Non-Denominational Wedding Ceremony Marcia Sloane
My role as Officiant is to give voice to what you want to express at your wedding. As you read through the outline below, think about what you want to say to each other and to your family and friends on this special occasion, so that your thoughts, words, and emotions will be reflected in the ceremony. This is your wedding and you get to have it the way you want! The following ceremony outline provides a general form. “Optional” sections can be included or not, wording and order can be modified as you wish, and the form can be adapted for an elopement. Questions are italicized.
I. Welcome of family and friends
II. Acknowledgement of those present and not present: Would you like any family and friends who are present at the wedding to be acknowledged, and if so, something in particular expressed to them? (such as thanking parents for their love and support, or thanking someone who has been helped in the wedding preparations) Would you like particular family and friends who cannot be at the wedding to be acknowledged, and if so, something in particular expressed about them or to them? (optional) It is a Hawaiian belief that when the wind stirs at your wedding, the spirits of your departed ancestors are surrounding you with their love & blessing of the union.
III. (optional) Acknowledgment of place and/or memories about how you found each other: Would you like anything said about the choice of location for your ceremony and significance of this place to your relationship? Or do you have any particular memories about how you got together that you would like to share?
IV. (optional) Group declaration of support: Would you like to ask for a group declaration of support, such as: As family and close friends, you form a core community for _____ and _____. By your presence here today, you are offering them your support in the years to come, and helping them strengthen their marriage. So I will now ask, and if you agree, please answer “We do”: Do you offer your love, support, and wisdom to _____ and _____ throughout the coming years of their marriage? [Group: “We do”]
V. (optional) Reading of poems or other texts: Are there any poems or texts you would like to read or have read by family/friends?
VI. (optional) Sharing of family and friends: Do you want to open the circle for sharing of stories and best wishes by family and friends? And/or do you want to say something to friends and family at this point?
VII. (optional) Thoughts about marriage, words of wisdom/encouragement from Officiant: Can be discussed in advance.
VIII. Vows: Would you like to write and read your own vows? Use the vows below? Both?
Traditional vows: I, _____, take you ______, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; for as long as we both shall live.
_____, I take you as my husband/wife,
to share in your joys,
to comfort you in times of sorrow,
to support you in all life’s challenges,
to be faithful to you and care for you always.
_____, do you take _____as your wife/husband, to share in her/his joys, to comfort her/him in times of sorrow, to support her/him in all life’s challenges, to be faithful to her/him and care for her/him always? (“I do”)
IX. (optional) Passing of the rings: If this is a double ring ceremony, the rings can be passed around the group so everyone present can see them and silently send their best wishes. The rings need to be securely tied onto a pillow and placed in a basket that can be easily passed. Someone, perhaps the person who is carrying the rings, can initiate the passing of the basket around the circle and then bring to the Officiant. A musical interlude can accompany the passing of the basket.
X. Rings: Let these rings symbolize that love has a past, a present, and a future, through you and within you. ____, please place ____ ring on his/her finger and repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you,
To be my lover, my confidante, my partner.
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.
XI. (optional) Handfasting: Handfasting involves tying one or more ribbons/cords around the hands of the bride and groom as an expression of the strength of the union. This tradition is the inspiration for the phrase “tying the knot”. Family and/or friends can be invited to participate in this ceremony.
XII. (optional) Poem or reading of your choosing
XIII. Closing and introduction of the newly married couple: _____ and _____, you have recited your vows and exchanged your rings, and I speak for everyone here when I say how happy we are for you on this day of your marriage. May the love that has brought you together continue to grow and enrich your lives. May you meet the challenges of life with faith and courage. May your relationship always be one of love and trust. May the vows you have spoken today be a living truth in your lives. And may the happiness you share today be carried in your hearts always. And now, in the spirit of your vows and the rings you have exchanged, with the blessings of friends and family, and by the power vested in me by the State of California, I pronounce you husband and wife. Please seal your vows with a kiss. Family and friends, it gives me great pleasure to present to you the newly married couple, ______________.