Interfaith Ceremony (Jewish-Christian)
Wedding Ceremony for
Groom Full Name & Bride Full Name
Opening Logistics (3 minutes)
Music changes (this is the official start of the ceremony)
Grandparents are seated
Parents are seated
[Groom] enters with Best man and Groomsmen from a side door
Maid of honor and Bride’s maids walk down aisle individually
Paul asks guests to stand
Music changes to bridal march
[Bride] is escorted by her father
Music stops briefly then continues (low volume) throughout ceremony (no music during vows)
23 minute ceremony as presented
Welcoming guests (1 minute)
Paul: Parents, friends, and family: We are gathered here today in the presence of God to witness the joining of [GroomFull] and [BrideFull] in matrimony. [Groom] and [Bride] welcome you today, in gratitude for the important roles you have played in their lives. You have each played a part in the wonderful people they have become. Your love and support has enabled them to grow, and to be able to share their love with each other here today.
Each of [Groom]’s and [Bride]’s families and friends represent a circle of love. Circles of love where members care for each other, love each other, and nurture each other, in good times and in bad. Today, [Groom] and [Bride] join their lives together to create a new family circle, one that overlaps with, and is made stronger by each of the other circles from which it has emerged. Today, you are here to witness the creation of this new circle of love, and to offer your support for their new family in the years to come.
Who presents this woman to be married to this man?
[Bride]’s father: Her mother and I.
([Bride]’s father kisses her, gives her hand to [Groom], and is seated)
Shehechyanu (1 minute)
Paul: In the Jewish tradition, there is a very special prayer that is said upon reaching a joyous occasion, called the Shehechyanu. The Shehechyanu is said when a baby is born, when a baby learns to walk, upon celebrating religious and educational milestones, at important holiday celebrations, and on the union of two people who join together in the sacred bond of marriage. The Shehechyanu expresses our gratitude for being able to be with [Groom] and [Bride] on this very special occasion.
Paul: Blessed are you, creator of the universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and permitted us to celebrate this joyous occasion.
(Optional to be recited by [Hebrew speaker]): Baruch ata Adonai elohenu melech haolam Shehecheyanu Vekeeyamanu Vehigeeyanu Lazman Hazeh.
Lighting of the Individual Candles for the Unity Candle (3 minutes)
Paul: The mothers of [Groom] and [Bride] will now light two individual candles,
symbolic of the individuality of the couple and their families here at the beginning of this ceremony.
Paul: You, as mothers, have given each of your children the gift of love. It is a unique kind of love known as a “mother’s love”. Your love for your children has taught them to radiate the same kind of love to others and has helped form them into who they are today. Although mothers are not always looked upon by their children as a picture of perfection, they are always looked upon as the personification of love. We thank you for this love you unselfishly continue to give to your children, because this love enriches the world as your children pass on your love to future generations.
Mothers move forward and simultaneously light their individual candles.
Reading by a Christian friend of the couple, [Christian friend] (2 minute)
Paul: [Groom] and [Bride] have selected a reading that [Christian friend] will now read.
1 Corinthians 13
[Christian friend]: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Marriage Vows (1 minute)
Paul: [Groom], do you take [Bride], in the presence of God, to be your wedded wife? Do you promise to love her, to honor and cherish her, in good times and in bad, until death do you part?
[Groom]: I do.
Paul: [Bride], do you take [Groom], in the presence of God, to be your wedded husband? Do you promise to love him, to honor and cherish him, in good times and in bad, until death do you part?
[Bride]: I do.
Paul: [Groom] and [Bride], I now ask you to turn to one another as you exchange your vows:
Paul with [Groom] repeating: I, [Groom], take you, [Bride], to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, for as long as we both shall live.
[Paul with Bride repeating]: I, [Bride] take you, [Groom], to be my husband. to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, for as long as we both shall live.
PRAYER (1 minute)
Paul: Father in heaven, You ordained marriage for your children, and You gave us love. We present to You [Groom] and [Bride], who come this day to be married. May the covenant of love they make be blessed with true devotion and spiritual commitment. We ask that You, God, will give them the ability to keep the covenant they have made. When selfishness shows itself, grant generosity; when mistrust is a temptation, give moral strength; when there is misunderstanding, give patience and gentleness; if suffering becomes a part of their lives, give them a strong faith and an abiding love. Amen.
Exchange of Rings (2 minute)
Paul: It is an established custom to exchange rings as a symbol of love. As the rings have no end so your love should have no end. As the rings are made of gold symbolizing purity, so should your marriage have purity. As often as either of you see them, you will be reminded of this moment and the endless love you promised."
Paul: [Groom] and [Bride], Do you have tokens that you will exchange as a symbol of your vows and the love you share?
