The vows that you make are at the heart of your wedding day and have been spoken by millions of couples over the centuries. They can not be re-written or changed in any way for legal reasons – they are the words of commitment to a shared life that define you as ‘married’. These vows are unique to church weddings. By making these promises in church, you invite a loving and profoundly caring God to help you keep them.
The marriage vows are spoken before God and in front of your family and friends. Along with the vows, you will make ‘Declarations’, which confirm that you will always love and care for each other in a way that will please God. The lifetime commitment of these promises and statements is represented when you give the rings to each other, as a symbol of unending love. This completes the marriage, meaning you can now sign the Register as a legal record.
At the point when the vows are said, you turn to each other, take each other’s right hand and say:
I, N, take you, N,
to be my wife/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,
till death us do part;
according to God’s holy law.
In the presence of God I make this vow.
After the vows, you each in turn place a ring on your partner’s wedding finger with these words:
N, I give you this ring
as a sign of our marriage.
With my body I honour you,
all that I am I give to you,
and all that I have I share with you,
within the love of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Choosing musicians and instruments
Many couples choose to use the church organ throughout the whole service and we have a team of excellent organists who will gladly discuss your requirements with you. You can also hire your own musicians as well as, or instead of, the church musicians. Please discuss your plans with us, so we can ensure that the musicians’ contribution fits smoothly into your marriage service.
You may also use recorded music if you wish, though please bear in mind that recorded music is often not the best choice as you enter or leave the church. A live musician can ensure that the music is timed to fit the bride’s walk down the aisle, but recorded music is not so flexible. For this reason many couples decide to save recorded music for the signing of the registers.
There is a vast range of music available. Here are just a few favourite classical pieces which you might consider for entering and leaving the church.
Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, Wagner
Wedding March from Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mendelssohn
Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, from ‘Solomon’, Handel
Trumpet Voluntary, Jeremiah Clarke
Trumpet Tune and Air, Purcell
Te Deum, Charpentier
Water Music (Hornpipe), Handel
Canon in D, Pachelbel
Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, J S Bach
Music is often played when we sign the registers towards the end of the service. It’s best to plan for about 10 minutes of music in order to allow time for photographs as well.
Hymns are a traditional part of church weddings and there are so many to choose from. There are usually two or three hymns in a wedding service. To discover some favourite church wedding hymns visit yourchurchwedding.org/article/hymns-for-your-wedding/.
A Church of England wedding must have at least one reading from the Bible and you may also include a second reading which can be from any source. The readings can be given by friends or family members. Visit yourchurchwedding.org/article/bible-readings-for-your-wedding/ to discover some favourite Bible readings for a church wedding.
The marriage service includes prayers for you and your future life together. Some couples also choose to write their own unique prayer to be used during the service.
Most couples produce service sheets that give details of the order of service, music and hymns. The vicar will discuss the order of service with you about eight weeks before the wedding. We will help you prepare a draft service sheet which you or your printers can produce in your chosen style.
Confetti, rose petals etc.
Your guests are welcome to throw confetti outside the gate on the church steps of St Bartholomew’s.
Decorating the church
You are welcome to decorate the church with flowers, candles and similar items. Please let the vicar about your plans so we can help with practical matters such as access to the church.
Photographs & Videos
Your photographer is welcome to take photos during the service provided he or she is unobtrusive and does not use flash. Please ask your photographer to speak with the vicar before the bridal party arrive so we can agree places where they can be during the marriage service.
Your videographer may work from a designated location in the choir stall. A videographer can also be stationed at the back of church if there is space and provided the aisle is kept free from tripods and equipment. It is essential that the videographer meets with the vicar in good time before the ceremony is due to begin to receive information about where they are permitted to place equipment.
The congregation is not allowed to take photos or video during the service.
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