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The relationship enjoyed by husband and wife is one of the most profound and enduring experiences of the human race. Nearly everyone has something to say about being married. Here is a collection of secular and sacred wisdom appropriate for use in a public celebration of marriage. Any of these selections may be incorporated into your ceremony. Choose one or more that speaks to you. Want one of our officiants to plan your ceremony? Contact us today.
From the Old Testament
Genesis 1:26-31 Humankind created in the image of God: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day.
Genesis 2:18-24 Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Song of Solomon 8:6-7 Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.
Proverbs 3:3-6 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Isaiah 54:5-8 Your Maker is your husband: For your Maker is your husband– the Lord Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit– a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.
Psalm 8 Mortals crowned with glory and honor: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 95:1-7 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Psalm 100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord: Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 103:1-5, 15-18 Bless the Lord, O my soul: Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
From the New Testament
Matthew 5:13-16 Salt of the earth . . . light of the world: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 19:3-6 No longer two, but one flesh: Jesus said, “at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ ? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Matthew 22:35-40 Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind: One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Mark 10:6-9 What God has joined, let no one separate: Jesus said, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
John 2:1-11 Jesus at the wedding at Cana: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Romans 12:1-2, 9-18 A living sacrifice . . . let love be genuine: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 Faith, hope, love . . . greatest is love: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Colossians 3:12-17 Clothe yourselves with love: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1 John 4:7-12 Let us love one another . . . God is love: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Revelation 19:1-2, 5-9 Rejoicing at the marriage of the Lamb: After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments.Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants,you who fear him, both small and great!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
A. God is guiding your marriage. Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Wedding Sermon
B. Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner. – Amy Bloom
C. Excerpt from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams. “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 all 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.”
D. One look. One smile. One touch. One embrace. One kiss. One love. Two people. Two minds. Two souls. Two destinies. One road. One journey. One ending. Together. – Melissa Higgins
E. Marriage: Requires falling in love many times—always with the same person. Marriage: A period when you make progress if you break even. The most dangerous year in married life is the first: then comes the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. Marriage: Has three states—cooing—wedding—billing.
F. My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me. – Winston Churchill
G. Even marriages made in heaven need down to earth maintenance work. – Lloyd Byers
H. To keep the fire burning brightly, keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm, and far enough apart—about a finger’s breadth—for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage—same rule. – Marnie Reed Crowell
I. Apache Wedding Prayer Note: This popular reading was adapted from a 1947 novel that became the screenplay for the 1950 Jimmy Stewart classic movie, Broken Arrow. The author fabricated the wedding ritual and historians admit there was no such practice among the Apaches. However, it is still a beautiful sentiment.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be 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 companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion, and your days together be good and long upon the earth. Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship – as they threaten all relationships at one time or another – remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives – remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together,it will be marked by abundance and delight.
J. Excerpt from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away. And this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
K. The key to a perfect marriage is not expecting perfection.
L. Marriage is an empty box. It remains empty unless you put in more than you take out. To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup. When you’re wrong, admit it. When you’re right, shut up. – Ogden Nash
M. Successful marriage is always a triangle: a man, a woman, and God. – Cecil Myers
N. There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. – Martin Luther
O. The harder you work at a relationship, the harder it is to surrender.
P. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. -Mignon McLaughlin
Q. When two fond hearts As one unite, The load is easy And the burden light.
R. We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop there is at last a drop which makes it run over, so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over. – Samuel Johnson
S. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Walk beside me And just be my friend. – Albert Camus
T. I know I’ve never told you In the hurried rush of days How much your friendship helps me In a thousand little ways; But you’ve played such a part In all I do or try to be, I want to tell you thank you For being friends with me. – Anonymous
U. Whether you are blessed with soulmates…or with those who walk with you just a little while, not one of these friends crosses your path by chance. Each is a messenger sent by God, to give you the wisdom, companionship, comfort, or challenge you need for a particular leg of your spiritual journey – Traci Mullins
V. When true friends meet in adverse hour; ‘Tis like a sunbeam through a shower. – Sir Walter Scott
W. If I do vow a friendship, I’ll perform it to the last article. – Shakespeare
X. Friendship is a chain of gold shaped in God’s all perfect mold. Each link a smile, a laugh, a tear, A grip of the hand, a word of cheer. Steadfast as the ages roll Binding closer soul to soul; No matter how far or heavy the load Sweet is the journey on friendship’s road. – Unknown
Y. A true friend is the greatest of all blessings. – La Rochefoucauld
Z. Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you. – Walter Winchell
AA. Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes… But in the intervals, almost unconsciously, and with no desire to shine, the whole material of life is turned over and over ideas are struck out and shared, the two persons more and more adapt their notions one to suit the other, and in process of time, without sound of trumpet, they conduct each other into new worlds of thought. – Robert Louis Stevenson
BB. Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. The last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in His hand Who saith, A whole I planned, Youth shows but half, Trust God, see all, nor be afraid! – Robert Browning
CC. Each shining light above us Has its own peculiar grace, But every light of heaven Is in my darling’s face. – John Hay
DD. The Art Of Marriage by Wilferd A. Peterson short, popular version A good marriage must be created. In 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 each day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. 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 a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is not only marrying the right partner… It is being the right partner.
