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A Longer Ceremony With Optional Endings (You can cut & paste elements from this ceremony into other ceremonies)

WELCOME OF RELATIVES AND GUESTS:
MINISTER:
"On behalf of
BRIDE and GROOM and their families, I would like to welcome each of you here today. Each one of you has been asked here today because your love, your encouragement and your support have been so valuable to them; and because you are so special to them, they felt it was important that you be here today to witness and to celebrate this new chapter in their lives. Welcome."

GIVING OF THE BRIDE:
MINISTER:
Who presents this woman to be married to this man?
(Father or Bride's escort answers, "I do.")
(If no escort we'll skip this part)

MINISTER'S OPENING EXHORTATION:
MINISTER:
Today we are gathered together to witness and to bless the joining together of
GROOM and BRIDE in marriage. Marriage is a beautiful relationship between two people. It is a union founded on love. A poet once put it this way:


Suddenly there's no more mystery
It feels like you're the other half of me
We've only just begun
Our two hearts now beat as one.


BRIDE I'd like for you to give your bouquet to your Maid of Honor and join hands with GROOM.
I asked you to join hands as a symbol of the union that you are making here today. I'll be talking more about that union in a little while, but for now...I'd like you to think about the hands that you are holding.


These are the hands of your best friend
Holding your hands on your wedding day
Promising to love you and to work together as you build your future together.
These are the hands that will give you
Strength when you need strength
Tenderness when you need tenderness
And love when you need love.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes
Tears of sorrow
But also tears of joy.
These are the hands that will hold all those whom you love.
These are the hands that years from now will still be searching for your hands,
Still seeking the love, encouragement and support
That each of you seeks from the other.

GROOM and BRIDE, you've gathered your friends and family together to celebrate this special day with you. There's no doubt that you will be receiving some ADVICE today.... (Smile) But, who is there who is any better to confide in and to ask support from your marriage than the very people you have asked to be with you today. In that respect, I hope that as the years go by, you can always feel comfortable speaking with them about your marriage. But I do want to share a few thoughts with you today. But the thoughts that I'd like to share with you are more than just "common sense", and more than just "my experiences" too -- because what I'd like to share with you today is really the result of thousands of years of people living together and forming relationships. Throughout history, what people have found that what is essential for a strong and long-lasting relationship is that it be founded on what we call "love". I think it's important that we consider this today because, after all, if you did not love one another, none of us would be here today, and you would not be about to say your vows in a few minutes if you did not love one another. So, as important as this ceremony is, the foundation of your marriage was formed long before we ever came here today, and that is the love that you share. But we hear all kinds of definitions of what 'love' is, on the radio, on the Internet, books, newspapers.... So for the definition of what I'm talking about today, I'd like to read the following:

Love is gentleness
Love is kindness
Love understands and love forgives.
It is loyal through good and bad
Love hopes for the future
Love is everlasting.
Love makes up for things that you may not have.
Without love, no matter what you do have
is is never enough.
So, search for love.
Share your love.
But most of all,
Enjoy your love.*


Alternate:

Love is a friendship that has caught fire.
It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving.
It is loyalty through good and bad.
It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weakness.
Love is content with the present.
It hopes for the future and it doesn't brood over the past.
It is the day-in and day-out chronicle of irritations, problems, compromises,
small disappointments, big victories
and working toward common goals.
If you have love in your life it can make up for a great many things you lack.
If you do not have love in your life, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.
So Search for love. Share it. but most of all...ENJOY IT.


