Put God at 
the center of your life.

 

   Let women then go on -- not asking favors, but claiming as a right the removal of all hindrances to her elevation in the scale of being -- let her receive encouragement for the proper cultivation of all her powers, so that she may enter profitably into the active business of life ... Then in the marriage union, the independence of the husband and wife will be equal, their dependence mutual, and their obligations reciprocal.
                                                                                  —Lucretia Mott
From its beginning, the Religious Society of Friends has stressed the conviction that marriage is a binding relationship entered into in the presence of God and of witnessing Friends. Before a couple can be married under the care of our Meeting, a couple must first write a letter to the Clerk of the Meeting expressing their wishes. The Clerk reads the request at Monthly Meeting for Business and forwards it to the Marriage and Membership Committee. The Marriage and Membership Committee selects several of its members to meet in clearness with the couple and report their recommendation at the next Monthly Meeting for Business. Upon receiving the Meeting's approval for marriage, several people are selected to give loving oversight to the wedding and to ensure that the Quaker marriage license has been legally recorded after the ceremony.

The wedding, itself, takes place in a called or special Meeting for Worship. The bridal couple enter the meeting and sit on the facing benches in the front of the room. In giving themselves to each other, they eliminate the custom of the bride being given away by her father. No third person pronounces them man and wife because Friends believe that God alone can create such a union and give it significance. Neither a bridal party nor an exchange of rings is necessary to Friends' procedure, although both have become customary today.

After a period of silence, the couple rise and face each other. Taking each other by the hand, they say their vows, first the groom and then the bride, using the following or similar words:

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 husband (wife)
so long as we both shall live.

As soon as the couple sits down again, one of the wedding overseers brings them the marriage certificate for them to sign, the bride signing her married name for the first time. The overseer then reads the certificate to all, asking that each person in attendance sign the document as a witness at the close of meeting. The Meeting returns to silent worship but welcomes anyone wishing to speak.

The oversseer may provide an opportunity for the bridal party to leave at this point. One of the wedding overseers asks those in attendance to sign the certificate as witnesses to the marriage. It’s the responsibility of our Marriage and Membership Committee to make a copy of the certificate for our meeting records and to complete the legal requirements for the marriage.

Many Quaker marriage certificates, handed down from generation to generation, have proved to be valuable historical records. Today, as well, the certificate becomes a cherished possession in the couple’s new home, recalling the reverent attitude of worship with which the marriage began and the company of loving friends who took part in it.

The wedding is over when the overseers shake hands.

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