The Meeting House

New here?general FAQs

wedding ceremony planning

In North American culture, marriage is both a secular and a sacred institution. The legal requirements for a marriage ceremony are very simple and prescribed but there are elements that you can make your own. Your pastor will meet with you once or twice to plan the details of your ceremony.

Wedding Trends

  • Day/Time: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon weddings are becoming more common as these reduce both cost and time. The challenges for Fridays include travel from out of town, travel from work, the time desired between the service and the reception for pictures, etc.
  • Service: Briefer over longer services (30–40 minutes) even for those whose tradition includes longer services.  Sometimes the ring ceremony is incorporated into the vows. The bride is often “blessed” rather than “given away,” often by both parents, or the transition from the procession may occur informally by a “love” exchange.
  • Reception: Some couples opt for a minimum number of guests for a formal wedding reception, either followed by a dance to which a wider body of friends are invited (perhaps including dessert or a light buffet), or by holding a friends party at a later date, usually within a month of the wedding.
  • Rehearsal/Reception Dinners: Inviting the pastor and spouse to either dinner is at your discretion. Acceptance will be subject to their availability.

The Ceremony 

The following components are options to consider as you plan your wedding service. Only those with an asterisk (*) are required.

  • Prelude music
  • Seating of groom’s parents
  • Seating of mother of bride (if not escorting bride)
  • Lighting of candles (usually mothers of the Bride and Groom)
  • Entrance of groom and attendants and officiant
  • Procession of the bridesmaids (music)
  • Procession of the bride (music) (attendees stand)
  • Presentation of the bride to the groom (announced or silent)
  • Welcome remarks by officiating pastor
  • Opening prayer
  • Introductory remarks about marriage by pastor
  • Declaration of intent *
  • Blessing of the parents, families and friends
  • Reading of scripture or other readings
  • Participatory hymns or worship songs
  • Special music
  • Message to the bride and groom (by officiating pastor about 7-10 minutes)
  • Legal impediment *
  • Vows *
  • Exchange of wedding rings with ring vows *
  • Proclamation of marriage *
  • Kiss
  • Lighting of the Unity Candle 
  • Signing of the marriage documents * (musical interlude or special music)
  • Prayer
  • Announcements
  • Benediction
  • Presentation of the bride and groom 
  • Recessional (with music)

Scripture Often Used at Weddings
(*most commonly used)

  • Old Testament
    • Genesis 1:26-28 *
    • Genesis 2:18-24 * (often used in introductory remarks)
    • Ruth 1:16-17 (somewhat out of context, but it can be used)
    • Psalm 37:3-6
    • Psalm 91
    • Psalm 127
    • Psalm 128
    • Song of Psalms 8:6-7
    • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 *
    • Isaiah 55:10-13
    • Lamentations 3:22-24
  • New Testament
    • Matthew 5:13-16
    • Matthew 7:24-29
    • Matthew 19: 4-6 *
    • Matthew 22:34-40
    • Mark 10:6-9
    • John 15:12-17 *
    • Romans 12:9-18 * (take a look at The Message)
    • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 * [especially verses 4–8 (first sentence)]
    • Ephesians 3:14-21 *
    • Ephesians 4:25-32
    • Ephesians 5:1-2
    • Colossians 3:12-17 *
    • 1 John 4:7-19 * (or parts of it such as 10-12 and 16b-19)

Wedding Vows

Couples often wish to develop their own wedding vows. If you go to your internet web browser and enter “wedding vows” you will find a wealth of ideas. If you wish to design your wedding vows, you will need to submit them to the officiating pastor at least two weeks in advance for their approval. There are three required ingredients of vows that you develop yourself:

  • Permanence – i.e. “until death parts us”
  • Exclusivity – i.e. “forsaking all others”
  • In all circumstances – i.e. “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health”
Some couples prefer to use traditional wedding vows similar to the following:
“I, ____, do take you ____ to be my beloved wife (husband).
To have and to hold, from this day forward,
For better, for worse,
For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health,
Forsaking all others, I will be yours alone,
And I will love and cherish you
Until death parts us.”

The Ring Ceremony

Once again the couple may wish to design their own ring ceremony. There are no specific requirements for this, but your pastor will want to consult with you on what you have designed at least two weeks in advance. A traditional ring ceremony is as follows:

“Whenever the world sees this ring on your finger,
it will be a symbol of my love for you.
Although I may not be present with you,
it represents my faithfulness to you,
always honouring you,
and cherishing you, as my wife (husband).”