A traditional Christian Wedding Ceremony Script from the 1552 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, of the Anglican Church of England, including a charge to the couple and popular Bible verses, prayers, blessings, and psalms.
This wedding ceremony script is taken from a 16th Century version of The Book Of Common Prayer, printed in 1552 by Whitchurch. It has been left in the traditional old English, with spelling and wording that was popular at the time. We have separated the script into common divisions, such as Invocation, Charge to the Couple, etc, to make it easier to follow along and perform.
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the official liturgical service book of the Church of England. It was commissioned by King Edward VI (1537–1553) to instruct clergy and members of the Anglican Church in the correct manner of worship.
Although this text is hundreds of years old, it’s easy to see how the modern Western wedding ceremony outline has evolved and simplified from this traditional service.
This religious marriage rite contains an invocation from the priest, a charge to the couple, and a statement of intent to marry from each partner, who each answer “I will” instead of the more modern “I do.”
The bride is given away, followed by a prayer, a pronouncement of marriage, and a blessing by the minister, followed by another prayer (recited only if the woman has not yet had a child), and finally, holy communion.
It contains older versions of many popular Bible verses and psalms, including readings from Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians, 1 Peter, Beati omnes : Psalmus cxxviii, Deus misereatur. Psalm lxvii, and others.
For more Bible verses on marriage and love, head here.
First the bannes must be asked three severall Sundayes or holy daies, in the time of service, the people being present after the accustomed maner.
And if the persons that woulde be maryed dwell in divers Parishes the bannes must be asked in both Parishes, and the Curate of thone [the one] Parish shall not solemnize Matrimonie betwixt them, without a certificat of the bannes beeyng thryce asked, from the Curate of the other Parishe. At the daye appoynted for Solemnizacion of Matrimonye, the persones to be maryed shal come into the bodye of the churche, with theyr frendes and neyghbours.
And there the Priest shall thus saye.
Officiant to the Reception
"DEARELY beloved frendes, we are gathered together here in the syght of God, and in the face of. his congregacion, to joyne together thys man and this woman in holy matrimonie, which is an honorable estate, instituted of god in Paradise, in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the misticall union that is betwixte Chryste and hys Churche: whiche holy estate Chryst adourned and beutified with his presence, and fyrst miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galile, and is commended of Saincte Paul to bee honourable among all men; and therefore is not to bee enterprised, nor taken in hande unadvisedly, lightely, or wantonly, to satisfie mennes carnall lustes and appetites, lyke brute beastes that have no understandynge: but reverently, discretely, advisedly, soberly, and in the feare of God: Duely consideryng the causes for whiche Matrymonye was ordayned. One was the procreacion of children, to be broughte up in the feare and nurtoure of the Lorde, and prayse of God. Secondlye it was ordeined for a remedye agaynste synne, and to avoide fornicacion, that suche persons as have not the gyfte of continencie myght marye, and kepe themselves undefiled members of Christes body. Thirdly, for the mutuall societie, helpe, and coumforte, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperitie and adversitie; into the whiche holy estate these two persons present come now to be joyned.
Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together: let him now speake, or els hereafter for ever holde hys peace."
And also speak yng to the persones that shalbe maried, he shall saye.
Officiant to the Couple
"I require and charge you (as you wil aunswere at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secretes of al hearts shalbe disclosed) that if either of you doe knowe any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joyned together in Matrimonie, that ye confesse it. For be ye wel assured, that so many as be coupled together otherwyse then god's word doth allowe, are not joyned together by god, neither is there Matrimonye lawfull.
At whiche daye of mariage it any man doe allege and declare any impediment why thei may not be coupled together in Matrimony by god's law or the lawes of this Realme, and wyl be bounde, and sufficient suerties with him, to the parties, or elles put in a caucion to the full value of such charges as the persons to be maried doeth susteine to prove his allegacion: then the Solemnizacion must be deferred, unto such tyme as the trueth be tryed."
If no impedimente bee alleged, then shal the Curate saye unto the man.
Officiant to the Groom
"Wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after god's ordinaunce in the holy estate of matrimonie? Wilte thou love her, coumfort her, honour, and kepe her in sickenes and in health? And forsaking al other kepe thee onely to her, so long as you both shall lyve?"
The man shall aunswere,
Then shal the Priest saye to the woman.
Officiant to the Bride
"Wilte thou have this man to thy wedded housband, To lyve together after god's ordynaunce, in the holy estate of matrimony? Wylte thou obey him, and serve him, love, honor, and kepe him, in sickenes and in health? and forsakyng al other kepe thee onely unto him, so long as you both shall lyve?"
The woman shall aunswere,
Then shall the Minister saye,
Officiant to the Reception
"Who geveth this woman to be maryed unto thys man?"
And the Ministre receiving the woman at her father or frendes handes, shal cause the man to take the woman by the ryght hande, and so either to geve their trouth to other. The man first saying,
Groom to Bride
"IN. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day foreward, for better, for worse, for rycher, for poorer, in sickenes, and in health, to love, and to cherish, till death us depart, according to goddes holy ordynaunce: And thereto I plight thee my troth."
