Traditional American Ceremony

20-25 Minutes

Note: This is a sample for consideration. Not all parts of this ceremony will apply to all couples. Most parts are option but should be included where possible.

Opening Logistics

  • Background music
  • Music changes (this is the official start of the ceremony)
  • Grandparents are ushered in by groomsmen, best man, or Groom
  • Parents are ushered in by groomsmen, best man, or Groom
  • Music changes
  • Maid of honor and Bride s maids enter individually
  • Ring boy, flower girl, and bell ringers enter individually
  • Bell ringers ring bells, Lance asks guests to stand
  • Music changes to bridal march
  • Bride is escorted in
  • Music stops briefly then continues (low volume) throughout ceremony (no music during vows)

Introduction

Lance: Welcome everyone. We are gathered here today in the sight of God and angels, and the presence of all of you, friends and loved ones, to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes and blessings to the words which shall unite Bride and Groom in holy matrimony. Let us begin by asking the age old question, who is it that escorts this bride to her groom?

Escort: I do.

Lance: Bride and Groom, life is a gift given to each of us as individuals, and during this life we learn to live together in harmony. Love began as a gift to us from our family, and then friends. Through these gifts of love we learn to both give and receive love in our lives. Learning to love and live together is one of life’s greatest challenges, with the greatest rewards, and is the shared goal of a married life together.

Mankind could not have created something as beautiful, healing, and inexhaustible as love; love was created by and delivered to us by God. Therefore, a husband and wife should not confuse love of worldly things with that of the Godly love of one another. For even if worldly success is found, only love for one another will maintain a marriage. And the measure of true love is a love both freely given and freely accepted, just as God’s love is unconditional and free.

Today is truly a glorious day which the Lord hath made – as today both of you are blessed with God’s greatest of all gifts – the gift of abiding love and devotion. All present here today – and those who are only here in heart and memory – wish both of you all the joy, happiness and success and the world has to offer.

Optional recognition of those who could not be present today

Specifically name parents, grandparents or siblings that have either passed or were physically unable to attend. For those passed, a remembrance table off to the side with pictures of them is appropriate.

Pledge of Support

Lance: Who presents Bride to Groom to be married?
Bride’s Parents or Sponsors: We do.

Lance: Who presents Groom to Bride to be married?
Groom’s Parents or Sponsors: We do.

Unity Candle

The mothers, sponsors, or other representatives of Bride and Groom will now come forward to light to individual candles that represent the individuality of this couple at this time. They are truly two individuals who will shortly agree to join for a life of deep abiding love.

Recognition of Parents

(Groom and Bride walk over and hug their parents, they may also present the mothers with a flower while Lance speaks.)

Before we go on to say more about love, it is important to recognize from where love comes in our lives. Of course, someone first loved Bride and Groom. Someone cared for them as children, showed them what love, compassion, kindness, and care is. Of course we are speaking of the parents. The work of our parents is critical in preparing us to be the loving adults we are, so today, Bride and Groom want to make special recognition of their parents today, for making today possible. I speak for everyone here when we say “Thank You mom’s and dad’s for beginning in Groom and Bride something so special.

Note: The readings are placeholders so that you know where a reading should be placed. Feel free to change the reading to be more reflective of how the bride and groom want to express their live and future lives together.

First Reading

1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:8

Set your mind on the higher gifts.
And now I am going to put before you the best way of all.
Though I command languages both human and angelic —
If I speak without love,
I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
And though I have the power of prophecy,
To penetrate all mysteries and knowledge,
And though I have all faith necessary to move mountains —
if I am without love, I am nothing.
Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess,
And even give up my body to be burned —
If I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous;
love is not boastful or conceited,
it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage,
it does not take offence or store up grievances.
Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.
It is always ready to make allowances, to trust,
to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Love never comes to an end.

The Challenge

Lance: In this sacred and joyful moment, we call upon the highest in you, Bride and Groom, the divine inner presence that brought you to love and has chosen for you the sweet commitment of marriage. For you we ask every blessing of this moment; a confirmation of the wisdom of your choice; great happiness on the path that is set before you; discretion, kindness and care as you walk upon it, strength to live out your purpose, grace and peace through each step of your journey, and beloved family and friends to support you.

Lance: Bride, are you here to ask Groom to be your partner, your lover, your friend and your husband? Do you intend to give him your deepest friendship and love, not only when you are feeling bright and alive, but also when you are feeling down? Not only when you remember clearly that you are a manifestation of God, but even in those times when you forget? Do you announce before God and those here present that you will seek always to see the Light of Divinity within Groom , and seek always to share the Light of Divinity within you?

Bride : I do.

