Sample Ceremonies

Simple Ceremony

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to join this man and this woman in the solemn estate of holy matrimony.
What God and true love has brought together, let no person break asunder.”

Reading

Let us pray from the Song of Songs:

Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.

Vows

“GROOM, do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy matrimony, to love her, to honor her, to comfort her, and to keep her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?”
Groom answers, “I do.”

“BRIDE, do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in holy matrimony, to love him, to honor him, to comfort him, and to keep him in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?”
Bride answers, “I do.”

Repeat after me.

“I, GROOM, take you, BRIDE, 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 do us part.”

“I, BRIDE, take you, GROOM, 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 do us part.”

Rings

GROOM, place the ring on BRIDE’S finger and repeat after me:
“I give you this ring as a token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love.”

(Repeat the same for the bride).

Pronouncement

Join hands. By the power vested in me by the Universal Life Church and the State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
To the man: “You may kiss the bride.”

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sacred marriage; the lovers

Religious Ceremony

Dearly beloved, we have gathered in this beautiful place to witness the marriage of GROOM and BRIDE.
Where before there were two people and two families, let there now be one couple united into a single family in the honorable estate of holy matrimony. It is not to be entered into unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly and in the knowledge of God. If anyone can show just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let you now speak, or hereafter forever hold your peace.

Blessing

Marriage has existed from the dawn of time, in all cultures. There is an essential human need for each of us to be completed in another person.
As the Bible teaches in the Gospel According to Mark, chapter 10, verses 6 to 9:

“But from the beginning of creation,
‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’
So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Charge

I, myself, was raised in the Catholic church, and within the ancient rites of Catholicism there are seven holy enough to earn the name “sacraments”. But of those seven, there is only one that is not, according to church doctrine, performed by the priest – and that is the sacrament of matrimony. Certainly, the priest stands in front of the congregation and prays over the couple, but actual joining of husband and wife? That’s beyond his power. He merely serves as a witness to the mutual consent of the spouses.

That’s why we’re all here today. To serve as witnesses – to nurture and support this couple and to recognize them not as two separate individuals but as a single unit.

Declaration

GROOM, do you take this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her in sickness and in health, and, forsaking all others, keep you only with her, so long as you both shall live?
(I do.)

BRIDE, do you take this man to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health, and, forsaking all others, keep you only with him, so long as you both shall live?
(I do.)

Reading

The joining of husband and wife is a serious affair, but it is also an occasion for joy.

The Book of Tobit gives us the wedding prayer:

“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

The Word of the Lord.

Vows

Repeat after me:

I, GROOM, take you, BRIDE,/ to be my wife/ and I promise to love and sustain you/ in the bonds of marriage from this day forward/ in sickness and in health/ in plenty and in want/ in joy and in sorrow / until death do we part.

I, BRIDE, take you, GROOM/ to be my husband/ and I promise to love and sustain you/ in the bonds of marriage from this day forward/ in sickness and in health/ in plenty and in want/ in joy and in sorrow / until death do we part.

(Unity Candle/Wine/Readings/Personal Vows)

Rings

The wedding ring is an eternal symbol – small in size, but large in significance. They are made of precious metals, materials that remind us that love is
not cheap nor common; but indeed love is very dear to us. These rings are made in a circle, without beginning or end, and their shape tells us that we must
keep love continuous throughout our whole lives even as the circle of the ring is continuous. Whether you are together or apart for even just a moment, may
these rings be a constant reminder of the promises you are making to one another this day.

Bless these rings, gracious Creator, that those who wear them, those who give and receive them, may be faithful to one another, remain in your peace, and live and grow old together in your love.

Repeat after me, BRIDE: GROOM, with this ring, I thee wed.
GROOM: BRIDE, with this ring, I thee wed.

Pronouncement

Where before we might have seen two people, let us now look on BRIDE and GROOM and remember that they are one, as witnessed before God and us gathered here. What God has put together, no human being can separate. By the power vested in me by the Universal Life Church and the State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

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Secular Ceremony (Custom)

Welcome

Dearly beloved, we’re gathered together in this place to join these two people in the joyous bonds of marriage.

