Why I like doing weddings: along with a model liturgy and sermon...

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You might think I'm crazy, but as a pastor there's no service I'd rather lead than a wedding. Even when things go wrong there's always lots to love. You may not know you should think I'm crazy for feeling this way.

Many pastors dread weddings. For starters, they're one of the higher-pressure services we lead. The pastor gets caught between the wedding coordinator, the bride, and the mother of the bride. And if that weren't enough, the bridal party underestimates the importance of the rehearsal, the ushers rarely buy into the importance of their job, and musicians often want to wing things, so the stress really amps up and it's square on your shoulders. So why are weddings my favorite?

Maybe it's that I've officiated at enough weddings by now that I'm more comfortable with them. Having spent a decade or so in college ministry in a college community, weddings are a constant for us. Maybe also because I've managed to miss the most difficult weddings. For one reason or another, they were passed on to other pastors in our church.

But this past weekend I was honored with the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony of...

Brandon and Rachel Moore (née Baker). It was a beautiful wedding, humble and sweet—at least from my up-close and personal perspective. But I'm biased. For one, as I said, I love weddings. And for two, I'm hopelessly sentimental and I love these opportunities to relive my own wedding.

The order of service we use here at Clearnote Church is an old one. It goes back to Thomas Cranmer, and before Cranmer, to the thousand-year-old Sarum Rite. This time-tested liturgy has all three purposes of marriage in the words of institution. It also keeps the command to obey in the wife's vows. It's simple and elegant. It honors Christ and it does a lot of necessary work for you, for the couple, and for the congregation. I commend it to you.

As far as wedding sermons go, I find it helpful to live by a couple rules:

  1. If you have something to say in the exhortation that you haven't said in counseling, you've already failed. :)
  2. Preach to the couple, but with a view to the congregation. Even though you've said it in counseling, trust the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching. They need to hear it all again, and so does everyone else.
  3. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

Preach the meaning of marriage, the three purposes of marriage, and God's specific commands to husbands and wives. Yes, all of it. This may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. If you start in Genesis and end in Ephesians, that'll usually get the job done. Marriage is beautiful and is its own best defense, and remembering that will help you keep things from getting out of control.

I've gotten to the place where I normally just make a few adjustments to the last wedding sermon I preached, personalizing it for each couple as I feel it necessary or helpful to the situation. Of course, you want each couple to feel and know the sermon was for them, personally. And really, each couple, each set of family circumstances, and each congregation is different. A real pastor always preaches to the souls who are present—never to those who are absent. A real pastor always feeds his flock, based upon their needs.

For instance, this last wedding I had a bride who has a godly Christian father. But the sermon I started with was written to a bride who had spent her whole life vulnerable to the world and exposed. One bride was finally being protected while still experiencing a new kind of vulnerability. This, most recent one, has much to be grateful for, and yet...she's still experiencing a new kind of vulnerability. Very quickly you have two different sermons, but you have the same message. At the end of the day, everyone needs to hear mostly the same things, no matter the circumstances they're facing.

So, with that preface, here is the entire liturgy. I've also included the sermon. Feel free to use all of it, sermon included, if you find it helpful.


Order for the Marriage Ceremony


Introit (Bridesmaids’ Processional)


Words of Institution (remain standing)

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses, to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony. Marriage is an honorable estate which God Himself made and it signifies to us the mystical union that is between Christ and His Church. This holy estate Christ adorned and made beautiful with His presence and first miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Marriage is also commended by Paul to be honorable among all men. The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God,

FIRSTLY: for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

SECONDLY: It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.

THIRDLY, it was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

Into this holy estate these two persons, Bride and Groom’s Name, come now to be joined. If any man can show just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter forever hold his peace.

I require and charge you both that if either one of you know any reason why your marriage goes against the laws of God, you now tell me. For you can be certain that if any persons are joined together otherwise than as God’s Word allows, their marriage is not lawful and they will give an account on the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed.

Declaration of Consent (remain standing)

Groom’s name, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto her, so long as you both shall live?

[Groom: “I will.”]

Bride’s name, will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto him, so long as you both shall live?

[Bride: “I will.”]

Who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Father replies, kisses bride, and gives her to groom.

Invocation (remain standing)

Let us pray.

