As a civil celebrant, I am sometimes asked by potential clients for sample ceremonies. What sort of prayers and readings might I suggest?
That’s a sort of “how long is a piece of string?” question, because I only offer my clients ideas and guidance – I don’t dictate. Each ceremony is therefore different from any other I conduct. Indeed, I have an in-depth conversation before I even start putting the metaphorical pen to paper.
Some ceremonies may be religious, others spiritual, or purely secular. So there’s absolutely no “typical” reading.
However, what I will therefore offer now is a couple of readings that I have used in the past, and they will give you some sort of an idea of what could go into a ceremony.
This time, I’ll look at weddings and handfastings; another time, vow renewals and funerals.
Love is a miraculous gift, and a wedding is a celebration of that gift. We have come here today to celebrate this gift of love, and to add our best wishes and blessings to the words that shall unite AB and CD in the bonds of marriage.
What you promise to each other today must be renewed again tomorrow and every day that follows.
At the end of this ceremony, you will be husband and wife. Still, you must decide each and every day to commit yourselves to one another. Make such a decision, and keep on making it, for the most important thing in life is to love and to be loved.
Listen to these words of wisdom on how to create a successful marriage from a little book entitled The Art of Marriage.
The little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say I love you at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, It should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives; it is facing the world together.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have the wings of an angel.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating patience, understanding, and a sense of humour.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is the common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is the establishing of a relationship in which the independence is equal, the dependence is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal.
And finally, it is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be a shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be a companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place to enter the days of your togetherness. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion, and may your days together be good and long upon the earth.
Don’t you just love this blessing?!
The actual handfasting
The lover’s knot, or knot of destiny, will now be tied by Divine Power in the name of Love. (Celebrant ties hands). With this cord, I bind you to the vows that you each have made. As your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of joy, love, trust, and mutual support. This bond I draw between you: That though you are parted in mind or in body, there will be a call in the core of you, one to the other, to which no one else will answer. By the secrets of earth and water this bond woven–unbreakable, irrevocable; by the law that created fire and wind this call is set in you, in life and beyond life.
A., repeat after me…By seed and root…by bud and stem…by leaf and flower and fruit…by life and love…in the name of God…I, A., take thee, B., to my hand, my heart and my spirit.
B., repeat after me… By seed and root…by bud and stem…by leaf and flower and fruit…by life and love…in the name of God…I, B., take thee, A., to my hand, my heart and my spirit.
Celebrant: With this binding I tie you, heart to heart, together as one. B. & A., together repeat after me…Heart to thee…soul to thee…body to thee…forever and always…and so it is! With this knot you are joined in sacred union. May God smile upon you, and bless you with love, happiness, peace, health, and prosperity.
Perhaps this will give you a flavour of what our ceremony might be like. If you’d like a chat and want to find out more, please give me a call (07931 538487), without obligation. I look forward to hearing from you.