Charge

I’d like to remind you that if you’re here, you’re not simply here to watch. You’re here as witnesses – you have a special relationship with BRIDE or with GROOM that makes you uniquely qualified to become part of this ceremony. We are all here today to serve as witnesses – to nurture and support this couple and to recognize them from now on not just as two individuals but as a single thing.

In that spirit, I’d like to borrow a page from another tradition. In the Society of Friends, the Quakers, a marriage ceremony is conducted like all of their services, mostly in silence. The couple stands before the congregation for… well, for quite a long time, really… silently embracing their new status before the community. So I’d like us to have a moment of quiet contemplation to reflect on what is taking place today.

Reading

One of the things about human beings is that we have what scientists call “bilateral symmetry.” If you were to take an extremely sharp blade and cut us from head to toe right down the middle of our bodies, each half would be nearly a mirror image of the other. A left hand, and a right hand. A left lung and a right lung. Two lobes of the brain, two kidneys, two hips, two feet. The one exception – we only have one heart, and it’s slung to one side.

When it comes to the heart, the only way to have symmetry is when you’re facing another person. We spend our lives looking for that missing piece – that element that will give us balance and make us whole.

Vows

Are you ready?

“Do you, BRIDE, choose GROOM to be your husband? Will you love him, respect him, care for him, and grow with him, through good times and bad, as your friend, companion, and partner, for all of your life together?”

“Do you, GROOM, choose BRIDE to be your wife? Will you love her, respect her, care for her, and grow with her, through good times and bad, as your friend, companion, and partner, for all of your life together?”

Rings

The wedding ring is an eternal symbol. A circle that never ends; if you put two side by side, they make the sign for infinity.

Repeat after me, BRIDE: GROOM, with this ring, I thee wed.
GROOM: BRIDE, with this ring, I thee wed.

Pronouncement

BRIDE and GROOM,  you have exchanged vows and rings, and consented to marry in the presence of this company. Together, we remember and affirm that where once you were two, now you have become one. By the power vested in me by the Universal Life Church and the Great State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

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Cary-Yale_deck_-_The_LoversSpirit-based Ceremony
(Based on a rite by Emma Restall Orr, which you can read in full here.)

Form a circle, and have the groom and best man stand at its entrance.

Dearly beloved, we are all gathered in this circle on this day and with the knowledge and assistance of the spirits of this place to help welcome two people into the next stage of their lives together.  

Let there be peace in the East, so let it be.
Let there be peace in the South, so let it be.
Let there be peace in the West, so let it be.
Let there be peace in the North, so let it be.
Let there be peace through all the Worlds.
So let it be

We gather here in peace to witness the union of BRIDE and GROOM, an occasion that is a serious marker of personal change, and a joyous celebration of two lives being made one.

As our Circle is woven and consecrated, this moment in time and this place become blessed. Let each soul truly be here,  that the spirits of those gathered may be blended in one sacred space, with one purpose and one voice.

Four Quarters:
Scatter salt, burn incense, weave the circle, as we say:
Let us call to the spirits of the four quarters of our world, that this rite be blessed by the powers of all Creation.

Spirits of the West, powers of autumn, cat who stretches to hunt at dusk, wisdom of salmon and otter’s play, undines of laughing brook, overflowing cups of love and emotion, my Lady of the Seas, tides of being, I ask that you honor this our Circle as we honor thee. Witness and bless this rite. Hail and welcome!

Spirits of the North, powers of winter, guardians of earth and stone, strength of badger who teaches us of love and loyalty, great bear of the starry skies, my Lady of the sacred womb, the rich soil of creation, I ask that you honor this our Circle as we honor thee. Witness and bless this rite. Hail and welcome!

Spirits of the East, powers of spring, of conception and regeneration, of falcon’s eye and blackbird’s song, sylphs of the wind, breath of life, my Lord of the rising sun and all new life, I ask that you honor this our Circle as we honor thee. Witness and bless this rite. Hail and welcome!

Spirits of the South, powers of summer, pride of stag and wit of fox, dragons of the land, sprites of the dancing flame, you who teach us of courage and the power of truth, my Lord of the wild Greenwood, I ask that you honor this our Circle as we honor thee. Witness and bless this rite. Hail and welcome!

We offer our words, our joy and our thanks to you.

