A new way to marry

Branson Parler

Branson Parler
June 30, 2015

The strangeness of having a wedding in the Sunday church service would reinforce the strangeness of what Christians mean by “marriage.”

June 30, 2015

My grandparents were married on a Sunday after the church service. The entire congregation was invited and they held a potluck afterward. Grandma went to church with her family, after the service changed into her wedding dress, got married, had lunch and went home with Grandpa.
The only wedding picture is at the reception standing by a cake that someone had made.
Symbolic, simple, serene sounded by their community.

Steve Burdan
June 30, 2015

Great article as usual! Only the rich US and West do couples have anywhere near the funds needed for these "blow-out" events!
I would also suggest, as a celibate single, that the American Evan. Church refocus and relocate its time, talent and treasure from teaching and emphasizing that marriage and family are the "building blocks" of society and church community to a more inclusive view of this church community, where marriage and kids are not the admission tickets to real "life together."
Nowhere in Scripture does God teach that the family is the atom or molecule from which comes the Church - secular may teach this, but the church makes a mistake by buying in to that view.
As we know Jesus himself realized that the Kingdom would be polarizing down to family blood level - this is why the new community is based on spiritual birth, not physical birth, contra ancient Israel...
So the new SSA/SSM LGBT struggle can be a new opportunity for the Evangelical church to realign itself and become truly "single friendly."

June 30, 2015

Wow! What a fantastic idea. This approach would also re-focus the wedding away from the expense and hoopla that often overshadow the whole point of the ceremony.

David Greusel
June 30, 2015

This article, and Point 2 in particular, put me in mind of a piece I wrote a while ago for Comment magazine online about the integral role of community in a wedding, "these witnesses," as the old formulation goes. Here's a link: http://www.cardus.ca/comment/article/2081/these-witnesses/

You are right that Sunday morning weddings would help to undermine the "wedding industrial complex," but I wonder if pastors could accommodate the ceremonies in their down-to-the-second worship schedules?

David Gingerich
July 6, 2015

I appreciate every point in your post except the title. Like the first commentator here, my grandparents were married during a Sunday evening service in their then Amish Mennonite, now Mennonite congregation. They had spoken to the "pastor" (who was a member of the congregation named to the pastorate by lot) in advance of their desire to be married. They wore wedding attire that was special, yet very simple. So, this is not in fact a "new" way to marry. But I agree, its a good one that might steer us away from fairy tale dreams of marriage and toward real and costly truths about marriage, and the role of community in our marriages.

Thank you,

David Gingerich

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
July 6, 2015

We went back and forth about the title for precisely this reason, David. In the end we decided to use it because we sensed that the majority of our readers come from traditions where this would indeed be a new idea. And much of the response we've gotten has shown that to be the case (though we've also heard from others like you). Thanks for sharing!

Josh Larsen
(TC editor)

Staci DeVries
July 7, 2015

LOVE this blog. It really challenged me to think about the purpose of weddings (and the communities that support marriages) in a different way! I loved my own wedding (which did not take place in a church service :)) but I see so much value in really starting with the focus on God and the meaning of marriage. It simplifies everything!

Phyllis Nelson
June 10, 2016

I set up an account, but cannot login, so I am commenting as a guest.

We were married 38 years ago on Mother's Day during the Sunday morning service, for the exact reason you talk about. We both came from families that if they churched at all, went on Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals, so we felt the import of our wedding being within the context of our church family and the message our families would take from it. It included a sermon and hymn singing as well. Over the years it has opened the door for the conversations about faith because people from our families still talk about the "unusual" wedding. Many have come to know Christ in these years.

It is possible to head off homosexual weddings being held in church by including it in the regular service and by requiring the couple to be members of the church they marry in. Long before the wedding, they will need to be talking about their personal relationship with Jesus, discipleship, pre-marriage counselling, etc.

As far as the ridiculous cost of weddings, believe it or not, this is a global problem. French, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, we have friends in all these settings and they too are concerned about the price tag and the pressure to impress everyone with something lavish. As Christians, it just doesn't compute.

June 10, 2016

We Orthodox in the U.S. are in the middle of a re-evaluation of the day-location of both baptism (which will come first) and the marriage service. These have been separated from the Sunday-morning Liturgy for too long. In many places the baptismal rite is already either re-integrated into the Sunday Liturgy before the Eucharist, or else it occurs in the morning before the Liturgy (so that the baptized can receive the Eucharist after baptism). Neither separation (baptism or marriage) make much sense, and the changed context (to Saturday) does a lot of damage to how the rites and their meanings are understood, especially in context of the community that is tied to them.

There's always the temptation of making the rites _about_ the community, however, and the form of the rite as recursively pointing back to the community-as-ideology (this is a temptation for everyone, not only those of us with developed or ornate rites), rather than to God. This isn't to say that the community is not implicated in the meaning of what goes on in baptism or marriage, only to sound-out what seems to be a strangely modern pitfall -- ecclesiolatry (which looks different in different church contexts). Nonetheless, this shouldn't stop us all from putting the marriage rites back into the Sunday service where they belong.

Alternatively, however, this will mean that, in a pluralist environment where potential wedding guests have other Sunday-morning commitments, the invitation to be present at the wedding will force them to be faithful _either_ to their Sunday-morning commitments, or to their friends -- and there doesn't seem like there _should_ be a need for this. I've had to miss the baptisms of friends and the children of friends because of this, and it always frustrated me. At our parish church, we have weddings on Sundays in the late afternoon, to keep the connection to the Liturgy (in the morning, the soon-to-be bride and groom commune first, before anyone else). That has the advantage of not dishonoring Protestant and Catholic guests who have other church commitments, and forcing them either to be absent or to be heartbroken (or unfaithful).

Roger Huxley
June 11, 2016

My word! We are ahead of the pack - and at our late-life situation too. This means to "tying the knot" was our choice - nothing else seemed appropriate. Our Minister said he was privileged to be able to serve at such a celebration - within the "regular" Sunday worship and celebration.

The marriage service was the beginning section of the service which continued into a celebration of Holy Communion. Our extended families (largely non-churchy)and friends of faith, non-faith and different faiths (Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim) all joined in and immersed themselves in the love - the love we declared for one another but also, significantly, for the love of God who sacrificed His son - then raised him from death that we might live abundantly.
We were than able to share food and fellowship between the regulars and the large influx of "visitors". As adopted Methodists in a gritty UK town - we felt the presence of the Lord amongst us.

June 11, 2016

We got married 45 years ago on Transfiguration Sunday during regular morning worship. It was a mountain top experience for me. Some members of the congregation didn't know they were coming to a wedding that day. Our invitations were homemade. We wore wedding clothes (my mother made our dresses) and processed at the beginning during "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty". After the sermon we went up to the altar and said our vows. Afterwards we had cake in the basement , and later a meal at a private club for invited guests. I loved the emphasis on the support of the body of Christ. Would do again the same way.

January 23, 2019

My fiancé and I are thinking of doing this but I really want to “wow” him as I come down the aisle. Anyone have any recommendations on how we could both be part of the morning service but then have the wedding ceremony?

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