[Groom] and [Bride]: We do
(Best man and maid of Honor give rings to the Bride and Groom, Bride and Groom puts rings on Bible.)
Paul: These are the rings that [Groom] and [Bride] will wear for the rest of their lives, which express the love that they have for one another. Let us take a moment and send our prayers, our thoughts and our love to these rings, so that as they wear them, they will carry our love with them as well.
Paul: Let us all bless these rings! These rings are circles, symbols that remind us of the Sun, and the Earth, and the universe. Symbols of holiness, of perfection and peace ... that which has no beginning and no end. And so, in this moment, let us all bring our blessings to these rings to also be symbols of unity, of joining and of commitment. Let us grant that the love which [Groom] and [Bride] have for each other now may always be just this way.
Paul: [Groom], please take this ring, and repeat after me as you place it upon [Bride]’s finger.
(Groom takes ring from Bible and places ring on Bride’s Finger.)
Paul with [Groom] repeating: [Bride], with this ring, I thee wed, promising all my love, devotion and faithfulness forevermore.
Paul: [Bride], please take this ring, and repeat after me as you place it upon [Groom]’s finger.
(Bride takes ring from Bible and places ring on Groom’s Finger.)
Paul with [Bride] repeating: [Groom], with this ring I thee wed, promising all my love, devotion and faithfulness forevermore.
Paul: [Bride] and [Groom], we have heard you promise to share your lives in marriage. We recognize and respect the covenant you have made. It is not a minister standing before you that makes your marriage real, but the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here before your friends and family in the sight of God.
Ketubah (1 minute)
(this is traditionally signed before the ceremony, but can also be signed during or after the ceremony. The Ketubah can also be read during the lighting of the unity candle)
Paul: After the ceremony, [Groom] and [Bride] will sign a document called a “Ketubah”. It is a written promise they make to one another, in front of their families and friends as witnesses. They will display the Ketubah in their home as a reminder of their love and commitment for one another.
A relative or friend reads the 7 Blessings (contemporary version) (2 minutes)
Paul: [Groom] and [Bride] have asked [Friend or family member] to recite seven wedding blessings.
[Friend or family member]:
May your marriage be as sweet as the fruit of the vine.
May you work together to build a relationship of substance and quality.
May the honesty of your communication build a foundation of understanding, connection and trust.
May you respect each other’s individual personality and philosophy, and give each other room to grow and fulfill each other’s dreams.
May your sense of humor and playful spirit continue to enliven your relationship.
May you understand that neither of you is perfect: you are both subject to human frailties; and may your love strengthen when you fall short of each other’s expectations.
May you continue to be best friends, better together than either of you are apart.
Unity Candle (3 minutes)
Paul: A great rabbi once said (or “It has been said” to keep it neutral,) “From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls are destined to find each other, their two streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being”.
Paul: [Groom] and [Bride]’s marriage not only brings together two individuals who are very much in love, but two faith traditions, and two sets of friends and families. Together, [Groom] and [Bride] bring all of these strengths into their marriage.
Individually, they now receive the flame from their own candles, which their Mothers have lit for them. Together, they will now light their Unity Candle. This shared light symbolizes the beginning of their new life together, and the family they are creating together.
([Groom] and [Bride] jointly light the Unity Candle and returns to their positions)
Paul: “May the strengths of family, friends, tradition, and love nurture your commitment, and may the beauty of your relationship light your way.
Explanation of Breaking the Glass (1 minute)
The custom of “breaking the glass” has a number of interpretations. Some say it is a symbol of the love that will remain in good times, and in sorrow. The permanence of the broken glass represents a permanent change in the lives of this couple, as well. Just as glasses are broken and cannot ever be exactly the same as they once were, their lives will never be quite the same. [Groom] and [Bride], our wish for you today is that the innumerable pieces of the glass beneath your feet will be a reminder of the innumerable ways you will love each other in the years to come.
Pronouncement (2 minute)
Paul: By the power vested in me and by the power of your love, and the commitment you have made to each other, together, I now pronounce you husband and wife.
[Groom] breaks the glass (Some witnesses may spontaneously shout or sing “Mazel Tov!”.)
Paul: You may now kiss the Bride!
We close with a final blessing for your marriage:
May God bless you and keep you. May God’s presence shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God’s presence be with you and give you peace.
Paul: Having joined their lives in unity for the first time, I proudly present to you, Mr. and Mrs. [GroomFull].
Music begins, couple walk away together (happily), groomsmen and bridesmaids recess as pairs, Paul invites parents and grandparents to exit just in front of him.
Paul: (said as he departs last) Thank you all very much!