Three Worlds:
Hail spirits of earth, sea, and sky; of beauty, power and inspiration; you of the heights that inspire us to stretch and grow; you of the dark earth that holds and feeds us; you of the open seas that wash our shores; you who offer us freedom, nourishment and rebirth. As our ancestors knew and honored your power, so do we now.

 

THE BRIDE’S ENTRANCE
Who is it brings this fair maid to be wed this day?
The Bride’s Father: I do
Then let it be done.

We gather together on this, the xx day of the xx Moon, in the year xxxx, in the eye of the Sun and upon this hallowed Earth, to witness this sacred Rite of Marriage between (Bride) and (Groom), a rite that is both a Blessing and Renewal of their precious union. To know where we have arrived, let us honor those who have brought us here.

THE ANCESTORS
In the name of our gods and the gods of our ancestors, we give thanks for all those who have shared with us their lives, their wisdom and their love. On this sacred day of their wedding, we give thanks especially for the blessings bequeathed to (Bride) and (Groom) by their ancestors of blood and spirit, both those newly departed and those of old.

We honor in particular the parents, ancestors present here in body and in spirit. Acknowledging all that has been given, the sacred gift of life, the hardest lessons taught through love and tears, the bond you share and the individuals that you are, let these ancestors too be honored at this time.

The Couple give gifts to their parents in thanks, honoring their bloodlines.

We call too to the spirits of the lands of their birth. (To the Couple:) You have brought with you this day offerings of the earth, herbs and fruits, from the landscapes of your childhood. Would you now place them upon the altar, with any other symbols and gifts you have brought, as a mark of your respect for your blood ancestors and for the spirits of those lands that nourished you and still nourish your families.
The Couple places the birthlands gifts on the altar.

Ancestors, know what is done. With thanks we bid you, Hail and welcome!

THE RITE OF MARRIAGE
Let each person gathered here now call into this sacred rite, in this consecrated place, the powers that we know to be sources of love and inspiration.

Let us take a moment to attune to this Presence that we may bring ourselves fully to the importance of this time and place.

(Bride) and (Groom), do you come to this place of your own free will?
COUPLE: I do.

Let us honor the four directions of our world, that their blessings may be brought to this couple.

The Couple are then taken around the Circle to each of the quarters.

(East) Spirits of the east, spirits of air, let us feel your breath!

Through times of uncertainty, through winds of change, will you still love and honor each other?
COUPLE: I will.

Then may you be blessed by the powers of the east! May together you find the freedom of flight in the clear mountain air, may your marriage be reborn with each new dawn.

(South) Spirits of the south, spirits of fire, let us feel your power!

Through the flames of passion, and when the fires burn low, will you still love and honor each other?
COUPLE: I will.

Then may you be blessed by the powers of the south! May together you dance the road of courage and vitality. May your home be filled with warmth.

(West) Spirits of the west, spirits of water, let us feel your flowing energy!

Through the white-water currents and deep pools of emotion, will you still love and honor each other?
COUPLE: I will.

Then may you be blessed by the powers of the west! May together you weave and blend your desires, flowing with the beauty of the ocean tides. May your life together be filled with love.

(North) Spirits of the north, spirits of earth, let us feel your certainty!

Through times of cold restriction, when problems seem immovable, will you still love and honor each other?
COUPLE: I will.

Then may you be blessed by the powers of the earth! May together you root in sweet, fertile soil and grow strong. May your lives together be rich with that fertility and its perfect fruitfulness.

Join hands

At the altar, their hands are tied with the length of cloth.

At sacred times and places, our ancestors clasped hands when they would wed, and such handfastings witnessed by the gods and the community were lawful, true and binding, as love binds one heart to another.

(Bride) and (Groom), are you ready to declare your vows to each other, vows that will bind you together, soul to soul, heart to heart, joining the bloodlines of your ancestors and those of your descendants, witnessed by those who have gathered here this day, in spirit and in body, in this sacred Circle?
COUPLE: I am.

RINGS
All things in nature are circular. Night becomes day, day leads into night which again gives way to day. Moon waxes and wanes, and waxes again. There is Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, then Spring returns again. These are the flowing rhythms of the Cycle of Existence. Yet in the Centre of the Circle is the stillness of the Source, eternal and brilliant.

