Resources for Planning Wedding Services: An annotated list

Baker’s Wedding Handbook: Resources for Pastors. Paul E. Engle, ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994. 183 pp. $16.99. 1-616-957-3110; retail@bakerbooks.com

Sample services from a variety of denominations, all taken from official sources of those denominations. Also some alternative services (a “brief” service, a contemporary service, remarriage, renewal of vows, and so on.) Also includes some resources for wedding rituals (unity candle), alternative vows, Scriptures, prayers, and homilies. Nice hardcover with two cloth bookmarks and small size make it handy for use by pastors.

A Christian Celebration of Marriage: An Ecumenical Liturgy. Revised Edition. The Consultation on Common Texts. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1995. 32 pp. $7.99. 1-800-328-4648; www.augsburgfortress.org

The ecumenical wedding liturgy approved by the Consultation on Common Texts (those responsible for the Revised Common Lectionary). Includes a brief introduction and “congregational participation aid.” No musical help and no variety in choice of words for vows and prayers. It’s plain vanilla but very rich and satisfying.

Christian Marriage: The Worship of God. Supplemental Liturgical Resource 3. Prepared by the Office of Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986. 120 pp. $12.95. 1-800-227-2872; www.ppcpub.org

The classic Presbyterian resource. Offers three basic services with some choice of alternate prayers and texts. Part of a wonderful series of liturgical resources characterized by beautiful language that is modern yet appropriately formal for worship. The second section, explaining the wedding as worship and offering guidelines for the rites, is especially helpful. Rounded out with a nice list of appropriate music.

Handbook of Church Music for Weddings, 3rd Edition. Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson and David Anderson. Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1992. 47 pp. $7.00. 1-800-933-1800; orders@ltp.org

Outline of and commentary on the Roman Catholic Rite of Marriage, some theoretical guidelines for selecting service music, and a repertoire of music appropriate for the wedding liturgy. The list includes the expected contemporary horses of the Catholic stables (G.I.A., O.C.P.), a smattering of Hispanic songs from Flor y Canto, and a fine selection of classic hymns.

A Marriage Sourcebook. J. Robert Baker, Joni Reiff Gibley and Kevin Charles Gibley, eds. Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1994. 160 pp. $15.00. 1-800-933-1800; orders@ltp.org

This unusual resource is part of the “Sourcebook” series. Twelve chapters on themes connected to specific blessings or vows in the wedding liturgy (“In Good Times and in Bad,” “Forgiveness,” “The Gift and Heritage of Children,” and so on). Each chapter is a collection of thoughts—poems, Scripture, short essays, stories, and bits of ancient liturgies. Very eclectic—Chrysostom, Shakespeare, Zora Neale Hurston, Amy Tan, Paul Evdokimov, Steven Sondheim, Shaker Hymns—and very stimulating.

Pastoral Music in Practice, 4: Weddings, Funerals, Liturgy of the Hours. Virgil C. Funk, ed. Washington, DC: The Pastoral Press, 1990. 128 pp. $7.95. 1-800-548-8749; www.ocp.org

A handful of short articles on a variety of topics (marriage preparation, ecumenical and interfaith weddings, the wedding ceremony, and so on). John Mumford’s chapter on music (“Beyond ‘There Is Love’”) provides a fairly comprehensive list of musical options for the congregation and for the church musician. Meant for Roman Catholics. Full of theological insight and pastoral suggestions.

Sourcebook of Weddings. Canton, Ohio: Communication Resources, 1998. 257 pp. $49.00 including disk; $43.00 binder only. 1-800-992-2144; order@ComResources.com

A comprehensive guide to all things nuptial. Doesn’t include any guidelines for crafting worship (“No right way or wrong way exists”). Aims instead at breadth of information and ease of use—succeeding on both counts. Helpfully organized information on premarital counseling, rehearsal, budgeting, videotaping, floral arranging, and many other details. Outlines for a host of marriage ceremonies, including traditional, contemporary, post-modern (!), blended, interfaith, and vow-renewing. One section is directed to weddings for widows and widowers, another to weddings for blended families. Also includes a wide variety of optional wedding words (over seventy vows and thirty homilies!). Comes in a three-ring binder; available with or without a PC disk.

Ron Rienstra is associate professor of preaching and worship arts at Western Theological Seminary and co-author of Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry (Baker Academic, 2009).