The Ceremony of Marriage
Joshua and Elizabeth
June 17, 2000
Minister: We are here today to witness the joining of Josh and Elizabeth. Josh and Elizabeth have decided to join their lives in marriage and wish to share their love for each other with you who are here today.
A wedding ceremony is an outward promise of love and commitment to another person. Yet within each person must dwell something real and true, an inner promise of commitment, a sacred personal vow to love and be loyal to that other person. In order to last, the marriage of Josh and Elizabeth must be a consecration of each to the other and of both of them to the wider community of which they are a part. As Ann Morrow Lindberg once wrote:
Many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language, too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction. It is woven in space and time of the substance of life itself.
Who presents the bride in marriage?
Bride’s Family: She gives herself and we share her giving, joyfully.
Minister: Who presents the bridegroom in marriage?
Groom’s Family: He gives himself and we share his giving, joyfully.
Josh and Elizabeth, will you please join hands now?
Josh, will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Josh: I will.
Minister: Elizabeth, will you have this man to be your husband, to live together in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and be faithful to him, as long as you both shall live?
Elizabeth: I will.
Minister: Josh and Elizabeth, it is time to say the pledges which will marry you. Please face each other.
Josh: I, Josh, take you, Elizabeth, to be my wife, to be the mother of my children, to be the companion of my heart, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
Elizabeth: I, Elizabeth, take you, Josh, to be my husband, to be the father of my children, to be the companion of my heart, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part.
Minister: May I have the rings? (Holds them up in palm of hand.) Rings are and ancient symbol, blessed and simple. Round like the sun, which warms and lights our lives, the earth which nourishes us, and the unbroken circle of love which binds us. May these rings be symbols of the unity with which your lives are now joined.
Josh, will you place this ring on Elizabeth’s finger and say to her, Elizabeth, with this ring, I thee wed.
Josh: Elizabeth, with this ring, I thee wed.
Minister: Elizabeth, will you place this ring on Josh’s finger and say to him, Josh, with this ring, I thee wed.
Elizabeth: Josh, with this ring, I thee wed.
Minister: Theodore Parkee once wrote of marriage:
“It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even of the most loving and well-assorted. A happy wedlock is a long falling in love. Young persons think love belongs only to the brown-haired and crimson-cheeked. So it does for its beginning. But the golden marriage is a part of love which the bridal day knows nothing of.
A perfect and complete marriage, where wedlock is everything you could ask and the ideal of marriage becomes actual, is not common, perhaps as rare as perfect personal beauty. Men and women are married fractionally, now a small fraction, then a large fraction. Very few are married totally, and they only after some forty or fifty years of gradual approach and experiment.
Such a large and sweet fruit is a complete marriage that it needs a long summer to ripen in, and then a long winter to mellow and season in. But a real, happy marriage of love and judgement between a noble man and woman is one of the things so very handsome that if the sun were, as the Greek poets fabled, a god, he might stop the world and hold it still now and then, in order to look all day long on some example thereof, and feast his eyes on such a spectacle.”
Whom love hath joined together, let no one break asunder. For as much as you two have consented to live together in marriage and have pledged yourselves to each other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving rings and by joining hands, I, therefore, in the name of high religion, do pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss.
Think not that you have finished anything here today. This service is but the mark of a beginning. Today before all the world you have formally lighted the lamp of love. Keep it warm and bright with mutual concern. Replenish the source of its light with daily care, with gentleness and respect. Take it with you into all the highways and byways of life. Try it. But let it not burn dry with your indifference or flicker and grow dim through your carelessness. Care for it. Rejoice in it. Make a light truly creative in your lives and in the larger life of which all of us are a part.
And, now, as you go out from this place together, and in love, may the blessings of those around you and the benediction of the Most High attend and keep you — together always, in understanding, tenderness, and love. Amen.