(This is a basic traditional wedding service, about 25 minutes in length. It can be personalised with readings, family participation, music performances, etc.)
This is also a sample intercultural wedding, blending some Irish and Jewish elements. The bride and groom each enter the room escorted by their parents, who then take their seats.
Dear family and friends, we have gathered here today in the presence of this company, to witness and to celebrate the wedding of Adam and Emily.
Let us all support them with our hope, our love, and our respect, as they make public their commitment to one another.
Please be seated
Welcome and Introduction
I am Mary Beaty, a Humanist Officiant certified by the Province of Ontario to solemnise marriages. It is an honour and a joy to be officiating at the wedding of Adam and Emily today.
Humanism is a naturalistic philosophy of life, affirming that we are all part of the global human family and that by our very nature, people have the capacity and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives based on reason and compassion. These are values shared by Adam and Emily, which they have chosen as the foundation of their union.
They have come before us to be joined in matrimony; to be united in marriage. We can speak of Marriage as a promise of hope: a promise made between two people who love each other sincerely, who honour each other as individuals, and who wish to unite their lives and share the future together. We rejoice with Adam and Emily that out of all the world they have found each other; and that they will henceforth find the deeper meaning and richness of human life in joining their hopes and aspirations, and sharing their lives with each other.
This marriage ceremony is thus a public celebration of an inward union of hearts and minds. Into this estate Adam and Emily come now to be joined.
Ceremony of Support
To the parents:
As our sons and daughters find partners and found homes for the next generation, each family is enriched and enlarged. Would the parents please stand?
Adam and Emily thank their parents for their love and support, and their presence here today. They know the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which they bring to their marriage have their roots in the love, friendship, and guidance you have given them.
Do you, Roger and Margaret, who have nurtured Emily, bestow your blessing on this marriage, upon their union and their new family? (Response: “We do”)
Do you, David and Dorothy, who have nurtured Adam, bestow your blessing on this marriage, upon their union and their family? (Response: “We do”)
(parents are re-seated)
To all other guests:
Adam and Emily thank you for coming their wedding today – some of you from very far indeed. Your presence is very important, as Adam and Emily will depend upon your love and support in the future, as they do on this important day. To let them know that you offer your best wishes for this couple, wishing them the best of lives together, please all say “We do”. (Response: “We do”)
In the joy of this moment, we also remember those who are not with us. Their roles in the lives of Adam and Emily are honoured and remembered. Join with us, then, in fond recognition of all these people, and in particular, Norman Greenberg and Donna Roddy. In their honour, let us be silent together for a moment as we bring them into our thoughts and our hearts.
Adam and Emily will now each light a family candle in their honour, and for all of those who are in our thoughts.
(Adam and Emily light side candles)
Unity Candle Ceremony
We pause to give thanks for all the rich experiences of life that have brought Adam and Emily to this point in their lives.
Adam and Emily will now light a central candle from these flames, symbolising the union of their two families in this marriage.
(Adam and Emily light centre candle)
As they light the centre candle, they do not extinguish their own flames. Although they are embarking upon a new relationship by joining their lives in marriage, they retain their own separate and unique selves, each enriching the other. The heritage Adam and Emily bring to this marriage will continue to be an important element in their lives, but they will now create a new story, a new family, and new traditions, together.
Readings and Reflection
Emily and Adam have chosen the following passages in honour of their wedding today, read by their friends Jack and Marlene.
Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not wit his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
from Captain Corelli’s mandolin, Louis de Bernieres.
Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
Intention to Marry
Marriage, an institution founded in nature, and made honourable by the faithful keeping of good men and women in all ages, is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but discreetly, following consideration, and with due reverence.
It is a leqal requirement that I now ask each person if they are prepared to be married to each other on this day.
Adam/Emily, are you ready to enter into this marriage with Emily, Adam, believing the love you share and your faith in each other will endure all things?
Response: “I am.”
Please each repeat after me:
“I do solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I Emily/Adam may not be joined in matrimony to Adam/Emily.”
Will you please join your hands.
The hand offered by each of you is an extension of yourself, just as is your mutual love. Cherish the touch, for you touch not only your own, but another life.
The pledges you will now repeat are a statement of your present intent and commitment. They cannot endure unless you help them endure, with the resources you will draw from deep within yourselves.
Repeat after me:
I call upon these persons here present to witness that I Adam/Emily
do take you Emily/Adam, to my lawful wedded wife/husband,
to have and to hold,
for better or worse, for richer or poorer,
in sickness and in health,
To love, honour and to cherish,
From this day forward,
Through all of the days of our lives to come.
Having exchanged your vows, it is a custom to also exchange rings, as a symbol of love, and a token that you will fulfil your promises to each other.
Will Brian bring the rings forward? Please each choose the other’s ring, and hold it in your hand.
Adam/Emily, what gift do you offer each other, in pledge of the vow you have made?
Response: “I offer this ring”
Adam/Emily do you accept this gift, and the pledge for which it stands?
Response: “I do.”
(BRIDE/GROOM places ring on BRIDE/GROOM’S finger)
Adam/Emily: With this ring, I thee wed.
May you who give it and you who wear it, honour in life the vow for which it stands. May every blessing and grace be yours, as your lives are now bound into each others keeping.
Mary turns to the guests
Adam and Emily now stand before us, prepared to share their lives, today and all the days to come.
We know not what the future may bring into the life of Adam and Emily, but together may they be equal to the needs of their tomorrows. May they have patience in time of strain, strength in time of weakness, courage in time of doubt, and above all, a growing love to sustain them.
Therefore, from all of us here, on your wedding day, we offer this wish:
The peace of the running water to you,
The peace of the flowing air to you,
The peace of the quiet earth to you,
The peace of the shining star to you,
And the love and the care of all of us to you
(let us all repeat the last line together)
For as much as Adam and Emily have consented together to join their lives in the bonds of matrimony, and have witnessed the same before this company of family and friends, and have pledged their love and loyalty to each other, and have declared the same by the joining and the giving of rings, I, Mary Beaty, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Marriage Act, do hereby pronounce you Adam and Emily to be married!
Wine Glass Smashing
As is traditional, we will now ask the best man to place a wine glass under Adam’s foot. Adam will break this glass, to show that as the shards of glass are broken, and cannot be put back together, that this marriage is now sealed with a kiss, and neither time nor circumstance will alter it.
KISS! SMASH! Mazel Tov!
Signing of the Marriage Licence
We will be leaving you shortly to sign the marriage license, and we’ll return soon. You are all invited to enjoy yourselves until we are back among you.
I now have the great pleasure to present to you Adam and Emily, husband and wife. Please rise!
All stand. Adam and Emily, Mary and attendants recess out.