This is a combination of a few different services (Book of Common Prayer, Diocese of Los Angeles’ Sacramental Blessing of a Life-Long Covenant service, and the National Episcopal Church’s Witnessing and Blessing of a Life-Long Covenant service), plus a few twists of our own—still very Episcopalian. It took us a long time to put together for our own wedding, so we thought we’d share for those who prefer a little bit of an updated version of the BCP service.
Priest: We have gathered to celebrate the joining of Megan and Marlee in a covenant of love. This covenant is the promise of hope between two people who love each other, who understand their love as a gift of God, who trust that love, and who wish to share the future together.
It enables two separate people to share their desires, longings, dreams, and memories, and to help each other through their uncertainties. It provides the encouragement to risk more and thus to gain more. In this covenant, these two people belong together, providing mutual support and stability, and if it be God’s will, a place in which their children may grow.
Here in the presence of God we recognize and bless their relationship as they begin their married life together in the community.
Declaration of Intent:
Priest: Megan, will you have Marlee to be your wife; to live together in this covenant of love? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Megan: I will.
Priest: Marlee, will you have Megan to be your wife; to live together in this covenant of love? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
Marlee: I will.
Collect of the Day:
Priest: Let us pray.
O God, faithful and true, whose steadfast love endures for ever: we give you thanks for sustaining Megan and Marlee in the life they share and for bringing them to this day. Nurture them and fill them with joy in their life together, continuing the good work you have begun in them; and grant us, with them, a dwelling place eternal in the heavens where all your people will share the joy of perfect love, and where you, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever.
Priest: Drawing upon an ancient tradition, a rich symbol, Megan and Marlee will anoint each other and be “set apart” with fragrant Ketubah Oil, known as the Marriage Oil. They will share a holy anointing. A marriage signifies that two people have chosen each other over everyone else. They both become set apart from all others. By intentionally setting something apart from its common use, we deem it holy. As God’s children, we are to live as set apart—living out God’s kingdom on earth. Even before Jesus’ journey of redemptive love, God set people apart for a purpose that was meant only for them. A great example of this can be found in the Old Testament, when Samuel told David that God had chosen him to be king, and anointed David with oil, setting him apart for a holy purpose. As a married couple, Megan and Marlee are set apart from other relationships. They are wholly committed to one another in mind, body, and spirit; they pledge to be steadfast companions for the journey; and they dedicate themselves to each other as selfless partners in love. And so now, with words spoken, oil poured, and music sung, Megan and Marlee are set apart and made holy by this anointing.
Affirmation of the Community and Prayers of the People:
Priest: Megan and Marlee have come before God and the Church to make public their commitment to one another and to ask God’s blessing. Will all of you gathered here give your pledge to honor and uphold Megan and Marlee; to recognize them as a family in this community, to guide and pray for them in times of trouble, to celebrate with them in times of joy, to respect the bonds of their covenant, and to seek to discern the continuing presence of Christ within them?
People: We will.
Priest: Then let us pray for Megan and Marlee in their life together.
Gracious God, grant Megan and Marlee understanding and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.
Grant them calm strength and patient wisdom to care for the children you may entrust to them.
Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.
Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.
Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.
Grant that all present who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed.
A collect for church musicians and artists
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A collect for the joy of companionship
Loving Spirit, grant to Marlee and Megan that in giving and forgiving they may receive from each other lasting joy. Grant that they may always take delight in each other, and shelter them with a spirit of loving-kindness all their days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A collect for grace and delight
God of love, ever gracious and kind, we pray for Megan and Marlee as they make the promises of marriage. Let them know you as the God of mercy and new beginnings, who forgives our failures and renews our hope. May the promises they make govern their life together as your presence surrounds them, and your Spirit strengthens and guides them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Megan: In the name of God, I take you, Marlee, to be my friend, my beloved, my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, until death parts us. This is my solemn vow.
Marlee: In the name of God, I take you, Megan, to be my friend, my beloved, my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward; for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish, until death parts us. This is my solemn vow.
Blessing and Giving of Rings:
Megan: Marlee, I take you to be my wife. All that I have I offer you; what you have to give I gladly receive; wherever you go I will go. You are my love. God keep me true to you always and you to me.
Marlee: Megan, I take you to be my wife. All that I have I offer you; what you have to give I gladly receive; wherever you go I will go. You are my love. God keep me true to you always and you to me.
The priest receives the rings and prays: Christ our light, encircle these rings with your blessing to show the love of Megan and Marlee. Blend them together and keep them in your love eternally.
The giver places the ring on the other’s finger and says: Receive this ring as a symbol of my abiding love.
The priest joins their right hands together and says: God so join you together that nothing shall ever part you.
Priest: Inasmuch as Megan and Marlee have exchanged vows of love and fidelity in the presence of God and the Church, I now pronounce that they are bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live. Amen.
Priest: The peace of Christ be always with you. People: And also with you.
Before receiving the Church’s Blessing, the couple kneels and prays: God of tenderness and strength, you have brought our paths together and led us to this day; go with us now as we travel through good times, through trouble, or through change. Bless our home, our partings and our meetings. Make us worthy of each other’s best, and tender with each other’s dreams, trusting in your love in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Priest: Most gracious God, we praise you for the tender mercy and unfailing care revealed to us in Jesus Christ and for the great joy and comfort bestowed upon us in the gift of love. Pour out the abundance of your Holy Spirit upon Marlee and Megan. Keep them in your steadfast love, protect them from all danger, fill them with your wisdom and peace. Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle upon their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship, in their sleeping and in their waking, in their joys and in their sorrows, in their life and in their death. Finally in your mercy, bring them to that table where your saints feast forever in your banquet; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever.
Priest: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless, preserve, and keep you; and mercifully grant you rich and boundless grace. God make you a sign of loving-kindness and steadfast fidelity; that you may faithfully live together in this life, and in the age to come have life everlasting.
Priest: With abiding confidence and affection, we send you forth on your journey of life together. Go and meet it gladly! And now, it is my pleasure to introduce to you for the first time, Megan and Marlee Malone Franklin.
Photo by Robyn Tiffany of lilbirdMemories