Lance: Groom, are you here to ask Bride to be your partner, your lover, your friend and your wife? Do you intend to give her your deepest friendship and love, not only when you are feeling bright and alive, but also when you are feeling down? Not only when you remember clearly that you are a manifestation of God, but even in those times when you forget? Do you announce before God and those here present that you will seek always to see the Light of Divinity within Bride , and seek always to share the Light of Divinity within you?

Groom : I do.

A Message of Love

As you travel through life together, I caution you to remember that the true measure of success, the true avenue to joy and peace, is to be found within the love you hold in your hearts. I would ask that you hold the key to your heart very tightly.

Within the Bible, nothing holds greater importance that Love. We are told the crystalline and beautiful truth: “God is Love”. We are assured that “Love conquers all”. It is love which brings you here today, the union of two hearts and two spirits. As your lives continue to interweave as one pattern, remember that it was love that brought you here today, it is love that will make this a glorious union, and it is love which will cause this union to endure.

Blessing of the Wedding Rings

Lance: Who holds the rings?

Best Man or Sponsor: I do

Lance: Let us bless these rings! O God, these rings are circles, symbols that remind us of the Sun, and the Earth, and the universe. Symbols of perfection and peace … that which has no beginning and no end. And so, in this moment, bring your blessing to these rings to also be symbols of unity, of joining and of commitment. Grant that the love which Bride and Groom have for each other now may always be just this way.

Lance: These are the rings that Bride and Groom will wear for the rest of their lives, that express the love that they have for one another. Let us take a moment and send our prayers, our thoughts and our love to these rings, so that as they wear them, they will carry our love with them as well.

Exchange of Rings and Wedding Vows

Lance: Bride and Groom , as you dedicate yourselves to one another, we are mindful of the presence of God around us.

Each holds the hand of the other, slides the ring half way on, then repeats the vows after Lance.

Groom:

I, Groom, take you, Bride,
to be my 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,
to love and to honor
and to cherish unconditionally.
Forsaking all others, I will be faithful to you.
With This Ring, I Thee Wed
Let it ever be a symbol of our Love
And with this ring, I thee wed.

Bride:

I, Bride, take you, Groom,
to be my 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,
to love and to honor
and to cherish unconditionally.
Forsaking all others, I will be faithful to you.
With This Ring, I Thee Wed
Let it ever be a symbol of our Love
And with this ring, I thee wed.

Note: The readings are placeholders so that you know where a reading should be placed. Feel free to change the reading to be more reflective of how the bride and groom want to express their live and future lives together.

Second Reading

Sonnet from “Sonnets from the Portuguese”
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach,
when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need,
by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use In my old grief’s,
and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,
–I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!–
and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.

Charge to the Wedding Couple

Lance: As the two of you have joined this marriage uniting as husband and wife, and as you this day affirm your faith and love for one another, I would ask that you always remember to cherish each other as special and unique individuals, that you respect the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of one another. Be able to forgive, do not hold grudges, and live each day that you may share it together – as from this day forward you shall be each other’s home, comfort and refuge, your marriage strengthened by your love and respect.
Prayer

Lance: Oh God, our hearts are filled with great happiness on this wedding day. They come before You pledging their hearts and lives to one another. Grant that they may be ever true and loving, living together is such a way as to bring happiness to the marriage.

Temper their hearts with kindness and understanding, rid them of all pretense of jealousy. Help them to remember to be each other’s sweetheart, helpmate, friend and guide, so that together they may meet the cares and problems of life more bravely. And with the passage of time, may the home they are creating today, truly be a place of love and harmony, where your spirit is ever present.

Bless this union we pray, and walk beside Bride and Groom throughout all their lives together. AMEN

Lighting of the Unity Candle

Note: Can be done with or without having the parents light them earlier, or excluded.

Lance: At the beginning of this ceremony, the mothers of Bride and Groom lit two individual candles, symbolic of their individuality. Now Bride and Groom will light their unity candle, symbolic of the light of their love and unity to the world from this day forward.

Benediction

Lance:May the Lord bless and keep you both or all the days of your lives.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord provide to you all the Love and Happiness the world has to offer, and above all else, give you His great peace. Amen

Marriage Pronouncement

Lance: Bride and Groom , in so much as the two of you have agreed to live together in Matrimony, have promised your love for each other by these vows, the giving of these rings and the joining of your hands, I now declare you to be husband and wife.

I present to you Mrs. Bride’s First Name and Mr. Groom’s Full Name

You May Kiss!

Lance: Would everyone please stand as the couple departs! Please remain in your places until the parents have left the room.

Music begins, couple slowly walks out, flower girl and ring bearer depart, groomsmen and bridesmaids recess as pairs, Lance invites parents and grandparents to exit just in front of him.

Lance: (said as he departs last) Thank you all very much!