find. For life is a dance, and marriage is the choosing of eternal partners for that dance. We are here, above all, to worship God—creator of both the dance and the dancers. We rejoice that God brings God’s people together as one in the Spirit. Love has brought them together, and so it will keep them together.
O Loving God, out of this complex world you have drawn together these two persons, and are binding them in love. As we contemplate these moments of worship with them, may we approach its mystery in reverence, its goodness with rejoicing, its meaning with celebration, and its holiness with respect. We thank you for the homes in which Susannah and Richard have been cared for. We thank you for the parents who have sacrificed on their behalf, and for families and friends who have loved them. Lord, we ask your blessing on these two partners, as they affirm the choice they have made of each other as life’s mate. Give them a seriousness of purpose, that they will be delivered from empty words and casual commitments. Increase their faith and love all the days of their lives. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Declarations of Intent
Recognizing that marriage is not the end of two people and the formation of one, but the joining of two individuals who, while they become one with another, are still one from another, I call on you both now, in the presence of God, and your families and friends, to give expression to the commitment which was long ago formed between you.
Susannah, will you have Richard to be your wedded husband and live together in one love? Will you honor and comfort him, share his joy and his sorrow, always endeavoring to understand his needs and will you cherish his love forever? If so, please say, “I will.”
Susannah: I will.
Richard, will you have Susannah as your wife and will you promise to love her always, not through duty or obligation, but through integrity, respect, and faithful consideration? And do you promise to live, and especially to work, with her, in order to share and spread you love throughout your lives? If so, please say, “I will.”
Richard: I will
Family and Friends Support Time (From Kristi)
Pledge of Support
Will the families of Susannah and Richard please stand in support of this couple?
Do each of you offer your prayerful blessing and loving support to this marriage? If so, please say, “I do.” I do
Please join me in prayer. God of our mothers and of our fathers, hear our pledges encouraging and supporting this union of Richard and Susannah. Bless us as we offer our prayerful and loving support to their marriage. Bless them as they pledge their lives to each other. With faith in you and in each other, may this couple always bear witness to the reality of the love to which we witness this day. May their love continue to grow, and may it be a true reflection of your love for us all. AMEN
From the Non-Canonical Gospel of Philip:
Every plant my Father in Heaven does not plant will be rooted out. Those who are alienated will be united. They will be filled. Everyone will join in lighting the light of the Bridal Chamber. For the light shines in the marriages which are seen. The fire burns in the night, then it is extinguished. But the mysteries of this marriage are fulfilled in the day and the light. That day and its light do not set.
Ruth 1: 16-17
But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die–
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”
The Lord’s Prayer
Susannah and Richard, please kneel together for our prayer. Richard and Susannah invite all those present now to join in the prayer common to our faith, using those words which are most comfortable to you.
Our Father, which art in heaven. . .
Kristi to couple while they are kneeling:
I charge you Richard and Susannah, with the responsibility to keep alive: to grow, to change, to maintain the capacity for wonder, for spontaneity, for humor. To remain pliable, warm and sensitive. I charge you to give fully, to show your real feelings, and to save time for each other, no matter what demands are made upon your day. I charge you to see the meaning of life through the changing prism of your love. To nurture each other to fullness and wholeness, and in learning to love each other more deeply, learn to love the creation in which the mystery of your love has happened. And, above all, I charge you to keep God in your marriage. Not as an uninvited houseguest, but as an indwelling part of your relationship.
I invite the parents of Susannah and Richard to come forward for the charge.
Parents to couple:
Susannah and Richard: nothing is easier than saying words, and nothing harder than living them day by day. What you promise today must be renewed and rededicated tomorrow. At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife. But you must still decide, each day that stretches out before you, that you want to be married. Getting married is really quite easy. Staying married is a life-long task. Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow and the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner, as about your own. But real love is not total absorption in each other. It is looking outward in the same direction together. Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them. It makes joys more intense, because you share them. It makes you stronger, so you can reach out and became involved in life, in ways you dared not risk alone.
Richard and Susannah: I invite you to stand now and repeat your vows to one another in the presence of those who are assembled to witness your covenant.
Richard, turn to Susannah, take her hands and repeat after me:
take you Susannah,
to be my wife.
And I promise
I will be faithful to you,
and at all times loving.
Whether in joy or sorrow.
I will share with you
and believe in you.
I will cherish you forever.
I give you my hand
and my love.
Susannah, repeat after me:
I take you
to be my husband.
And these things
I promise you:
I will be faithful to you
and honest with you.
I will respect, trust,
help and care for you.
I will share my life with you.
I will forgive you,
as we have been forgiven.
And with you
I will try to better understand ourselves,
the world, and God.
Through the best and worst
of what is to come,
as long as we live.
Exchange of Rings Get rings from best man, groom, etc.
These rings, when placed on the other’s finger becomes a symbol of your pledge to one another, and to all of us here, that you are going to encircle each other with your love, your care, and your protection. You pledge that whatever happens you can depend on each other. We do not expect you to know all that this means now. But we do expect that you are pledging your will, so that whatever turns there are in the road ahead, we may depend on your being there, one for the other, supporting each other with your very lives.
Richard, place this ring on Susannah’s finger and repeat after me:
I give you this ring,
as a symbol of my vow,
and with all that I am,
and all that I have,
I honor you.
Susannah, place this ring on Richard’s finger and repeat after me:
I give you this ring,
as a symbol of my vow,
and with all that I am,
and all that I have,
I honor you.
Lighting of the Unity Candle
At this time, I invite Susannah and Richard to join together in lighting the unity candle. They asked their mothers to light each of their individual candles. These lights, which represent the faith, wisdom, and love they have received from their parents, are distinct, each burning alone. As Richard and Susannah light the center candle together, they join their two lives to make one life together.
Richard and Susannah, As this one light burns undivided, so shall your love be one. From now on, your thoughts shall be for one another, not just for yourselves. Your joys and your sorrows are no longer yours alone, but are shared. Keep the radiance of this candle in your hearts always, as a symbol of your commitment to the unity of your life together. I invite you to take this candle with you at the conclusion of this service and light it often, as a reminder of this day and the promises you have made to each other.
May the blessing of light,
Be with you always,
Light without and light within.
And may the sun shine
Upon you and warm your heart
Until it glows
Like a great fire
So that others may feel
The warmth of your love
For one another.
In the presence of these witnesses you have spoken the words and performed the rites that unite your lives. Richard and Susannah, you are now husband and wife in the sight of God, your family and friends, and your community.
You may now seal your covenant with a kiss.
Lord, hear us for a quiet moment as each of us contemplates what we are celebrating right now. Keep Richard and Susannah faithful to each other and to you. Fill them with such love and joy that they may build a home where no one is a stranger. And guide them by your word, to serve you all the days of their lives. Go in peace, as two, yet one. May your unity last through the trials and triumphs that lie ahead. So that at the end, you may feel just as you do now: very happy to be in love and to be married. Go, then, in peace. Amen.