Then shall they loose theyr handes, and the woman takyng again the man by the ryght hand shall saye.
Bride to Groom
"IN. take thee N. to my wedded husbande, to have and to holde from this day forewarde, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickenes, and in health, to love, cherish, and to obeye, tyl death us depart, according to goddes holy ordynaunce: And thereto I geve thee my troth."
Then shall they agayne loose their handes, and the man shal geve unto the woman a ryng, laying the same upon the boke, with the accustomed duty to the priest and clerke. And the priest taking the ring shall delyver it unto the man, to put it upon the fourth finger of the woman's lejt hand. And the man taught by the priest, shal say,
Groom to Bride
"With this ring I thee wedde: with my body I thee worship: and with al my worldly goodes I thee endow. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen."
Then the man leaving the ryng upon the fourth finger of the woman's lefte hande, the Ministre shal say,
Officiant to the Reception
"Let us praye.
OETERNAL God, creatour and preserver of all mankynd, gever of al spiritual grace, the auctour of everlastyng lyfe: Sende thy blessyng upon these thy servauntes, this man and this woman, whom we blesse in thy name, that as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together; so these persons maye surely perfourme and kepe the vowe and covenaunt betwixt them made, whereof this ryng geven and receyved is a token and pledge: and maye ever remayne in perfecte love and peace together; and lyve accordynge unto thy lawes; throughe Jesus Christe oure Lorde. Amen."
Then shal the Priest joyne theyr ryght handes together, and saye,
"Those whom god hath ioyned together, let no man put asunder."
Then shall the Ministre speak unto the people.
Officiant to the Reception
"FORASMUCHE as N. and N. have consented together in holy wedlocke, and have witnessed the same beefore god and thys company, and thereto have geven and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared thesame by geving and receyving of a ryng, and by joyning of hands: I pronounce that they bee man and wyfe together. In the name of the father, of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen."
And the ministre shal adde thys blessyng.
"GOD the father, god the sonne, god the holy gost blesse, preserve, and kepe you: the lorde mercyfully with his favoure loke upon you, and so fyll you with all spirituall benediccion and grace, that you maye so lyve together in this life, that in the world to come you may have lyfe everlastynge. Amen."
Then the Ministers or Clerkes, going to the Lordes table, shall saye or syng this Psalme following.
Beati omnes. cxxviii.
Officiant to Reception
"BLESSED are all they that feare the Lord : and walke in hys ways.
For thou shalt eate the labour of thy handes : O well is thee, and happy shalte thou be.
Thy wife shall be as the fruitfull vyne : upon the walles of thy house.
Thy chyldren lyke the Olive braunches : round about thy table.
Lo, thus shal the man be blessed : that feareth the lord.
The lord from out of Sion shall blesse thee : that thou shalt see Hierusalem [Jerusalem] in prosperitie al thy lyfe longe.
Yea, that thou shalte see thy chyldrens chyldren : and peace upon Israel.
Glory be to the father, &c.
As it was in the, &c."
Or els thys Psalme folowinge.
Deus misereatur. Psalm lxvii,
"GOD be merciful unto us, and blesse us : and shew us the light of hys countenaunce, and be mercifull unto us.
That thy waye may bee knowen upon the earth : thy saving health among al nacions.
Let the people prayse thee (O god :) yea, let al the people prayse thee.
O let the nacions reioice and be glad : for thou shalte judge the flock righteously, and govern the nacions upon the earth.
Let the people prayse thee, O God : lette al the people prayse thee.
Then shal the earth bring furth her encrease : and God, even our god, shal geve us his blessing.
God shal blesse us, and al the endes of the world shall feare hym.
Glory be to the father, &c.
As it was in thee, &c."
The Psalme ended, and the man and the woman kneling afore the lordes table: the prieste standyng at the table, and turning his face towarde them, shall saye.
"Lorde, have mercy upon us.
Aunswere. Christ, have mercy upon us.
Ministre. Lorde, have mercye upon us.
Our father which arte in heaven, &c.
And leade us not into temptacion.
Aunswere. But delyver us from evyll. Amen.
Minister. O Lorde save thy servaunt, and thy hand-mayde.
Aunswere. Which put theyr trust in thee.
Minister. O Lorde, sende them helpe from thy holy place.
Aunswere. And evermore defende them.
Minister. Be unto them a towre of strength.
Aunswere. From the face of theyr enemye.
Minister. O Lorde, heare our prayer.
Aunswere. And let our crye come unto thee."
Officiant to the Reception
"OGod of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, blesse these thy servaunts, and sowe the sede of eternal lyfe in theyr mindes, that whatsoever in thy holy worde they shall profytably learne, they may in dede fulfyl the same. Loke, O Lord, mercyfully upon them from heaven, and blesse them. And as thou diddest send thy blessing upon Abraham and Sara to theyr great comfort; so vouchsafe to send thy blessing upon these thy servaunts, that they obeying thy wyl, and alway being in safetie under thy proteccion, may abide in thy love unto theyr lives' ende, through Jesu Christ our Lorde. Amen."
This prayer next folowing shalbe omitted where the woman is past chyld-birth.
