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Sample Wedding Ceremony: Traditional & Secular


As wedding season gets underway in full force, we’re working to bring you as many resources as we can to help you fill in those last minute gaps: wedding vows, wedding readings, wedding music, and how to projects. While we often get philosophical, these posts are about getting as practical as possible. Today we’re happy to bring you the first of several sample wedding ceremonies that you can use as an outline to shape your own (or just flat out steal from). Today’s ceremony is a relatively traditional secular/spiritual ceremony, that’s very officiant driven. This ceremony was written by the wonderful Genevieve Dreizen of Cheerleader for Love in New York City. She is awesome, and if you’re looking for an officiant in the Tri-State Area, she’s your girl.

Meg

Sample Wedding Ceremony: Traditional & Secular | A Practical Wedding

by Genevieve Dreizen

Opening

Officiant: Good morning and welcome. Jamie and Skyler are so glad to have you here on this beautiful summer day—before we begin I’d like to ask you all to make sure your cell phones, beepers, handheld gaming devices, and iPads are all on silent.

Address

Officiant: Love is a miraculous gift, and a wedding is a celebration of that magic, and that is why we are here today. We are gathered together to be overjoyed for, and with, Skyler and Jamie, who are so wonderfully suited to one another that it is a pure delight for the rest of us to see how happy two people can be. They are the example of the love that in its light-heartedness dissolves the notion of love as hard work. They are the promise of possibility, the expectation of joyful surprise. We are here to celebrate, witness, honor, dance, laugh, sing, eat, and be glad because these two kids have found their beshert.

Divine light that illuminated our hearts and gives life to each cell of our being, we give thanks for the love that has gathered us together in this place, and especially for the beautiful, heartwarming love that Jamie and Skyler have chosen this day to consecrate in marriage. For all the beauty that you have bestowed upon them we give great thanks, for their open hearts and loving spirits, for their wisdom in choosing to love, for their willingness to walk on the path of true love, with all its joys and burdens and lessons. Bless them now with your joyful abundant radiance, so that the words they say, the feelings that beautifully transform them in these moments, and the dreams that they dare to dream can be lived out in their marriage.

First Reading

Officiant: And now Jamie and Skyler have asked Jamie’s sister to do a reading of {Name of Reading #1}

Reading #1—For Ideas for Readings, browse our Wedding Readings section

Address, Continued

Officiant: Marriage is a special place, the sheltered environment in which we can endlessly explore ourselves in the presence of another and in which we can offer the possibility of true reflection of another.

As the writer Richard Bach has so beautifully stated, “A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction… Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.”

Marriage is the incubator of love, the protected environment in which a love that is personal and touching and real can grow and, as a consequence of that growth, develop in us our highest capabilities as loving human beings. We are each still and always growing, and when we marry, we promise not only our own growth, but also our willingness to witness and withstand the ongoing growth of another human being. That is because in marrying we promise to love not only as we feel right now, but also as we intend to feel. In marriage we say not only, “I love you today,” but also, “I promise to love you tomorrow, the next day, and always.”

We as Jamie and Skyler’s community witness this expression of love in Jamie’s {personal actions in support of Skyler}. In Skyler’s {personal actions in support of Jamie}. And each displays their respect and support for the other’s passions when {doing joint activities they treasure}.

Second Reading

Officiant: We will now have Skyler’s sister read {Reading #2}:

Reading #2—For Ideas for Readings, browse our Wedding Readings section

Conclusion of the Address

Officiant: Enfolded in joy, inhabited by hope, bathed in the infinite spectrum of light that is love, may you always be infused with it and beautifully illuminated by it. May every desire you have for your love be fulfilled, and may you be given the vision with which to clearly behold one another, the listening with which to perceive one another most genuinely, and the endless generosity of spirit with which to nourish one another’s soul and sweetly keep the promises you make here today.

Skyler and Jamie, I remind you that marriage is a precious gift, a lifelong dedication to love and a daily challenge to love one another more fully and more freely.

Vows and Expression of Intent

Officiant: Do you Skyler Rene Smith, take Jamie Harper Lee, to be your beloved spouse, knowing in your heart that you will be a faithful friend, and a loving companion? On this special day, in the presence of family and friends as witnesses, do you give your sacred vow that you will always be with Jamie and support her, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow? Do you promise to love her completely, to console and comfort her during difficult times, to laugh with her and to grieve with her, to share with her life’s simplest but most enduring pleasures, to be truthful and honest with her, and to cherish her, for as long as you both shall live?

Skyler: I do.

Officiant:  Do you Jamie Harper Lee, take Skyler Rene Smith, to be your beloved spouse, knowing in your heart that you will be a faithful friend, and a loving companion? On this special day, in the presence of family and friends as witnesses, do you give your sacred vow that you will always be with Skyler and support him, in times of sickness and in times of health, in times of joy and in times of sorrow? Do you promise to love him completely, to console and comfort him during difficult times, to laugh with him and to grieve with him, to share with him life’s simplest but most enduring pleasures, to be truthful and honest with him, and to cherish him, for as long as you both shall live?

Jamie: I do.

