Planning your ceremony

Each wedding ceremony should reflect the personalities of the individuals who are uniting to become a married couple. To aid in that, here is a questionaire for each of the two of you to fill out prior to meeting with the pastor. After each of you has completed it privately, share your responses with the other. Couples typically find that there are no glaring surprises that come up in this process, but often find something to ponder that they hadn't considered before. The first part of this questionaire is designed to be used by the pastor to get to know you in order to get to know you and to personalize your ceremony. Please complete it and return it before or bring it with you at the first visit with the pastor.
 
The other focus of that meeting will be deciding on the content of your ceremony There are three core elements of any wedding ceremony:
  1. The declaration of intent (the “I will”)
  2. The vows (the “I do”)
  3. Exchange of symbols (typically rings).
Other traditional elements include the processional, readings (scripture and otherwise), a sermon (actually only a couple minutes of comments), a pledge of support (in the past the “giving away” of the bride by the father), the announcement of marriage, the kiss, and the recessional.
Here is the outline for a simple ceremony:
  • Prelude
  • Processional
  • Greeting
  • Prayer
  • Reading
  • Sermon
  • Declaration of Intention
  • Pledge of Support
  • Vows of the Marriage Covenant
  • Exchange of Symbols
  • Announcement of Marriage
  • Blessing
  • Embrace
  • Introduction of couple
  • Recessional
Other elements that are often included are special music, unity candle or sand ceremony, and Holy Communion. Even with all three of these added, it is unlikely that the ceremony will go much longer than 30 minutes. Most simple ceremonies take around 15 minutes from processional to recessional.
I encourage every couple to participate in the creation of their ceremony. Some couples are comfortable planning all the pieces themselves, but in most cases it is a shred endeavor. I have found that the simplest way to approach this is to provide a starting place then let the couple tweak it to their liking. That takes the form of four documents that you can use for cutting and pasting into your own personalized ceremony.
  1. The Simple Ceremony: On its own, this document can be the entire ceremony with one important element that must be added, the vows. The language of this document may be changed, but it provides a framework from which to build your ceremony.ReadMorebtn1
  2. Sample vows: These are gleaned from the Internet, you may find others. Feel free to choose one or combine elements of a few. If you want to write your own unique vows these provide examples of what to include.ReadMorebtn1
  3. Suggested scripture readings: Your ceremony doesn't have to include the reading of scripture, or any readings for that matter. But it is traditional in Christian worship to read scripture, so this list providessome from which to choose.ReadMorebtn1
  4. Other elements: These are elements that you may choose to add to your ceremony. Where they are inserted depends on what you want to communicate by them. Sometimes a candle or sand ceremony is a way to symbolize the coming together of families, so it might fit nicely after the pledge of support.Other times you may choose to remember loved ones who cannot be present due to illness or death. Perhaps the symbolism is the first act as a married couple (e.g. if Holy Communion is included it typically follows the vows). As with all of the ceremony, you may find other ways to express things tomake the ceremony truly your own.ReadMorebtn1

After this initial meeting to make preliminary decisions about content, you may find that the finalizing may be possible via email. The goal is to have the exact language of your ceremony in the hands of the pastor at the rehearsal so any glitches may be avoided. 

 

May this part of the journey to your wedding day be blessed with discovery and joy.

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