Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

~ Chinese Proverb


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The Wedding Ceremony

As a UU minister, non-denominational wedding minister, wedding officiant, and wedding celebrant Rev. Robin Renteria primarily serves the NC Triangle:  Orange, Durham, Wake, Chatham, and Alamance counties and the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Raleigh, Hillsborough, Cary, Mebane, Holly Springs, Fuquay Varina, Apex, Bahama, Burlington, and Efland.
Your wedding ceremony is a transformative time.  

In those short minutes that will go so quickly, 
you will offer your lifelong love and commitment to your beloved and be united in one of life's most precious covenants.  

Those closest to you will witness, participate, and celebrate with you. 

They will affirm and honor the love in their lives, inspired by the love in yours.   

The classic elements of the wedding ceremony are:

The Welcome  We recognize this as a sacred time.  We welcome your 

Remembering Those Here in Spirit  If loved ones can't be present, 

The Declaration of Intentions  In this 'I do.' part, you affirm to your guests and to each other that, with full awareness of your commitment, you are ready to marry.

Questions or Thank You  From the ancient tradition of 'Who gives this woman.....,' in this section we         now often ask the father, 'Who presents, or accompanies, this woman...'  We also thank parents and/or families for their gifts of life and love and thank guests for their love and support.

Wedding Address or Readings of Ancient and Modern Wisdom  We speak of the journey 
into the miracle and mystery of love that you will enter into in your marriage.

Preface To The Marriage Vows   This brings to mind and heart the meaning of the vows you 
are about to make.  This is  a wonderful place to speak about your 
love and your journey to this day.

The Marriage Vows  Here you speak the words of your love and 
commitment to each other.  Rev. Robin Renteria has more than 20
samples of vows and a guide to help you in writing your own vows.

The Symbolism of the Wedding Rings  This includes any special meaning 
your rings hold for you.  Many people choose to have their rings blessed.

The Exchange of Rings   The words you say to your beloved as you place 
the ring on their finger.  This can include the ritual of the Engagement Ring.

Symbolic Ceremonies Honoring Your Commitment  Sharing wine, lighting a unity candle, a
Sand ceremony, Celtic Hand-fasting, recognizing children and the new family being
created, these and many more are listed at the bottom of this page or by clicking this link.   
Rev. Robin Renteria often creates a special symbolic ceremony for a couple.    

Pronouncement With much joy you are pronounced married, partners joined in a bond of love and commitment, husband and wife.... whatever fits who you are as a couple.

Words of Blessing or Celebration  These are the first words you hear as a married couple.  
It's a wonderful place to include a prayer.

Embrace   Here you seal your vows with a kiss.  Even here there are lots of great wordings.

Introduction as a Married Couple For The First Time   Many times Rev. Robin Renteria also invites your
guests to stand and join her in welcoming you into marriage.

Each element has meaning.  Each ceremony is unique 
and some vary a lot from the above.  Rev. Robin Renteria honors your vision and requests.

For your ceremony, Rev. Renteria builds upon the language and symbolism that calls to you,
your conversations about your love and your journey to this day, and
the emotions you want to express to each other, and to your guests.

Below are three sample ceremonies for you to look over,
Civil Ceremony, a Spiritual Ceremony, and a Religious Ceremony
They are just three distinct wedding ceremonies so that you can begin to envision 
some of the possibilities for your wedding ceremony. 
Symbolic Ceremonies List  here are just some of the symbolic ceremonies that Rev. Robin Renteria has celebrated with couples over the last 19 years.  All of these can be adapted to your needs.  She love your creative ways of visualizing and symbolizing your love.

Passing of the Rings 
We pass your rings through your guests hands on their way to your hands.  Each guest adds a silent blessing for your marriage.

Recognition of Children  
We create families in many ways.  Rev. Robin Renteria loves acknowledging the children in a newly created blended family whatever their ages.  It is important for them to know that the bonds of caring and love extend to every person in the new family.  She also loves acknowledging a pregnancy in which we can celebrate a new life and a newly forming family.  In this way, we publicly express, to our community gathered before us, the importance of the affection that the couple have for those entrusted to their care.  Oftentimes children join in the celebration.  She has wonderful examples of this, too.

