Sample Wedding Ceremony

I. Welcome

Holy and beautiful is the custom that brings us together today in the presence of love.  Here in this circle of affection and rejoicing, we hallow a place and a moment for this young couple to speak what is in their hearts. As we bear witness to their pledge of love and loyalty, may we find our own faith in life’s generosity, our own hope for love, and our own power to gladden the lives of others. Enter now into this celebration, to rejoice in the happiness of this hour, to mark the growth of love, and to honor the courage of these two people and of all those who reach out, in spite of earth’s dusty imperfections, for what is bright and lasting and best in life.

II. Charge to couple

Colin and Emily, you are here today, with your family and friends, to declare publicly your love for each other, and to be joined in marriage.  This is much more than a social and civil occasion, because it is the declaration of your hearts, built upon your experience, and sanctified by your love. I charge you to hold this moment as sacred, a ritual you embrace together, in the eyes of God.

Today you make a pledge, but it is tomorrow that gives that pledge meaning.  A promise is but a seed which can grow only through love and faithfulness.  I charge you to give of yourselves until your pledge lives as truly as you do.

The harmony of married love will be yours if you listen to each other, as well as speak with honesty. To reap the fruits of a loving relationship you must continuously sow into the lives of each other the seeds of kindness, respect and compassion. So treated, the love you feel and declare today will continue and grow stronger as the years pass. I charge you to be gentle, yet strong, and do not deny your fears, yet be courageous.

III. Declaration of intent

In this spirit of love, I therefore ask:

Do you, Colin, take Emily to be the wife of your days, to be the mother of your children, to be the companion of your house; to keep together what share of  trouble and sorrow your lives may lay upon you and to hold together your store of goodness and plenty and love?

Do you, Emily, take Colin to be the husband of your days, to be the father of your children, to be the companion of your house; to keep together what share of trouble and sorrow your lives may lay upon you and to hold together your store of goodness and plenty and love?

And do you, the gathered friends and family of Colin and Emily, who are here today to witness this celebration of their love and who have so much influence to bless and affirm their commitment, pledge to uphold and nurture this marriage with charitable affection, compassion, and kindness? If so, answer we will.

IV. Address

Colin and Emily, I have enjoyed getting to know you this past year. Your story is a deepening that has brought you to this next step in your relationship, your willingness to go forward together into the great unknown that is marriage. We have all seen many marriages. And who hasn’t wondered what makes one marriage work, and another fall short of its expectations. What person hasn’t wondered where that magic formula is kept for a happy and eternal union between lovers? Marriage, is, indeed, a journey into the unknown, because only you will discover for yourselves what will make yours endure and deepen. And the wonderful mystery is that the ways you discover will be yours alone, for marriage is not merely an institution, but an imprint of your love on the world. It is as unique and beautiful as the two people who enter into it freely.

Today’s ceremony observes an ancient custom, practiced by the human family for thousands of years in the presence of loved ones and God. Today’s ritual recognizes that an inward union of minds and hearts exists between this man and this woman.

A union certainly does exist in your hearts. I admire not only the love in your relationship now but also the way it has grown and matured over the many years you have been together.

I’ve loved hearing your story, which begins as high school sweethearts. You met in drama club and for more than two years you fostered a friendship that has now become a foundation for your marriage. You hung out here, in Island Park, with friends. Colin’s first memory of Emily is when she played a shell-shocked veteran in a drama game at school;  Emily’s first memory of Colin is of him wearing a trench coat and carrying around a sketch book for drawing. Not many of us bridge from adolescence into adulthood with a partnership like yours still burning bright with passion and warmth. It is a blessing that is yours.

Your transition was not without trials. During a few of your college years you lived a good distance apart and had to travel to see each other. You say your love made the distance feel a lot smaller, but the distance also offered you some important lessons in independence. You have grown together, and more importantly, you’ve changed together—and that is one of the most critical elements of an enduring marriage: the ability to change, and a willingness to watch your partner change.

In one of my favorite passages on marriage,  Anne Morrow Lindbergh speaks of how love is ever-changing. Here is what she says:

“When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility . . . And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.  We leap at the flow of the tide . . .  afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency . . . when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity—in freedom, in the sense that the dancers in a country folk dance are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. . . . Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be    . . . but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

The biggest trial for your relationship so far may have been what you described as the “pause,” that time when you, Colin, went off to Japan for four months, proposing to Emily before you left. While you were apart, you said you realized how much you meant to each other’s lives. Again, the time helped you realize both how much you love to be together and the importance of maintaining your own identity, interests, and boundaries.

