As pastor, I have always made it my business to be present during those forty-five minutes before the wedding to soothe frazzled nerves and complete the signing of the marriage documents. My role is to be calm and unflappable, to care for the couple, reassuring them everything will go well, and remind them their role is to enjoy this moment.
But even more, I am there to pray separately with the groomsmen and bridesmaids, inviting God’s blessing on the moments to follow, asking that he will preserve in their hearts and minds the sacred ambience of the candlelit sanctuary, the radiant faces of well-wishing family and friends, and the joy of love exchanged in holy commitment.
During the ceremony, my role is to remind the people, by word and bearing, that this is a worship service. I try to guard against talking too fast or saying the familiar words in a perfunctory manner. Wanting this to be a personal experience, I speak directly yet conversationally to the two people in front of me, not to the crowd behind them.
I also make creative use of silence, which we so rarely enjoy these days. For instance, I prefer no music at all when the bride ascends the platform, so everyone can hear the rustle of the dress.
Then the couple repeats solemn vows very similar to those said by their parents and ancestors, thus affirming their solidarity with the past and their fidelity to the high call of God.
I’m sometimes surprised but always delighted by how my attention to a few details during the preparation, rehearsal, and ceremony can release the couple from nervous tension. When I am able to move a couple’s thinking from anxious performance to tender worship, I feel I’ve accomplished my pastoral role.
WEDDING CEREMONY PLANNING SHEET
Time prelude begins: Time candles lighted:
SOLO/SPECIAL MUSIC (optional)
AISLE RUNNER (optional)
PRESENTATION OF BRIDE
WELCOME/CALL TO WORSHIP
Example: We are gathered here to worship God and to witness the marriage vows of ____ and ____ (full names). Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Let us worship God.
Example: ____ and ____, marriage is an honorable estate whose bond and covenant was instituted by God in creation. Our Lord Jesus Christ adorned and beautified this holy estate by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his church. And the Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people. Therefore, no one should enter this state of life unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained.
DECLARATION OF INTENT
Example: “____, will you take ____ to be your wife, and will you be faithful to her, love her, honor her, live with her, and cherish her, according to the commandments of God in holy marriage?”
“____, will you take ____ to be your husband, and will you be faithful to him, love him, honor him, live with him, and cherish him, according to the commandments of God in holy marriage?”
HYMN or SPECIAL MUSIC (may go before ascending platform)
Examples: Gen. 2:18–24; Eccles. 4:19–21; Matt. 5:13–16; John 2:1; Eph. 5:21–33; Col. 3:12–17; I John 4:7–12; Song of Songs 8:6, 7.
HOMIL Y (7–10 minutes)
Example: “I, ____, take you ____, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, and according to God’s holy plan, I give you my love.”
“I, ____, take you, ____, to my wedded husband …” (as above)
“____/____, what token do you give of your love?”
“____, with this ring I thee wed, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Example: Bless, O Lord, these rings to be a symbol of the solemn vows by which this man and this woman have bound themselves to each other in holy matrimony, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.
Example: Forasmuch as ____ and ____ have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this congregation, and in so doing have given and pledged their vows to each other, and have declared the same by the giving and receiving of a ring, I pronounce them man and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
LIGHTING OF CHRIST OR UNITY CANDLE (optional)
VOWS OF THE CHRISTIAN HOME (optional):
Depending upon God for strength and wisdom, we pledge ourselves to the establishment of a Christian home. Together we will constantly seek God’s will and honor Christ in our marriage.
SOLO OR SPECIAL MUSIC (optional)