Life Ministers can solemnize Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and interfaith ceremonies, plus religious wedding ceremonies from many other traditions. That lines up with the ULC’s second core tenet: Everyone is free to practice their religion as long as they do not interfere with others’ rights or freedoms.

Whether you’re an engaged couple or an officiant, this guide to religious wedding scripts can help you prepare for the big day. You’ll look at basic components, plus some unique elements you’ll find in some faiths’ ceremony scripts.

Opening Remarks and Prayer

The officiant begins the ceremony with opening remarks. They welcome the couple’s guests and remind all present why they’re in that specific place and time – to witness the couple’s marriage. The officiant may also lead a prayer or conduct an appropriate rite after the welcome. For example, Hindu weddings include a puja, in which the officiant and guests pray to Ganesh for a successful ceremony.

The Officiant’s Sermon

After the opening and prayer, many scripts include a speech or sermon from the officiating clergy member. Clergy often speak about the meaning of marriage in the couple’s faith, sometimes including quotes from significant religious texts.

Declaration of Intent

The declaration of intent comes after the officiant’s sermon. Part of it may include a charge to the couple. The charge stresses that the marriage bond is sacred, to be honored and not taken lightly. It calls for the marriage vows to be kept, with the couple treating each other with mutual respect. It also reminds the couple that they are taking their vows in front of their chosen community.

At its core, the declaration of intent asks the couple if they are ready to enter marriage together. You may be familiar with the most common version, which begins with “Do you take (name of person) to be your lawfully wedded spouse?” You can see other examples in the ULC’s modern Jewish and Wiccan ceremony scripts. The couple must answer affirmatively for the ceremony to go forward.

Exchange of Rings and Pronouncement

After the declaration of intent, the couple exchanges their vows and rings. During this section, they promise to love, cherish, and support each other through both good and bad circumstances. Once this is complete, the minister can then pronounce them as married.

Ceremony Script Variations

Many couples can customize their ceremonies with meaningful elements. One example is the unity sand ceremony, in which couples pour different colors of sand into the same vase. The officiant may use secular or religious sand ceremony wording with the rite, describing the symbolic nature of the sand and colors. Religious versions may include another color of sand to represent God’s presence in the marriage.

Prior to same-sex marriage becoming legal in the United States, some LGBTQ couples held commitment ceremonies. They haven’t completely died out, however, and some use them to signify a lasting union without entering a legal marriage. They may use a commitment ceremony script, which can have some or most of the same language as a legally binding ceremony – except the minister won’t pronounce them as legally married.

Covenant marriages are legally available in three states: Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Couples must meet certain requirements, such as attending premarital counseling, and the idea is that the marriage vows are harder to dissolve than with regular marriage. A covenant wedding ceremony script may include more traditional elements, plus the parents’ blessing and a salt covenant ritual that’s similar to a unity sand ceremony.

Many Religious Ceremony Options

Language plays a huge part in a wedding ceremony. A religious wedding ceremony script can help shape the event, convey significant meanings, and communicate the couple’s bond to their larger community. If you’re stuck for ideas or need a starting point for your own script, try the ULC’s wedding script generator.

Category: Ceremonies

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