Unity Candle Ceremony
This ceremony has many variations.  In it you acknowledge that each person is a flame of individuality, passion and purpose.  And in your marriage, and in lighting the unity candle you are creating a new flame, the couple, which will offer you courage, strength, and reassurance as you walk life's adventures before you. 

Unity Marbles Bowl
An alternative to the unity candle, the unity marbles bowl mixes require elders, parents and other family to mix in marbles one at a time to create a lovely mosaic that signifies beauty of marriage and the idea of blending families. 

Celtic Handfasting Ceremony
There is an ancient Celtic tradition of binding a couple in marriage by hand-fasting.  This custom too has many variations.  Sometimes we bind the couple’s hands together with a cord or rope in a knot in the shape of infinity.  We then ask them the promises they make to each other which ‘binds’ them in purpose and commitment in marriage.   This is where the terms ‘giving ones hand in marriage' and ‘tying the knot' comes from.

Hands Ceremony
In this lovely ceremony, you take each other’s hands and Rev. Robin Renteria speaks of what your beloved’s hands will mean in your lives together.

Water Ceremony
Rev. Robin Renteria wrote this ceremony for a couple marrying at the ocean on their favorite beach where he proposed.  This ceremony honors how important these memories are in their lives and how much their love is like drinking from a long tall cool glass of water on a summer day.

Wine Ceremony 
While the wine ceremony is often used in Jewish and Inter-Faith ceremonies, the symbolism of sharing the wine as symbolic of sharing the bitter and sweet of life is more universal.  

Sand Ceremony 
Rev. Robin Renteria has several different samples of this ceremony, too.  It’s wonderful for a couple and it’s especially suitable and enjoyable when children are to be recognized and included.  Sands of different colors, one for each person taking part in the ceremony, are poured from separate clear vases into one clear vase, thus acknowledging that their lives are now inextricably joined in caring, commitment, and support.

The Rose Ceremony
In the Rose Ceremony, the couple give each other a rose.  Two roses are all that is necessary.  If you have children coming into the ceremony, you may have a rose for each of them too.  The Rose Ceremony is placed at the end of the ceremony just before or after being pronounced married.  In more elegant days, flowers were used as a means of communication.  Each flower had a special meaning.  In the old language of flowers, a single red rose always meant ‘I love you.’  The Rose Ceremony gives recognition to the new and most honorable title of ‘married’ or 'partners for life'.  It represents the first gift that the couple share, and reminds them that when they face difficulties in their marriage in the future, they should give each other the gift of the rose to remind them of the love they share this day.

Pueblo Indian Wedding Vase
Rev. Robin Renteria wrote this ritual for a couple who had this antique vase.  This vase has two spouts from which a person can drink.  They are drinking from one vessel, representing their common life.  They are sharing of the essential nourishment of that life, just as water is essential to our life.  In this ceremony, we also acknowledged the beauty and personal history of the vase.

Irish Wedding Bell
The Irish wedding bell had been in their family for years.  In this wedding ceremony the couple rang the bell to ring in their marriage and bless their marriage with the love carried down to them to this day.

Scottish Oathing Stone
The couple’s friend brought a stone from Glasgow just for the couple.  They placed their hands on the stone as they said their vows, thus saying them ‘in stone.’  This is an old custom that there were no words for so she created ones.

Box, Wine and Love Letter Ceremony
In this ceremony, the couple gives me love letters to each other that they’ve written and sealed.  In the ceremony, Rev. Robin Renteria speaks of the importance of daily expressions of love, of the mystery of the other as a unique individual they will be learning from, responding to, and sharing with all their lives.  The couple then places the love letters in the box with the bottle of wine and they seal the box.  Rev. Robin Renteria tells them to open the box when they really need to reaffirm their love for each other.  And if they never need to, to open it, drink the wine and read the letters on their 20th anniversary.

