What Should a Christian Wedding Look Like?

I’ve attended many Christian weddings over the years. All had several things in common, with their own unique touches. They provide a brilliant opportunity for God to be glorified and for the gospel to be proclaimed, particularly to friends and relatives who aren’t Christians. There is no definitive answer as to what a Christian wedding should look like, but there are several things that should be considered.

The Ceremony

Arguably the most important part of the day is the wedding ceremony. Aside from the usual formalities (vows and exchange of rings), the bride and groom are free to choose what to include.

Entrance / Exit Music

Traditionally, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle at the start of the ceremony one by one, followed by the bride and her father. This is a dramatic moment in which the bride is revealed to everyone present and is usually accompanied by music. Popular choices include Pachelbel’s Canon in D or Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah.

Instead of opting for a piece of classical music or popular song, why not consider a Christian song? When my sister got married, she walked down the aisle to Phil Wickham’s You’re Beautiful. While unexpected, this gave everyone something to think about and was a lovely choice.

It’s also worth considering something similar for the exit of the bridal party at the end of the ceremony.

Songs

All Christian weddings that I’ve attended have featured songs of worship or hymns during the ceremony. These are usually celebratory and upbeat – it is a happy occasion after all! It’s entirely up to you as a couple to decide on the songs, but those that proclaim the gospel and sing of what Jesus has done are best. From my experience, the most common ones are:

Once you’ve chosen the songs you’d like, it’s worth thinking about musicians. You could just opt for a singer with a guitar, or go for a fuller sound and add drums, bass, piano, or other instruments. It’s also worth checking out the sound system at the venue to see what’s viable.

Bible Readings

I would say that having one or two Bible readings is essential to a Christian wedding, as this will provide a focus for the address. When we think of wedding Bible readings, we tend to think of passages about love (such as “love is patient, love is kind” or “God is love”). While there is nothing wrong with them, you don’t have to choose these.

In fact, most of the Christian weddings I’ve attended have had alternative Bible readings. For Christians, marriage is a picture of the relationship Jesus has with his bride, the church. So for instance, you could choose a passage from Revelation 21 or 22. While a wedding is indeed a fantastic celebration, it is nothing compared to the events described in the book of Revelation.

I attended a wedding recently, during which Philippians 2:1-11 was read. In this passage, Paul talks about Christ’s example of humility, particularly by “counting others more significant than yourselves.”

Other possibilities include Romans 12:9-21 or Colossians 3:12-17, which talk about living as Christians and how we should glorify God in all that we do. Alternatively Matthew 6:19-21, in which Jesus commands us to not store up treasure on earth, reminds us that marriages on earth are temporary.

The Address

Whichever passage you choose, remember the potential for evangelism. The address, while primarily aimed at the bride and groom, is a fantastic chance for the gospel to be proclaimed. I would therefore advise against choosing a passage that is obscure or difficult to understand.

Hopefully you’ll know several people, either through your church or other connections, who can confidently deliver a clear, biblical address at your wedding. Once you’ve identified your preferred speaker, have a conversation with them well in advance and see if they’re willing to fulfil this role.

Prayers

All of the Christian weddings I’ve attended have included a slot for prayers during the ceremony. This gives you the chance to be prayed for as a married couple in front of the whole congregation. Consider choosing two close Christian friends or family members to do this for you.

Signing of the Register

If the venue permits, you may be able to sign the register during the ceremony (otherwise this is typically done at a registry office a few days beforehand). As this takes a few minutes, consider having a performance of a piece of music or a song that means something to you both.

Order of Service

When you have decided on the individual elements of your ceremony, you’ll need to decide on the order of service. The choice is entirely up to you, but here’s an example:

  • Entrance of the Bride
  • Welcome
  • Song 1
  • The Marriage
  • Songs 2 & 3
  • Bible Reading
  • The Address
  • Song 4
  • Signing of the Register (if applicable)
  • Prayers
  • Song 5
  • Final Blessing
  • Exit of the Bridal Party

Once you’re happy with the order, you can decide on a design for the printed copies that will be given to the guests on arrival. You could even include a Bible verse on the back. If the venue has a projector, it may be worth considering having song lyrics on a screen instead of printed (or you could have both). It’s also worth checking the lyrics thoroughly as some songs (such as Be Thou My Vision) have several versions.

The Reception

The wedding reception will also provide subtle opportunities to show your guests what your faith means to you.

Speeches

The wedding speeches (or toasts), where possible, could include references to your faith. For example, the groom could talk about how valuable the support of a church family is. At my sister’s wedding, my brother-in-law’s best man highlighted the importance of praying for the newlyweds.

Meal

Before serving the meal (or wedding breakfast), consider having someone pray. A brief prayer giving thanks for the food and for the newly married couple speaks of how all good things come from God.

First Dance

Your first dance as a married couple is an iconic moment. Guests are excited to find out which song you’ve chosen, and to see you dance together for the first time. From Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud to Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, from Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours to Lonestar’s Amazed, there are countless options.

How about considering a Christian song? My sister and brother-in-law had Jeremy Riddle’s Fall Afresh for their first dance. While unexpected, the song’s tempo was perfect for the occasion. Its thought-provoking lyrics also gave opportunities for non-Christians to ask, “why have they chosen this?” It was a simple yet profound way of sharing their faith.

Cake

The wedding cake will be the biggest and most expensive cake you’ll ever buy. Why not add something unique that speaks of your faith? Cake toppers come in all kinds of varieties. For example, check out this Christian cake topper, featuring the message “God gave me you.” It’ll put the icing on the cake (sorry).

Favours

Wedding favours are a way of thanking your guests for joining you on your special day. Instead of opting for traditional gifts, consider these personalised wedding magnets, engraved with your names, wedding date and Song of Solomon 3:4. Your guests can stick them on their fridges to remember your special day.

Gift List

Many of your guests will want to buy you a gift for your special day. By creating a gift list, you can let your friends and family know what you would like. This means that you get exactly what you want and guests don’t need to worry about what to buy.

By creating a free wedding registry or wedding list on Amazon, you can choose which items you’d like from the millions on offer. You’ll be given a link to share with your guests who can choose what to buy, and everything will be delivered to your door. You can highlight your favourite products and Amazon will keep track of who bought what, so you can say thank you. It’s extremely easy to set up as it’s all online and will save you lots of time.

Why not create an Amazon Wedding Registry (US) or Wedding List (UK) right now?

Further Reading

I’d highly recommend Tim Keller’s Meaning of Marriage. It’s a brilliant book not only for engaged or married couples, but for everyone, regardless of relationship status. In the book, Tim and his wife, Kathy, explore what marriage is, why God gave it to us, and what it means for all of us. The insights are biblical and thoughtful, and provide an honest perspective on the reality of marriage.

For me, one of the most helpful insights is that we never marry the right person. The idea that each of us has a soulmate and that we must spend our lives searching for “the one” is nonsense. No two people on the planet are 100% compatible. Therefore, marriage requires lots of hard work and love.

There’s also lots of helpful, practical advice on what makes a successful marriage, and a chapter that explores the theology of singleness. Why not consider reading it together before you get married? You can pick it up on Amazon.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. I wish you all the best as you plan your wedding!

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