Suggestions For The Conduct Of A Minister At Weddings
1. The wedding ceremony should be neither too long nor too short.
Many couples will ask for a short ceremony.
There will be times when the minister is called upon to perform marriage ceremonies
at formal home weddings or church weddings.
Of course, in these a more formal ceremony is desired.
So, every minister should have at least two married ceremonies.
One should be brief, and the other more formal.
2. The marriage ceremony is among the most solemn of the ceremonies of life.
Every minister should remember this.
Many ministers will be tempted to use poetic and have high sounding sentences in their ceremonies.
They should be careful to avoid an extreme in this respect.
They should remember that things can be both beautiful and formal, and that in seeking to string together
a lot of beautiful words, composing beautiful sentences, formality and dignity can be sacrificed
to the practical ruin of the impressiveness of the ceremony.
3. Some ministers will prepare their own ceremonies, but the same line of thought runs through them all,
the only material difference is in the terms and expressions used.
Many ministers memorize their ceremonies and use them without the aid of a book.
It is my opinion that fewer mistakes are made and a more general impressiveness is added
to the whole occasion where the sermon is read from some book or from the typewritten page.
4. The demand today for the ring ceremony is almost universal, and very often the modern minister is requested
to use the double ring ceremony.
Every minister should prepare himself for using the ring ceremonies so that he may perform them with grace.
The two ceremonies that I have given on Pipeline were prepared by a minister who has had
many years of experience in the ministry and who have been very popular with couples desiring to be married.
5. The minister should be very careful of his dress at weddings, especially if they are formal affairs,
either in the church or in the home.
He is not required to wear approved evening dress clothes at full dress weddings,
but he should wear the approved full dress for the pulpit.
A neat suit is all that is necessary.
He is at perfect liberty to do so, however, in the case of weddings he may be provided by those
being marriage a formal suit to wear for the wedding.
6. Very often the pastor is consulted in making arrangements for the church wedding,
and is asked to take part in the rehearsal.
In many cases he will be asked to suggest to the young people just how the wedding may be
carried out properly.
So, it is well for the minister to be familiar with the best customs in order that he may be thoroughly prepared
to advise his young people when necessity requires it.
7. A formal church wedding is usually, though not always, celebrated in the evening.
Sometimes, it is celebrated at another hour of the day.
But the standard custom favors the evening hour.
It is a full-dress affair.
Usually the people to be married are familiar with the fashions of the time.
On such occasions, the following parties are necessary to the proper observance of the affair.
That would consist of two or more bridesmaids, two or more ushers or groomsmen, the maid or matron of honor,
the best man, the ring-bearer, the flower girl, in addition to the bride and groom.
Sometimes the father or another male relative of the bride may be included to give the bride away.
Usually, there are musicians who sing appropriate selections immediately preceding the ceremony,
or else provide instrumental numbers.
The ushers or groomsmen are present when the doors are opened and have the responsibility
of seating the people in their proper seating.
After the special music has been rendered, the organist begins the wedding march.
Then the following procedure is observed.
The minister enters the church from a side door or steps from some of secure corner and proceeds
with deliberate step to the altar.
At the same time, one of the groomsmen and one of the bridesmaids start down the aisles of the church
and proceed to the altar with measured step, the groomsmen going down the aisle to the right of the minister
and the bridesmaids going down the opposite aisle.
Upon their arrival at the altar they meet and pass each other, taking their stand,
and the groomsman to the extreme left of the minister and the bridesmaid to his extreme right.
These are followed by the other groomsmen and bridesmaids in proper order, who also meet
and pass each other at the altar and take their stand, the groomsmen to the left
and the bridesmaids to the right of the minister.
Then follow the ring bearer, going down the left aisle, and the flower girl, going down the right aisle.
Upon their arrival at the altar the ring bearer stands only immediate left of the minister
and the flower girl on his right.
Then the bride with her maid or matron of honor proceeds down the right aisle,
while the groom with his best man proceeds down the left aisle.
(In most of the weddings that I did, the matron of honor came first and the bride was the last one down the aisle.)
When they meet at the altar, the bride takes the left arm of the groom as they both stand
immediately in front of the minister.
The maid or matron of honor remains at the side of the bride but a step away,
while the best man stands at the side of the groom also a step away.
If the father gives the bride away, then the maid or matron of honor proceeds the bride and her father
down the aisle and stands a little to one side until the father has escorted the bride to the side of the groom.
Then the maid or matron of honor stands at the side of the bride but a step away.
The father after escorting the bride to the groom (after being asked by the minister,
"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"
The father usually answers, "Her mother and I.")
Then the father usually joins his family in the second pew.
When the ceremony is completed,
(The ring bearer and the flower girl leads the procession out the right aisle.
As they go the flower girl scatters flowers.
(In many weddings the flower girl scatters flowers before the bride's walk down the aisle.
Then the the bride and groom - the new husband and wife are the first to leave followed by the others in turn.
This should be decided by them as the wedding is being planned.)
Now They are followed by the bride and groom, who are followed by the maid of honor and best man,
and then in turn are followed y the several couples of bridesmaids and groomsmen.
This order is varied to suit the whims of the contracting parties or to conform to the different architectural types
in church buildings.
But this is the standard custom.
In most instances there are always someone present who is familiar with the best customs,
and who can give the necessary information.
These instructions that are included here are for the benefit of young ministers who wish to familiarize
themselves with the best customs before they have actual opportunity to observe or practice them.
8. Marriage is both a symbol and a divine contract.
Consequently, a marriage ceremony is not lawful without a license issued by the authorized authorities.
The minister cannot perform the marriage ceremony unless the license is in his possession.
Therefore, he should take care to see that somebody, the groom or best man, turns the license over to him
before the time set for the wedding.
This custom will prevent any embarrassment which may occur.
The minister should remember that the contracting parties are usually excited, and are therefore liable
to overlook something so important.
(This happened in one wedding that I was to officiate.
The best man had to go back to the house and get the license before we could do the wedding.)
Then it may be that they are not informed and do not really know that the license
must be in the hands of the minister before the wedding.
The minister must look after this detail, and take care to fill out the details that are required
by the authorities. and deliver it to the proper authorities.
9. Year by year the legal requirements of marriage become more strict.
These requirements differ in different states.
The minister should seek to know the requirements immediately after he takes up his residence
in a new state in order that he may fulfill them and be ready to perform the marriage ceremony
according to the law of that state.
In one state the minister must give bond, in another he must have his credentials recorded
in the circuit clerk's office, and in another state he must give his title and position as his authority
for performing the marriage ceremony.
Because a minister might not have followed these varying requirements,
some ministers have found themselves embarrassed.
This can be avoided by inquiring at the courthouse as soon as the minister enters
upon a new work in a new state.