Introduction:


The introduction is the words the minister uses to begin the ceremony.  It is a “call to order” of sorts.  In some cases, the introductory words might move imperceptibly into the charge to the couple or another facet of the ceremony.  The purpose is to succinctly state the purpose of the occasion, inviting the attendees to participate in their role as witnesses to the marriage.


Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness as (bride) and (groom) join their lives together in Holy Matrimony, the most sacred of relationships.  Because you have known and loved them as individuals, you have been invited to share in the joyous moment as they join their lives together as one.  

Who brings this woman to marry this man? (optional)

Father of the bride:  “Her mother and I do.” 

Charge to Couple:


The Charge to the Couple is also referred to as the wedding sermon.  It is here that the minister imparts his or her words of wisdom and advice to the couple, reminds them of the serious nature of the commitment they are making, or charges them with the duties incumbent on each of them as a husband or wife.   In simple ceremonies, this is often left out for sake of expediency, or blended in with the introductory words.    Short versions of this component are presented here, such that this element can be included in nearly any desired ceremony format.

This is the time which you have chosen to become husband and wife. We are here not only to witness your commitment to each other, but to wish you both every happiness in your future life together.  If anyone has reason why these two should not be so joined, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace. 

Within its framework of loyalty and commitment, marriage enables the establishment of a home, where through tolerance, patience and respect, the love and affection which you have for each other may develop into a deep and lasting relationship. 

Reading: 

The Bible has given us what may be the world’s best definition of what it means to love.  I’d like to share with you a well-known passage from 1 Corinthians 13, and offer it as a model to you for the new life you are creating here today: 

Love is patient and kind, it is never jealous.

Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish.

It does not take offence and is not resentful.

Love takes no pleasure in other people’s faults, but delights in the truth.

It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope.

It is always ready to endure whatever comes.

True love does not come to an end. 

Marriage Vows:


The vows are an essential part of a marriage ceremony, and a required element for the marriage to be legal.  The vows do not have to take any prescribed form, but should clearly convey to the witnesses that it is the expressed desire of both parties to become married.   While the officiant could simply ask, “Do you guys really want to get married?”, this obviously lacks sophistication or any semblance of romance (although it might well be appropriate for a “Vegas-style” quickie wedding!).   

Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these, your family, friends and witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and enduring nature of the relationship into which you are about to enter.
 

Do you (Groom) take (Bride) to be your lawfully wedded wife?  From this day forward, to have and to hold, forsaking all others, for better or for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, to love and cherish for so long as you both shall live?

Groom:  “I do.” 

And do you (Bride) take (Groom) to be your lawfully wedded husband?  From this day forward, to have and to hold, forsaking all others, for better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health, to love and cherish for so long as you both shall live?

Bride:  “I do.” 

Ring Vows:


 (Bride and Groom) have brought rings to present to one another as a symbol of their marriage vows today.  Although there is no precise evidence to explain the origin of the tradition of exchanging wedding rings, there are two strongly held beliefs. The more recent, dating back to the 17th century, explains that during a Christian wedding, the priest arrived at the forth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers on the left hand '...in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost'.   The more ancient and widely accepted explanation, refers to the early Egyptian’s belief that a circle was the symbol of eternity--a sign that life, happiness, and love have no beginning and no end.  A wedding ring, or circle, was placed on the third finger of the left hand, the ring finger, because it was traditionally believed that this finger was a direct connection to the heart -- the perfect spot to place a symbol, representing eternal love and commitment.  The vena amoris, that is, the vein of love, runs directly from the “ring finger” to the heart.

What token of your devotion do you offer your beloved?
(bride and groom retrieve rings from best man and maid of honor, handing them to minister).

May these rings be blessed as the symbol of this affectionate union. These two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever they go, may they always return to one another in their togetherness. May these two find in each other the love for which all men and women yearn. May they grow in understanding and in compassion. May the home which they establish together be such a place of sanctuary that many will find there a friend.  May these rings, on their fingers, symbolize the touch of the spirit of love in their hearts.

(Minister hands ring to groom)

(Groom), in placing this ring on (Bride's) finger, repeat after me:

"I give you this ring as pledge of my love, and as the symbol of our unity. Amen."

(groom places ring on bride's finger)

(Minister hands other ring to bride)

(Bride), in placing this ring on (Groom’s) finger, repeat after me:

"I give you this ring as the pledge of my love and as the symbol of our unity. Amen."

(bride places ring on groom's finger)

Pronouncement:


The pronouncement is the time in the ceremony when the minister, having heard the vows, pronounces that the couple are married.   This is a dramatic moment, and best done with some degree for formality and flair.  Authority to solemnize a marriage is granted to the minister by the state and by the church.   The minister will often make reference to this authority in the pronouncement, for dramatic impact, however it is not required.   Either or both references may be left out, depending on the preference of the couple.   It is customary for the minister to invite the couple to kiss immediately following the pronouncement because if this is delayed, it is likely that one of the eager spectators will inadvertently have the honor of the “first kiss.”   

Inasmuch as (Bride) and (Groom) have consented together in marriage before this company; have pledged their faith and declared their unity by each giving and receiving a ring -- and are now joined in mutual esteem and devotion, by the authority vested in me, I pronounce that they are husband and wife.  What God hath here joined together, let no one set asunder.   You may kiss the bride.
 

Presentation of the Couple:


The fitting conclusion to any ceremony is the presentation of the new family. 

It is now my great honor to be the first to present Mr. and Mrs.(Groom’s first and last name); or

(Bride first name) and (Groom full name), or;

(Bride first and last name) and (Groom first and last name), as man and wife (for situations in which the bride retains her last name).

Example Wedding Ceremony - Traditional 

Following is a simple, traditional wedding ceremony, showing how the various components are assembled into a complete ceremony.   This is an excellent ceremony for anyone wishing to include time honored traditional wording in their wedding, and it gives you an idea of how this all fits together.