The Ceremony – Phase 1
Putting It All Together – Part 3.1
When we speak of ceremony, we’re speaking of beyond the traditional and more specifically about the officiating which is the part of ceremony that includes the bride and groom. Like building a house, this too, the ceremony, needs a plan.
I was a little hesitant in sharing the details of what Pamela and I offer for a wedding ceremony. Then it dawned on me why we’re writing about it in the first place. You see, if we provide this in written form many others may be able to use what we’ve been inspired to craft. In this installment we layout and describe the pieces to a marriage ceremony unlike any other in planning for an uncommon marriage.
Phases of an Uncommon Wedding Ceremony
We have three phases for any ceremony:
- Welcome – this the time dedicated to the guests or onlookers of the ceremony itself.
This also includes those in the wedding party with the exception of the bride and groom.
- Theme of the Ceremony – the theme is what Pamela and I were led to include as we served our very first couple.
What we concluded was this. Each couple is unique in many ways. So we decided to never have a ceremony that was the same for any two couples. Therefore, we tailor the script of the ceremony specifically to match the two individuals who will be saying those wonderful words: I do.
- The Announcement of Marriage – I like to think of this as the official portion of the ceremony.
It’s the portion where the vows, exchange of rings, and the celebrating takes place.
Let’s begin with phase 1 – welcome.
Phase 1 – Welcome
We like to begin with a welcome which has three components.
- Acknowledge your guests as VIP’s.
While traditional weddings focus more on the bride than anyone else, we felt it necessary to share love with those invited by the bride and groom. There is no greater way to show love for a bride (& groom) than to show it towards the people they love. Therefore we recognize the invited guests (family and friends) as VIP’s for this event. Generally, the number in attendance has been hand selected by the bride and groom anyway, this says that the people who will be in attendance are the most important people in their world. We can not overlook this. With these people, the bride and groom as we know them would not exist, so as an officiate, I recommend that these people be treated as very important people.
- Spell out the ground rules.
We believe in making sure the atmosphere is as perfect as possible for the couple before they enter the room or area since this is their big day. To do this we set the atmosphere and prepare the guests as such by spelling out a few ground rules. Yes, as an officiant, we provide ground rules so that the VIPs won’t get it confused; this day is about the couple they are here to support. Here are a few rules we provide to give you an idea:
- Rule #1: this is a wedding not a funeral.
Therefore we’re not going to make it one. You’d be surprised at how many times a wedding for a bride can get derailed by someone who has the wrong attitude. It’s our goal to eliminate that.
- Rule #2: today is about the bride and groom, not you (turn to your neighbor and say it’s not about you).
We all get dressed in our best attire for weddings and because people are naturally self-focused it’s easy to forget, it’s not about you or me, but it is about them (him and her).
- Rule #3: this is a serious yet family affair.
Therefore we will all be excited, full of energy, and extremely joyous. Because our ground rules usually bring laughter and even smiles, we have to remember that this is a serious affair and a family affair. Our guests have one job and that’s to support this couple.
- Rule #1: this is a wedding not a funeral.
- Acclimate guests to weddings.
The final component of the welcome is to explain how the ceremony will be performed. There might be people here for the first time and may have never experienced a wedding. So we take the time to acclimate everyone to weddings and the concept of “wedding”. We use three points to do this as efficiently as possible without taking too much time. Acclimating the guests is important as there are always people in the audience who’ve never attended one in the past, people who will be preparing for their own and lastly, people who’ve had a bad experience.
Within the acclimation, we wish to give these three uncommon truths about the concept of marriage.
- The myth about wedding ceremonies.
There is a myth about weddings that lead people to believe that the ceremony itself has a biblical origin. People believe that these words and phrases are found in scripture:
we are gathered together to unite this couple in holy matrimony…
to love and to cherish
to hold and to keep
in sickness and in health
poverty and wealth
until death do us part.
These words, while well known, are not biblical in nature, yet we can certainly find scripture to support the concepts.
The term “Holy Matrimony” is not even mentioned in the Bible. Surprisingly. Contrary to many experiences we have and the numerous weddings we have all attended, The Bible does not give any guidelines to how a marriage ceremony should be conducted; neither are there any references to Jesus performing any such ceremony.
- Jesus attended a wedding ceremony and didn’t perform one.
While we can’t find where Jesus ever performed a wedding, we do know He attended one just as the guests of any wedding do.
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee;
and the mother of Jesus was there:
And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 
We actually don’t think of Jesus as an attendee of this wedding or any wedding for that matter because it was the reception that caught the attention of everyone. It was at this wedding reception for the wedding Jesus attended that He turned water into wine.  I have a lot I could say about that, but I will refrain. Just note the fact that Jesus attended this special event and ask yourself if Jesus was one of your guests, how then would you like your guests to be treated? How hospitable would you make it?
- God performed the first ceremony.
God, Himself, had the honor of performing the first marriage ceremony between a man and a woman. It’s this example that we use to set the stage for all marriages that follow.
…But still there was no helper just right for him. [the man, <insert name of groom>]
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep.
While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.
Then the Lord God made a woman [insert name of bride] from the rib,
and he brought her to the man.
“At last!” the man exclaimed.
“This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! [I have something like me]… 
According to the Bible, man was found without a suitable partner. Not a subject, not a maid, not a 2nd thought, not a subordinate. The Lord God said, it is not good that this man be alone; so I will make for him a corresponding (equivalent) helper. The Lord God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. While in this dormant (unmarried) state, He made a woman, and presented her to him as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
In a wedding ceremony, a bride is presented to a groom to become his suitable partner and these two individuals shall be united as one.
Listen to how a marriage is defined from The Message Bible.
“No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it.
That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body.
And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife.
No longer two, they become “one flesh.”
This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all.
What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church.
And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife,
loving himself in loving her,
and how each wife is to honor her husband. 
- The myth about wedding ceremonies.
As we bring this installment to a close, let me remind you that in planning for an uncommon marriage, the ceremony must be included. We’ve just gone through phase 1 – “The Welcome” of “The Ceremony.” Coming your way over the next couple weeks is phase 2 (the theme for the ceremony, which you will not want to miss) and phase 3 (the announcement of marriage). We look forward to sharing this and more with you over the coming weeks.
Question: What would you like to see included in a wedding ceremony that would highlight the most important people in your world?
Reference #1: John 2:1-2 KJV, Bible.com, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/1/JHN.2.1-2.KJV
Reference #2: John 2:1-3-9-10 MSG, Bible.com, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/JHN.2.1-10.MSG
Reference #3: Genesis 2:20-23 NLT, Bible.com, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/GEN.2.20-23.NLT
Reference #4: Ephesians 5:29-33-29-33 MSG, Bible.com, accessed October 25, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/97/EPH.5.31-33.MSG
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.