God has blessed me with the honor of being a Pastor’s wife. In this role I have also been my husband’s personal secretary and office manager of several churches. One of my most favorite things to do is to prepare the paperwork for Christian wedding ceremonies. I have lost count of how many wedding ceremonies we have planned and performed, but through the years I have learned that preparing a wedding ceremony requires careful thought and simple tools.
One tool for planning is a good wedding ceremony outline. Here is a sample outline for a Christian wedding ceremony that may help you as you plan.
Note: At any place during the ceremony special music or other inspirational words may be included
Generally some sort of music is played in the church or other gathering place beginning anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes before the wedding ceremony begins. This may be live or prerecorded music.
This is where the Bride’s Maids and the Bride walk the aisle to the front of the church where the Groom’s men and the Groom wait. Generally, the procession is accompanied by classical or other Godly music.
III. Minister Greeting and Introductions
A. Welcome and Explanation
In this section the minister tells the audience the purpose of the gathering. This is also a good place to insert what the Bible teaches about marriage. References to Genesis 2:18-24 is a great place to start.
B. Presentation of the Groom
In this section the minister introduces the Groom. This is a good place to have the minister speak about what the Bible says about the role of the husband. Reference to Ephesians 5:25-32 is recommended. The minister can also explain the symbolic relationship of the husband and wife and how that relates to the relationship of Christ and the Church.
C. Presentation of the Bride
In this section the minister introduces the Bride. This is a good place to have the minister speak about what the Bible says about the role of the wife. Reference to Ephesians 5:22-24 is recommended and this can lead into the general description of love with reference to 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.
D. Minister’s Prayer
This is where the minister welcomes the Holy Spirit to help the Bride and Groom to remember the importance that God puts on marriage and the seriousness of the roles and responsibilities that they are about to undertake.
IV. Groom and Bride Exchanges
A. Exchange of Vows
In this section the Groom and Bride may have prepared their own vows or they may repeat after the minister. The Groom takes vows first, followed by the Bride.
B. Exchange of Rings (optional)(Note: Remove the bride’s engagement ring prior to the service and place on the right hand or give it to the Maid of Honor to hold until the conclusion of the ceremony. If there is no ring bearer, the Best Man will hold the Bride’s wedding ring and the Maid of Honor will hold the Groom’s wedding ring. Also at this time the Bride hands her bouquet to the maid of honor)
The minister explains the symbolism of the wedding ring. The Groom gives the ring to the Bride first at the direction of the minister and then the Bride gives the ring to the Groom at the direction of the minister.
V. Pronouncement of Marriage
This is where the minister reminds the audience and the Bride and Groom that the man and woman are no longer two independent persons, but one. As good Scripture to insert here would be Matthew 19:16.
A. Unity Candle (optional)
(Note: make sure there is a lighter for the small candles available, or have the small candles lit before the ceremony; this is the Best Man’s responsibility)
This is where the Bride and the Groom go together to a candle station where there is a large center candle that is to be lit together with a smaller candle that is held by each the Bride and the Groom. Usually some special music is played at this time. At the same time the Groom and Bride may be praying quietly together while the music plays.
B. The Groom and Bride at the Lord’s Supper (optional)
(Note: Make sure the Lord’s Supper table is prepared prior to the ceremony; this is a good responsibility for the Maid of Honor if there is no one in the church to do it)
This is where the Groom takes his Bride to a side table that is prepared with the bread and wine for the Lord’s Supper. The minister may or may not preside over this. It is really special to have the Groom serve the Bride and then the Bride serve the Groom. This is followed by an intimate prayer from the Groom to God asking the Lord to provide for his leadership in this new family.
C. Presentation of Gifts to the Mothers of the Bride and Groom (optional)
(Note: Make sure the gifts are prepared and available prior to the ceremony; this is a good responsibility for the Maid of Honor)
This is where the Bride and the Groom present something to their mothers as a symbol of their love and affection. Generally it is a rose, but keep in mind that some folks are allergic to real flowers so a lovely silk flower is just as effective. The Bride presents to the Mother of the Bride first, followed by the Groom presenting to the Mother of the Groom. A great Scripture for the minister to share would be Proverbs 31:28.
VII. Message from God’s Word
This is where the minister preaches the message that has been chosen by the Bride and Groom. Since this is a Christian wedding ceremony it is a good idea to include the message of salvation here. Any of the following Scriptures will fit well. Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list because all of God’s Word is good!
Genesis 2:18-24 ,Psalm 100, Song of Solomon 7:6-7, Matthew 19:4-6, John 15:9-12, Romans 12:1-3, 9-13, I Corinthians 13, Ephesians 3:14-19,
Ephesians 5:21-33, Philippians 4:8-9, Colossians 3:12-17
VIII. Invitation to Special Event
This is where the minister invites the audience to any Special Event that the Bride and Groom have planned.
IX. Closing Prayer and Benediction
This is where the minister prays a blessing on the marriage, the Bride and Groom and all who are gathered.
X. Introduction of the new Husband and Wife
This is where the minister introduces the new Mr. & Mrs. This is also where the minister gives permission for the Groom to kiss his Bride. This is generally followed by a round of applause.
This is a time where music is generally played and the Bride and Groom are followed by the wedding party to the rear of the church or other gathering place. It may or may not be followed by other instrumental music once the bridal party has exited. The audience is then allowed to leave the church.