American Weddings

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Are the words, “Speak now or forever hold your peace...” really necessary?

Ancient wedding

Tags: ceremony writing, tradition, ceremony components

Tuesday, Mar. 5th, 2019

Whether you are about to perform your first wedding or are a seasoned pro, every minister sets out to write the perfect ceremony. There are books, videos, and other resources that you can use to write your ceremony, but we are often influenced by what we’ve seen before. 

Most of us have seen more weddings in movies and TV shows than we have in real life. A staple of wedding comedies features the minister saying, “Anyone who objects to this wedding should speak now or forever hold their peace.” Then the lovesick ex boyfriend stumbles up to the front of the room and professes his undying love for the protagonist... you get the picture. 

While it might come in handy for screenwriters, this part of the ceremony is not necessary for real life weddings.      

 

Where are you getting your wedding planning advice from?

 

The passage originates in the Christian’s Book of Common Prayer. It was included in the wedding ceremony as a final chance for someone to bring up any issue that would nullify the couple’s union in the eyes of God. The wedding could not proceed if the bride or groom was already married, unbaptized, underage, too closely related, or being forced into the wedding.       

If someone did object, they would have to make their case under oath and the the priest would have to delay the wedding until a formal investigation was completed. 

In the modern world, we have better access to information and their are more legal requirements a couple must fulfill before getting married. Couples have to make a trip their county clerk’s office to establish they are eligible to get married. Then there’s Google. Thanks to modern record keeping, anything prohibiting the wedding from going forward would be discovered long before the couple reached the altar.

With no legal requirement for this passage, there is no reason to include this antiquated phase. The ceremony script should be a poetic flow of words that honors the couples love and celebrate the joyous occasion. Inserting an awkward, silence inducing speed bump doesn’t benefit anyone. 

 

He's probably going to say it, but that doesn't mean you need to...

 

While the minister is working with the couple to write the ceremony, it can be tempting to fall back on tradition, but ultimately you should make the script your own. Want to read more? We’ve covered this and other traditional components of the ceremony at length in our bestselling book, Asked to Officiate. If you’ve got a ceremony to write, grab yourself a copy. The couple and audience will certainly appreciate it!


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