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How to Construct a Ceremony

Weddings at Findhorn

Set out below is a suggested running order for a marriage celebration. We begin with Welcomes, then Some Thoughts on Marriage, then Vows, then Ring Exchange, then Completions and finally Closing Words. Additional Ideas contains some creative suggestions for something a little different.

Clicking on the headings below will open a few examples of the wording that can be used at each step in the process. It is not exhaustive but offered as inspiration to help you create your own ceremony when discussing your own preferences with our celebrant.

As these examples are taken from various ceremonies officiated over by our celebrants, you will probably find some wording duplication as similar wording can be woven into different ceremonies.

Welcomes

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of how our celebrant can welcome and open the proceedings. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own welcome with our celebrant.

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Janet and David today you celebrate one of life’s greatest moments and give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, as you join together in vows of marriage.

This is a story of two adventurers, two souls whose paths were allowed to cross through their travels. You have been given a gift, that gift is each other. As you embark on a new journey together as husband and wife remember that real love is not absorption in each other, rather, it is facing outward and travelling in the same direction together while sharing the joys of the journey. Burdens may seem lighter because you divide them, all the while reminding the other that while the present may be challenging, the direction of the journey should always be towards love.

On behalf of Hannah and David I would like to welcome you all here to Eilean Donan Castle. They would like to express their gratitude to you all for coming so far to be with them today. It means a lot to them that you can be here to share with them in their happiness, and to witness their marriage vows. Getting married is a declaration of two people’s love that defines a relationship and signifies the beginning of a new life together for both. It shows a desire by two people to share themselves and their experiences with each other, it shows a willingness to accept each other for who they are as individuals.

Welcome everybody and indeed congratulations to you for all being here today. Everyone has made a huge effort and travelled a long way. I know that Sarah and Stephen really do appreciate it!

As I’m sure you know, Sarah and Stephen have themselves travelled a long and happy journey to get here today; a journey lasting quite a few years! Love has helped them find their path so far. Love is a miraculous gift and a wedding is a celebration of that miracle. Sarah and Stephen, today you choose to begin the next stage in your journey together by committing to marriage.

We are here to celebrate love. Love organises our large and sometimes unpredictable world. It is that which enshrines and ennobles our human experience. It is the basis for the peace of family and the peace of the peoples of the earth. The greatest gift bestowed upon humans is the gift of love freely given between two persons.

We gather here today under this sky in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. You have chosen a quiet personal wedding to reflect the deep personal love you have found in one another. This ceremony is a celebration of the commitment between two souls already one in spirit.

Al and Jess’ life together is already filled with laughter, respect, a deep devotion and an unwavering belief in their future together whatever the future may hold. Their promises are a continuation of the way they currently share life, with an understanding of the importance of listening, sharing and protecting one another, as well as their ability to cherish each moment they have together. In the words of Louis de Bernier, their ‘roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that they should ever part’.

Good afternoon everyone, my name is Judi Buttner and on behalf of Adrian and Helen I would like to welcome you all to Rua Reidh Lighthouse in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. It means a great deal to them to have their family and friends present to share with them in their happiness and to witness their marriage vows.

Your willingness to travel here means a great deal to them, so please accept their heartfelt appreciation. Adrian and Helen have chosen this special place because they wanted their marriage to feel right for them, choosing, as always, their own individual approach rather than following tradition. They have created this service to reflect their true and honest feelings and to create their special day.

It is more usual at this time to ask ‘Who gives the bride in marriage?’, but I ask simply if she comes of her own will and if she has her family’s blessing.

Just wanted to send you a quick note to say thank you so much for being our special wedding celebrant. Looking back we both feel that the service was our favourite part of the day and many of our guests remarked on how lovely it was. We were really glad that the words were personal to us… We will definitely call you again if we are lucky enough to have a Christening in the future.Alison and Paul

Some Thoughts on Marriage

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of how our celebrant can introduce some additional thoughts on the subject of marriage. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own ceremony with our celebrant.

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Who is it that brings Myriam to Robert?
(Father) Her mother and I. (He will place the bride’s hand in the groom’s and step back.)

