Perhaps nothing is both joyous and awkward like being asked to perform the wedding ceremony of a couple you do not know well. If you’re a pastor and like me, you want to rejoice with the couple, but you can’t commit on the spot without asking personal questions. In order to prevent the inevitable uncomfortable questions, I’ve written a form letter to give to every couple that asks me to perform the ceremony. The purpose of the letter is to provide a filter for me and also to keep me consistent with which ceremonies I will perform. I’ve provided a modified version of the letter below – I also require the couple to sign a statement of agreement with it. Feel free to modify and use it if you like.
First let me congratulate you on your upcoming marriage. The family unit is the foundational institution of human society. The ties between a husband and wife are strong as they mirror the union between Christ and the church. As a pastor who takes seriously the covenant commitment between a man and a woman, I am honored that you have asked me to perform the ceremony.
Before I commit to performing the ceremony, I ask that you affirm the following details about yourselves:
- In this marriage, you are both affirming that you have accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you have made a confession of this faith to a local church body, and you have been baptized as a public announcement of your faith. If you have any doubts or questions about a relationship with Christ, I will be happy to discuss this with you.
- In this marriage, you are affirming the covenant commitment to each other for a lifetime. Breaking this promise to each other means you are also breaking your promise to God.
- In this marriage, you affirm that you will model the way in which God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, sacrificing everything for her. A wife is to submit herself graciously to her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.
- If blessed with children, you will both teach your children spiritual and moral values founded upon biblical Truth.
- In order to help the marriage start well, you both commit to marriage counseling with me or someone approved by me.
- In order to keep the sanctity of marriage complete, you affirm that you are not currently nor will participate in sexual immorality with each other or someone else. If you have been sexually active with each other, you commit from this point forward to repent of this sin, and to refrain from sexual activity and living together until you are married.
- In order to keep the marriage biblical, you are both affirming that neither of you have been previously divorced, with the exception of a few limited cases. If needed, I will be happy to discuss with you the biblical details of these exceptions.
I will be praying for you. The gift of marriage is an amazing blessing from our Lord. It is an incredible joy for which we should be eternally grateful to God. Once you sign and return the attached sheet, we can discuss the details of your wedding ceremony.