Breaking of the Glass
In this Jewish ritual one partner (sometimes both people) steps on the glass and we all shout 'Mazel Tov'  which means Good Luck and Blessings to the couple.  There are several ways to speak of the symbolism of this act.  The most common one is that it should be as hard to break the marriage as it is to put the pieces of the glass together again.

The Huppah
In Jewish ritual the huppah represents the home that the couple will be creating.  It is a cloth cover on four poles with open sides.  The open sides represent their connection to their faith, their families and their larger community as an essential part of their marriage. 

Jumping The Broom 
With roots in the African-American community of the United States during slavery, but used among couples of all races and belief systems.   At the end of the ceremony the couple both jump over a decorated broom laid on the ground before them. The straw end represents the brushing away of all their old cares and worries.   The strong wooden handle represents the strength of their commitment to each other, and the straight, unconditionally-committed path they will follow together in marriage. Some say that whoever jumps the highest will be the boss of the house! 

Traditional Isaan Blessing Ceremony from Thailand
The couple’s families bless their marriage with a traditional Thai ceremony found only in the Northeast of Thailand or “Isaan” where the bride is from.  The ceremony is called “pook khan”. It symbolizes the welcoming into the family of the new member.  It signifies congratulations, and celebration of the unity of the family and the larger family they create together. It's performed by tying the cotton thread around the wrists of the couple. The cotton thread in this particular ceremony came from the bride’s hometown in Thailand (Khon Kaen).  We invited the couple’s immediate family members to come forward and to tie a thread around the wrists of the couple. There were 5 bracelets on each of their wrists. As each tie was made, greetings and welcome were offered to the couple.

Dove or Butterfly Release 
Following the wedding ceremony, the release of these doves who mate for life, or butterflies who symbolize transformation is a perfect way to begin your life together.  At the end of the ceremony, doves can be released, or the couple or participating children can release the butterflies. The pair of doves circle in the air and then fly off together, symbolizing the beginning of the couple's new life together.  The butterflies are released into the great unknown adventure and miracle of life, as will their marriage be an adventure into shared love.

Blessing of the Seven Spices
This unique wedding ceremony tradition uses spices to demonstrate the qualities that make for a healthy and well-balanced marriage, getting its roots from the Middle East.Seven small bowls are placed before the couple, each containing a spice, where the couples can scoop a bit of each into a small pouch. Each spice is representative of a blessing.  An example of the spices that can be used are:
Rosemary = prosperity
Brown sugar = a sweet life
Garlic = to keep you safe
Savory = to balance your blended life
Nutmeg = for romance
Paprika = passion
The Bay Leaf = as an extra “spark” of flavor

Planting of Seeds, Plants or Trees
This honors the commitment of the couple to growand nurture their marriage.  
One couple Rev. Renteria did this ritual with planted Rosemary in a beautiful pot.  
Rosemary is an emblem of fidelity and love, rosemary is also known for remembrance, as it 
seemingly strengthens the memory and quickens the senses. 
Anne of Cleves is said to have worn some in a wreath when she married
Henry VIII in 1540.  Another couple had every guest add soil to the 
planting of a tree signifying the beginning of their family tree.
Leah and Mike's Wedding
Craig Carpenter, Luster Studios
Lori and Chirag 
Butterfly House, 
Museum of Life & Science, 
Durham

For couples Rev. Robin Renteria marries, she offers, at no charge:
sample ceremonies to choose from, 
her abridged Wedding Ceremony ebook full or ideas for every aspect of the ceremony,
her Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Workbook,  with even more ideas
or a custom ceremony written just for you.
She can also offer you her Guide To Writing Your Own Wedding Vows, and 
A List of Great Processional and Recessional Music
Civil Wedding Ceremony  This sample includes a Quaker style participation by guests.

THE WELCOME
Welcome.  We are here today to celebrate and participate in the marriage ceremony of  ____ and ____. 
____ and ____ would like to thank you all for being here to share this special occasion with them.  They are here today to celebrate in public ceremony that which has already become a reality within and between them: a strong bond of love and commitment.   They're grateful for your presence.  Many of you have traveled quite a distance to be with them, and all of you mean a lot to them.  With you, they have shared their lives, and with you they will begin the many joyful years of their marriage. 