Robert and Myriam, life is given to each of us as individuals, and yet we must learn to live together. Love is given to us by our family and friends. We learn to love by being loved. Learning to love and living together is one of life’s greatest challenges and is the shared goal of a married life. The measure of true love is a love both freely given and freely accepted. As you travel through life together, I ask you to remember that the true measure of success, the true avenue to joy and peace, is to be found within the love you hold in your hearts.

We are told love conquers all. As your lives continue to interweave as one pattern, remember that it was love that brought you here today, it is love that will make this a glorious union, and it is love which will cause this union to endure.

Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your life partner as about your own. Real love is not total absorption in each other, rather it is looking outward in the same direction together. Love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. It makes joys more intense because you share them. It makes you stronger, so you can be involved with life in ways you dare not risk alone.

The point of marriage is not to create communality by tearing down all boundaries. On the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his or her solitude and thus shows the other the greatest possible trust. This requires closeness and distance – closeness of a couple growing together and enough distance to allow each partner to be individual. A good partner in such a marriage will be loving and caring and, above all, a best friend and soulmate.

Getting married shows a desire by two people to share themselves and their experiences with each other. A successful marriage calls for honesty, patience, a willingness to accept each other for who they are as an individual, and a sense of humour usually helps! In a close marriage each partner cares for the other and supports them in what they do.

More than this, a commitment to your marriage can also inspire you to provide love, friendship, help and comfort for the each other in times of joy and hardship. It offers the opportunity for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining of two people in love.

Your commitment deepens and enriches every aspect of life as it is a commitment to life, the best, that two people can form with each other. A husband and wife are each others best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener and critic.

Marriage is more than just a social convention or a legal contract between two people. In its highest form, true marriage is the union of two souls already attuned to one another. When such a true bond already exists between a man and a woman, it is fitting that a public commitment be made, and so we are here today to join together these two people who are already one in spirit.

Stephen and Karlien, you are now taking into your care and keeping the happiness of the one person whom you love the most in all the world. In making this commitment to one another, you are agreeing to share strength, responsibilities and love, all the days of your lives.

May you always need one another, not so much to fill the emptiness as to help each other know your fullness. May you want one another, but not for lack. May you embrace one another, but never overshadow one another. May you have happiness, and may you find it in making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.

We want to thank you again for making our wedding celebration so wonderful! You took so much care and made our wedding unforgetable… We will always remember our special day, it was so emotional! You are really gifted with your talent.Charlene and Mirko

Vows

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of the wording used in exchanging marriage vows. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own ceremony with our celebrant.

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Will you David take Victoria to be your wife?
Will you treasure your relationship and love her always?
Will you trust and support her in all that you do?
Will you give her room to grow and keep your heart and mind open to her?
For better or worse will you stand by her faithfully and share your laughter and your tears?
As you have given her your hand to hold will you give her your life to share?

David: I will
(Repeat for Victoria)

Two entwined in love, bound by commitment and fear, sadness and joy, by hardship and victory, anger and reconciliation, all of which brings strength to this union. Hold tight to one another through both good and bad times and watch your strength grow as your bond together becomes forever stronger.

Bea and Iain, will you honour and respect one another and seek never to break that honour?
We will.
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
We will.
Will you share the burdens of each other so that your spirits grow in this union?
We will.
Will you share each other’s laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
We will.

Iain do you take Bea to be your wife?
Iain: I do
Bea do you take Iain to be your husband?
Bea: I do

Repeat after me:
From this day forward I promise you these things.
I will laugh with you in times of joy and comfort you in times of sorrow.
I will share in your dreams, and support you as you strive to achieve your goals.
I will remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health.
You are my best friend and soulmate and I will love and respect you always.

Judi: Do you take Stephen to be your husband?
Sarah: I do
(Repeat for Stephen)

Judi:
David, please say these words as you place this ring on your bride’s finger:
‘Samantha, I accept you just as you are today. I give to you my promise that from this day forward, you will not walk alone. We will be forever side by side, rich in laughter, close in friendship. Feel deeply loved, for you are. With this ring, I give you my heart. I have no greater gift to give. I promise to dream with you, and to work to make our dreams come true. I promise to be faithful to you, and never to allow anything to build a wall between us. I am honoured to call you mine. With this ring, a symbol of my love for you, I ask you, will you be my wife?’

