Sample Outline of a Basic Wedding Ceremony:
Please remember, ALL wedding ceremonies are unique. I have left out the personal or romantic readings I share because they change often and I try to design them for each couple. This ceremony is just an example of a traditional order of service. I normally include scripture if appropriate, romantic poetry and some of my own special meditations. It can be completely non-religious if you prefer.
You don't have to memorize anything. I will subtly prompt you throughout the ceremony.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO CUSTOMIZE THE CEREMONY!
(As the couple centers themselves in front of the minister/officiant.)
Here, I may welcome everyone and thank them for coming if appropriate.
Dear Friends, we are gathered together here in the presence of these witnesses (and in the eyes of God if Christian), to join together ___ and ____ in marriage; which honorable, joyful and forever. And on behalf of _____ and _____, welcome and thank you for sharing in this celebration of their love.
All of you are witnesses to their commitment, however, who comes on behalf of their families and friends to bless this union? (or "to present this woman to this man" as you prefer.) Usually the father or other escort says, "I do" or something appropriate. At this point, the escort gently joins the couples hands and takes a seat.) Escorts are not required for the ceremony.
(Here, I add a romantic introduction to love, or a religious reading, according to your wishes. I normally take a couple of minutes to say a few words about love and unity in marriage.)
(If a Christian wedding, I normally share 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.
If yours is a non-religious wedding, I substitute a poem or appropriate reading.
Declaration of Consent:
(Each will repeat after me as appropriate.)
Do you come here freely and without reservation to unite with _____ as your lawfully wedded _____, and live together in the bonds of marriage? Do you promise to love ___, - comfort _____ , - honor and keep _____ - and, forsaking all others, be faithful only unto _____ , - so long as you both shall live? (This is where you say, "I Do".)
Blessing of the Hands:
(Here, I ask you to join hands as a romantic reading is offered.)
(Here, I say a few words about the vows you are about to take.)
(Each will repeat after me as appropriate.)
I, _______, give you ________, my life and my love, my honesty and faithfulness, my laughter and my tears. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to cherish and care for you, to respect and honor you, with all my heart, today, every day and for the rest of our lives.
I _____ take you _____ - to be my _____, 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. This is my solemn vow.
You are welcome to write your own vows.
Family Vows: (as appropriate)
If there are children and you would like to say the "Family Vows", we will insert them here. The children come forward. All of you hold hands and the parents say (in unison) -- "I give you my home, that you may know where you belong; my hands, to pick you up when you fall; and my heart, that you may always know that you are loved. May God bless our lives together." (or, if non-religious, "May our lives be filled with joy and peace.") It would be nice for the parents to have a small token of their vows to give to the children at this time. Some choose a necklace or other keepsake.
Blessing of the Rings:
“Made in a circle, these rings signify an eternal union with no end. Made of precious metals, they symbolize the value of your relationship. Wear them as symbols of love and honor, joy and commitment.” (I typically say a little bit more about the rings that is touching and romantic.)
As each person places the ring on the other’s hand: "'With this ring, I thee wed' or 'I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow', and offer you all that I am, all that I have, and all that I shall be. 'In honor of our love' or 'In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.'"
(Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony, Knot Ceremony or other "unity event" with special readings and words offered by the minister/officiant.)
The Sand Ceremony requires three vessels: One larger "center" vessel, such as a small vase, and two "side" vessels about the size of juice glasses. You place them on a small table and have the two small vessels filled with either sand from the beach or colored sand you can purchase at any hobby/craft shop. When the time comes, you pour the sand into the third vessel together, symbolizing your unity. It is a nice ceremony and provides a "beach wedding" keepsake for your mantle. The Knot Ceremony requires two strands of cord or rope about two foot in length each. There are a wide variety of unity ceremonies. I'm happy to include whichever you request. It is by no means necessary to have a unity ceremony.
Here, I will say a few words about the secret to a happy marriage (My sweet wife taught me everything I know here.)
(if Christian, or appropriate reading if non-religious)
Forasmuch as _____ and _____ have joined together in holy matrimony, and hereto have given and pledged their lives, each to the other, and have declared their love by solemn vows and by joining hands; By virtue of the authority vested in me as a Minister (or Authorized Officiant) and in accordance with the laws of the state of _______ I pronounce that you are husband and wife (Or other wording as you prefer). You may Kiss. Friends, I present to you.....