Quaker Wedding Ceremonies and Vows Quaker Wedding Ceremonies and Vows
A Quaker marriage ceremony is much simpler than any other kind of wedding. Couples declare their desire to marry either in writing or in an announcement during meeting. The meeting appoints a clearness committee to meet with the couple. Once the committee determines that the couple is ready to be married, the committee makes a recommendation for the meeting to create another committee to help the couple prepare for the wedding. This committee will help the bride and groom schedule their wedding, create the Quaker marriage certificate, and find a premarital counselor. Traditionally, Quakers do not register their marriage with the local government, but if they need to prove they are married most states accept the Quaker marriage certificate as proof.
The marriage ceremony takes place during a Worship Meeting, which is conducted mostly in silence. The couple enters the Meeting after all others have been seated and take seats in the front of the room. After the traditional period of silence, the bride and groom stand and exchange their promises with each other. One example of this is:
“In the presence of God and these our Friends, I take thee to be my wife/husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful wife/husband as long as we both shall live.”
Quaker vows are simple and straightforward, as Quakers are supposed to tell the truth at all time. They also believe that only God can officiate a marriage, so the couple declares themselves married before God. The couple signs the marriage certificate, invites the attendants to share messages, and then all present sign the marriage certificate as witnesses.
Some couples today have begun embellishing the Quaker wedding ceremony, with brides wearing white dresses and a processional that includes flower girls and bridesmaids. The exchange of rings has also been added in some communities. The Quaker Marriage Certificate is more elaborate than one might think. It is written by a calligrapher on a large sheet of parchment paper and includes the promises the couple exchanged as well as their names and the signatures of the witnesses. Couples usually frame the wedding certificate and hang it in a prominent space in their home as a reminder of their special day and all who were there to share it with them.