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A Sample Interfaith Wedding Ceremony

Opening Remarks and Blessing

Rabbi:

Welcome family and friends. (Bride and groom) are happy that so many of you who mean so much to them are here to share and celebrate this, their wedding day. I welcome you and bless you with these words:

Blessed be you who have come here in dedication to all that is loving, good and sacred.

We bless you and welcome you in joy.

May the Source of life sustain you in life.

May all that is noble and true in the universe inspire your lives together and bring peace to all humankind.

Shehecheyanu

Blessed are you, O God, for giving life, sustaining us and bringing us to this joyous time.

Remembering Loved Ones Who Have Died

I would like to take this moment to mention that there are those close to (bride and groom) who could not travel to be here today, but whose thoughts and blessings are with them; and there are loved ones who are no longer here in body, but who are here in spirit. Let us remember them now in a moment of silence.

Acknowledging the Bride and Groom's Traditions

Out of two different and distinct traditions, they have come together to learn the best of what each has to offer, appreciating their differences, and confirming that being together is far better than being apart from each other. As we bless this marriage under a chuppah (wedding canopy), the Jewish symbol of the new home being consummated here, we will later light the unity candle, a Christian symbol of two people becoming one in marriage.

Priest's Opening Blessing (extemporaneous)

Rabbi's Marriage Blessing

Blessed are you who come here in the name of God.

Serve God with joy, come into God's presence with song.

O most awesome, glorious and blessed God, grant Your blessings to the bride and groom.

Rabbi's Remarks

Blessing Over the Wine

Rabbi:

Two thoughts are suggested by this cup of wine. The first is that wine is a symbol of the sweetness we wish for your life. There will be times when you drink from other cups, from bitter ones; but life offers opportunity to savor the sweetness. The awareness of the possibility of a life filled with true meaning is what we toast: the good that is life. The second is that wine is a symbol of sharing. You have shared many years together, and out of this time has grown the love which brought you to this day. As you continue to share in each other's life, you will, as a symbol of this enduring cooperation, share this cup of wine.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Readings (read by family members or friends)

I shall betroth thee unto me forever,

Yea, I shall betroth thee unto me in righteousness,

And in loving kindness and in compassion;

And I shall betroth thee unto me in faithfulness.

(Hosea 2;19)

I Corinthians, chapter 12:31-13:8a:

If I have all the eloquence of men (and women) or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.

If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all mysteries and knowing everything, and if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but am without love, I gain nothing.

If I give away all I possess, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but am without love, I gain nothing. (Because of its graphic content, this verse is often excluded for wedding ceremonies.)

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous nor selfish, it does not take offense and is not resentful.

Love takes not pleasure in other people's sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not end.

There are in the end three things that last: Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.

Priest's Remarks

Exchange of Vows (including the "Declaration of Consent")

Priest:

(Bride/partner) and (Groom/partner), have you come here freely and without reservations to give yourselves to each other in marriage?

Response:

We have.

(Bride) and (Groom) since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands and repeat after me.

(Groom )/(Bride):

In the name of God, I, (bride/groom) take you, (bride/groom) 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, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.

Exchange of Rings

Rabbi:

These rings in their unbroken wholeness are tokens of the continuity of your love. May their shining substance be a symbol of the enduring trust and affection that you bring to one another.

(Groom), as you place the ring on (Bride's) finger, repeat after me:
With this ring, I join my life with yours.
This is my beloved and this is my friend.
(Bride), as you place the ring on (Groom's) finger, repeat after me:
With this ring, I join my life with yours.
This is my beloved and this is my friend.

Lighting the Unity Candle

Priest:

In the wedding liturgy, candlelight symbolizes the commitment of love these two people are declaring today.

Before you you see three special candles. The two smaller candles symbolize the lives of the bride and groom. Until today, both have let their light shine as individuals in their respective communities. Now they have come to publicly proclaim their love in the new union of marriage.

They do not lose their individuality. Yet, in marriage, they are united in so close a bond that they become one. Now, following the profession of their marriage vows, they will light the large center candle from the smaller candles to symbolize this new reality. In this way they are saying that henceforth their light must shine together for each other, for their families, and for the community. [adapted for several different Christian sources]

From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls are destined to find one another, their two streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being. [Written by the Baal Shem Tov, a famous rabbi who lived centuries ago]

(The Seven Wedding Blessings are often added here, when a couple wishes to include them)

Pronouncement

Rabbi:

Your friends and family, all of us here, rejoice in your happiness and we pray that this day marks only one of many more blessings you will share in the days and years ahead. And now that you have spoken the words and performed the rites that unite your lives, we now, by the power of your love and the commitment you have made, declare your marriage to be valid and binding, and declare you (groom and bride), husband and wife.

Benediction

Rabbi and Priest alternate:
May God bless you and keep you.
May God's countenance shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God look upon you with favor and grant you peace.

Breaking of the Glass

Rabbi:
We conclude this ceremony with the breaking of the glass. It is a joyous ceremony. There are many different explanations for the breaking of the glass. Today, the fragility of the glass suggests the frailty of human relationships. The glass is broken to protect this marriage with the implied prayer...

May your bond of love be as difficult to break as it would be to put together the pieces of this glass.

After (the groom, or the bride and groom) breaks the glass, I invite everyone to shout the Hebrew words "Mazel Tov," which means "good luck" and "congratulations."

(This service is about thirty minutes long.)

Hebrew for "Who has given us life," part of a blessing thanking God for bringing us to a special or new moment. Hebrew and Yiddish for "good luck," a phrase used to express congratulations for happy and significant occasions. Hebrew for "canopy" or "covering," the structure (open on all four sides) under which a Jewish wedding ceremony takes place. In its simplest for, it consists of a cloth, sheet, or tallit stretched or supported over four poles. A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
Hebrew for "my master," the term refers to a spiritual leader and teacher of Torah. Often, but not always, a rabbi is the leader of a synagogue congregation.
Rabbi Devon A. Lerner

Rabbi Devon A. Lerner Lerner has been officiating at interfaith ceremonies since her ordination in 1979 from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She has served congregations in Atlanta, Richmond, and Boston. Rabbi Lerner received a Master of Social Work degree from Boston University in 1986, and since that time has worked as a psychotherapist in private practice and as a rabbi specializing in outreach to interfaith couples. Her book, Celebrating Interfaith Marriages, is published by Owl Books/Henry Holt & Company, Inc.She lives in Arlington, Mass.

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