Samantha: I will.
(Repeat for Samantha)

We just wanted to say a huge thank you for making our wedding so special – as Gordon said so well on the day, you helped us to make our dreams come true.Jess and Al

Ring Exchange

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of the wording used in exchanging marriage rings. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own ceremony with our celebrant.

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Judi:
The exchange of rings is one of the deepest symbols of marriage. It is a constant reminder, a shared touch between a man and a woman. As these circles have no end, they speak of eternity.

Let these rings symbolise the devotion, commitment and love you hold for one another. These rings, given in love, are a testimony to all who bear witness that Derek and Linda are truly joined as husband and wife. They mark the beginning of a long journey together. May these rings be a daily reminder to you of your vows to each other and your resolve to live together in unity, love and happiness.

Linda, repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a symbol of our love. With all that I am, and all that I have, I honour you. I will be true to you, love you, and grow with you throughout all the years.

Derek, repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a symbol of our love. With all that I am, and all that I have, I honour you. I will be true to you, love you, and grow with you throughout all the years.

Circles represent eternity, and though our lives are finite, love is everlasting – it is the creative force that binds us together, the force that gives new life. The blessings of air upon these rings and your love, that you share communication and creativity. The blessings of fire so that you share passion and the intensity of life together. The blessings of water so that you remain empathetic and compassionate. The blessings of earth upon these rings and your love, that you share health and sexuality.

We are born of stardust and deepest oceans, of erupting volcanos and the bones of the earth. In making a commitment to loving each other, you share that which is best in all of us.

Daune, place the ring on Jon’s finger and repeat after me:
With this ring, I thee wed.

Jon, place the ring on Duane’s finger and repeat after me:
With this ring, I thee wed.

Colm and Angela, as a symbol of your love and respect for each other, it is now time for you to exchange rings.

Colm please repeat after me:
I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I promise to care for you with love and friendship, to support and comfort you through good times and troubled times.
(Repeat for Angela)

Craig: As I have given you my hand and my heart to hold, I have given you my life to share. This ring symbolises my love for you, and our enduring strength and unity.
(Repeat for Debbie)

Judi:
May this ring, given in love, be blessed. May she who gives it and he who wears it continue in love and happiness.

Lyddy, please repeat after me:
My promise to you is but a simple one, I will love you today and every day that follows, until the end of time. With all that I am, and all that I have, I honour you. I will be true to you, cherish you and grow with you throughout all the years. I give you this ring as a symbol of my promise.
(Repeat for Ian)

We wanted to thank you so much for conducting our wedding ceremony. It was really beautiful and we will treasure the memories always. Talking to our families afterwards, they all agreed how lovely and meaningful it was. We especially remember your reiterating the part about being best friends, which is so important.

Graeme and Janet

Completions

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of how our celebrant can close and complete the ceremony. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own ceremony with our celebrant.

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Abigail and Alan are thankful to all of the people who have played a part in their lives; those who have loved them, shared with them, cried with them, laughed with them and pointed them to the way of living that has brought them from their first meeting to this ceremony today.

Friends and family, now that you have heard Alan and Abigail recite their vows, do you promise from this day forward to encourage them and love them, to give them your guidance, and to support them in being steadfast in the promises they have made. If so please respond with a resounding ‘We do!’

In some ways, it seems like you have not done anything at all. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different from yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life, the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage.

Alan and Abigail, may you treasure this trust and responsibility, may no failure or misfortune ever part you and may you live full and happy lives together.
 
It gives me great pleasure to declare that you are now husband and wife. Alan you may kiss your wife.

In making this commitment, you forego the lives you led before, as you strike out anew on a common path. But your marriage today not only joins together two people, two families, and two destinies… you also begin a new family, and through your descendants your marriage will live on forever. From this day forward you will shape a new and common destiny, and in so doing you touch eternity, because your union becomes a fragment of the everlasting.