We would also like to remember those who could not be with us today.  Let us take a moment now to remember and cherish our loved ones who could not be here, and think of them on this joyous occasion. [Pause]

In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh,  “When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility.  It is even a lie to pretend to.  And yet, this is exactly what most of us demand.  We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.  We leap at the flow of the tide, and resist in terror its ebb.  We are afraid it will never return.  We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity, when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in freedom, in the sense that dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.”

____ and ____, the dance of your partnership thrives on the uniqueness of your individual characters.  Here are some reflections by ____ and ____ about the joy they find in the dance of their own relationship.  (the couple speaks of their love for each other).

The essence of your partnership is guided by the ways you compliment each other.  Each of you recognizes how your creativity inspires the other.  Your partnership is enriched by your humor, understanding, and compassion for one another and for those around you.  You support, challenge and inspire each other’s interests and goals.  You dance through life not as one being but as separate individuals who support and care for one another.


DECLARATION OF INTENTIONS
Now I ask you in the time honored way to declare your intentions one to the other.

____ and ____, you have freely decided to commit yourselves to each other in a close and continuing relationship in which your lives will be intertwined.  In the presence of these witnesses, you will exchange your pledge of that commitment, affirming your intention to strengthen and cherish the relationship you are building together, and to find through the sharing of your lives with each other a unity.

Do you, ____, come here freely with the intent to marry ____?  (Yes, I do.)

Do you, ____ come here freely with the intent to marry ____?    (Yes, I do.)


QUESTIONS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS
As our sons and daughters find partners and find homes for the next generation, each family is enriched.
Will the immediate family of ____ (one partner) please rise.
Do you embrace ____ as ____’s chosen partner into your lives and families?
(We do) – ____’s Family, please remain standing.

____’s (other partner's) family, please rise.
Do you embrace ____ as ____’s chosen partner into your lives and families?

(To  both families) 
Will you support and encourage ____ and ____ in their partnership and lives together? 

(To Families:) Thank you.  Please be seated.

(To everyone present:)  It is appropriate that all of you who have gathered here, the family and friends of ____ and ____, witness and participate in this wedding.  For the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect that these two bring to their marriage have the roots in the love, friendship, and guidance that you have given them.  With you, they wish to share their vows, and ask that you acknowledge their love and commitment to one another.  Do you, who have nurtured these two, offer your blessings and support on their union and their family?  (We do.) To all who are gathered here, affirm your blessings, support, and encouragement by proclaiming ‘we do’.  (We do.)


WEDDING ADDRESS   (In the case, a Quaker style offering by guests.)
The reason you, ____ and ____, stand here today is to share and celebrate your commitment to each other with your extended family gathered before you. Close friendships and love help give great meaning to life. Let us take this opportunity to reflect on the many facets of love and friendship we are celebrating today.

In the Quaker belief, silence is central to worship.  It is used as a time for reflection, for prayer, for thought.  The community will now join together in silence to focus on ____ and ____ and their marriage. During the silence, if you feel moved to speak, please rise and stand so that the group can hear. There is no obligation to speak, so you may chose to simply enjoy the time for reflection. If you do choose to speak, please keep you comments as brief as possible so that everyone who would like to speak will have the opportunity.  We will end the silence by the joining of hands.   (We begin the silence and anyone who feels called to speak does so.)


PREFACE TO MARRIAGE VOWS
Now we begin the part of the ceremony in which ____ and ____ exchange their marriage vows:
These sacred vows express the promise ____ and ____ make to each other to share in their lives, not by sacrificing themselves to one another, but by celebrating, supporting, respecting, and listening to each other as they each grow in heart, body, and spirit in the years to come.  ____ and ____, please join your right hands as you repeat your vows.


MARRIAGE VOWS
I want to live with you, just as you are.          
You are my beloved and my best friend.
I choose you above all others as my partner to share my life.
I promise to stand with you in times of joy, turmoil, and grief.  
I promise to be completely present with you.                        
I promise to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, to honor and tenderly care for you,
to cherish and encourage you through all the changes of our lives.


