Tailored to Fit: Piecing Together a Wedding Service

In the past, couples had little choice about the shape of their wedding service. Out of two wedding liturgies in the back of the hymnal the pastor had his favorite, which he repeated wedding after wedding after wedding.

Today many pastors encourage couples to take a more active role in shaping their wedding service, to carefully select words that will make their ceremony personal and special and keep it from becoming routine. The following elements of wedding services were compiled by Donald Draayer, former pastor in Bellflower, California, and currently campus pastor at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. Some of the elements come from published services; others are from Draayer's files and were gathered over the last several years from a variety of wedding services.

Welcome

We have gathered in the presence of God to give thanks for the gifts of marriage, to witness the joining together of_________and_________, to surround them with our prayers, and to ask God's blessing upon them, so that they may be strengthened for their life together and nurtured in their love for God.

—Christian Marriage (Presbyterian)

We have come together before the face of God to join_________and_________in marriage. We seek to honor the will of God for marriage, the concern of the Christian church for its well-being, and the interest of the state in the orderly development of society.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and the Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life 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 Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.

Into this holy union_________and________now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else forever hold your peace.

—The Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Dear friends, you are invited to witness the Christian ceremony of marriage, as we bring together_________and_________. Let us be aware of the fact that we are in the very presence of God, who not only hears, but will bless the vows and the commitments made this day. Now, in the power of the Holy Spirit we begin this ceremony of love and trust called marriage. It is indeed fitting that we now ask the Lord for his blessing upon this union between two of his children.

—Source Unknown

One of the most joyous occasions in life is the union of man and woman in marriage, in celebration of life. To that end we have come to join in marriage_________and_________. For that we seek the blessing of God in prayer.

—Source Unknown

Parting from Parents

Today,_________and_________leave their parents to establish a new home.

Do you, Mr. and Mrs. (parents of the groom), give your blessing to them and promise them your continued love and support?

(They answer): We give them our blessing, and so promise, God helping us. Do you, Mr. and Mrs. (parents of the bride), give your blessing to them and promise them your continued love and support?

(They answer): We give them our blessing, and so promise, God helping us.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Since we would honor the covenant relationship through which God is pleased to deal with us, his people, I would ask the parents of_________and_________to add their blessing to this marriage.

(Groom's parents): We, the parents of_________, thank God that in his providence he has brought these two people together to be married. We welcome _________into our family, and trust that God will richly bless this home which he is pleased to establish.

(Bride's parents): We, the parents of_________, thank God that in his providence he has brought these two people together to be married. We welcome _________into our family, and trust that God will richly bless this home which he is pleased to establish.

—Source Unknown

Marriage Vows

_________and__________, now that you have heard God's message concerning marriage, do you agree with it and do you commit yourselves to each other in accordance with it?

Each answers: I do.

Groom: I take you,_________, to be my wife and I promise before God and all who are present here to be your loving and faithful husband, as long as our lives shall last. I will love you and give myself up for you, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you.

Bride: I take you,_________, to be my husband, and I promise before God and all who are present here to be your loving and faithful wife, as long as our lives shall last. I will love you and submit to you, as the church loves and submits to Christ. I will serve you with tenderness and respect, and encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Do you,_____,take_______before God and these witnesses, to be your wedded wife?

Groom answers: I do.

Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking every other, keep to her only, so long as you both shall live?

Groom answers: I will.

Do you,_________, take_________, before God and these witnesses to be your wedded husband?

Bride answers: I do.

Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking every other, keep to him only, so long as you both shall live?

Bride answers: I will.

Each says: "I,_________, take you,_________, to be my 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, as long as we both shall live. To this I pledge myself truly with all my heart.

—Worship the Lord (RCA)

Each says: Before God and these witnesses, I,________,take you,_________, to be my wife/husband, and I promise to love you, and to be faithful to you as long as we both shall live.

—Christian Marriage (Presbyterian)

_________and_________, if it is your intention to share with each other your joys and sorrows and all that the years will bring, with your promises bind yourselves to each other as husband and wife.

Each says: "I_________, take you,_________,to be my wife/husband from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come, and I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us.

—Lutheran Book of Worship

Each says: "I,_________, take you,_________to be my wife/husband, and in doing so, commit my life to you, encompassing all sorrows and joys, all hardships and triumphs, all experiences of life; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and daily made new.

—Write Your Own Wedding

_________and_________,now that you have heard God's message concerning marriage, do you agree with it and do you desire to enter into this holy estate as ordained by God?

Groom:_________, do you solemnly declare that you take_________as your wife, and do you promise that you will, with the gracious help of God, love, honor, and care for her, live with her in the holy bonds of marriage according to God's ordinance, and never forsake her, so long as you both shall live?

Groom answers: I do.

Bride:_________, do you solemnly declare that you take_________as your husband, and do you promise that you will, with the gracious help of God, love, honor, and obey him in all things lawful, live with him in the holy bonds of marriage according to God's ordinance, and never forsake him so long as you both shall live?

Bride answers: I do.

—Psalter Hymnal 1987

Each says: "I,_________,in the presence of God, promise you, _________, my faithful and enduring love, to be expressed to you each day and in all situations. I promise to love you and to care for you in sickness and in health. I promise to share my thoughts and feelings with you, both in joy and in sorrow. I promise to encourage you in abundance and in need. I promise to pray for you, to assist you and to praise you as long as we both shall live.