Stephen and Karlien, having witnessed your vows to each other, it is my pleasure, by the authority vested in me by the Registrar General of Scotland, to pronounce you husband and wife. You may now seal the promises you have made to each other with a kiss.

There is nothing more lovely in life than the union of two people whose love for one another has grown throughout the years. Your two lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever you go, may you always return to one another in your togetherness. May you grow in understanding and compassion. Make your home a haven of rest and peace, a place of happiness for all who enter it, where the old and the young are renewed in each others company; a place for music and for laughter, for growing, sharing and love.

And now, having witnessed your vows to each other symbolised by the exchange of rings, it is my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife.

David and Moira, as the two of you come into this marriage uniting you as husband and wife, and as you this day affirm your faith and love for one another, I would ask that you always remember to cherish each other as special and unique individuals and that you respect the thoughts, ideas and suggestions of one another. Be able to forgive, do not hold grudges, and live each day that you may share it together – as from this day forward you shall be each other’s home, comfort and refuge, your marriage strengthened by your love and respect.

I now pronounce that you are husband and wife.

Mark and Margaret, I have seen you both formalise this union openly by stating your love for each other. May your love be as beautiful on each day you share as it is on this day of celebration. May you always see and encourage the best in each other. May the challenges life brings your way make your marriage even stronger and may you always be each other’s best friend, soul mate and greatest love.

It is my great pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife.

We would like to say a big thank you for everything you did to make our wedding so very special. It was truly a magical occasion. We really appreciated your help and support as we were putting our ceremony together and your encouragement during the run up to the day itself.Jennifer and Steve

Closing Words

We offer below some examples, used in previous ceremonies, of wording our celebrant can use as a blessing at the end of the ceremony. Please use these as inspiration, and possibly a guide to help you devise your own ceremony with our celebrant.

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May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your home,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And the light of friendship guide your paths together,
And until we meet again,
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune, Rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
May green be the grass you walk on.
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
And when eternity (can use God here) beckons, at the end of a life heaped high with love,
May you know the hand of a friend was always near.
And, today, may the Spirit of Love find a dwelling place in your hearts

May all that you are, always be in love. May all that is love, always be in you. May your love be as beautiful on each day you share as it is on this day of celebration, and may each day you share be as precious to you as the day you first fell in love. May you always see and encourage the best in each other. May the challenges life brings your way make your marriage even stronger. And may you always be each other’s best friend and greatest love.

May God bless you with hope enough to keep sunshine in your love, and fear enough to keep you holding hands in the dark; unity enough to keep your roots entwined, and separation enough to keep you reaching for each other; harmony enough to keep romance in your song, and discord enough to keep you tuning your love so it becomes sweet music to all who may hear it.

The vows you have just taken pledging love, mean far more then words can ever mean.

May their gentle spirit in you move.
May your years fulfil the beauty of the feelings whose expression we’ve just seen, and the vows you have just taken pledging love.
And may you always put these vows above the things that make life smaller and more mean.

May their gentle spirit in you move.
May your children know the power of these words to shape a world that’s sane and clean, these vows you have just taken, pledging love.
And if someday there is a need to prove the strength of will from these words you glean.

May their gentle spirit in you move.
Let no fear or pain your love remove, nor shallow, selfish hope your true love screen.
Let the vows you’ve taken, pledging love, in their awesome grace within you move.

Today you join your lives together and begin a new family. The circle and substance of family is not by blood alone but by love, respect and commitment. Indeed, the circle of family made by choice can be as strong as that of blood. As Andrea and Mark have made promises to each other they also enter into a covenant with Thomas. (Ask Thomas to step forward and speak to him.)

Not only are Mum and Mark creating a marriage, but they are also forming a family with you Thomas. Just as it is appropriate for Mum and Mark to declare their love for each other in the exchange of rings they also wish to let you know how important you are to them and what a major part in their new lives you are.

Thank you so much for performing our wedding ceremony for us so beautifully… Your patience and kindness helped make our day very special.Phil and Marnie

Additional Ideas

Handfasting

Handfasting was the word used throughout the Celtic lands of Scotland and Northern England to refer to a commitment of betrothal or engagement. It was a ceremony in which the couple publicly declared their intention to marry. It is a ritual in which the bride’s and groom’s hands are tied together – hence the phrase ‘tying the knot’.