(Bride) and (Groom), do you bring with you this day your symbols of these mysteries of life?
COUPLE: We do.

The Best Man gives the rings to the Priest.

Then be they blessed in the name of the old spirits of our land, for they are an outward sign and a sacred reminder of your commitment witnessed here this day.

The rings are blessed, consecrated and placed upon the altar.

As the sun and moon bring light to the Earth, do you, (Bride) and (Groom), vow to bring the light of love and joy to this your union?
COUPLE: I do.

The Priest takes the Wedding Candle, blessing and consecrating it. The candle can be lit at this stage if appropriate/wind permitting.

Do you vow to honor each other as you honor that which you hold most sacred?
COUPLE: I do/I do.

The Couple’s hands are untied, the length of cloth placed on the altar.

Taking the rings, the Priest gives one to the Groom who puts it on the bride’s finger and makes his personal vows to her.

The Priest gives the other ring to the Bride who puts it on the groom’s finger and makes her personal vows to him.

STONE
The Priest takes Wedding Stone and it is blessed and consecrated.

This sacred Earth is our home. It offers us the power of life, nourishing us, body and soul, holding us from birth until we let go once more into the worlds of spirit. Each rock and stone, each pebble and gem contains within it the stories of all time.

You have chosen this stone together as a foundation stone of your marriage from this point on. Do you now swear upon it, as a symbol of this sacred land and our holy Mother Earth, to keep your vows?

The Couple place their hands on the stone held by the Priest.
COUPLE: We swear.

Then let the Earth bear witness that (Bride) and (Groom) are joined in love and joy and freedom. So let it be!
COUPLE: So let it be!

Would you now take the gifts of your birthlands and, mixing them together, offer them to the spirits of the land upon which you make your vows, this land that is now your home.

The Couple mix the gifts and pour onto the ground beneath their feet.

Let your vows be sealed with a kiss.

The Couple kiss. The Bridesmaids and friends shower them with the confetti petals and grains of love and fertility.

 

Let all bear witness that (Groom) and (Bride) are joined in love as Husband and Wife. Through this renewal of their marriage, witnessed and blessed, may their love partake of the beauty, majesty and power of this sacred Earth.

My own blessing, and the blessings of all those assembled here be with you. The blessings of your gods and the gods of your ancestors be with you. The blessings of the ancestors be with you. With you and with all that comes of your union. So let it be!

THE FEAST
The Bride is given bread or cake and the Groom mead or wine to hold, as the Priest makes the blessings.

Mother Earth, in the name of the spirits of our land and of our ancestors, we give you thanks. You nourish us body and soul with your gifts of beauty and abundance. As you honor us with precious life, so may we honor you.

Father Sky, in the name of the spirit of our land and of our ancestors, we give you thanks. Light of the sun and blessings of rain fall upon the body of our Mother, bring forth her gifts. As you honor us with your blessings, so may we honor you.

The Couple offer the first back to the earth, breaking bread and pouring mead, the second to the ancestors, then to each other. Sharing it with all present, they take the food and drink around the Circle.

The rite of Marriage is complete.

The Couple join the Circle.

THE PRAYER FOR PEACE

Before our ceremony ends and we return to the worlds beyond, let us form the Circle of all Existences, that we might share in the joy that we have witnessed. Let us lift our thoughts to the powers that offer us life and inspiration, knowing that the gifts of beauty and love received in this rite are ours to share, as blessings of healing, protection and abundance, for this sacred planet and all creatures that live upon her.

The Priest joins the Circle for a moment’s quiet.

May the world be filled with love, beauty and harmony.
ALL: So may it be.

THE CLOSING OF THE RITE
The rite is complete. May our memories be rich with it. Let us thank the powers of nature for their presence.

The spirits of the Four Directions, the Three Worlds, the ancestors and any others who have been invoked into the rite are all thanked as the Circle is closed.

Spirits of the north, great bear, mighty badger, loyal dog, spirits of earth, we give you thanks for the gifts of strength and endurance that you have brought to our Circle. My Lady of the Womb, may your gifts remain with this couple from this day forward. Hail and farewell!

Spirits of the west, hunting cat, wise salmon, laughing otter and wise frog, spirits of water, we give you thanks for the gifts of deep wisdom and free flowing that you have brought to our Circle. My Lady of the Seas, may your gifts remain with this couple from this day forward. Hail and farewell!