Ceremony of the Rings

Officiant:  Jamie and Skyler have chosen to write their own vows:

May I have the rings. Skyler and Jamie’s rings are an external and visible sign of the internal and spiritual bond of love which unites their two hearts. May they serve as a seal of the vows Jamie and Skyler have made to one another. Bless these rings, symbols of eternity, beauty and strength. Bless the couple who give them and wear them—may they ever live in harmony, unity, love, and happiness from this day forward.

Jamie, please repeat after me:

{Jamie’s vows here}

Skyler please repeat after me:

{Skyler’s vows here}

Pronouncement and Kiss

Officiant:  Skyler and Jamie, by the power invested in me, I now pronounce you married! You may now kiss!

Sample Wedding Ceremony: Traditional & Secular | A Practical Wedding

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Photo by APW Sponsor Emily Takes Photos


Sample Wedding Ceremony: Traditional & Secular | A Practical WeddingGenevieve Dreizen lives on Long Island and splits her time between the things she most loves: officiating weddings, teaching kids, drawing, and loving on her dog. She’s been officiating weddings since 2011 everywhere from the banks of the Hudson River to the top of the Empire State Building. When she’s not marrying awesome couples to each other in Central Park, find her either running, zumba-ing, or redesigning board games. She loves working with APW couples and would be thrilled to hear from you for questions and inquiries alike.

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  • Karen

    I really like the flow of this ceremony. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • http://www.cheerleaderforlove.com Jenny, Cheerleader For Love

      yay! I’m glad it helps!

  • nikki

    YES! Just what I wanted and needed! Thanks!

  • Caroline

    I wanted to say thanks for this. It was actually really helpful in that it made me realize it’s what I’m really NOT into. I don’t really want our officiant to do so much of the talking. Thanks for helping me realize that!

  • http://partialto.tumblr.com LIZ (SINCE 1982)

    I’m so intrigued at how different people define a secular ceremony. Do you find that more people want no prayers/blessings/spiritual references at all, or prefer something like this example, which invokes a divine force while still focusing on the couple’s covenant with each other – or is it all over the map?

    • Julie Trump

      From my experience, many couples are identifying themselves as “Spiritual,” but really are Religious by default. If they go to church with any regularity, they are Religious. A Secular Ceremony would most likely not mention God at all, and nothing about Jesus. A Spiritual Ceremony would somewhat acknowledge a higher force and/or the divine intelligence that informs all living and non-living. “The Universe” brought them together as a couple, for instance. Unity consciousness is Spiritual (all is one). References to Old Testament Wrathful God, Jesus, Allah, Mohammed all go under the rubric of a Religious Ceremony. Pagan, Druidic, Wiccan “religions”…would nonetheless tend more toward Spiritual than Religious as these see SPIRIT in everything and every act. Also, Spiritual and Secular Ceremonies can be mutually exclusive. Some people want no mention of anything that cannot be scientifically proven using five senses — that’s a Secular Ceremony.

  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    This is a gorgeous ceremony and very reminiscent of the style of our ceremony. I love it, and it makes me wish I could get married all over again. Our anniversary is coming up and I’m going to print out the bit about soul mates… Thanks!

  • Kat

    You’re again spookily in sync with our wedding timeline. We finally, via Survivor style tribal council voting off the island, narrowed down our readings to 3 passages from the bible, and picked our vows. WOOT! But we’re just starting to address the rest of the substance of what will be said. SO TOUGH!

    Thanks for weighing in with helpful options.

  • http://www.henorstag.com HenorStag

    Great post, really helpful!

  • Diane

    I just want to give a big shout out to the APW Wedding Readings section. I spent WAY too much time on there while working nights at one point but we absolutely loved our readings and wouldn’t, I don’t think, have found them any other way.

  • http://blindirishpirate.blogspot.com Blind Irish Pirate

    So, er, a fact that many people do not know about me is that I have officiated 2 weddings for friends. Writing the ceremony was so freaking… tough, I guess, because they, being untraditional couples, picked me, an untraditional person, and so we all had to hash it out together. You better believe I picked through APW when I was able. Good to see there is this little diddy up now.

  • Jenny

    Thank you for this – and more samples would be totally amazing as well! Literally just emailed our officiant (friend who became ordained for us), “hey lets get together over wine and get this thing done.” We haven’t started writing the ceremony part at all yet – just know we want it “short, sweet, and secular”.

    And thanks too for keeping the sample largely gender non-specific. :)

  • Ed Fears

    Sample Wedding Ceremony: Traditional & Secular,
    From the title, I was hoping to hear the difference between a tradition wedding and a secular wedding. So please if you can explain what are the meaning of both.

  • M G

    If you are in the Albuquerque area, I highly recommend Celebrations New Mexico to officiate your wedding. Virginia is extremely thorough and focuses entirely on how you want your ceremony to be performed. She can help you write your vows and is happy to create some for you. She performs all types of weddings for all faiths. Check out her website: http://celebrationsnm.com

  • Sarah Rishel

    “divine light” ? this sounds like someone took a religious ceremony and just tried to make it sound secular. no divine light in my ceremony. next