—Source Unknown

Each says: In the presence of our Lord Jesus and these witnesses, I,_________, take you,_________, asmy wife/husband. I promise to love and honor you even as Christ loved the church, nourishing and caring for you, cleaving to you and being faithful to you. I promise to love you through both easy and hard times, to share your times of laughter and of tears, to share my thoughts and feelings with you, my best friend; to pray for you and encourage you, to work with you to make our marriage a loving, lasting relationship; and, above all, I promise to work and build with you a home where God is the foundation.

—Source Unknown

Exchange of Rings

_________, do you give this ring as a symbol of your constant faithfulness and abiding love?

Each responds: I do.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Each says:_________, I give you this ring as a symbol of our covenant in Christ.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Each says: This ring I give in token of the covenant made this day between us; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

—Worship the Lord (RCA)

Each says: I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness.

—Lutheran Book of Worship

Each says: With this ring I thee wed: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

—The Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Each says: I give you this ring,_________, as a symbol of our marriage. With my heart, soul, mind and body, I honor you; all that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you within the love of our Lord.

—Source Unknown

Wedding Prayers

Most merciful and gracious God, from whom the whole family of heaven and earth is named, we pray that you will confirm with your blessing the marriage into which our brother and sister have entered this day. Grant them your Holy Spirit to help them be true to the vow and covenant they have made. Guide them in the way of righteousness and peace so that, loving and serving you with one mind and heart all the days of their life, they may be abundantly enriched with the tokens of your everlasting favor in Christ Jesus our Lord. In all life's experiences lift up your countenance upon them, that they may be thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity. May their marriage be fruitful for this life and for the life to come. Grant them wisdom and strength to build a home which will glorify your name and promote the coming of your kingdom. May they live together many years, and in the hour of death may they part in the blessed hope of celebrating forever with all the saints of God the marriage of Christ and the church he loved. Hear our prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray saying: The Lord's Prayer

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Let us ask for the blessing of the Lord. Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being; bless_________and_________that they may live together in marriage according to the vows they have made before you. Bless them with your love, that their love for each other may grow ever deeper, and their love for you may shine forth before the world. Bless them with your mercy, that they may be patient and caring,willing to share each other's joys and sorrows, to forgive and to be forgiven, in their life together and in the world. Bless them with your peace,that they may be calm and sure, trusting in you with confident hearts and living in harmony and concord within their family and among all people. Bless them with your presence, that within their hearts and their home Christ may reign as head, and that they may acknowledge his lordship with praise and thanksgiving now, and through all their life together, to the glory of your holy name! Amen.

—Worship the Lord (RCA)

O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his church: Send therefore your blessing upon these your servants, that they may love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

—The Book of Common Prayer, 1979

Faithful Lord, source of love, pour down your grace upon_______and_________, that they may fulfill the vows they have made this day and reflect your steadfast love in their lifelong faithfulness to each other. As members with them of the body of Christ, use us to support their life together; and from your great store of strength give them power and patience, affection and understanding, courage, and love toward you, toward each other, and toward the world, that they may continue together in mutual growth according to your will in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

—Lutheran Book of Worship

Father in heaven, give today your blessing upon the marriage of_________and__________. We thank you for the vows they have spoken and the love in which they are now united. Keep them faithful and strong in every trial. Sustain their joy and affection for many years.We pray, Lord Jesus, that you will be acknowledged head of their home and master of their lives. Equip them, Holy Spirit, with patient endurance, sacrificial service, unfailing courtesy, endless trust, and lasting love. Grant that their home will often be a place of laughter; and in times of difficulty and trouble, a haven of healing and forgiveness. May they and their children give constant praise to you, eternal Father, who with the Son and the Spirit is God, blessed and exalted forever. Amen.

—Psalter Hymnal, 1987

Most merciful and gracious God, of whom the whole family of heaven and earth is named, we beseech you, set the seal of your approval upon the marriage into which_________and_________have entered this day. Give them your fatherly benediction; grant them grace and your Holy Spirit to fulfill the vows and covenant which they have made, with pure and constant affection. Guide them in the way of righteousness and peace, that, loving and serving you with one mind and heart all the days of their lives, they may be abundantly enriched with your everlasting favor in Christ. Be with them in all of life's experiences, that they may be thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity. May their marriage be fruitful for this life and for the life to come. Grant them wisdom and strength to build a home which shall be to the glory of your name and the coming of your kingdom. May they live together many years, and in the hour of death, may they part in the blessed hope of celebrating forever with all the saints of God the marriage of Christ and the church he loves. Amen.

-Source Unknown

Appropriate Scripture Passages
From the Old Testament

Genesis 1:26-28: The creation of man and woman
Genesis 2:18-25: The institution of marriage
Proverbs 3:5-6: Benefits of wisdom
Song of Songs: Selected verses which celebrate sexuality in marriage

From the Epistles

Romans 12:9-13: A message on love
1 Corinthians 13: The classic chapter on love
Ephesians 4:2-6: The characteristics of unity Ephesians 5:21-32: Relationship between Christ, bride and groom
Colossians 3:12-17: The virtues that hold a marriage together
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Instruction for living
1 John 4:7-16: God's love and ours

From the Gospels

Matthew 7:24-27: The wise and foolish builders
Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9: Jesus' teaching on marriage
Mark 9:33-37: Who is the greatest?
Luke 11:1-13: Jesus' teaching on prayer
John 2:1-11: Jesus at the wedding in Cana