Although Lutheranism is one denomination of Christianity, several branches of the Lutheran share fundamental disagreements. Due to their differences, the service and message at a wedding for each may differ. Despite their differences, however, all of these branches agree on one thing: a wedding is primarily a worship service. Lutheran weddings focus on services that praise God and sanctify the marital union. Most Lutherans believe in reserving socializing and celebration for the wedding reception, leaving the ceremony a time for worshiping God and honoring the marriage.
Components of a Lutheran Wedding Ceremony
Lutheran weddings usually begin with a prelude. Lutheran hymns are played on musical instruments and this time gives worshipers a time to reflect on their faith. Following the prelude is the wedding processional.
Invocation or Greeting
After the processional, the pastor greets the bridal party and guests to the worship service. Parental consent is given during this time, should the bride, groom and pastor wish to include it in the ceremony. An opening prayer, suitable for a wedding ceremony, is often included as well.
Because a Lutheran wedding is a worship service, scripture readings are included. Usually shorter than a typical Sunday reading, they are wedding Bible verses that offer insight into God's view of love and marriage.
The wedding sermon, like the scripture reading, is shorter than a typical worship service sermon. The pastor bases it on the previously read Bible verses. Depending on how well the pastor knows the couple, he or she may personalize the sermon for the particular couple's circumstances or experiences in life.
The vows read are usually those found in the worship book in the order of marriage service. Couples who wish to write original wedding vows should discuss it with their Lutheran pastor to find out if they will allow it. The pastor may need to approve the personalized vows before the ceremony.
Exchange and Blessing of the Rings
The Lutheran pastor blesses the rings and the couple exchanges them, reciting words found in the marriage service.
Pronouncement of Marriage
The pastor pronounces the couple married. In some services, the pronouncement is just before the benediction or blessing.
Wedding prayers are an important part of the Lutheran wedding. The pastor usually leads with a prayer dedicated to the praise of God and Jesus and their guidance for the couple's married life, finishing with the Lord's Prayer. The entire congregation joins in the Lord's Prayer.
Benediction or Blessing
The pastor blesses the congregation and the couple before the recessional. After the blessing, he or she introduces the newlywed couple.
Optional Lutheran Ceremony Inclusions
Lutheran weddings ceremonies might also include a unity candle portion, typically after the exchange of rings. Some services also may have a portion dedicated to signing of the marriage license. Other ceremonies might include a special prayer or poem in honor of those who passed away before the wedding. Discuss these options, along with the rest of the ceremony, with your Lutheran pastor.