Many people like to write their own wedding services. They are eager for the self expression that implies. Writing sometimes helps us know what we really think, also -- it is not just for public consumption. The act of writing our own service, or parts of it, allows us to become articulate about our deepest desires in our largest moment. This eagerness is both noble and difficult! Getting our words right, even in the glorious time before the service, is not easy. Love gets overused. Respect gets overused. Beautiful gets overused. Our task is to find smaller words and stories and details to carry these larger feelings. Again, it is not easy, as any writer will tell you. …What is a writer? One who avoids using clichés in order to say something universal and splendid which has been said before. Ah. I think you understand.
What follows here is one minister's attempts to avoid clichés and to put words to feelings. Feel free to use the ideas as they are or as a guide for developing your own words. When it comes to weddings and our feelings for each other, plagiarism is important and virtuous!
A Morning Prayer on the Day of the Service
I am nervous, O God….. nervous that I am not good enough, nervous that I won’t be able to keep my promises much less dress right, speak right, and act right. I am not as much as I want to be for ____________. (Speak Partner’s name) Maybe I never will be. But ____________ loves me anyway, you love me anyway, and I am awake on this day of transformation. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And let my nervousness disappear. Let something like calm take its place. Let me get out of my own way and forget about myself in time to be happy, today, and all the days to come. Amen.
A Prayer to Open the Service
Holy God, Blessed Spirit, you whom some call Yahweh, and others Allah, you whom some call Jesus and others Christ, you whom some know as breath or force or Bruach or Adonai, you beyond any human name or cage, you who transcend the cages we place you in, draw near now and bless this time and place. Let the vows that are spoken be real, let the people who hear them renew the promises they too have made. Hold the space for us as a cosmic canopy and let us shiver with the grace of your presence. Open the doors on all the cages everywhere and let your people breathe free, just as you intended. Let the partnership that emerges at the end of this time renew and be new, let the feast that follows be such a sign of your kind of time that we are newly hungry for an end to any kind of smallness and any kind of poverty. And bless the two who make promises. Let them be as light as lace and as strong as wrought iron.
Thank you for letting us be here, now. Amen.
A Progressive Rising Litany Inside the Service, Before the Vows
The couple turns and faces the gathered congregation
Will the families please rise, as they are able, and join their blessing to the vows about to be made? “Is it your desire to bless this couple and to join with them in their joys and sorrows, wherever their life may take them, each and together? If so, answer, ‘This is our desire.’”
Families remain standing.
Will the friends of those present please rise, as they are able, and join the family in their blessing upon the vows to be made? “Is it your desire to add your blessing upon this couple and to join with them in their joys and sorrows, wherever their life may take them, each and together? If so, answer, together, ‘This is our desire.’"
(Family and congregation are seated together as couple returns to face altar or table)
A Benediction, as the Service Closes
You walked in here as one person, you leave as another.
You walked in here as one couple, you leave as another.
You are changed. You have joined the magic of covenant to the love you already had.
May it continue to change you and may the uncaged God, the free spirit, the holy vows mark your goings out and your coming ins from this day forward, even forevermore. Amen.
A Prayer of Blessing over the Food
This feast is a sign of your reign, O God. It is a picture of the joy you intend for all people all of the time. Let us raise our glasses first to you and then to each other and let us promise to live in the feast, now and always. Amen.
A Prayer of Blessing on the First Morning or alone time Together as a Married Couple
Before the pictures arrive or the party is cleaned up, before the first cup of coffee or the first regret, let me kiss you and hold you as though I know who you are. Let me be present to you. Keep me from running by the great moments of my life as though they didn’t really happen or I wasn’t really there. Slow me down and let me walk, again and again, down the aisle, up to the cake, over to someone I don’t know. Let me be surprised by what really happened as opposed to what I thought would happen. Let me relish and repeat, rejoice and evaluate, open the many gifts slowly as though each were the only one. Let me light a candle on this first anniversary and each one to come. Let me be a person who collects joy. Amen.
At the Time of the first Fight
We don’t really know why this happened, O God, nor do we want to be right. We want something more than being right. We just want you to return us to our promises and to see how big they are and how small this is. You crossed the river Jordan, you set a rainbow in the sky. You broke bread that fed 5000. You act like there is always enough to go around. Can you make a miracle also out of us? Amen.
At the Time of the Album’s Arrival
We are thankful, O God, for the smiles on each face and the love in each heart. We wonder why we had so few quiet moments – and we wonder how we could ever have looked so good. Ritualize the joy in us so that every year on our anniversary we go back to these pictures and rejoice. Ritualize our wedding joy so that we find a way to sneak feast into our ordinary ways of living. Manage our lives not by the fleeting joy of our big day but by the ongoing gladness we have in each other. Some people think nothing is a miracle and others know that everything is a miracle. Let us be a part of the last group, enchanted by and with life. Re-enchant us daily with each other and with life. Amen.