[Where the wedding takes place before the congregation, the following announcement is to be made on the previous Sunday]:
(name) and (name) have signified their desire to be united in marriage in this church on (date). If there are no lawful objections, the ceremony will take place on that date.
Beloved in the Lord, we are assembled here in the presence of God for the purpose of joining in marriage (name) and (name). Since we have received no lawful objections to their proposed union, let us reverently call to mind the institution, purpose, and obligations of the marriage state.
The holy bond of marriage was instituted by God himself at the very dawn of history. Making a man in his own likeness, he endowed him with many blessings and gave him dominion over all things. Moreover, God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen. 2:18). So God created woman of man's own substance and brought her to the man. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).
Our Lord Jesus honored marriage by his blessed presence at the wedding in Cana and confirmed it as a divine ordinance, as an honorable estate, and as a lasting bond when he declared, "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Matt. 19:6). The apostle Paul shows its exalted nature when he calls marriage a symbol of the mystic union of the Savior and the church, his redeemed bride, commending it as a state honorable among all.
Marriage was established to extend the human race, to advance the kingdom of God, and to enrich the lives of those entering this state. To fulfill these purposes, a husband and wife must be lovingly devoted to each other, sharing responsibility for the nurture of the children the Lord may give them as his heritage and as parties to his covenant.
The Lord ordained that in marriage the husband should be the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and that he should protect her and provide for her in love. This love, if exercised in the spirit and example of Christ, will be conducive to mutual happiness. God also ordained that the wife should be subject to the husband in all things that are according to his Word, showing him deference even as the church shows deference to Christ. Thus the liberty of both husband and wife is glorified by mutual loyalty to law, and the home begun in the name of the Lord and regulated by his commandments becomes the very foundation of a Christian society and provides a foretaste of the eternal home.
Marriage, then, is a divine ordinance intended to be a source of happiness to us, an institution of the highest significance to the human race, and a symbol of the union of Christ and his church. We may, therefore, as Christians look with confidence for grace in fulfilling our mutual responsibilities and for guidance and help in solving our common problems.
(name) and (name), now that you have heard God's message concerning marriage, do you agree with it and do you desire to enter into this holy estate as ordained by God?
Each answers: I do.
[Optional: Who gives this woman to this man?
The father or guardian answers: I do.]
[The minister shall cause the man to extend his right hand and to take the woman's right hand, and shall say]:
May the Lord God confirm the desire and purpose of your hearts and may your beginning be in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
[To the bridegroom]:
(name), do you solemnly declare that you take (name) as your wife, and do you promise that you will, with the gracious help of God, love, honor, and care for her, live with her in the holy bonds of marriage according to God's ordinance, and never forsake her, so long as you both shall live?
The bridegroom answers: I do.
[To the bride]:
(name), do you solemnly declare that you take (name) as your husband, and do you promise that you will, with the gracious help of God, love, honor, and obey him in all things lawful, live with him in the holy bonds of marriage according to God's ordinance, and never forsake him so long as you both shall live?
The bride answers: I do.
[Optional ring ceremony, either single or double.]
(name), do you give this ring as a symbol of your constant faithfulness and abiding love?
The bridegroom answers: I do. [He shall then put the ring on the fourth finger of the bride's left hand.]
[To the bride]:
(name), do you receive [or in case two rings are used: Do you give] this ring as a symbol of your constant faithfulness and abiding love?
The bride answers: I do. [In case two rings are used, she shall then put the ring on the fourth finger of the bridegroom's left hand.]
[Thereupon the minister says]:
According to the laws of the state and the ordinances of the church of Christ, I now pronounce you, (name) and (name), husband and wife, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. What therefore God has joined together let not anyone put asunder. Henceforth you go down life's pathway together, and may the Father of all mercies, who of his grace has called you to this holy state of marriage, bind you together in true love and faithfulness and grant you his blessing.
[The bridegroom and the bride now kneel while the minister offers the following prayer]:
Most merciful and gracious God, from whom the whole family of heaven and earth is named, we pray that you will confirm with your blessing the marriage into which our brother and sister have entered this day. Grant them your Holy Spirit to help them be true to the vow and covenant they have made. Guide them in the way of righteousness and peace so that, loving and serving you with one mind and heart all the days of their life, they may be abundantly enriched with the tokens of your everlasting favor in Christ Jesus our Lord. In all life's experiences lift up your countenance upon them, that they may be thankful in prosperity and patient in adversity. May their marriage be fruitful for this life and for the life to come. Grant them wisdom and strength to build a home which will glorify your name and promote the coming of your kingdom. May they live together many years, and in the hour of death may they part in the blessed hope of celebrating forever with all the saints of God the marriage of Christ and the church he loved. Hear our prayer in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
[The ceremony may be concluded with an appropriate song.]
This form first appeared in Dutch in 1566 as a translation from earlier Reformed sources. An English translation was adopted by the Synod of 1912 and substantially revised in 1934.