Marriage Service for any two persons — Methodist Church, UK

Photo by Bruce Kinsey, UK

Provided by the Methodist Church, United Kingdom

Also available, in full, on the Methodist Church UK website

From Worship Words Editor – While I want to make same-sex wedding services accessible, they do not always include inclusive language.  I have attempted to bracket language that is not inclusive; make substitutions as you deem important.

Ready-to-print complete wedding script: Methodist UK marriage liturgy 2021 – slightly adapted for Worship Words

  1. At the time of publication, it is required by law in England and Wales that the words of declaration at no. 5 and the words of contract at no. 13 (or the permitted alternative forms, set out in the Appendix on page 384) should be said in the presence of the Authorized Person (or the Registrar) and two witnesses. The full names of the parties should be used.
  2. When this service is used in Scotland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, or any other jurisdiction whose marriage legislation is different from that of England and Wales, the minister should ensure that the service complies with the legal requirements of that jurisdiction. Appropriate substitutions should be made at nos. 5 and 13 if necessary.
  3. In the case of same-sex marriages, there may be legal requirements additional to those for mixed-sex marriages, including in England and Wales the need for additional registration of the building. The minister (or other person conducting the service) should ensure that all relevant requirements have been completed.

This service includes the suggestions of pronouns her/him/them for those being married. Some being married may prefer the use of other pronouns and the preference of the person should always be followed. However, at the time of writing, in England and Wales the use of the word ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ (according to the legally recognized gender of the person) is required by law at number 13.

THE PREPARATION

1   The people may stand as the marriage party enters the church.  The persons to be married stand together before the minister.

The minister may welcome the congregation.
The minister says:
We meet together in the presence of God
to witness the marriage of A and C,
to ask God’s blessing upon them,
to support them with our prayers
and to share their joy.

2   Hymn

3   The people remain standing.  The minister says:

Let us pray.
Gracious God, your generous love surrounds us,
and everything we enjoy comes from you.
We confess our ingratitude for your goodness
and our selfishness in using your gifts.
Forgive and renew us,
and fill us with your Spirit
that in true thankfulness
we may bear witness to your love;
through Jesus Christ our [Lord].  Amen.

4   The minister says:

A and C, with your families and friends,
we thank God on this day
for the gift of marriage.

It is the will of God that, in marriage,
a couple should experience
a life-long unity of heart, body and mind;
comfort and companionship;
enrichment and encouragement;
tenderness and trust.

It is the will of God that marriage
should be honoured as a way of life,
in which we may know the security of love and care,
and grow towards maturity.
Through such marriage,
human society may be enriched,
family life strengthened,
and children nurtured.

No one should enter into this lightly or selfishly,
for marriage involves the giving
of two persons
wholeheartedly to each other.
Christ in his self-giving comes to our help,
for he loves us and gave himself for us.

A and C, you are now to share this way of life
which God has created
and, in Christ, has blessed.
Today we pray that the Holy Spirit
will guide and strengthen you
that you may fulfil God’s purposes
for the rest of your lives.

5   The Legal Declarations

The minister says to the people:  A and C are now to make the declarations which the law requires.

The minister says to AB:  Are you, AB, free lawfully to marry CD?

AB answers:  I am.

The minister says to CD:  Are you, CD, free lawfully to marry AB?

CD answers:  I am.

6   The minister says to AB and CD:

You have made the declarations required by law.  I ask you now to affirm, in the presence of us all, your intention to marry each other.

The minister says to ABA, are you willing to give yourself in marriage to C?

AB answers: I am.

The minister says to AB:  Will you love her/him/them, comfort and honour her/him/them, be her/his/their companion through all the joys and sorrows of life, and be faithful to her/him/them as long as you both shall live?

AB answers: With God’s help, I will.

The minister says to CDC, are you willing to give yourself in marriage to A?

CD answers:  I am.

The minister says to CD:  Will you love her/him/them, comfort and honour her/him/them, be her/his/their companion through all the joys and sorrows of life, and be faithful to her/him/them as long as you both shall live?

CD answers: With God’s help, I will.

THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD

The whole of the Ministry of the Word may occur here or at no. 18, or the scripture readings may be read here and the sermon may be preached at no. 18.

7   All sit. At least one passage of scripture is read. If Holy Communion is to be celebrated, a passage from the Gospels always concludes the readings.

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.  If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned.
Song of Solomon 8:7

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, 13

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.  I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,  and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against  another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-17

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
John 2:1-11

Jesus said: ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.’
John 15:9-12

Additional scripture readings are listed below.

8   Sermon

9   Hymn

THE MARRIAGE

10 All stand. The minister may say to the people:

I ask you, the families and friends of A and C:  Will you do all in your power to support and encourage them in their marriage?

The people answer:
With God’s help, we will.

11 If AB has a relative or friend presenting her/him/them for marriage, the minister says:

Who presents A to be married to C?

AB’s relative or friend answers:  I do.

If CD has a relative or friend presenting her/him/them for marriage, the minister says:

Who presents C to be married to A?

CD’s relative or friend answers: I do.