EE. The Art Of Marriage by Wilferd A. Peterson full version Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In 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 standing together facing the world. 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 looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, 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 a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner. It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.
FF. A true friend gives freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeable. – William Penn
GG. True friends don’t spend time gazing into each other’s eyes. They may show great tenderness toward each other, but they face in the same direction—toward common projects, interests, goals—above all, toward a common Lord. – C. S. Lewis
HH. Friendship is one mind in two bodies. – Mencius
II. Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. – Saint Francis of Assisi
JJ. Just thinking about a friend makes you want to do a happy dance, because a friend is someone who loves you in spite of your faults. – Charles M. Schulz
KK. A good marriage is not a contract between two persons but a sacred covenant between three. Too often Christ is never invited to the wedding and finds no room in the home. Why? Is it because we have misrepresented Him and forgotten His joyful outlook on life? – Donald T. Kaufman
LL. That voice that breathed o’er Eden, That earliest wedding day, The primal marriage blessing, It hath not passed away. – John Keble
MM. Let nothing break our bond but Death, For in the world above ‘Tis the breaker Death that soldereth Our ring of Wedded Love. – Gerald Massey
NN. The sacred academy of man’s life, Is holy wedlock in a happy wife. – Francis Quarles
OO. God help the man who won’t marry until he finds the perfect woman, and God help him still more if he finds her. – Benjamin Tillett
PP. God, the best maker of all marriages, Combine your hearts in one. – Shakespeare
QQ. Teacher, tender comrade, wife, A fellow-farer through life. – Robert Louis Stevenson
RR. Love like ours can never die! – Rudyard Kipling
SS. Notes on Marriage Made when deciding whether to marry Emma Wedgwood, by Charles Darwin. Not Marry? Freedom to go where one liked. Choice of society and little of it. Conversation of clever men at clubs. Not forced to visit relatives, and to bend to every trifle… To have the expense and anxiety of children – perhaps quarreling. Loss of time – cannot read in the evenings. Fatness and idleness. Anxiety and responsibility. Less money for books. If many children, forced to gain one’s bread (but then it is very bad for one’s health to work too much). Perhaps my wife won’t like London, then the sentence is banishment and degradation with indolent, idle fool. Marry? Children (if it please God). Constant companion, who will feel interested in one (a friend in old age). Object to be beloved and played with – better than a dog anyhow. Home, and someone to take care of house. Charms of music and female chit chat – these things good for ones health but terrible loss of time. My God, it is unthinkable to think of spending one’s whole life, like a neuter bee, working, working, and nothing after all. No, no, won’t do. Imagine living all one’s days solitarily in smoky dirty London House. Only picture to yourself a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, and books, and music perhaps – compare this vision with dingy reality. Marry! Marry! Marry!
TT. Love is a respect for the preciousness and worth of a person. Love gives and love receives. Love cannot live in itself; it must be nurtured with a mutual and ultimate sharing, a giving and taking. Love is the noblest passion a man or a woman can feel, for it surpasses all lesser desires. Love is precious because it is an ethical commitment to another, which honors the duties of the promises here made, not only from a sense of obligation, but from the depths of the most divine sentiment we can enjoy. – Brandock Lovely
Ceremony Planning Tools Select one of these other pages to find additional information for the creation of your distinctive ceremony.
- Plan Your Ceremony Use the My Wedding Ceremony Planner tool to plan your ceremony.
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- Wedding Vows Choose from a range of vows or write your own.
- Exchange of Rings What will you say when you slip it on?
- Readings Inspirational selections to enhance your special moment.
- Marriage Symbols Sand Ceremony, Unity Candle, Handfasting, Wine Box