SYMBOLISM OF THE WEDDING RINGS
May I have the rings please.
You have both chosen to exchange rings as a symbol of your vows.  They are a symbol of unity.  Wherever you go, may you always return to one another in your togetherness.


EXCHANGE OF THE WEDDING RINGS
____ , accept this ring as a symbol of our vows. May you wear it always in honor, and as a reminder of my ever-deepening love, respect, and faithfulness.  With all that I am and all that I have I honor you.


(A SYMBOLIC CEREMONY if chosen, would go here.)  


PRONOUNCEMENT OF MARRIAGE
____ and ____, you have told me, and your friends and family members who have gathered here, that you deeply love one another and wish to go forward in life together in matrimony.  It is therefore my joyful task to pronounce that you are now married. 


EMBRACE
I invite you to seal your vows with a kiss!


BLESSING
We rejoice today in your marriage.  May you have a marriage graced with the intimate sharing of both of your lives.  May your marriage enhance and not diminish your individuality.  May your marriage continually grow and encourage the growth of each you in heart and spirit, while increasing your understanding of each other.  Go now and begin your marriage together in peace and happiness. 


INTRODUCTION
And now I’d like to introduce to you, their family and friends, for the first time as a married couple,
___ and ___.


Spiritual Wedding Ceremony   Acknowledges a larger wholeness, but not in religious language.

THE WELCOME
We are gathered this day to share in the celebration of marriage between ____ and ____.    We are especially joyful that love has found them.  Love does truly manage to find us in unexpected places.  ____ and ____, we share today in the amazing grace of your love for each other.

Marriage is the joining of two lives, the mystical, physical, and emotional union of two human beings who have separate histories, separate destinies.  It is the merging and intermeshing of two bodies, two personalities.  Two individuals who willingly choose to set aside the solitary exploration of themselves to discover who they are in the presence of one another.

____ and ____, no moment is without meaning and no undertaking is without significance, so be honored and expanded by the promises you are about to make, the marriage you are about to create.  In marriage we say not only ‘I love you today’ but also, ‘I promise to love you tomorrow, the next day, and always.’  In promising always, we promise each other time.  We promise to exercise our love, to stretch it large enough to embrace the unforeseen realities of the future, to love in hard times as well as when we are exhilarated by the pleasures of romance.  For marriage is more than just the sentimental formalizing of a feeling.  It is a vote of confidence, indeed of conviction, that the romantic feeling of love will be enlarged to encompass far more than itself, that both persons will be able, in time, and within the sacred circle of marriage, to infinitely expand.  Only in giving ourselves and sharing with another can the relationship between us flourish and grow.  In this ceremony we celebrate love come to life in ____ and ____’s lives, an outward symbol of this inward relationship, and take with them a joyful step toward its fulfillment.

And now I invite you all to let your eyes gently close as we take a soft breath together and relax into this sacred space. As we create this space together, let us take a moment to think of our Creator:  the source of life; the universal spirit; and the simple essence of love….  And now, silently, from the depths of your hearts, please offer up your own blessings and prayers for ____ and ____, and their new life together….  As a community, we ask for your loving and bountiful blessing on this marriage.  ____ and ____have come together in love and seek to go forward in life together, nurturing and deepening this love.  Fill them with appreciation for life, and a deep understanding and acceptance of one another.  Help them grow in compassion and love for one another, and for all humankind, and surround them always with the light of joy and peace.  Amen. 


REMEMBERING THOSE HERE IN SPIRIT
We are here today to share in the celebration of marriage of ____ and ____.  Your love and friendship has shaped these two people and led them on the paths by which they found one another.  They are grateful for your influences as well as others who are not here today in body but nonetheless are with us in spirit and heart.  With you, they wish to share their vows, ask that you acknowledge their love and commitment to one another, and welcome them as a couple in your friendships and families.


DECLARATION OF INTENTION
____and ____, now in the time honored way I ask you to declare your intentions one to the other:
____, do you take ____ to be your wife/husband/partner?  Will you live together in love, sharing your joys and sorrows all the years of your lives?  (RESPONSE:  I will.’)

