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  • Michael Grace Celebrant

Can I include religion in my ceremony?



Couples today have a variety of choices of how to get married, church, civil ceremony or a secular ceremony in a venue of their choice. While we are seeing more and more ceremonies outside the church, our history, culture and background are in our blood and still hold a strong connection to the church. Because of that, couples often ask how they can include religious aspects in their ceremony. The reasons why couples want to include religious elements in their ceremony are varied, including their own beliefs, acknowledgment to guests (parents or grandparents) or just creating a spiritual vibe in their ceremony.

Here are some ideas how to include religion in your ceremony.


Candles


A very popular ritual that has its origins in the church. While this ritual can be religious or secular, it has a beautiful spiritual feel, which can be accompanied by religious words.

Here is an example of what could be included:


Together you will light the centre candle from your separate lights, symbolizing that you bring your light, and the divine light to this marriage. All lights will remain lit as a testimony that divinity will shine through your marriage and through your own individual lives. Let your lights shine.

Or this:

May the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. May it give you courage and reassurance in darkness, warmth and safety in the cold, and strength and joy in your bodies, minds, and spirits. May your union be forever blessed.

Or something from scripture

Scriptures: Mathew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Or

Scriptures: Mark 4:21-22 – He said to them “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lamp stand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light.”


Readings


The scriptures or bible are a very popular source of readings for your ceremony. There are so many beautiful passages that can represent your union in marriage and talk about love and unity. Here are some examples:

CORINTHIANS 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.



ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.


Music


Music is a subtle but magical way to include religion in your ceremony. There are so many beautiful choices to select from and here are some of my favourites.

Ave Maria – Schubert

Ave Maria – Bach/Gounod

Panis Angelicus – Franc

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – Bach

Cloud’s Veil – Lawton

Pie Jesu – Requiem – Lloyd Weber


Blessings


I am often asked to close parts of the ceremony with a blessing. I find a blessing works best after the exchange of rings and part of the pronouncement. Here are some examples of blessings I have used.


After the Ring Exchange:

Bless these rings, symbols of eternity, beauty and strength. Bless the couple who have exchanged them and wear them. May they ever live in harmony, unity, love and happiness from this day forward.


In the Pronouncement

"May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you, faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you."


"May joy and peace surround you both, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now, and God bless you ever more. May you live your life with trust, and nurture lifelong affection, may your lifelong dreams come true for you, move ever that direction."


"May your mornings bring joy, and your evenings bring peace. May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase. May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past. May your hands be forever clasped in friendship and your hearts joined forever in love. Your lives are very special, and God has touched you in many ways. May his blessings rest upon you and fill all your coming days."


‘Bidding’ Prayers


Another popular way to include religion in your ceremony is through ‘bidding’ prayers, taken from the church tradition of praying for family and your wishes for your and your future. My couples have included bidding prayers as a replacement to a reading or a reflection after the vows and rings.


Here are some examples:


We pray for <<the couple>> as they begin their married life together. May their home be full of joy and laughter, may God give them good health, and may they always find happiness in each other.


We pray for all family & friends here present that God may give you peace in your hearts for today, hope in your hearts for tomorrow & love in your hearts forever.


We are blessed today to be gathered together for a happy occasion. Let us give thanks for our own blessings, for the gifts of life and health, which we so often take for granted. We pray for all those who are suffering due to illness, loneliness, injustice, or poverty at this time. We also remember those who care for them, that God will give them the hope and inner strength they need.


We remember today the smiles and laughter of family & friends, especially <<anyone in particular>>, who touched our lives, and are sadly no longer with us. We know they would have loved to share in the joy & happiness of this day. As long as we live, they too will live in our hearts, and we remember them with love.


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