Celebrating weddings that are to come

The Revd Sandra Millar, Head of CofE Life Events

A couple of years ago I was with a church who had built up a very significant wedding ministry. Once a year, they invited all the couples who had booked to be married in that year or the next to come to a special service.

Many were already attending regularly to make a connection through attendance, whilst others were locally based. On the day, there were 31 couples, together with their children, some of their parents, all welcomed by the 17 regular worshippers in this small rural church.

It was an ordinary parish Eucharist, but there were some special moments that enabled the couples and the regular worshippers to feel connected to the place, to each other and to the importance of weddings ministry.  These ideas are shared here, so that any parish can use them in a service to celebrate their wedding ministry, whether with three couples or 30!

Family-friendly prayers

The prayers were written to focus on family life and relationships.  A simple way to do this is to invite everyone to imagine – or draw on their hand – a series of circles. Then use the following as a suggestion for themes in each section:

  • Draw a circle encompassing the whole world. Imagine God’s love holding the world, and the love that is holding communities and families together. Pray especially for places where people long for peace and security to be together, that they may know God’s loving care.
  • Draw a circle encompassing our nation. Pray for all those organisations that help and support families through good times and difficult times, and pray for national and community leaders in their own family life and in the policies they influence.
  • Draw a circle encompassing your town. Pray for God’s love to be known in the community, remembering the work of the churches and others, praying for wedding venues and for all those who are celebrating long marriages, planning a new relationship, and those who are struggling.
  • Place a dot in the centre of these circles. Pray for yourself and your closest relationships, praying that you might continue to grow strong in love for others and towards God.

Communion

Invite everyone to come forward, and during communion, offer a blessing to each couple planning a wedding.

Dismissal

We know from being at national wedding fairs that couples really appreciate the prayers of their church and especially this prayer candle giveaway is received with heartfelt thanks. Consider buying a few of these, or make your own, for the following:-

  • First bless a basket containing the special couple candles, and also a basket with ordinary tealights.
  • Give each couple attending a special candle to take away as a reminder of the prayers that are being offered for them, and an encouragement to pray for themselves in the days ahead.
  • Then offer each member of the regular congregation one of the other tealights to take home, encouraging them to light it and commit to praying for those marrying in the church in the year ahead.