 ____, do you take ____to be your wife/husband/partner?  Will you live together in love, sharing your joys and sorrows all the years of your lives?     (RESPONSE:  ‘I will.’)


QUESTIONS TO PARENTS AND/OR GUESTS
Do all of you, the families and friends of ____ and ____bestow your blessings on their marriage?     RESPONSE:  ‘We do.”


READINGS or WEDDING ADDRESS
___ and ___ have first chosen the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh from ‘The Oyster Bed’ Section of her book “The Gift from the Sea”to echo some of the facets of marriage they cherish.

'Marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, is actually many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and inter-dependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web or marriage is made by propinquity, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working outward in the same direction. It is woven in space and in time of the substance of life itself.'

Here too is the poem ‘Love’ by  Roy Croft, which speaks to the couple of their love.

'Love'

I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;

I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.

Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any rule
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.

You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.


PREFACE TO THE MARRIAGE VOWS
Now we begin the part of the ceremony in which ____ and ____declare their love and commitment to each other.  When two people make such a pledge in marriage, they create a partnership unique to themselves, which binds them closer than any spoken or written words.  Marriage is a promise made by two people who love one another which takes a lifetime to fulfill.  Love is not static, but rather a continuous challenge to work together.  A successful marriage depends on a willingness to give as well as receive, and to create out of separate hopes and ideals, a shared love and trust.

For while marriage symbolizes the intimate sharing of two lives, this sharing must not diminish but enhance the individuality of each partner.  A marriage that lasts is one which continually grows and in which each person is individually developing while increasing their understanding of the other.

I invite you both to face each other and join hands as you exchange your marriage vows.


MARRIAGE VOWS
(To the first member of the couple:)
____ will you love ____when you are together and when you are apart, when life is peaceful and when it is disordered, when you are proud of him/her and when you are disappointed in him/her, in times of leisure and times of work?  Will you provide trust and respect, and gentle understanding, encourage his/her personal growth and place him/her above all others?  Do you promise to keep an open heart and mind in times of change and growth and to find compromise in times of conflict.  Will you honor ____’s dreams and help him/her fulfill them.  (Response:  I will)

 ____ repeat after me.  “I ____ take you ____to be my husband/partner/wife,... to love and to cherish you... to honor and to comfort you... to stand by you in sorrow and in joy...to be both your lover and your closest friend.”

(To the second member of the couple:)
 ____will you love ____ when you are together and when you are apart, when life is peaceful and when it is disordered, when you are proud of him/her and when you are disappointed in him/her, in times of leisure and times of work?  Will you provide trust and respect, and gentle understanding, encourage him/her personal growth and place him/her above all others?  Do you promise to keep an open heart and mind in times of change and growth and to find compromise in times of conflict.  Will you honor ____’s dreams and help him/her fulfill them.  (Response:  I will)

 ____repeat after me.  “I ____take you ____ to be my husband/partner/wife,... to love and to cherish you... to honor and to comfort you... to stand by you in sorrow and in joy...to be both your lover and your closest friend.”


THE SYMBOLISM OF THE WEDDING RINGS
You seal your vows with these rings.
May your ring be always the symbol of the unbroken circle of love.  Love freely given has no beginning and no end.  Love freely given has no separate giver and receiver.  You are each the giver and each the receiver.  May your ring always call to mind the freedom and the power of this love.


THE EXCHANGE OF WEDDING RINGS
____ please put ____’s ring on her/his finger.  (after this is done....)
____, please repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a pledge of my love and as a symbol of our unity.  May it remind you that I am with you in spirit wherever you may go.


____please put ____’s ring on her/his finger.  (after this is done...)
____, please repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a pledge of my love and as a symbol of our unity.  May it remind you that I am with you in spirit wherever you may go.


