About the Greeting, Readings, and Prayers
After the guests have been seated in the wedding space and the processional is complete, the wedding officiant begins to perform the wedding ceremony by welcoming those assembled and reminding them why they are there: to witness the honor and love of the bride and groom and their entrance into matrimony. This is called the greeting.
In this step, the wedding officiant reads passages from books, scriptures, poems, or other texts in order to set the mood of the wedding and express the couple's idea of what they believe love is to the audience.Readings come from a variety of sources; passages from Shakespeare, the Bible, classic children's books, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (no joke) are all read at weddings. The couple is free to choose any passage or passages from their favorite texts that they find meaningful. It is important to have no more than two or three readings spread throughout the ceremony, each being no more than a paragraph in length - you and the couple don't want to bore the audience with overly long passages!
Finally, the couple may ask their Universal Life Church wedding officiant to read several prayers when they perform a wedding if the couple is interested in a religious ceremony. A significant proportion of the American population strongly associates marriage and weddings with religion (generally Christianity), so it is likely you will need to consult with a couple about their favorite pieces of scripture or religious-themed prayers at some point in your wedding officiant career.
As with the rest of the wedding ceremony, the greeting, readings, and prayers can be as traditional and religious as the couple wants them to be. If the couple is irreligious and uninterested in adhering to wedding traditions, feel free to draft your own greeting and readings or completely forego them altogether. As a Universal Life Church wedding officiant, your sole job is to make sure that every couple you perform a wedding for thoroughly enjoys their ceremony.
Sample Wedding Greetings
Sample Greeting #1
Friends and family, [groom's name] and [bride's name] have invited you to this lovely chapel today in order to celebrate their union in matrimony. This celebration demonstrates the love, commitment, and honor that they share for one another, and they are pleased to have all of you witness it. So, without further ado, welcome to the wedding of [groom's name] and [bride's name].
Sample Greeting #2
Hello, I am [wedding officiant's name] and I am a [friend/relative] of [groom's name] and [bride's name] and a legally-ordained minister of the Universal Life Church Ministries. You have gathered here today to witness [groom's name] and [bride's name] enter into the most sacred and loving union, marriage. The couple thanks you for coming and joining them as they express the love and commitment they have for one another.
Sample Greeting #3
We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of [bride's name] and [groom's name] in matrimony. We shall have the privilege of witnessing the extraordinary love and friendship of this beautiful couple on this lovely afternoon, and we, as their family and friends, can show our love for them as they have done for us. So, without further ado, let us begin to celebrate one of life's greatest moments, the uniting of two into one through that most sacred of vows, marriage.
Sample Wedding Readings
Wedding readings are meant to express the couple's thoughts about love, commitment, and marriage to the wedding guests in more succinct and meaningful ways than the couple could do in their own words. That being said, it is unlikely that the couple will want to use any of the sample wedding readings listed below; these samples are meant to serve as examples of the style, tone, and themes that readings are supposed to have.
"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 barque
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 prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved."
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by frost."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Sample Wedding Prayers
Christian Wedding Prayers
Wedding-appropriate Christian prayers will undoubtedly be requested by some of the couples whose weddings you perform. A diverse selection of Christian prayers are listed below; feel free to use these prayers directly or as inspiration to find others that are similar.
Sample Christian Wedding Prayer #1
Love has been Your richest and greatest gift to the world. Love that matures into marriage is one of Your greatest creations. Today we celebrate this kind of love as it manifests itself with [bride's name] and [groom's name]. Please protect, guide, and bless [bride's name] and [groom's name] as they enter into their shared lives. For today and for the rest of their lives, let them love each other as You love them.
Sample Christian Wedding Prayer #2
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
[Bride's name] and [groom's name], their gathered friends and family, and myself pray that you grant this loving couple never-ending understanding, patience, tolerance, and affection as they begin to live life together. We pray that [bride's name] and [groom's name] will always love and respect each other, and that their home is eternally filled with happiness, joy, and laughter. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.
Sample Christian Wedding Prayer #3
We thank you for the joy and happiness that marks this occasion. We thank you for the tender love that [bride's name] and [groom's name] share. We thank you for the many people who have gathered here today to witness their love and to celebrate their marriage. And, most importantly, we thank you for your presence at this service now and your continued presence in the married life of [bride's name] and [groom's name] for the rest of their shared lives.
Other Wedding Prayers
Universal Life Church ministers occasionally perform weddings for religious people who have no affinity with Christianity. A brief sampling of different religions' wedding prayers can be found below. Feel free to send us sample wedding prayers from you culture if you would like to have them appear here!
Sample Hindu Wedding Prayer
The following is a standard wedding prayer at Hindu and other South Asian weddings.
May our prayers be the same, may our goals be the same. Common be our purposes, our deliberations harmonious. May our desires be one, and our hearts be one. May our intentions have oneness, and blissful be our togetherness.
Sample Sikh Wedding Prayer
Sikh weddings traditionally include hymns that are sung by the wedding guests. The following hymn is one that is meant to be sung at the beginning of the ceremony. As the wedding officiant, you and the couple should decide whether or not to have the audience sing it in the traditional style or to have you speak the words the hymn contains yourself.
Whatever work you wish to accomplish, tell it to the Lord. Your affairs will be resolved the True Guru gives his guarantee of truth. In the society of saints, you shall taste the treasure of the ambrosial nectar. The Lord, who is the merciful destroyer of fear, preserves and protects those who serve him. O Nanak, singing the glorious praises of God, one sees the unseen Lord.
Pagan Wedding Prayer
This blessing, and others like it, are generally read during pagan weddings.
Above you are the stars, below you are the stones. As time passes, remember... Like a star should your love be constant, Like the earth should your love be firm. Possess one another, yet be understanding. Have patience with each other, For storms will come, and they will go quickly. Be free in giving of affection and of warmth. Have no fear, and let not the ways or words of the Unenlightened give you unease. For the old gods are with you, Now and always!
This is the second installment of the Perform a Wedding Series. A summary of this series, with information about and links to all of the topics covered in it, can be found here. The Universal Life Church Ministries is always looking to improve the myriad of materials it provides to its ministers, so_ let us know if you have any suggestions!