Standing Upon Ceremony: Part 1
The Church Ceremony
We have recently been posting about all kinds of wedding traditions, from the big entrance to the wedding favours. It’s not exactly a ‘tradition’ but you may have noticed that we missed out something pretty important…The Wedding Ceremony itself!
You may think this is a given, that no-one can escape the part where you ‘do the deed’, but along with everything else the choices for the ‘I do’ part are endless with some people choosing to keep it away from the public forum.
These days an increasing number of couples opt for a civil ceremony, very often writing their own vows, for good reasons. But let’s consider the familiar Anglican Church vows for a moment:
I _____, take you ______, to be my wedded _____. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part. And this is my solemn vow.
You can say the above in a multitude of creative ways, but it really does sum it up. The couple promises to stick together through emotional hardship, financial hardship, physical hardship and not only that, but to choose to actively love each other throughout all of that. The last part “solemn vow” says “I don’t just promise to do that right now, when everything is lovely and you look really amazing, but I sincerely promise to do that when everything is rubbish and you don’t look so great!”
Church weddings can be tricky territory for non-church goers. So, for example for the songs, why not consider a pianist instead of an organist, or even a band! But if that’s not your cup of tea, simply select a couple of well known, upbeat hymns, and edit out a few verses. ‘Know your audience’ springs to mind with Church weddings, so consider your ‘unchurched’ guests as well as the church friendly ones.
The signing of the register is an opportunity to treat your guests to something special. If you have any talented musician friends, why not ask them to play a couple of songs. If you know any ballet dancers, what about asking them to dance! Guitarists, opera singers, cellists… The signing of the register is a moment of reflection (as well as legal obligation) so why not compliment the moment with some real artistry.
Prayers don’t need to be all pomp and circumstance. Consider asking a friend who is relaxed speaking in public and will offer simple, personal words. Similarly for your Bible readings, consider not just people who are important to you, but who are confident speaking in public. What may seem like an easy task for some people others will lose weeks of sleep over, due to sheer terror! Consider what the passage really means before you choose it as this all contributes to the significance of your ceremony.
There is certainly something special when two people stand at an altar, in a sacred place, making eternal commitments to one another, regardless of what one might feel spiritually or otherwise. Although there are many options open to people, there is still a place for the traditional Christian ceremony in our ever-evolving world.