Why get married in church?
A marriage service, wherever it is held, is a public declaration of love and commitment to your partner.
If you choose to get married in church, there is an added dimension - the assurance that God cares about your relationship and that his resources and strength are available to help you. Including God in your marriage doesn’t mean that you will avoid all the usual ups and downs, but you will know that you can look to God for help and guidance and that his love will sustain you. You will also have the support and encouragement of the Christian Church family.
What do Christians believe about marriage?
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God. In the marriage ceremony, a couple make a public declaration of lifelong commitment to love each other, come what may.
The Bible compares married love with the love Jesus has for his followers. He expressed his love by being prepared to sacrifice himself, even to die for the people he loved. This is amazing, unconditional love. Jesus never said 'I love you, but …'. In our marriages we can try to follow his model by loving our partners in a self-sacrificial way, putting their needs before our own.
The marriage ceremony gives you a new legal status as husband and wife and a new stability within which your relationship can flourish and grow. Christians believe that marriage offers the right place for the fulfilment of our sexuality and that it provides a stable and secure environment for bringing up children.
The Marriage Service
This may be read by those present before the service begins.
A wedding is one of life’s great moments, a time of solemn commitment as well as good wishes, feasting and joy. St John tells us how Jesus shared in such an occasion at Cana, and gave there a sign of new beginnings as he turned water into wine.
Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship, as his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and in bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses.
On this their wedding day the bride and bridegroom face each other, make their promises and receive God’s blessing. You are witnesses of the marriage, and express your support by your presence and your prayers. Your support does not end today: the couple will value continued encouragement in the days and years ahead of them.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13.4-7
The Groom and Bestman will be seated in church before the Bride enters to suitable music, often accompanied by bridesmaids and her father (or another family friend).
God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them. 1 John 4.16
A Hymn may be sung
In the presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have come together to witness the marriage of N and N, to pray for God’s blessing on them, to share their joy and to celebrate their love
Marriage is a gift of God in creation through which husband and wife may know the grace of God.
It is given that as man and woman grow together in love and trust, they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind, as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.
The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together in the delight and tenderness of sexual union and joyful commitment to the end of their lives. It is given as the foundation of family life in which children are [born and] nurtured and in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad, may find strength, companionship and comfort, and grow to maturity in love.
Marriage is a way of life made holy by God, and blessed by the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ with those celebrating a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty which all should uphold and honour. It enriches society and strengthens community. No one should enter into it lightly or selfishly but reverently and responsibly in the sight of almighty God.
N and N are now to enter this way of life. They will each give their consent to the other and make solemn vows, and in token of this they will [each] give and receive a ring. We pray with them that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen them, that they may fulfil God’s purposes for the whole of their earthly life together.
The DeclarationsFirst, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these persons may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.
The minister says to the coupleThe vows you are about to take are to be made in the presence of God, who is judge of all and knows all the secrets of our hearts; therefore if either of you knows a reason why you may not lawfully marry, you must declare it now.
The minister says to the bridegroom then brideN, will you take N to be your wife/husband? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honour and protect her/him, and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her/him as long as you both shall live?
He/she answers I will.
The minister may say to the parentsN and N have declared their intention towards each other. As their parents will you now entrust your son and daughter to one another as they come to be married? Both sets of parents respond We will.
The minister says to the congregationWill you, the families and friends of N and N, support and uphold them in their marriage now and in the years to come? We will.
The CollectGod our Father, from the beginning, you have blessed creation with abundant life. Pour out your blessings upon N and N ,that they may be joined in mutual love and companionship, in holiness and commitment to each other. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The couple stand before the minister.The bride may be ‘given away’ by her father or other relative and friend. The minister may ask ‘who brings this woman to be married to this man?’ That person, without saying anything, gives the bride’s right hand to the minister, who puts it into the groom’s hand.
The minister introduces the vowsN and N, I now invite you to join hands and make your vows, in the presence of God and his people.
The bride and bridegroom face each other.
The bridegroom takes the bride’s right hand in his, and saysI, N, take you, N, to be my wife, 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 us do part; according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow.
They loose hands.
The bride takes the bridegroom’s right hand in hers, and saysI, N, take you, N, to be my husband, 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 us do part; according to God’s holy law. In the presence of God I make this vow.
They loose hands.
The Giving of Rings
The minister receives the rings, and saysHeavenly Father, by your blessing, let these rings be to N and N a symbol of unending love and faithfulness, to remind them of the vow and covenant which they have made this day through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The bridegroom places the ring on the fourth finger of the bride’s left hand and, holding it there, saysN, I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage. With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
They loose hands and the bride places a ring on the fourth finger of the bridegroom’s left hand and, holding it there, saysN, I give you this ring as a sign of our marriage. With my body I honour you, all that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you, within the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The minister addresses the peopleIn the presence of God, and before this congregation, N and N have given their consent and made their marriage vows to each other. They have declared their marriage by the joining of hands and by the giving and receiving of rings. I therefore proclaim that they are husband and wife.
The minister joins their right hands together and saysThose whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.
