Leading Worship at Weddings – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared some tips about leading worship at weddings. For me, it’s a relatively normal thing to have worship songs at a wedding, and my post assumed it was normal to you too. But I received an email from someone with a question about this, which showed me that it might not be such a normal thing to people after all. He said:

Hey man I’m getting married this fall. Until you mentioned it, I never heard of singing WORSHIP SONGS at a wedding – like for the congregation. Never heard of that. Can you describe that a little more? Like give an example of a couple songs that are “wedding appropriate.” How does it fit into the ceremony? 

Thanks man! I kinda like this idea…. 

Here’s a bit of what I shared in reply.
Some wedding ceremonies are short, sweet, and to the point. You’re there to see the bride walk up the aisle, hear the preacher say some nice words, maybe hear a ballad of some sort, hear the bride and groom say their vows, see them kiss, and see them walk down the aisle as a married couple. 20 minutes and you’re done. The real party (the reception) can now begin! Not much room for worship songs in there.
There are benefits to that kind of wedding ceremony. But the two main negatives that I can see are that (1) it makes the bride the center of the universe and (2) it’s not a worship service.
I’m of the mind that a wedding should be a worship service, and that Jesus should be the center of it. This makes it a bit longer, makes non-Christian friends/family feel a bit more uncomfortable, and adds new questions/needs to a couple’s already long list.
In the Anglican church, here’s how this looks. (You can see the liturgy here.)
Pre-service:
Instrumental music is played while the guests arrive and are seated.
Procession:
When the bride enters, the people stand, and a more robust (and brief) musical piece is played until she reaches the front
Opening words:
The pastor address the congregation and the couple. He explains that God established the covenant of marriage, that it signifies the union between Christ and his church, that it is meant to last through prosperity and adversity, if God wills it to produce children, and not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly. He then gives the congregation and the couple one last chance to name any reason why the marriage should not go forward. (This is always a fun moment.)
Declaration of consent:
The pastor asks the bride and groom if they will have each other to be their spouse for the rest of their lives. He then asks the congregation if they will support the couple.
Songs of praise:
It is here where a time of worship can be included. The wedding party can step down from the platform and stand in the front row while the bride and groom either step to the side or also down from the platform. It can be just one song, or several, whatever works best. I would recommend familiar, truth-filled songs. This is a great way to preach the gospel to your non-Christian friends and family. What are they going to do? Walk out of your wedding?
The ministry of the word:
2 or 3 scripture readings are presented by family members. You can do special or congregational songs in between them if you’d like, or if you think this is a better place than after the declaration of consent.
The homily
A fancy word for “short sermon”.
The marriage:
The man and woman exchange their vows. Then they exchange rings. Then the pastor joins their hands together and prays a blessing over them, ending with “Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder”.
Prayers:
The very first thing that happens after the couple is married is not a kiss or a song or a party – but a prayer. This is symbolic. Usually the Lord’s prayer is prayed (unless the service ends with communion, in which case it’s omitted), before moving on to a time of prayer that either the pastor can lead, or friends and family can lead. In some wedding, parents and siblings will come up and lay hands on the couple.
The blessing:
The husband and wife kneel, and the pastor prays a final prayer of blessing. Then the couple may kiss, the congregation usually celebrates, the music kicks up, and the couple and the wedding party process back down the aisle and the service is over.
If you want to include communion in your service, it would happen here. Instead of processing down the aisle, there would be what we call “the passing of the peace”, a special song, then a time of communion. This is another place where songs of praise can be sung.
The result is a longer, more complicated wedding ceremony. But hopefully it helps set a tone for your wedding day, your marriage, and your family, that God’s glory is the priority, and Jesus is the center, even on the most important day of your life.

One thought on “Leading Worship at Weddings – Part 2

  1. Jon Las July 7, 2011 / 5:22 pm

    Great program suggestion!
    I have led in singing worship songs in weddings, it gives people (Church and unchurched alike) a rather better perspective that all of life for Christians is centered on the Savior, Jesus Christ.

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