Yes, a marriage relationship is a lot more than just two people living together. And it's more than just signing a piece of paper. A marriage that is strong and long-lasting is what happens when two people love each other enough to come together and pledge all that they are to the other person; to live together as one from this day forward. And though this is intended to be a binding commitment, it is not intended that either one of you has possession or ownership over the other person either. You are forming a union of the two of you, where the sum of the two of you is MORE than just the sum of your two parts.
GROOM and BRIDE, another way of thinking about this relationship is to think of a friend. Because a friend is someone that you like to do things with, laugh with, cry with and just be together. A BEST friend is even closer, because a best friend is someone who somehow seems to know you better than you know yourself. They understand you. You can discuss your hopes, your dreams, your ideas...and you appreciate each other's thoughts and needs. Your best friend best friend somehow understands your needs better than you do. They are not the person who "tells you what to do." But they are a person that you want to have with you as you sort out your thoughts and feelings. Actually, they don't have to SAY anything at all. Just being together with your best friend is all that you need. Sometimes just holding their hand. So, I'd like to point out that you are holding hands with the best friend that you will ever have. And when you think about it, this love and this best friendship that you share are really the same thing. But they are a love and a friendship that have caught fire and soar above everything else in life. You know that wherever you go and whatever you do, you two are a team facing life together. It's not going to be possible that you will always be physically together, but that is not the union I'm talking about today. I'm talking about the union of your hearts, your spirits and your love. But...when you can be together, it's always a privilege of the husband and a privilege of the wife to enjoy the company of each other. A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.
(Excerpted from "The Bridge Across Forever" - Richard Bach)

EXCHANGE OF VOWS:
MINISTER:
And so here you are today to say your marriage vows to one another. It's important that you both understand that the vows that you are about to make cannot be made lightly but with a great deal of consideration and respect. With that in mind, I'm going to ask you the following question:

GROOM do you take BRIDE to be your wife; to live together in marriage, to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others be faithful to her for as long as you both shall live? (Yes, I will).

Then please repeat this vow after me:
(while looking at BRIDE)
I,
GROOM, take you BRIDE to be my wife.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
I promise to be your true and loyal husband
Ad to love and honor you always.
I do this because I love you today
I will love you tomorrow
And I will love you forever.

BRIDE, are you ready to say your marriage vows to GROOM? (Yes)
Then please answer the following question:

BRIDE do you take GROOM to be your husband; to live together in marriage, to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others be faithful to him for as long as you both shall live? (Yes, I will).

Then please repeat this vow after me:
(while looking at GROOM)
I, BRIDE, take you GROOM to be my husband.
To have and to hold from this day forward.
I promise to be your true and loyal wife
And to love and honor you always.
I do this because love you today
I will love you tomorrow
And I will love you forever.

RING EXCHANGE: (Option 1 of 2 options)
MINISTER:
Throughout time, the ring has been a symbol of unending love, because like time, the ring has no beginning and no end. It is a circle -- the emblem of eternity. Wedding rings are made of the type of metals that are the longest lasting. We call these metals the "precious" metals. And that's appropriate because they are the purest metals and the type that is least tarnished and longest lasting, symbolizing how lasting and imperishable is the faith which is now mutually pledged.

GROOM, do you have such a symbol of your love for BRIDE?
Then please place her ring on her ring finger and repeat to her after me:

BRIDE, I give you this ring
As a symbol of my love.
And as a reminder that I have chosen you
To be the one to share my life.

BRIDE, do you have such a symbol of your love for GROOM?
Then please place his ring on his ring finger and repeat after me:

GROOM, I give you this ring
As a symbol of my love.
And as a reminder that I have chosen you
To be the one to share my life.

RING EXCHANGE: (Option 2 of 2 options)
MINISTER:

The wedding ring is a simple but pure and treasured symbol. It will remind you that you have pledged you love, your devotion and undying commitment to another, very special human being. The wedding ring encircles the finger in an unbroken band, and in so doing caresses the body of the wearer. Thus it will remind you that that you are cradled in the love, care and thoughts of your life partner, your lover and your best friend. Your ring will tell all who see it that the vows it symbolizes are are a sacred part of your very soul. And finally, your ring's polished surface with it's glimmering brilliance will shine as a bright reminder of your love for each other on this your wedding day and every day hereafter.


GROOM, do you have a wedding ring for BRIDE?