Almighty and ever blessed God, Whose presence is the happiness of every condition, and Whose favor makes holy every relation; We ask You to be present and to look with favor upon these Your servants, as together they make their covenant before God. As You have brought them together by Your providence, sanctify them by Your Spirit, giving them a new frame of heart fit for their new estate. Pour out Your grace upon them so that they may enjoy the comforts, bear up under the cares, endure the trials, and perform the duties of life together under Your heavenly guidance and protection. May they be truly joined in the honorable estate of marriage, and may they know the salvation of the only true God. We ask these things through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Minister, Bride and Groom, Best Man and Maid of Honor all ascend the platform.

Congregational Hymn (Music Director seats congregation after song)

Scripture Reading


The minister shall briefly exhort the couple concerning their biblical obligations in marriage.

Wedding Sermon for Brandon and Rachel

Genesis 2:18 says this:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

We are gathered here on this hot January day because of this verse.

Marriage was God’s answer to the only thing He said was not good about the world He had made: that man, Adam, was alone.

We all know that’s true. It is not good for men to be alone. Brandon is here confessing to all of us that it’s not good for him to be alone. And all of us here know that even his own mother agrees. :)

And so God made for Adam a helper suitable for him. A woman. Eve.

The world we live in is at war against what God has done in marriage. It is at war with God, with beauty, with courage, with truth. And because of this war, it is full of confusion.

The first song we see in Scripture, the first recorded words of Adam, are a song of praise he sang when he first saw his wife:

This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were naked and were not ashamed.

This is a holy thing. A wonderful thing. A mystery.

To become one flesh with a member of the opposite sex, to covenant together in marriage for life, to make vows to one another in the presence of Almighty God and a host of witnesses—that is dangerous. It is risky. It is not for the faint of heart.

Everyone else is playing games.

Marriage is for those who willing to face down their own fears and insecurities. Those who will take responsibility for themselves and for others.

It is not for those who fear commitment and vulnerability. It is not for those who wallow in self-pity.

Man and woman are so very different, so very unique, and the union of the two in marriage is so wonderful and so terrifying, that only two kinds of people can ever get married: those that blunder into it like fools, and those who have real courage. Faith.

Now, the truth is that everyone here who is married will tell you that they blundered into marriage. They had no idea. I had no idea. And you have no idea. You’re about to enter into a whole new world. And it’s not a Disney world.

Nevertheless, as Christians we ought to know something of what we’re walking into.

From this passage in Genesis we learn two of the reasons God established marriage. We learn that marriage was instituted by God for the good of man, for joy and companionship and help, and for the procreation of children: "Multiply and fill the earth." If we turn to Genesis 3 we’ll see another reason enter into the equation: sin.

It is a good thing that you do.

You are protecting yourselves and one another from sin. You are seeking purity. And you are doing it in a time in which the world despises purity.

The help and companionship of marriage is a good, good thing. The comforts and the joys are unparalleled. It is unique to the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. It is not good for man to be alone.

And children are a blessing of the Lord. A blessing to be sought. A blessing to be embraced. A blessing to be loved and cherished. In a world that’s warring against marriage, can there be any doubt why we try to separate children from our unions? God made marriage to be fruitful. He made our love to be fruitful. So give yourselves to fruitfulness.

These are the purposes of marriage. And you are here confessing that they are God's purposes and they are good. But if we really want to understand the mystery of marriage and the duties that marriage requires of you, we must turn back to Ephesians 5, where, Rachel, your dad read just a moment ago. It says this:

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.


This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

The mystery of marriage lies in this: it is a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the Church. Jesus is the head of His Bride, and He lays down His life for her good. He cultivates her and cares for her. He protects her and provides for her.

The Church is His body and submits herself to Him with joy. She trusts Him. Honors Him. Serves Him.

Rachel: To be a woman is to be vulnerable. It is to be weak. And the only question is who will you be vulnerable to. You have been vulnerable to the leadership of your father. He has protected you, cared for you, watched over you. And although, at times, he has failed you as all fathers do, he has loved you. And you love him.

In marrying Brandon today, you are choosing to make yourself vulnerable to a new man. But you will be vulnerable to your husband in a way that you have never been vulnerable to anyone else. Not even your father.

Today you are choosing to come under his care and protection, just as Ruth came under the care and protection of Boaz. In doing this you are placing yourself under his authority.

