Perry Hardison, Wedding Officiant
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These are sample ceremonies.  Both contain references that personalized the ceremony for the couple.  The first is non-religious and the second is a religious ceremony. Together, we can create a ceremony unique to you.

A Non-religious Ceremony

 

The Welcome

                Family and friends, I welcome you to the marriage ceremony of ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________________.  On their behalf, I thank you for caring about them enough to be here to share this celebration with them and for the support you have shown them over the years.  As they commit themselves to one another in marriage today, I would challenge you to make a commitment as well—a commitment to continue to support them in the years to come.  As we all know, life is a wonderful adventure.  However, since it is an adventure, it has moments of great joy and times of great challenge.  May each of you be willing to be there for ________________ to help them celebrate the joys (as today) and to encourage them in times of challenge.

 

The Presentation of the Bride 

Who presents _______ to be married to _________?


Reflections

                We are here today still very early into a new year.  The coming of a new year gives us occasion to look back at our journey while looking forward to the future. This wedding ceremony offers us the same occasion with your lives.  You have chosen this day to be married because it marks your eight year anniversary as a couple.

It is a wonderful journey that has brought you to this place today.  High school sweethearts from the moment of love at first sight as you were just beginning your lives. Yet, not young people caught up in a fairy tale of what love in the real world can be.  Your eight years together have brought into adulthood—as lovers and as friends.  As Montaigne reminds us, “If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship.’

You have supported each other in getting your educations and beginning careers.  You have established a home--with all that entails.  You have taken a long trip to Mexico several years ago.  The stresses and challenges of these milestones could have unraveled your relationship but instead, refined it as heat refines gold.

                Your journey began as high school sweethearts but you stand here today as adults ready to solemnize a commitment that you have been living daily for years.  You stand here to celebrate your past but also to seize the future.   As Saint-Exupery wrote, “Love does not consist in gazing at each another, but in looking outward in the same direction.”

                Your journey reminds us all that marriage is a solemn commitment.  It is a covenant relationship between two people who are committing the most precious possession they have—their lives—to be shared with each other.  It is a commitment rooted in love but expressed in the realities of living.  Your relationship demonstrates the roots of love and the strength of the living of life.

 

The Declaration of the Vows

                George Eliot observed….

                                “What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life, to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories…”

I now ask you to formally declare your intent to be married to one another through the exchanging of your vows.  As you do so, remember that these words are not just sentimental declarations. They are a pledge you are making to each other.  These vows must be lived out in your daily walk with one another.  As important as it is that you declare them today, it is even more important that you live them out day to day.

________, please repeat after me:

                I, _____, take you ________,

                To be 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;

                Forsaking all others;

                As we share life’s journey.

_________, please repeat after me:

I, ________, take you ________,

                To be my wedded husband.

                To have and to hold from this day forward.

                For better or for worse;

                For richer or for poorer;

                In sickness and in health;

                Forsaking all others;

                As we share life’s journey.

 

 

 

The Exchanging of the Rings

                Through the centuries, humans have used rings to signify covenant relationships. As you wear these rings, they are a declaration to all who see them that you are in a relationship with another person.  As you see the ring on your own hand, may it be a reminder to you of the vows you have just declared and the necessity to live in obedience to those vows.

                ______, please place the ring on ________ finger, repeating after me as you do so:

                                ______, with this ring,

                                I pledge my life and love to you.

                __________ please place the ring on ________ finger, repeating after me as you do so:

                                _______, with this ring,

                                I pledge my life and love to you.

 

The Declaration of Marriage

                Friends, we have witnessed the declaration of the vows and the exchanging of the rings of marriage by ___________.  Being assured of their voluntary willingness to enter into this marriage, and knowing of no legal barrier to this marriage, it is my honor to pronounce them husband and wife.

                You may kiss your bride.

                “Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

(Teilhard de Chardin)

 

The Presentation (Couple turns and faces the audience)

 

                Ladies and Gentlemen: It is my privilege to present to you Mr. and Mrs. ________

 

A Religious Ceremony

 

CALL TO WORSHIP

 

            Friends and family, we have gathered here to celebrate the love of _______ and to join them in the commitment of themselves to one another in marriage.  On their behalf, I thank you for your attendance today and for all the support you have shown them in the days leading up to this happy occasion.