Alison and Andrew, will you now join hands for the rite of handfasting.

As this knot is tied, so are your lives now bound. We put into this cord, into its very fibres, all of the hopes of your friends and family, and of yourselves, for your new life together. With the fashioning of this knot do I tie all the desires, dreams, love and happiness wished here in this place to your lives for as long as love shall last. By this cord you are thus bound to your vows. May it draw your hands together in love, never to be used in anger. May the vows you will speak never grow bitter in your mouths. Bless these hands that will hold one another in passion and love. Bless these hands that will provide for one another and seek shelter for one another. Bless these hands that will hold your children, to comfort them in grief and hold them in affection. Two entwined in love, bound by commitment and fear, sadness and joy, by hardship and victory, anger and reconciliation, all of which brings strength to this union. Hold tight to one another through both good times and bad, and watch your strength grow as your bond together becomes forever stronger.

Hand fasting was an ancient Celtic ceremony, in which the couple publicly declared their intention to marry. It is a ritual in which the bride and groom’s hands are tied together, symbolising their commitment to each other.

Stu and Jen, please face each other and hold each other’s hands, those of your best friend, strong and vibrant with love, and witness their gentleness and warmth. This cord will bind your hands together and intertwine your lives. Drawing your hands together in love, never to be used in anger. May the vows you will speak never grow bitter in your mouths. By this cord you will be bound to the vows you are about to make. Hold tight to one another through both good times and bad and watch your strength grow as your bond together becomes forever stronger.

Making this knot, I tie all the desires, dreams, love and happiness wished for your lives as you become intertwined together in thought, word and action. Stu and Jen as you face each other, please repeat after me:

These are the hands that will hold you in passion and love
(Stu and Jen Repeat)
These are the hands that will hold you tight as we struggle through difficult times
(Stuand Jen Repeat)
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness and hold you in times of fear or grief
(Stu and Jen Repeat)
These are the hands that will support and encourage you to achieve your dreams
(Stu and Jen Repeat)
These are the hands that will hold our children, comfort them in grief and hold them in affection
(Stu and Jen Repeat)
These are the hands that are holding yours on our wedding day, and I promise to love you all the days of my life
(Stu and Jen Repeat).

Judi: May this knot remain tied for as long as love shall last. In the joining of hands and the fashion of a knot, so are your lives now bound, one to another. May you be forever one, sharing in all things, in love and loyalty, for all time to come.

The use of candles

Beginning of the ceremony
Colm and Angela will now light three candles. The first two symbolise their individual lives. The two distinct flames represent their lives to this moment; individual and unique. Everything you have ever experienced, everything you have ever done and everything you have ever learned has brought you to this moment as you now stand before these witnesses to take each other as husband and wife.
(Light candles)
The third is in remembrance for friends and family who are unable to join us today.
(Light candle and pause a moment)

End of ceremony
And to complete this ceremony, Colm and Angela will light a candle symbolising their life together. They will do this using the two candles that were lit in the beginning of the ceremony that symbolise their individual lives. All three candles remain lit as even though marriage brings us into a close and intimate bond as we share life’s journey together, we will always remain unique individuals.
(Light candle)

Hand Blessings

Alison, please face Adrian, and hold his hands, palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief fills you. These are the hands that will give you support and celebrate with you in your accomplishments.

Adrian, please hold Alison’s hands, palms up, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. They are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to fulfil your dreams. Together, as a team, everything you wish for can be realised.

Closing the ceremony with a quaich

The Scottish Quaich or Loving Cup is a traditional way of involving family and friends in the ceremony. As the final part of this ceremony and their first act as a married couple, Ian and Kirsten will drink from their quaich and invite all of you to join them in doing this to celebrate their marriage. The whisky used today is Ben Rinnes in honour of the mountain we see before us. The couple also asks that as you take a sip, you make a wish. While the quaich is being passed around, we will be signing the legal documents.