(GROOM answers, "Yes I do") (Best Man hands ring to GROOM)


Then as you place the ring on BRIDE's finger, please repeat these words to her after me:


BRIDE, I love you more than words can express---

so I give you this ring to touch your finger---

just as thoughts of you always touch my mind.

I give you this ring to warm your heart---

because my love for you fills my heart.

I give you this ring to caress your hand---

because I cherish you more than you can ever know.

I give you this ring because you are my best friend.

You are the song in my soul and the joy in my spirit.

And, you are the priceless love of my life.


BRIDE, do you have a wedding ring for GROOM?

(Bride answers, "Yes I do") (Maid of Honor hands ring to Bride)


Then as you place the ring on GROOM's finger please repeat these words to him after me:


GROOM, I love you more than words can express---

so I give you this ring to touch your finger---

just as thoughts of you always touch my mind.

I give you this ring to warm your heart---

because my love for you fills my heart.

I give you this ring to caress your hand---

because I cherish you more than you can ever know.

I give you this ring because you are my best friend.

You are the song in my soul and the joy in my spirit.

And, you are the priceless love of my life.



GROOM and BRIDE, in a moment I'll pronounce you husband and wife.  But before I do, I'd like for us to consider these words:

Marriage means being in love for the rest of your life.
Marriage is love walking hand in hand together.
It's laughing with each other about silly little things with care and tenderness.
In marriage, love is trusting each other when you are apart.
It's "getting over" disappointments and hurts, knowing that these are present in all relationships.
It's the realization that there is no one else in the world
that you'd rather be with  than the one you are married to.
It's thinking of new things to do together;
It's growing old together.
Marriage is being in love for the rest of your life.


PRONOUNCEMENT AND KISS:
MINISTER:

GROOM  and BRIDE, you have made your marriage vows to one another, witnessed by your guests -- your friends and relatives. You have sealed your vows with the giving and receiving of these rings. So now, by the power vested in me by the State of (insert name of state), I pronounce you husband and wife and invite you to kiss one another. (Kiss)

ROSE CEREMONY (OPTIONAL):
MINISTER:
One of the many privileges of being a minister is that I am always the first one to speak to the newlyweds as husband and wife...which you now are. Congratulations!

I'd also like to be the one to give you your first marriage gift. I am holding in my hands two roses. Roses have always signified what is happy in life: love, joy, laughter.... And I'd like to give a rose to each of you with the thought that these roses symbolize the love that we have been talking about today -- which is, of course, the foundation of your marriage.

Now I'd like for you to exchange your roses with one another. This is your first gift to one another as a married couple. That gift is the gift of love.

(Minister speaking to parents and guests:)
When we come to a marriage ceremony, it's easy to think that only two people have been united by this marriage. That's not really true. After all, all of BRIDE family and all of GROOM family has been united by this marriage. And to symbolize this union, I'd like for you to give the roses that you now hold to your new Mothers-in-Law. Please do that now.

(On the couple's return from giving roses to parents, the bride picks up her bouquet and, arm-in-arm the newlyweds face their guests).

Minister reads:
Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold
For each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now there is no more loneliness.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead
And through all the years.
May happiness be your companion
And your days together be good and long upon the earth.
May love be your foundation
Today, tomorrow, and forever.
The adventure has just begun!


SOME OTHER OPTIONAL ENDINGS TO CEREMONY
(These are nice to finish-up your ceremony -- kind of like the "icing on the cake".)

Unity Candle Ceremony:
(On a table are placed three candles. The Bride & Groom use thier candles to light the center candle.)

Sand Ceremony
(This is similar to the Unity Candle Ceremony but with three glass containers. The two outer containers hold a different color of sand and the Bride & Groom pour their sand into the center container)
PRESENTATION:
MINISTER:
Ladies and gentlemen. It gives me great pleasure to introduce:
Mr. and Mrs. GROOM and BRIDE (LAST NAME)