 

            We serve as witnesses to the commitment they are making to one another and to God.  Today, they begin their journey together as husband and wife.  As with any journey, the road ahead will be full of great joys, great challenges, and, at times, sadness. This is the nature of life.  I challenge each of you to commitment today to supporting them in the future—to being there to share their celebrations, such as today, to being there to help them confront the challenges, and to supporting them in prayer during the times of disappointment.  As they proclaim their love to each other, may each of you proclaim your love for them.

 

 

INVOCATION

 

THE PRESENTATION OF THE BRIDE 

 

            Who presents ____ to be married to ___?

 

 

WORDS OF SCRIPTURE

 

            Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.  (I Cor. 13.4-8a)

 

 

WORDS OF REFLECTION

 

            _____and _____, our songs and our poetry speak of the beauty of love.  The emotion of love is a wondrous thing.  It brings great joy, it brings excitement, and it brings light into our lives.

 

            However, as with all emotions, this aspect of love ebbs and flows depending on what we are experiencing in our lives.  The type of love spoken of in this passage of scripture goes beyond the emotion of love.  The love spoken of here is, in the original language of the scripture, agape love.  Agape is a love of commitment.  A love based not just in emotion but in attitude. 

 

            It is a commitment to love the other regardless of circumstance.  A commitment that the needs of the one who is loved is more important than the needs of the self.  It is an attitude dedicated to love even when the emotion may be lacking.  It is a commitment to love even at those times when the one who is loved might not seem so lovable.  Agape transcends the mere emotion of love to a love that preservers even when the situation weakens the emotional feelings of love.  It is this type of love that withstands the ups and downs of life and brings a couple through to long, happy marriages.

 

            It is the love Christ had when he was willing to die for those who did not love him.  It is a love that forgives.  It is a love that accepts.  Agape is a love that looks outward to the one loved rather than inward to the self.  Many speak of marriage as a 50/50 proposition.  Agape speaks of a love that is a 100% commitment of the self.

 

 

 

THE EXCHANGING OF THE VOWS

 

            It is this self-sacrificing commitment that is the foundation of the traditional vows you are about to make to each other.  As you repeat these vows, I remind you of two important aspects.  First, as you make these vows, you make them to each other before God.  Marriage is a covenant relationship between you two and God.  Therefore, the vows challenge you not to enter into this covenant lightly.

 

            Second, these vows are not mere words of sentimentality.  They are a life commitment.  As important as it is to affirm them today, it is even more important that you live them day to day in the years to come.

 

To the Groom:

 

            ____, do you take ___,

            To be your 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,

            Forsaking all others,

            As long as you both shall live?     

 

 

To the Bride:

 

            _____, do you take ____,

            To be your wedded husband;

            To have and to hold,

            From this day forward.

            For better or for worse,

            For richer or for poorer,

            In sickness and in health,

            Forsaking all others,

            As long as you both shall live?        

 

 

 

THE EXCHANGING OF THE RINGS

 

            Throughout human history, people have exchanged rings to seal covenant relationships.  I ask you now to present your rings to one another.  These rings declare to all who see them on your hand that you are in a covenant relationship with your spouse.  As you see the ring on your own hand, may it remind you of the commitment you make today and the necessity of living in obedience to the vows just made.

 

To the Groom:

 

            _____, please place the ring on ____ hand, repeating after me as you do so.

 

            _______, with this ring,

            I pledge my life and love to you.

 

To the Bride:

 

______, please place the ring on _____ hand, repeating after me as you do so.

 

            _____ with this ring,

            I pledge my life and love to you.

 

 

THE LIGHTING OF THE UNITY CANDLE 

 

            As you light the unity candle; the two outside candles symbolize your lives up to this point.  You have lived as an individual, burning brightly as you traveled the path of your life.  As you met, and grew in your love for each other, the light of each of your lives grew brighter in the life of the other throughout your three years as high school sweethearts. 

 

Now, the two have become one as symbolized in the lighting of the middle candle.  May it represent not only the unity of your lives into one but also the fullness of the light you bring to one another.

 

May it also represent the light of Christ as he guides and protects your home.

           

 

THE DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE

 

            Friends, we have witnessed the declaration of the vows and the exchanging of the rings.  Therefore, being assured of the willingness of ________  to enter into marriage; and, being assured of no legal barrier to this union, it is my honor to pronounce them husband and wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

            May the Lord bless and keep you,

           May he make his face to shine upon you,

            And grant you peace. Amen

 

 

You may kiss the bride.

 

THE PRESENTATION OF THE COUPLE

 

            Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great privilege to present to you Mr. and Mrs. _________

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