Spirits of the south, proud stag, running fox, spirits of fire, we give you thanks for the gifts of passion and energy that you have brought to our Circle. My Lord of the Greenwood, may your gifts remain with this couple from this day forward. Hail and farewell!

Spirits of the east, falcon, blackbird, eagle high, spirits of air, we give you thanks for the gifts of clarity and far sight that you have brought to our Circle. My Lord of the Rising Sun, may your gifts remain with this couple from this day forward. Hail and farewell!

I give thanks to all those, both seen and unseen, who have gathered here today. May all be blessed, returning to their realms in peace.

O Spirit of this Place, we give you thanks for your blessings. Hail, O ancestors, O great Gods of old, we give you thanks for your presence, your guidance and your inspiration. May these gifts remain with us as we bid you hail and farewell!

Let the Circle be opened that these blessings be shared, and the feasting may begin. Blessed be, as blessed is.

The Circle is uncast or unwoven.

This celebration ends in peace as in peace it began. May the spirit of this rite and the blessings we have received go with us all as we depart this place, to nourish, strengthen and sustain us until we meet again. May the blessings of this rite nourish, strengthen and sustain (Bride) and (Groom) throughout their lives together.

So let it be!

The Couple lead the way from the Circle, followed by the Best Man and Bridesmaids, parents and other participants, the guests following on. The Priest is the last to leave the Circle, making the final prayers of closing.

Here ends this rite.

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wedding knot

Wedding Readings (Judeo-Christian)

* 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,

5 it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,

6 it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails.

* Tobit 8:5-7
On their wedding night Sarah got up, and she and Tobiah started to pray and beg that deliverance might be theirs. He began to use these words: “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”

* Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor.

10 If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up.

11 So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm?

12 Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.

* Song of Songs – 8:6-7
6 Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm;
For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion;
its flames are a blazing fire.

7 Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,
he would be roundly mocked.

* Song of Songs – 2:10-16
10 My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

11 “For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.

12 The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.

13 The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

14 “O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

15 Catch us the foxes, the little foxes
that damage the vineyards; for our vineyards are in bloom!

16 My lover belongs to me and I to him;
he browses among the lilies.

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* The Seven Blessings (recited before breaking the glass)
– Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the
vine
– Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created all things for
Your glory.

– Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of man.

– Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created man and
woman in Your image, fashioning woman in the likeness of man, preparing for
man a mate, that together they might perpetuate life. Blessed are You, O Lord,
Creator of man.

– May Zion rejoice as her children in joy are restored to her. Blessed are You, O
Lord, who causes Zion to rejoice at her children’s return.

– Grant great joy to these beloved companions, as You did to the first man and
woman in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are You, O Lord, who grants joy to bride
and groom.
– Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created joy and
gladness, bride and groom, mirth, song, delight and rejoicing, love and harmony,
peace and companionship. O Lord our God, may there be heard in the cries of
Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem voices of joy and gladness, voices of bride
and groom, the jubilant voices of those joined in marriage under the bridal canopy,
the voices of young people feasting and singing, Blessed are You, O Lord, who
causes the groom to rejoice with his bride.

* Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16

Happy the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days; a worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life. A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the LORD; be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face. A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones; a gift from the LORD is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person. Like the sun rising in the LORD’S heaven, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.

* Colossians 3:12-14

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

* Genesis 1:26-31
26 Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.”

27 God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.”

29 God also said: “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food;

30 and to all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the ground, I give all the green plants for food.” And so it happened.

31 God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.

* Genesis 2:18-24
18 The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.”

19 So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.

20 The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

21 So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

22 The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man,

23 the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

* Mark 10:6-9
6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.

7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife),

8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.

9 Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

* Psalm 128:1-4
1 Happy are all who fear the LORD, who walk in the ways of God.

2 What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be happy and prosper:

3 Like a fruitful vine your wife within your home, Like olive plants your children around your table.

4 Just so will they be blessed who fear the LORD.

* Gnostic Eucharist
Thy Holy Sophia extended Her mantle to those who had no eyes or ears. She gave with abandon, and the archons, desiring Her,
engulfed Her in their density, and rendered Her blind.