It’s not just the grand occasions or dramatic reunions that make this relationship what it is. You  told me that even the “boring stuff” clicks for you. Playing games, going out to movies or the theater. Just being together brings you joy.

When you, Emily, are stressed out, you said Colin knows just what to say. You told me on your best days you’re happy to see him, and on your worst days you’re even more happy he’s there. Colin, you said that Emily has taught you how to pay attention more to people and life. Keep fostering this ability to have to exist in the present moment in your relationship, and things will go well for you.

Lindbergh, the writer I quoted early, calls marriage the “winged life,” the acceptance of  life in the present moment, as it is now. Imagine two birds in flight. The world passes under them as a moving blanket of images, but their reality is in the air, in the movement, in the partner that flies beside.

There will be struggles in your life. There will be losses and unexpected changes that you will experience together. Fear will visit you at times. Marriage is therefore also an act of courage. To go forward together not knowing what is coming next. To face the tough times looking back to this day and knowing that at this moment you made the right decision.

You are a blessed couple, and I hope you continue to make your union a long falling in love. I’m not talking only about the giddy feeling of romantic love, but the part of love that endures through the realization that we are all at times limited, confused, and full of weakness. Love is truly the greatest gift we are given to share, for we do not really fall “in” or “out” of love, but we grow in it.

You have picked out poetry to share with each other, and after you will share your vows. As you do I invite you to hold all your hopes, dreams, and even uncertainties in your hearts, for it is with the fullness of your humanity that you enter this blessed marriage.

V. Vows

Join hands now. Look at one another as you have done so many times before, but in all the freshness, too, of this day, and repeat after me:

Emily, I take you as my wife. I pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love; to honor and tenderly care for you, to encourage your own fulfillment as an individual, through all the changes of our lives.

Colin, I take you as my husband. I pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love; to honor and tenderly care for you, to encourage your own fulfillment as an individual, through all the changes of our lives.

VII. The exchange of rings

The circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth and the universe—of holiness, perfection and peace. In this ring is the symbol of unity, in which your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle, in which, wherever you go, you will always return unto one another.

And so, Colin, as you place a ring upon Emily’s finger, will you say:

With this ring I pledge my love to you.

And likewise, Emily, as you place a ring upon Colin’s finger, will you say:

With this ring I pledge my love to you.

VIII.  The red string ceremony

The ceremony of the red string is from China, where it is said that an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but never break.

Some people never see the red thread, or feel the pounding of their heart as they glance into the eyes of destiny. And they will never know.

But for those who have wound the thread around and around until it led them to the one partner for whom they have searched a lifetime, this is a moment of great celebration and expectation.

In five ways you should minister to each other: in respect, in faithfulness, in love, in tending to each other’s needs and the needs of family, and by providing each other the beauty you need to live.

Drink now from each other’s cup that you forever remember the joy of your meeting and the knowledge of your deep connection. Honor it. Keep it sacred. Now and forever.

IX. Prayer

Source of Love,

We give thanks for all that has brought this couple to this joyous point in their relationship. Let us hold in our hearts gratitude for all the possibilities of love made manifest in our lives and relationships.

Bless Colin and Emily on this day of union; may it be the first of many days, all equally blessed. Let us all find inspiration in our own way, in our love for each other, for our faith, for this moment.

Give this couple the strength they will need in their marriage to keep their faith in this love, felt so strongly today, and that it will carry them through the tough times as well as the happy ones, for it is through our faith and our love that your unfinished work in the world is made manifest.

Let us give thanks for all that we have received, and for all the blessings to come.   Amen.

X. Pronouncement

And now, in as much as Colin and Emily have pledged themselves each to the other in our presence, and have taken the marriage vows and exchanged rings; therefore, in the name of the highest ideals of humanity and all that is Divine, I pronounce that they are husband and wife.  You may now share a kiss to seal this happy union.

XI. Closing & Presentation

Go now and walk the ways of the world together, and may your days be good and long upon the earth.

I am happy to present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Colin and Emily Brungardt-Moser.

Go forward in peace. Amen.

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