Your guests are seated and welcomed. Now you and your beloved are holding hands at the top of the aisle. The next part of a wedding ceremony is an opening prayer or words of wisdom. This can be followed by readings. Let’s break this down:
Having officiated numerous weddings, I can “read” an audience. Are they watching and listening? Are they admiring the décor? Are they starting to doze off?
One way to prevent the latter is to change things up – hear a different voice, stand, or actively participate. A particularly subtle way to have participation is by prayer. Your guests are no longer passively listening, but put in a state of prayer. And present enough to “Amen” at the end.
Even more effective is hearing a different voice. That’s where a reading can fit the bill. And no, a reading doesn’t have to be religious! Of course, you may choose a passage from the Bible or some other religious text. However, I’ve had couples choose dialogue from their favorite movie, the lyrics to a favorite song, or even a funny poem about marriage and dogs. It’s best if you have a friend or family member read whatever you choose, so that the officiant’s voice doesn’t go on too long between more “passive” parts.
The next step is to define marriage for yourselves and your guests – The Charge.