The Marriage Service
What about the Marriage Service? What happens there?
What I hope to do in the notes that follow is give you a brief outline of the Marriage Service. I hope that this will help you as you prepare for your Big Day.
Suppose your wedding has been arranged for 2.00 p.m.:
The arrival of the Bridegroom and Best Man.
In plenty of time, before 2.00 p.m., the Bridegroom and the Best Man should arrive at the Church. It used to be the tradition that the Best Man would then leave the Groom to go and collect the Bridesmaids. This now is seldom the practice.
The Groom and the Best Man pass the time they have in the vestry until the Bride arrives. It is important at this point that the Groom gives the Minister the Marriage Schedule, since the marriage CANNOT continue without it. It is also useful if the Best Man places the wedding rings on his little finger so as not to fumble too much when he is asked for them during the Service.
Arrival of the Bride
It is important that the Bride arrives on time. If the wedding is to start too late, the arrangements for the rest of the day can be thrown into chaos. For a 2 p.m. wedding, the Bride should be arriving at five minutes to two. This allows time for the photographer to take any necessary photographs before entering the Church.
Entry of the Bride
Upon the Bride’s arrival, the Church Officer will make her way through to tell the Minister that the Bride has arrived. The Minister takes the Groom and Best Man to their places at the Chancel steps. Leaving them there, the Minister makes his way to the vestibule to meet the Bride and her escort. It is a good idea at this point for the Bride, if she is wearing a veil, to lift it back. This makes things easier during the service and saves any embarrassment once the service has started.
The Congregation are asked to stand. The chosen entry music begins. The Bride comes down the aisle on the RIGHT arm of her escort, with her attendant(s) following, and so comes naturally to the left arm of her Bridegroom when she reaches the chancel steps. The Best Man is already standing at the Groom’s right hand side, the Bride’s attendant(s) take up their position at her left and Bride’s escort goes directly to his place. This will be in the second row of seats.
Now the Service begins
The Minister welcomes the Bride and Groom
and welcomes those who have come along to
the Service. The Bride should hand her bouquet to the Bridesmaid; the Minister will
hand out the hymn sheets to the wedding party.
The first hymn will now normally be sung. After this, the Congregation sit, the Minister and the wedding party remain standing. The Minister then reads the preamble to the marriage Service. This is intended to outline what Christian marriage is meant to be.
(For example, help, comfort, security, lifelong companionship, respect etc.) A prayer follows in which God’s help is asked for the marriage about to be made. Now comes the marriage ceremony itself.
The Congregation is asked to stand, the Bride
and Groom are asked to step onto the chancel
and take each other by the right hand. It is amazing in the heat of the situation people can often get their left and their right mixed up – so don’t worry. Holding right hands, the couple proceed to take their vows. You will find these at the end of the booklet (pg. 12). Please remember that you do not need to learn them. They are included to give you time to think about them and to make you aware of what is coming.
Once the vows have been made the Minister says-
“As a token of the covenant into which you are entering,
these ring(s) are given and received” (pg. 13).
The Minister then takes the ring or rings from the Best Man. The Groom places the Bride’s ring on the third finger of her left hand, and says after the Minister the promise with the ring (this is included at the back of this booklet along with the vows). The Bride then places the ring on the Groom’s finger – remember that it can be all quite nerve wracking and sometimes fingers can become a bit swollen. If the ring will not go on, don’t panic – there is plenty of time, and with a little co-operation it will go on.
After the rings have been given, the Minister then declares the couple married.
“By this sign you take each other, to have and to hold
from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer
or poorer, in sickness and in health; to love and to
cherish, for as long as you live”.
(the couple may join both hands)
“Since you have covenanted together in marriage, and have declared your love for each other, before God and these witnesses, I proclaim you to be
husband and wife, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
Conclusion of Service
The couple may now kneel as the blessing is
announced. The blessing may be sung or spoken. If it is to be sung, you may find it of value to print the words in your order of service:
“The Lord bless you and keep you:
The Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace”.
The Congregation may now sit and the couple may stand if they have been kneeling.
A passage from the Bible is now read and a few words offered by the Minister.
The Service closes with the singing of the second hymn.
At the conclusion, the Benediction is announced and the wedding party, along with the parents, move to the vestry all to sign the Marriage Schedule. The Best Man and the Bridesmaid(s) follow the Bride and Groom and are in turn followed by the parents of the Bride and the parents of the Groom.
Once the Schedule has been signed and any photographs taken, the wedding party line up to walk through the Church. The ladies should be on the left arm of the gentlemen. The wedding party will walk into the Church, along the front of the chancel, then the Minister will step back and allow the Bride and Groom to lead the party up the aisle and out through the large front door.
I would remind you that one photograph is allowed during the Service; this can be taken from the balcony during the first or final hymn.
The photographer should speak to the Minister before the Service. This is also the case for video recording. The main reason for speaking to the Minister is to avoid any unnecessary distraction during the Service.
If it is a bit wet, the photographer should know that he/she is welcome to come back into the Church for more photographs.
Confetti and Scramble (Scatter)
Please make an effort to let guests know that confetti is not to be thrown in the Church. It is fine to throw it outside – but not in the Church. It is also worth noting, that many car-hire firms are not very keen on people have a scramble or scatter from the car as it drives off. One reason is that the children will often ignore the danger in an attempt to get the money. The other reason is that it can damage the paint work on the cars. It is worth asking about.
The Marriage Service