Protestant Wedding Traditions

There is a wide range of religious practices under the Protestant religious groups. The differences in theology and practice are reflected in their wedding services. Protestants are Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and others. The relationship of Christ to the church is considered similar to the relationship between a husband and wife.The Protestant wedding differs from that of other religions in that it is a worship service through which the will of God is served and the Lordship of Jesus is proclaimed. The wedding guests are participants in the service by sharing in hymns, scriptural readings and responses to the couple's exchange of vows.Sometimes the couple shares in communion during their wedding.

Please feel free to contact us with your comments, and any other traditions which you would like us to include.


There are few restrictions regarding the time and place of marriage ceremonies except during major religious holidays. Protestants who have been previously married and divorced are permitted to marry again. Some denominations may require dispensation from Church officials for the marriage to be held.

Episcopal Church Requirements

Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God. It is required that one, at least, of the parties must be a baptized Christian; that the ceremony be attested by at least two witnesses; and that the marriage conform to the laws of the State and the canons of the Church.The Episcopal canon requires that notice be given at least 30 days before the scheduled service. An Episcopal priest must obtain consent of the Bishop to solemnize the marriage of a divorced person.

The First Step

It is important that the bride or groom arrange to talk with the Rector about the wedding before any other plans are finalized. It is well to contact the priest as far in advance as possible to avoid conflicts in scheduling. Advance notice of several months is the rule rather than the exception.

Pre-Marital Counseling

Consistent with the understanding of marriage as a serious and deliberate act, it is required in the Episcopal Church that all couples receive counseling as a part of the preparation of marriage.

Officiates at the wedding

A priest or a bishop normally presides at the Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage, because such ministers alone have the function of pronouncing the nuptial blessing, and of celebrating the Holy Eucharist.When both a bishop and a priest are present and officiating, the bishop should pronounce the blessing and preside at the Eucharist. A deacon, or an assisting priest, may deliver the charge, ask for the Declaration of Consent, read the Gospel, and perform other assisting functions at the Eucharist.

The Episcopal Celebration and Blessing of the Marriage

The Processional

The Processional begins after all guests have entered and assembled in the Church. Mothers of the Bride and Groom are escorted to their seats on each side of the aisle. Special music may signify the arrival of the Bride and her attendants. Upon hearing the Bride's music, all guests stand.The Processional may be very elaborate with flower girls, a ring bearer, and several bridesmaids. The Bridesmaids follow the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer, if any. They may be escorted by Groomsmen. The Bride follows. She may be escorted by her Father, Mother, or other significant person, or she may walk alone. The Groom waits for the Bride just before the Altar.

The Bride and Groom stand together before the Altar. The Officiant welcomes the Bride and Groom, and all witnesses of the marriage.

The Teaching of the Church Concerning Holy Matrimony

The Celebrant, facing the people and the persons to be married, with the woman to the right and the man to the left, addresses the congregation and says:"Dearly beloved:

We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people."

"The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God."

"Into this holy union ________ and _______ now come to be joined. If any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now, or else for ever hold your peace."

Then the Celebrant says to the persons to be married:

"I require and charge you both, here in the presence of God, that if either of you know any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully, and in accordance with God's Word, you do now confess it."

The Declaration of Consent

The Celebrant says to the woman:"_______, will you have this man to be your husband; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?"

The Woman answers "I will."

The Celebrant says to the man:

"_______, will you have this Woman to be your wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?"

The Man answers "I will."

The Celebrant then addresses the congregation:

"Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage?"

The People answer "We will."

The Ministry of the Word

The Celebrant then says to the people: "The Lord be with you."The People respond: "And also with you."

The Celebrant continues.

"Let us pray. O gracious and ever-living God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who come to you seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Then, one or more passages from the Holy Scripture is read. If there is to be Communion, a passage from the Gospel always concludes the Readings.

The Marriage

The Man, facing the Woman and taking her right hand in his, says:"In the Name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

Then they loose their hands, and the Woman, still facing the Man, takes his right hand in hers, and says:

"In the Name of God, I, ______, take you, ______, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow."

They loose their hands.

The Priest may ask God's blessing on a ring or rings as follows:

"Bless, O Lord, this ring to be a sign of the vows by which this Man and this Woman have bound themselves to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

The giver places the ring on the ring-finger of the other's hand and says:

"______________, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Then the Celebrant joins the right hands of husband and wife and says:

"Now that ________ and ________ have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of a ring, I pronounce that they are husband and wife, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

"Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder."

All standing, the Celebrant says: "Let us pray together in the words our Savior taught us:"

The Lord's Prayer is recited by the People and the Celebrant. If communion is to follow, the Lord's Prayer may be said later in the service.

The Deacon or other person appointed reads several prayers, to which the People respond, saying, "Amen."

One of the prayers:

"Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony." "Amen."

The Blessing of the Marriage

The people remain standing. The husband and wife kneel, and the Priest says this or other prayers:"O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon these your servants, that they may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven of blessing and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

"God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favor look upon you, and fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace; that you may faithfully live together in this life, and in the age to come have life everlasting. Amen."

The Celebrant may say to the people: "The peace of the Lord be always with you."

The People respond: "And also with you."

The newly married couple then greet each other, after which greetings may be exchanged throughout the congregation.

When Communion is not to follow, the wedding party leaves the church. A hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung, or instrumental music may be played.

If the liturgy continues with the Offertory, the newly married couple may present the offerings of bread and wine. At the Communion, it is appropriate that the newly married couple receive Communion first, after the ministers.

This post communion prayer is said:

"O God, the giver of all that is true and lovely and gracious: We give you thanks for binding us together in these holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Grant that by your Holy Spirit, ________ and ________, now joined in Holy Matrimony, may become one in heart and soul, live in fidelity and peace, and obtain those eternal joys prepared for all who love you; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Resources and References

Special thanks to Lois Pearce, Master Bridal Consultant of Hamden, Connecticut, for her time and energy gathering the majority of information used here. We also wish to thank the Association of Bridal Consultants for their assistance.

Please note that the information contained in this category should be considered general in nature. We believe it to be a true and accurate representation of some of the customs and traditions for this country or religion. Information provided by individuals and organizations is assumed to be correct.

You are welcome to write us at with any suggestions for changes, additions or deletions.

Rev. D. Edward Emenheiser, Grace Episcopal Church, Traverse City, MichiganThe Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, The Church Hymnal Corporation, New York

Modern Bride, Wedding Celebrations, Cele Goldsmith Lalli, Stephanie Dahl, John Wiley, 1992

Weddings: A Complete Guide to All Religious and Interfaith Marriage Services, Abraham J. Klausner, Alpha Publishing, 1986

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