SYMBOLIC CEREMONIES  -  THE HANDS CEREMONY
____ and ____, Please notice each other’s hands so that you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, warm and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today and all the days to follow. 
These are the hands that will work along side yours as together you build your future. 
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes your way. 
These are the hands that will wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will give you support and encouragement to chase down your dreams.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
These are the hands that will lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into eyes that are filled with overwhelming love for you.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.


PRONOUNCEMENT OF MARRIAGE
Forasmuch as you,  ____ and ____have grown in knowledge and love of one another, and because you have agreed in your desire to go forward in life together, seeking an even richer, deepening relationship, and because you have pledged to meet sorrow and joy as one family, we rejoice to recognize you as married.


WORDS OF BLESSING OR CELEBRATION
____and ____, Always remember that we can expect nothing from love except what love gives.  We cannot choose what chances and changes may befall us, but we can shape the spirit with which we shall meet them.  My prayer for you is that your love will grow stronger and richer as the years go by.

So may this day be an open door through which ____ and ____will go forth to build 
a happy, harmonious marriage.  May the years deal gently with them; walking together, 
may they find life richer for journeying through it together.


EMBRACE
You may seal your vows with a kiss!


INTRODUCTION
(Robin asks you to turn back around to face your guests.)  I now invite all of you to
stand and join me in welcoming ____ and ____into marriage.  Let their union remind 
us of the importance of love in our own lives.  May it inspire our hearts to continually 
appreciate one another, as family and as friends.


Religious Wedding Ceremony  Can be adapted to your religious beliefs.

WELCOME
We are gathered here today in the sight of God and angels, and the presence of friends and loved ones, to celebrate one of life's greatest moments, to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to add our best wishes and blessings to the words which shall unite ____ and _____ in holy matrimony. 

Marriage is a most honorable estate, created and Instituted by God, signifying unto us the mystical union, which also exists between Christ and the Church; so too may this marriage be adorned by true and abiding love.

____ and _____, life is given to each of us as individuals, and yet we must learn to live together. Love is give to us by our family and friends. We learn to love by being loved. Learning to love and living together is one of life's greatest challenges and is the shared goal of  a married life.

But two people should not confuse love of worldly measures for even if worldly success is found, only love will maintain a marriage. Mankind did not create love; love is created by God. The measure of true love is a love both freely given and freely accepted, just as God's love of us is unconditional and free.

Today truly is a glorious day the Lord hath made - as today both of you are blessed with God's greatest of all gifts - the gift of abiding love and devotion between two people.  All present here today - and those here in heart - wish both of you all the joy, happiness and success and the world has to offer.

As you travel through life together, I caution you to remember that the true measure of success, the true avenue to joy and peace, is to be found within the love you hold in your hearts. I would ask that you hold the key to your heart very tightly.

Within the Bible, nothing is of more importance that love. We are told the crystalline and beautiful truth: "God is Love". We are assured that "Love conquers all".  It is love, which brings you here today, the union of two hearts and two spirits. As your lives continue to interweave as one pattern, remember that it was love that brought you here today, it is love that will make this a glorious union, and it is love which will cause this union to endure.


REMEMBERING THOSE HERE IN SPIRIT  (here written for two grandfathers who had passed on)
In honor of two important and influential people unable to be with us today, yet who hold a place in the hearts of our family and community, (the names of the couple) ask you to take a moment to remember ____ and ____, and include them in spirit on this day of celebration …… The flames, representing their honorable lives, will burn for the day in recognition and memory of these much missed, well remembered, and most loved men.


THANKS TO PARENTS
(Couple turns to face their parents)

I invite the parents of (the couple's names), to stand.  ____ and ___ have special words of appreciation for you.  They are grateful and appreciate all you’ve done for them.  They wouldn’t be here today and they wouldn’t be who they are without your loving influence. (couple bows or hugs parents or gives them flowers as a gesture).  Thanks you.  Please be seated.


WEDDING ADDRESS OR READING
"Marriage Joins Two People in the Circle of its Love” by Edmund O’Neill
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.

Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life's most important relationships. A couple are each other's best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.

Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.

When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.


