In times long past, marriage was not an equal partnership and such was reflected in the language of the wedding ceremony. Many such subtle references, like the opening statement “Who gives this woman to this man in marriage”, are still found in traditional weddings. For many in this modern era, the master/subservient language is unacceptable. The following is an example of a modern equality ceremony, giving bride and groom equal status throughout.


Two entry points are needed for this. If the venue has two back doors (corners), then two aisles are made, starting at the back corners (entries) and proceeding at an angle to the altar, creating a “V” shape, back to front. Seating can be easily arranged to create this formation. Bridesmaids, unescorted, walk down one aisle, while groomsmen down the other. Timing enhances the appearance, so the pace down both aisles should be such that pairs (one bridesmaid and one groomsmen, for example) arrive at the front at the same time, and take their places. Lastly, the groom and bride enter at the same time, walking down the different aisles and arriving at the front at the same time. Music stops and officiant then begins with something like:

“Are you both, this day and before all present, ready to accept each other in marriage?” Answer: “We are.”

As an alternative processional, the two groups can begin at opposing side entries, walking in front of the seated guests.


“Dear friends and family, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of ____________________________ and _________________________ in marriage. Over time, they have come to realize that their personal dreams, hopes, and goals are more attainable and more meaningful through the combined effort and mutual support provided in commitment and family, and so they have decided to join together this day, as partners in life and love.”


Readings should be geared toward the equal partner theme. For example:

“The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry. It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives; it is facing the world together. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting your partner to wear a halo or to have the wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding, and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding room for the things of the spirit. It is the common search for the good and the beautiful. It is the establishing of a relationship in which the independence is equal, the dependence is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal.”


Echo Style

___________, Please repeat after me,
“In the presence of our family and friends
I vow to be your conscientious partner
In sickness and in health
In good times and in bad
In joy as well as in sorrow.
I promise to love you unconditionally
To support you in your goals and pursuits
To honor and respect you
To laugh with you and cry with you
To cherish you always
For as long as we both shall live.”

I Do style

Officiant: “Do you, __________________, accept ____________________ as your partner in life, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in joy as well as sorrow; to love _______________ unconditionally, supporting personal goals and pursuits, sharing laughter, as well as tears, while promising to honor, cherish and show respect always, for as long as you both shall live.” Answer: “I do.”

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