The Blessing of the Marriage
The husband and wife kneelBlessed are you, O Lord our God, for you have created joy and gladness, pleasure and delight, love, peace and fellowship. Pour out the abundance of your blessing upon N and N in their new life together. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, and a crown upon their heads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; awake and asleep, in joy and in sorrow, in life and in death. Finally, in your mercy, bring them to that banquet where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home. We ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The minister says to the coupleGod the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you; the Lord mercifully grant you the riches of his grace, that you may please him both in body and soul, and, living together in faith and love, may receive the blessings of eternal life. Amen.
Registration of the Marriage
Reading and Sermon
A hymn may be sung
These or other suitable prayers are used.Faithful God, holy and eternal, source of life and spring of love, we thank and praise you for bringing N and N to this day, and we pray for them. Lord of life and love: hear our prayer.
May their marriage be life-giving and life-long, enriched by your presence and strengthened by your grace; may they bring comfort and confidence to each other in faithfulness and trust. Lord of life and love: hear our prayer.
May the hospitality of their home bring refreshment and joy to all around them; may their love overflow to neighbours in need and embrace those in distress. Lord of life and love: hear our prayer.
May they discern in your word order and purpose for their lives; and may the power of your Holy Spirit lead them in truth and defend them in adversity. Lord of life and love: hear our prayer.
May they nurture their family with devotion, see their children grow in body, mind and spirit and come at last to the end of their lives with hearts content and in joyful anticipation of heaven. Lord of life and love: hear our prayer.
The prayers conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
A hymn may be sung
The minister saysGod the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love, defend you on every side, and guide you in truth and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.
The bride and groom leave to suitable music
Common Worship: pastoral services , material from which is included above, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.
Further information about these services is found on the Church of England web site.
Some Questions to think about
You have probably known each other for some time - but how well do you know one another? The following questions will help you discover more about each other, and about yourself. It might be helpful to think about them individually and then to 'compare notes' - remembering that for many of these there is no 'right answer', but you should be aiming for an agreed approach.
A whole new family
- We are all conditioned by various factors - and our family background and early experiences, and the marital experiences of our parents are very important in determining the sort of people we are the sort of marriage we will expect.
- What are your earliest memories of your own family?
- What were you childhood concepts of marriage? How have these changed?
- Do you get on with each other's families? What will you do at Christmas? Are their differences in family attitudes to a) presents; b) holidays; c) children; d) God ?
- How do you feel about coping with the needs of your parents as they get older?
- How do you feel about each others friends?
- How will you handle your budget?
- How will you divide up domestic responsibilities?
- How will you make decisions about major expenditure? about holidays?
- What do you think is the purpose of sex?
- What are your expectations?
- How will you express your sexual needs/wants? How will you say 'no'?
- How will you decide when to start a family? What factors will you take into account?
- How do you feel about your own childhood?
- Where will you turn for advice on bringing up children?
- How would you describe your partners temperament?
- How will you make decisions about when to move and where to live?
- What are your political views?
- What are your religious views?
- What will you teach the children about God and Jesus?
- Where will you look for help if there are problems in your marriage?
- How easy do you find it to say 'please'?
- How easy do you find it to say 'thank you'?
- How easy do you find it to say 'sorry'?
There was an old television programme called Mr and Mrs where couples were asked questions about their partners.
- What is your partners favourite meal?
- What is their favourite television programme?
- Who did they vote for in the last election - and why?
- How would you/they react if they wrote off the car?
Possible Hymns for Weddings
People will frequently have an Order of Service specially printed for their wedding service - this means that the range of hymns they can used is greatly increased.
At present we can use these books in the churches:
- Hymns Ancient and Modern New Standard (A );
- Mission Praise (M )
- A new commandment (M )
- Be thou my vision ( M )
- Bind us together (M )
- Dear Lord and Father (A&M)
- Father hear the prayer we offer (A&M )
- Father. Lord of all creation (A)
- Give me joy in my heart (M)
- Glorious things of thee are spoken (A&M)
- How great thou art (M)
- King of Glory, King of peace (A)
- Lead us heavenly Father (A)
- Let there be love (M)
- Love divine all loves excelling (A&M)
- Make me a channel of your peace (M)
- Morning has broken (M)
- Now thank we all our God (A&M)
- O praise ye the Lord (A)
- O perfect love, all human thought transcending (A)
- Praise my soul (A&M)
- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God (M)
- The Lord's My Shepherd (A&M)
- The king of love my shepherd is (A&M)
Possible Music for Weddings
A wide variety of music is used at weddings. Wagner and Mendlessohn remain the most popular for the arrival and departure of the Bride. During the signing of the registers the options include the organist playing some gentle music or you may invite a musician or singer to take part in the service. Please consult Peter about including other musicians, and the organist about any specific moving choices.
Entry to the church
- Bridal March from Wagner's Lohengrin
- Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary
- Handel's Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
- Handel’s ‘Trumpet Tune’ Hornpipe (from the water music) - Handel
Signing of the registerThis can take seven or eight minutes.
- A good soprano singing Gounod’s Ave Maria
- Bach’s ‘ Sheep May Safely Graze’
- Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring'
- Pachelbel’s Canon in D
Going out of the church
- Wedding March' from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Widor’s 'Toccata'