But the Logos came from beyond the stars. He, the living bridge, came unto Her and, with a touch, restored Her sight.

In the Mystery of the radiant Mother of the World,
And of Her Consort, the Logos,
We beseech Thee, O Divine Origin,
Beyond all thought or description,
to accept these gifts which we humbly offer unto Thee.

Beloved Presence, Whose body illumines the Sacred Gate.
Bridge across the stars.
Beloved Presence, Keeper of the Crossroads:
Awaken our hearts to the holy vision that
Bridges the visible and the invisible worlds,
Always with us, yet not always seen: Open our hearts to Thy touch.

* Celtic Blessing
May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness.
From this day forward.

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wedding knot carrick bend

Wedding Readings (Non-Judeo-Christian)

* Hindu blessing
Look to this day!
For it is life,
The very life of life …
For yesterday is only a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope!

* from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.

I want to hold you close like a lute, so we can cry out with loving.

You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror, and here are the stones.

* Apache Blessing
Now we will feel no rain, for each of us will be shelter to the other.
Now we will feel no cold, for each of us will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness.
We are two bodies but there is one life before us, and one home.
When evening falls I will look up and there you’ll be.
I’ll take your hand and you’ll take mine and we’ll turn together to look
at the road we travelled to reach this — the hour of our happiness.
It stretches behind us as the future lies ahead, a long and winding road
whose every turning means discovery, old hopes, new laughter, and shared tears.
The adventure has just begun.

* Pagan blessing
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East.
Communication of the heart, mind, and body
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun.
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South.
Warmth of hearth and home
The heat of the heart’s passion
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West.
The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river
The refreshing cleansing of the rain
The all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North
Firm foundation on which to build
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives
A stable home to which you may always return.

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* Celtic vow
I vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine,
from this day it shall only your name I cry out in the night
and into your eyes that I smile each morning;
I shall be a shield for you back as you are for mine,
no shall a grievous word be spoken about us,
for our marriage is sacred between us and no stranger shall hear my grievance.
Above and beyond this, I will cherish and honor you through this life
and into the next.

* The Metta Sutra (Buddhist discourse on loving kindness)
The person who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. That person will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous, or carried away by the emotions of others.

And this is what that person contemplates:
May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy.
May all living beings live in security and peace—beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or far away, already born, or yet to be born.
May all of them dwell in perfect tranquillity.
Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.

Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, let us cultivate boundless love to offer to all beings in the entire cosmos. Let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below and across. Our love will know no obstacles, our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, let us maintain this mindfulness of love in our heart.

This is the noblest way of living.

* From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

* Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fixed mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

* William Martin, The Couple’s Tao Te Ching
Your love is a great mystery.
It is like an eternal lake
Whose waters are always still and clear like glass.
Looking into it you can see
The truth about your life.

It is like a deep well
Whose waters are cool and pure.
Drinking from it you can be reborn.

You do not have to stir the waters
Or dig the well.
Merely see yourself clearly
And drink deeply.

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The Empyrean, Divine Comedy, Gustave DoreAdditional rites

Handfasting

(Bride and groom’s hands are symbolically tied together… usually just before the exchange of rings.)

The common expression for marriage, “to tie the knot,” actually has deep, symbolic roots. Through the ages and in many different cultures, brides and grooms have symbolically been joined one to the other by a cord, by braided ribbons or the priest’s stole, wound around their hands and knotted together.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we read:

Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labor
If the one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man! For if he should fall, he has no one to lift him up.
So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where a lone man may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.

Breaking the glass

At the close of the wedding ceremony, it’s traditional for a glass to be broken underfoot. This symbolizes many things. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher traces this custom to Moses bringing down the tablets from Sinai, and breaking them at the foot of the mountain. Others trace it to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. And today, it is often said that it serves to remind us that things easily broken are not so easily put back together.

However, the most beautiful interpretation of this rite comes from the Chabad Lubavitch, who tell us that the breaking of the glass reminds us of that moment before our birth, when our soul was broken in two pieces that would spend their mortal lives searching for each other. Here, in this marriage, we witness the two pieces of one soul rejoined as they were meant to be. So, we mark this union by breaking the glass and shouting, “Congratulations!” “Mazel tov!”

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