How to Perform a Non-Religious Wedding Blessing for a family Member

Hello you.

I loved nothing more than conducting a personal ceremony for my brother and sister in-laws wedding ceremony. It was such a privilege and an honour to tell their story and be part of their union in such a special way.

I was asked by an awesome reader to share a wedding blessing  script with them for a family member to conduct. BUT, I don’t want to share a script, because the key part in personalising your ceremony is just that. It should be personal and what should make the script unique, is YOU. So I can’t write the words for you, but I can give you some tips on how I came to write a script for my brothers ceremony that left everyone laughing, captivated and in tears. (Slightly cheating as I do write for a living of course!)

A wedding blessing is a non-legally binding ceremony and a beautiful way to add a spiritual or personal aspect to symbolise your union.

Including family members in ceremonies (beyond signing of the register) is gaining momentum in the UK. Our friends in the US have been doing it for YEARS. We are wanting to have more meaningful and personal ceremonies each year, which I LOVE to see. But be wise, choose someone who is a great storyteller, good and not phased by presenting or public speaking and can undertake the task (it’s not as easy as it looks) and someone who knows you both dearly. It makes for great story telling!

Keep your script structured. Keep it simple, don’t try to be clever and keep it personal – that’s what will make your wedding story unique and it can form a nice ‘add-on’ to a celebrant led ceremony, or if you want to, like my reader, (who is already married legally), have it form the entire structure of your family led ceremony.

Pssst. I’ll let you into a tip. Where the magic REALLY happens is when you relinquish control. Let them, the family member you trust to conduct a blessing for you, write the script for you. So on the day, the exact content is a lovely surprise for the two of you!

The next part is for the family member conducting your ceremony to read:

Getting Started

Kate Hollingsworth

Before you get started, ask your wedding couple questions! The part I loved most was asking my brother and sister-in-law to complete a questionnaire, separately, WITHOUT sharing or discussing their answers with each other and sending their responses back to me (give a deadline!) My script and the tone of my script was very much dictated by their hilarious and colourful responses, not my creative writing.

I only asked five question, but their responses were so glorious, plus of course I know them both intimately – it became very easy to piece something together.

E:G: Questions I asked:

What was your very first impression of XXX when you first met?

What does marriage mean to you?

Why do you want to marry XXX

What’s been your most challenging and the most hilarious part of planning your wedding?

What’s your biggest hope for the future?

 Add your own questions too to make it your own!

Consider Structure

KT Photography

Split your script into three (or four) sections.

Structure is key, any good story has a beginning, middle and end and a wedding script should be no different. In-fact, I used the exact same structure when writing and delivering my cousins eulogy –  it’s about storytelling, so have a good structure that you can lean on if you get lost and a bit emotional!

The Beginning

Kate Hollingsworth

Don’t forget to introduce yourself – not all the guests will know who you are!

Address and welcome your audience, talk them through what will be happening and encourage them to join in. (if you are starting proceedings, it might be helpful  to relay any wishes the couple wants… turn mobile phones off, not take photos – etc, to manage expectations).

Most importantly here’s where you set the scene –  you introduce the couple –  (the characters of your story). Who they are, what they do, how they first met and what their first impression of each other were.

The Middle

SORRISO Wedding Photography 

Here’s the juicy part, share stories of them.

The beginnings of their love story, meeting the parents, dating disasters, the near misses and the proposal, some of your interactions with them, perhaps even share some anecdotes of their wedding planning journey…

This section could also include a reading, live music or performances from other guests or family members during this section to break up your speaking.

Nick Church Photography 

This is also the PERFECT place to include a wedding tradition from around the world that resonates with the couple. For example, a ring warming ceremony (where guests hold their rings before the exchange of vows and make a wish for them both), the lighting  of unity candles, sand pouring, (symbolising the joining of two people /  families), or even handfasting, an old Celtic tradition tying both hands together using ribbons, this was regularly used to symbolise marriage at a time when ceremonies were not legalised.

Nick Church Photography 

If you are including a tradition, make sure you explain what is happening, the meaning behind it and if guests need to be involved, give clear, concise directions on what they need to do.

For example – here are some instructions I gave for the ring warming ceremony:

Wedding rings are the most visible sign of the commitment
 X and X are about make.

Before they say their promises to each other and exchange
rings, I will be conducting a ring warming ceremony. Their
wedding rings will be passed along to each of you. Once the
rings make their way to you, please hold them in your hands
and make a short silent wish for X and X  and their
future together (approx. 10 seconds).

When you have made your wish or blessing, please pass
the rings to the person next to you.
The rings will then elegantly make their way back to the
Best Man, X. By then, their rings will be blessed by all of
you, filled with your love and support ready for their exchange of vows.

The Vows / Exchanging of rings

Benni Carol Photography

If you are leading the vows (further tips on scripts here) – and exchanging of rings, this is the place to add them. The couple can either read their own vows in full, alternate, or you can recite them in sections and have them repeat after you.

Loose example: The exchange of rings represent the commitment you are about to make to each other. Place the ring on XX finger and repeat after me…… (vows)

If are not leading the exchange of rings, or it has already happened, then you can easily ditch this part.

Tips on writing your own vows can be found here and with my celebrant friend Engaged and Ready here

The End

Becky Bailey Photography

A great way to end is to round-up what marriage is and what marriage means to them.

It’s also a lovely opportunity to add what their hopes and dreams are for each other. A lovely way to end is to share your hopes and dreams for them and perhaps conclude with a short quote, poem or phrase and encourage everyone in congratulating them on their marriage and special union, with a hefty round of applause.

Having a family member perform your  ceremony for you in theory is a beautiful idea. But choose wisely. Not everyone has the skills to carry an audience.  Choose someone who is a great storyteller,  who is confident at public speaking and can project their voice, choose someone who knows you intimately and most importantly who you trust to hold and lead such a special moment for you. It can be as informal or formal as you would like it to be, but make sure it is an honest reflection of the two of you.

Let me know how you get on!

The Talent

Header image: Anesta Broad via Kristina and Tony

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