Barham Downs Churches

  • The Rectory
  • The Street, Barham
  • Canterbury
  • Kent
  • CT4 6PA

01227 941561
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Order of Service

This is a typical order of service for a wedding, but we always try to make your service as ‘personal’ as possible. In particular we encourage you to think about what music and readings would be most meaningful to you.

There will be an opportunity to meet with the priest who will be conducting your wedding, and to discuss the service together.

Typical Order of Service

Bridal March
Opening Prayer
Introduction (see below for an explanation)
Legal declarations
The Marriage Vows
Exchange of Rings
Marriage Pronouncement
Hymn (optional)
Prayers and
The Lord’s Prayer
Signing the Registers
Wedding March

The Introduction

At the beginning of the Service, the priest will read out this formal introduction, which sets out the Christian understanding of Marriage. It is suggested that couples read this through and discuss it together at some quiet moment before their wedding, as a reminder of the new relationship that they will be enjoying together.

In the presence of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we have come together to witness the marriage of
_____ and _____, to pray for God’s blessing on them,
to share their joy and to celebrate their love.

Marriage is a gift of God in creation through which
husband and wife may know the grace of God.
It is given that as man and woman grow together in love and trust,
they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind,
as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life 
in which children are nurtured
and in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love.

Marriage is a way of life made holy by God,
and blessed by the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Marriage is a sign of unity and loyalty 
which all should uphold and honour.
It enriches society and strengthens community.

No one should enter into it lightly or selfishly
but reverently and responsibly in the sight of almighty God.

_____ and _____ are now to enter this way of life.
They will each give their consent to the other
and make solemn vows, 
and in token of this they will each give and receive a ring.
We pray with them 
that the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen them,
that they may fulfil God’s purposes 
for the whole of their earthly life together.

This ‘Introduction’ may seem rather lengthy, and the wording rather formal, but it is based on a text that has been used at Christian weddings for hundreds of years. We believe that marriage is the God-given basis for society, and when this is taken seriously, both individual relationships and the wider fabric of society are so much the stronger.

In these days where, sadly, many marriages break up, the church is keen to emphasize those things that can make for a good and solid marriage relationship.

A key part is the understanding that we are all ‘different’, with diverse backgrounds and expectations as to what this new relationship will be like. An essential element of a good marriage is to accept and value each other’s differences, rather than to expect our partner to change. Talking, sharing, even doing the ‘Compatibility Quiz’ at the end of this document, can all help you to know each other better.

Another aspect is that none of us knows what the future may hold. Our health may fail, or our employment and income vanish. Such crises should be faced together, and not become a cause for argument and breakdown. To that end, total openness and honesty is essential, along with the intention of staying together ‘for better or for worse’.

Sex is also referred to in the introduction, and it should not be seen as something to pretend does not take place. It is a God-given gift to mankind, both for the creation of children, and also so that we may enjoy a growing intimacy with our partner.

There is also a spiritual dimension to every individual and every relationship, whether it is recognized or not. This is why we will be praying for your marriage, and for God’s blessing on you. We would also like to encourage you to explore spiritual things together, to discover that prayer can be a great help in life, and to know that you have a God who truly cares about you.

Should things get difficult in the future, God still cares, and so do we! The Priest will always be happy to talk with you, either individually or together, in an open and non-judgemental way. And should you already be living in the aftermath of a broken relationship, it is important for you to know that you are still loved by God, and that even the bitterest of memories can be healed and laid to rest.