Traditionally bride and groom enter the church separately – the groom first with the best man, and the bride at the time set for the service, on the arm of her father or another relative or friend. However, she may enter alone if she wishes, or the couple may arrive together.
The minister will welcome the congregation, and then read an introduction explaining what Christians believe about marriage. He or she will ask the congregation and then the couple if there is any reason why the marriage may not lawfully take place.
In the first part of the service, there will be readings from the Bible, and the minister may give a short address or sermon.
You will then be asked to make declarations (repeated phrase by phrase after the minister) that you will live together according to God’s will and purpose; love, honour and care for each other, in sickness and in health; and be faithful to one another as long as you both live. Then, with hands joined, you make your vows to take each other in marriage:
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,
As long as we both shall live,
According to the will and purpose of God.
And to this I give you my pledge.
You then exchange a ring or rings with these words:
Receive this ring in token of my love and faithfulness.
I honour you with my body,
And all my possessions I share with you.
The minister will then declare that you are man and wife, and pronounce a blessing over you as you kneel.
The third part of the service is prayers for your future life together.
When the service is concluded, the bride, groom and two witnesses must sign the Civil Register of Marriages. The minister will give you a copy of the marriage certificate. This takes a little time, and so music is often performed while it is happening. The choice should be discussed with the minister. Music can be played on the organ or some other instrument(s), or sung by a soloist or choir.