PREFACE TO THE MARRIAGE VOWS
Now we begin the part of the ceremony where ___ and ___ express their commitment to each other in marriage.  These sacred vows express the promise they make to each other to share in their lives, not by sacrificing themselves to the other, but through celebrating, supporting, respecting, and listening to each other as they each grow in heart, body and spirit in the years to come.  Please join your right hands as you repeat your vows.

As you take hands, know that this symbolizes friendship – a promise to be true and loyal friends.  Know that it symbolizes union -  a promise to keep each other in your uppermost thoughts.  Know that it symbolizes help and caring – you are together to support each others needs.  Most of all the simple gesture of holding hands symbolizes the commitment of love.


MARRIAGE VOWS
(First member of the couple speaks:)
____, I thank God for you everyday! 
In the presence of God, our family and friends, these things I promise to you:
_____________, I promise you above all, my love!
My unending trust and respect,
And gentle understanding and support.
I promise to keep an open heart and mind in times of change and growth,
______, I take you to be my husband/wife/partner,
The companion of my days
From this day forward, you shall be my partner, together to love, to work and to share, to grow and to understand, 
to discover a deeper fuller life.

(Second member of the couple speaks:)
____, I thank God for you everyday! 
In the presence of God, our family and friends, these things I promise to you:
_____________, I promise you above all, my love!
My unending trust and respect,
And gentle understanding and support.
I promise to keep an open heart and mind in times of change and growth,
______, I take you to be my husband/wife/partner,
The companion of my days
From this day forward, you shall be my partner, together to love, to work and to share, to grow and to understand, to discover a deeper fuller life.


SYMBOLISM OF THE WEDDING RINGS
May I have the rings please.
The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two loyal hearts in endless love. It is a seal of the vows ____ and ____  have made to one another. Bless O God these rings, that ____ and ____, who give them, and who wear them, may ever abide in thy peace. Living together in unity, love and happiness for the rest of their lives.


SYMBOLIC CEREMONY - The Unity Candle, one variation
Today, (the names of the couple) take vows to show the world their committed love for one another.  To them, a marriage is more than the joining of two people.  A marriage is the joining of all the people who love you.  Each one of us here today may have entered (the names of the couple)’s lives at different stages and times.  Each of us may love them for different reasons and in different ways.  But as (the names of the couple) will share a common thread today, so too shall we.

The unity candle symbolized that common thread of love we and they share.  From friends, to family and finally to (the names of the couple).  With this light, we all now share in their common thread.  With this light, each one of us becomes woven into (the names of the couple) lifelong tapestry.  We share this moment, on this day, and forward into our lives, in our love and happiness for them and their future together.

Their friends, (two friends names) will light the first candles symbolizing friendship.  For (the names of the couple), their friends have sustained them in times both good and hard and are as important as family.

(the names of the couple)'s mothers will light the next candles, symbolizing the power the love which is shared by family holds in their lives.

(the names of the couple) will now light the one unity candle, bringing love full circle.


PRONOUNCEMENT
____ and ______ - in as much as you have each pledged to the other your lifelong commitment, love and devotion, I now pronounce you married, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 


BLESSING
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord's countenance shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord give you peace.  
Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder.


EMBRACE
I invite you to share your first kiss as husband and wife.

~ the terms 'bride' and 'groom' in any ceremony can be tailored to meet the needs of LGBT couples ~
Reverend Robin Renteria, Ph.D. 
Wedding Minister   
Rev.Robin Renteria, wedding officiant, Sarh P Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
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Robin Renteria, (919) 818-6362, Robin@RobinRenteria.com, uuweddingminister.com
The Fearrington Inn, Pittsboro, NC
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Weddings, Wedding VenuesRev. Robin Renteria. M.Div., Best Wedding Officiants in Wilmington, Eastern Coast - 2014 Couples' Choice Award Winner
 
Robin@RobinRenteria.com        (919) 818-6362
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, and nearby 

 Contact Rev. Robin Renteria now 
for a free consultation. 


 Contact Rev. Robin Renteria now 
for a free consultation. 


 Contact Rev. Robin Renteria now 
for a free consultation. 


 Contact Rev. Robin Renteria now 
for a free consultation.