In this passage, God calls you to submit to Brandon as the Church does to Christ. To honor him. To respect him. To be his helpmeet. It is a command, so it’s not optional. It doesn’t depend on how you feel, or how much you feel he loves you. It is a matter of telling the truth about Christ and the Church. Be faithful to this command.

Brandon: In a few short moments, you will be the head of your wife. The question is not whether or not you will be the head of your home, but what kind of head you will be. It is an inescapable reality and it will define the character of your home.

Headship means authority. Which is just another way of saying you are now responsible. Authority is not the privilege of being served. It is not the freedom to do as you please. It is service. It is responsibility and sacrifice. A good husband and father spends his entire life dying to himself so that his wife and children will thrive. He has no regard for himself, only for the good of those under his care.

Rachel has made herself vulnerable to you. She has vowed to submit herself to you. You must honor her. You may not be passive. You may not be lazy. You must lead. You must care for your wife.

This is what Jesus did. This is what Jesus does. This is what Jesus commands of you.

Brandon and Rachel, God is calling you today to be a picture of the beautiful relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the Church, to a lost, confused, broken, dying, and rebellious world.

The world is full of liars—husbands and wives who break their vows, who are unfaithful, who do not love or honor, cherish or respect one another. It must not be so with you. Tell the truth.

Honor Christ in your marriage. Give yourselves to intimacy, to companionship, to caring for one another, to the gift of children, and to being a picture of Christ and the Church. Amen.

Exchange of Vows

Groom and bride turn and face each other, join hands, and Groom repeats after minister:

I, Groom’s name, take you, Bride’s name, to be my wedded 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, till death separates us, according to God’s holy ordinance, and to this I guarantee my faithfulness.

Bride repeats after minister:

I, Bride’s name, take you, Groom’s name, to be my wedded 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, cherish, and obey, till death separates us, according to God’s holy ordinance, and to that I guarantee my faithfulness.

Ring Ceremony

Groom and bride remain facing each other. The minister shall say to Groom:

Groom’s name, what keepsake do you give Bride’s name of your promise to fulfill these vows you have made?

Best Man gives ring to Groom while Groom says, “This ring.” Groom takes Bride's left hand and puts it on fourth finger. Groom repeats after minister:

As a pledge and symbol of the vows we have made, with this ring I thee wed; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Minister shall say to the Bride:

Bride’s name, what keepsake do you give Groom’s name of your promise to fulfill these vows you have made?

Maid of Honor gives ring to Pastor while Bride says, “This ring.” Minister gives ring to Bride who takes Groom's left hand and puts it on fourth finger.  Minister asks the Bride to repeat after him:

As a pledge and symbol of the vows we have made, with this ring I thee wed; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Proclamation of Marriage

The couple shall turn and face the minister, who shall say:

By the authority committed unto me as a Minister of the Church of Jesus Christ, I declare that Groom’s name and Bride’s name are now Husband and Wife, according to the ordinance of God, and the law of the State of Indiana: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Those whom God has joined together, let no man or woman divide. Groom’s name, you may kiss your bride.

Congregational Hymn (Music director directs congregation to stand/be seated)


Let us bow in prayer.

Most merciful and gracious God, from Whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth gets its name: Bestow upon these Your servants the seal of Your approval, and Your Fatherly benediction; granting unto them grace to fulfill, with pure and steadfast affection, the vow and covenant they have made. Guide them together, we ask You, in the way of righteousness and peace, that, loving and serving You, with one heart and mind, all the days of their life, they may be abundantly enriched with the tokens of Your everlasting favor.

O Almighty God, Creator of mankind, Who alone is the well-spring of life; Bestow upon these You servants, if it be Your will, the gift and heritage of children; and grant that they may see their children brought up in Your faith and fear, to the honor and glory of Your Name. Amen.


May God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, protect, and keep you; The Lord mercifully and with His favor look upon you with all spiritual blessing and grace; that you may live together in this life in such a way that you will have everlasting life in the world to come. Amen.

Presentation of the Couple

The minister shall ask the couple to turn and face the congregation.

I now have the honor of presenting to you:

Mr. and Mrs. _______________


Jake Mentzel

Jake has served as a pastor at Clearnote Church since 2010. He also teaches systematics at Clearnote Pastors College and Athanasius College. In his spare time, he leads Warhorn Media.

Want to get in touch? Send Jake an email or follow him on Twitter.