"OMERCIFUL Lord and heavenly father, by whose gracious gift mankind is encreased: we beseche thee, assist with thy blessing these two persons, that they may both be fruiteful in procreacion of chyldren, and also lyve together so long in godly love and honestie, that they may see their children's children unto the third and fourth generacion, unto thy prayse and honour: through Jesus Christ our Lorde Amen.
O God, which by thy mighty power hast made all thinges of naught, which also after other thinges set in ordre didst appoynt that out of man (created after thyne owne ymage and similitude) womanne should take her beginning: and, knitting them together, didst teach that it should never be lawefull to put asunder those, whom thou by matrimonie hadst made one: O god, which hast consecrated the state of matrimonie to such an excellent misterie, that in it is signified and represented the spiritual manage and unitie betwixt Christ and his church: Loke mercyfully upon these thy servaunts, that both this man may love his wife, according to thy worde, (as Christ did love his spouse the church, who gave himself for it, loving and cherishing it even as his own flesh;) and also that this woman may be loving and amiable to her husband as Rachel, wise as Rebecca, faithful and obedient as Sara; and in all quietnes, sobriete, and peace, be a folower of holy and godly matrones: O Lorde, blesse them both, and graunt them to inheritie thy everlasting kingdome, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Then shal the Priest saye,
"ALMIGHTIE god, which at the beginning did create our first parentes Adam and Eve, and did sanctifie and joyne them together in mariage: poure upon you the riches of his grace, sanctifie and blesse you, that ye may please him bothe in body and soule, and lyve together in holy love, unto your lyves' ende. Amen."
Then shal begin the Communion, and after the Gospel shal be sayd a sermon, wherein ordinarely (so oft as there is any mariage) the office of a man and wyfe shalbe declared according to holy scripture: or yf there be no sermon, the Minister shall reade this that foloweth.
Officiant to Reception
"ALL ye whiche be maried, or whiche entende to take the holy estate of matrimonie upon you: heare what holye scripture doeth saye, as touching the duetie of husbandes towards theyr wyves, and wyves towarde theyr husbandes. Sainct Paule (in his Epistle to the Ephesians the fyfth Chapter) doeth geve this commaundemente to all maried men.
Ye husbandes, love your wyves, even as Christ loved the church, and hath geven himself for it, to sanctifie it, pourging it in the fountayne of water, throughe thy worde, that he might make it unto himself a glorious congregacion, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thinge; but that it should be holy and blameles. So men are bound to love theyr owns wyves as theyr owne bodies. He that loveth his owne wife, loveth himself. For never did any man hate his owne flesh, but nourissheth and cherissheth it, even as the Lord doth the congregacion; for we are membres of his body, of his fleshe, and of his bones.
For this cause shal a man leave father and mother, and shall be joyned unto his wyfe, and they two shalbe one fleshe. This mistery is great, but I speak of Christ and of the congregacion. Neverthelesse, let every one of you so love his owne wyfe, even as himselfe.
Likewise the same Sainct Paul (writing to the Colossians) speaketh thus to al men that be maried: Ye men love your wyves and be not bitter unto them. (Coloss. iii.)
Heare also what Sainct Peter the apostle of Christe, which was himself a maried man, sayeth unto all men that are maried. Ye husbandes, dwel with your wives according to knowledge: Geving honour unto the wyfe, as unto the weaker vessel, and as heyres together of the grace of lyfe, so that your prayers be not hyndered. (1 Pet. iii.)
Hetherto ye have hearde the duetie of the husbande towarde the wyfe.
Nowe lykewyse, ye wyves, heare and learne your duetie towardes youre husbandes, even as it is playnly set forth in holy scripture.
Sainct Paul (in the forenamed Epistle to the Ephesians) teacheth you thus: Ye women submitte yourselves unto your own husbandes as unto the lord: for the husbande is the wyve's head, even as Christe is the head of the Church. And he is also the saviour of the whole body. Therefore as the church, or congregacion, is subjecte unto Christe, so lykewyse let the wyves also bee in subjeccion unto theyr owne husbandes in all thinges. (Ephes. v.) And agayne he sayth: Let the wyfe reverence her husbande. And (in his Epistle to the Collossians) Sainct Paule geveth you this shorte lesson: Ye wyves, submit your selves unto your own husbandes, as it is convenient in the Lorde. (Coloss. Iii.)
Sainct Peter also doth instruct you very godly, thus saying:
Let wives be subject to theyr owne husbandes, so that yf any obey not the word, they may be wonne without the worde, by the conversacion [=behavior] of the wyves, whyle they behold your chaste conversacion, coupled with feare: whose apparel let it not be outward, with broyded heere [braided hair] and trimming about with gold, eyther in putting on of gorgeous apparel: but let the hyd [hid] man, which is in the heart, be without al corrupcion, so that the spirits be milde and quiet, which is a precious thing in the syght of God. For after this maner (in the olde tyme) dydde the holy women, whiche trusted in God apparel themselves, being subject to their owns husbandes: as Sara obeyed Abraham callinge him Lord, whose daughters ye are made, doynge well and beyng not dismayde with any feare. (1 Pet. iii.)"
The newe maried persons (the same daye of their mariage) must receive the holy communion.