12 The minister says:

Gracious God,
as you have brought A and C together in love and trust,
enable them through the power of your Holy Spirit
to make and keep their vows;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

13 The Vows

AB takes CD’s right hand and says:

I, AB, take you, CD, to be my wedded wife/husband,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
from this day forward,
until we are parted by death;
and this is my solemn vow.
They loose hands.

CD takes AB’s right hand and says:
I, CD, take you, AB, to be my wedded wife/husband,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
from this day forward,
until we are parted by death;
and this is my solemn vow.

They loose hands.

14 The Giving of the Rings

The minister receives the rings on the book, and says:

Eternal God,
bless these rings
that they may be
symbols of the love and trust
between A and CAmen.

EITHER

AB places a ring on CD’s ring finger, and says:

I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
[Father, Son and Holy Spirit.]

CD places a ring on AB’s ring finger, and says:

I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
[Father, Son and Holy Spirit].

OR

After the rings have been given and received, the couple say together:

With these rings we pledge ourselves to each other,
in the Name of the [Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit].

15 The minister joins the right hands of the couple. The minister may wrap her/his/their stole around, and/or place her/his/their hand on the joined hands.

The minister says to the couple:

A and C, God so join you together
that none shall ever part you.

The minister says to the people:

Before God and in the presence of us all,
A and C have exchanged vows,
joined their hands,
and given and received rings.
I therefore proclaim that they are now
united in the covenant of marriage.

16 A hymn may be sung here or after no. 17.

17 The people remain standing. The couple may kneel and the minister may lay hands upon their heads.

The minister says:

A and C,
the blessing of God [the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,]
be upon you and remain with you always.
May God be your protection and your wisdom,
your guide and your peace,
your joy, your comfort, and your eternal rest.  Amen.

18 The whole of the Ministry of the Word follows, if it has not occurred earlier.  If the sermon has been deferred, it is preached here.

THE  PRAYERS

19 These or some other prayers of intercession:

Let us pray.
God of grace, source of all love,
we pray for A and C
that they may live together in love and faithfulness
to the end of their lives.

[Lord] of life,
hear us in your love.

Enrich their friendship,
that each may be for the other
a companion in joy and a comforter in sorrow.

[Lord] of life,
hear us in your love.

Help A and C to be patient, gentle and forgiving,
that their marriage may reflect Christ’s love for all people.

[Lord] of life,
hear us in your love.

Enable them to make their home
a place of welcome and friendship,
that their life together
may be a source of strength to others.

[Lord] of life,
hear us in your love.
Other intercessions may be included.
May we, who have witnessed these vows today,
be signs of your love in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

20 The Lord’s Prayer

21 If Holy Communion is to be celebrated, insert it here in the service.  The full communion service is available online.

22 All stand.

The minister says this prayer, or gives thanks in her/his/their own words:

Praise God,
who is the source of joy and celebration,
pleasure and delight, love and friendship.

Praise God,
who, in the life and victory of Jesus Christ,
reveals to us the glory of self-giving love.

Praise God,
who sends the Holy Spirit to be our helper
and to guide us into the way of perfect love.

Praise God, [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit]. Amen.

23 Hymn

24 Blessing

APPENDIX

1   As an alternative to the questions and answers in no. 5, the persons contracting the marriage may make the declaration required by law by saying:

(* The full names of the parties must be used.)

EITHER

A  I do solemnly declare
that I know not
of any lawful impediment
why I, AB/CD,*
may not be joined in matrimony
to CD/AB.*

OR

I declare that I know of no legal reason why I, 
AB/CD,* may not be joined in marriage to CD/AB.*

2   As an alternative to the words of contract set out in no. 13,

EITHER

A  the persons to be married may say:

I call upon these persons here present
to witness that I, AB/CD,*
do take thee, CD/AB,*
to be my lawful wedded wife/husband,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
from this day forward,
until we are parted by death;
and this is my solemn vow.

OR

B  the persons to be married may say to each other:

I, AB/CD,* take thee, CD/AB,*   (* The full names of the parties must be used.)
to be my wedded wife/husband,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
from this day forward,
until we are parted by death;
and this is my solemn vow.

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR THE MARRIAGE OF ANY TWO PEOPLE

Old Testament
Ruth 1:16-17                                        Do not press me to leave you
Ecclesiastes 4:7-12                               Two support each other
Song of Songs 2:10-15                          A love song

Psalms
Psalm 23                                              The Lord our shepherd
Psalm 121                                            The Lord’s blessing and protection
Psalm 138                                            Thanks and praise to the Lord

Epistle
Romans 12:1-2, 9-13                            Love in practice
Galatians 3:25-29                                 Heirs of the promise
Philippians 1:9-11                                Growing into a rich love
Philippians 2:1-11                                The example of Jesus
1 John 3:18-24                                     Love in practice
1 John 4:7-12, 15-17                             Love one another

Gospel
Matthew 5:1-10                                    The Beatitudes
Matthew 7:21, 24-27                             Hearing and doing
Matthew 22:35-40                                The greatest commandment