Wedding Ceremony: Gathering Words

This is part 3 in a series of posts about the Wedding Ceremony. Click to see part 1 and part 2.

After the processional comes the gathering words, or opening words. This means exactly what it says. In movies you’ll hear the Officiant say something to the tune of “dearly beloved we are gathered here today….” In less traditional ceremonies it is a time used to call everyone to attention to let them know the ceremony is beginning and to take their places or seats. Again that usually comes before the processional but many Officiants consider it parts of the gathering words. However, others differentiate the two by naming the next section as any orator would, opening words.

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So the gist of it is to start the official ceremony, acknowledge those gathered together to witness, introduce themselves and the couple they are about to marry and tell them what they are here to witness. That’s it. It can be as short and sweet or long and flowery or not as each couple wants it.

This is a great time to acknowledge and special family or friends such as those who have passed away or the parents of the bride and groom. This is also an optimal time for a reading if you plan to have more than one in your ceremony. Short ones like quotes would be great here. It is also the best time to explain any particular rituals that your guests may not be familiar with. Especially those where you would ask them to participate in such as ring warming.

And of course, many religious ceremonies use this time to acknowledge or invoke any higher powers that may be present or would like to be present. Creating sacred space or saying a prayer.

Tell me, how would you like to start your wedding ceremony? Who would you acknowledge? If anyone? What unique opening readings have peaked your interest? Let me know in the comments.

Wedding Ceremony

Happy New Year everyone!

Its a new year and there are lot of newly engaged couples out there. Most of whom will be getting married for the first time. Its very easy to get bogged down in the details of the pre- and post-wedding activities while the most important part, the ceremony gets overlooked.

This is understandable since the ceremony itself, unless it is an elaborately religious or mixing two cultures or religions, can be pretty simple. Beyond picking your wedding party and officiant the ceremony itself is pretty simple here in the U.S. However, because of this, many couples don’t know what can go into it. It doesn’t help that each state has slightly different requirements about what constitutes legally married. So, if you care about that, please do check with your state to see what the minimum requirements are for where you will marry and live. If not, that is one less worry on your mind.

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To help you relieve a few more worries I have created this basic guide to what can be included in your wedding ceremony. You are not obligated to include everything listed here. These are just some options to give the newly engaged ideas for when they speak with an officiant.

This is the first in a series of posts. First, I’ll go over what the different parts of a ceremony generally include. Followed by a list of the most common additions. In subsequent posts I’ll go into more detail about each and give some examples. You may have noticed that I am long-winded. This way you won’t be bombarded with a novel length blog post all at once because who wants to read that?

So a wedding ceremony generally consists of 7 basic parts:

  1. Processional
  2. Gathering Words
  3. Invocation/Marriage Address
  4. Declaration of Intent
  5. Exchange of Vows/Rings
  6. Pronouncement
  7. Recessional

Additional parts (in no particular order):

  • Blessing
  • Readings
  • Unity Ceremonies
  • Sermon/Homily
  • Prayer
  • Giving of the Bride
  • Post-pronouncement rituals
  • Remembrances
  • Family rituals
  • Ring Warming

There are many other religious and cultural practices which add different traditions to marriage ceremonies. For example, here are some parts included in a Pagan Handfasting.

  • Circle casting
  • Circle cleansing/consecrating
  • Calling of theĀ elements/watchtowers/quarters/angels/etc
  • Evocation of the gods and goddesses
  • Handfasting
  • Dismissing theĀ elements/watchtowers/quarters/angels/etc
  • Thanking the gods and goddesses
  • Closing the circle

So there you have it a basic breakdown of a wedding ceremony and just a tiny bit more. If you’ve ever been to a wedding or seen on on tv you will recognize many of these terms for what they are but in my next few posts, I plan to explain more about each part listed. So subscribe or follow me so that you get notified when the next posts come out.

Also, let me know if you have seen some other wedding ceremony traditions not listed here. I love to expand my knowledge and also answer any questions you may have.

Have a great weekend everyone,

~Lashette Williams, Efficiency and Happiness.