All right, again, my name is Steve Elzinga, we're, you know, almost through with our class together, it's been my privilege to be a part of this, I'm hoping that some of this material is helping you think about how you might meet with couples that want to begin their life together. Marriage is one of the most incredible ways that God uses to reach the world around us. You know, one plus one is three, the two of you together are better than each of you separately, you can be a unique instrument in God's kingdom together. But getting started right? To get off on the right foot as you begin a marriage is so important. So as a coach, or as a pastor or an officiant, as you're trying to help this couple, all these things are extremely important. So we've looked at certain areas of lives, the spirituality of a couple, their their playfulness, how they interact socially with other people, their finances, their ultimate purpose, we've looked at all these different the seven connections, but now it's time to sort of focus the wedding, that's probably why they came to you in the first place, right? It's like, okay, we want to get married. And now our biggest problem is the wedding. And some couples take a year or two to figure out the whole wedding thing. And a lot of times, it's it's a lot of effort going into the flowers, and, you know, the space and what we're going to dress like, and the dress and the cake, and all the different traditions that go on with a marriage. And we forget that, you know, what, what it's really all about. It's, it's right back to that first session that we had, where we talked about how, how a wedding is about the permanence of the thing, it's about a commitment it's really about the vows. The Vows are the most important thing. All the other stuff is just fluff, you know, the food and the flowers, all those things are, like, you know, little, little accents. But without the foundation of what we're trying to do, we're trying to make a commitment to another, you know, to a person based on a commitment to God, and the church. So all those, that's what it's really all about. So, okay, so you're finally talking about the wedding. So, you know, before talking about the wedding, let's root this into the image of God. Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God, He created them, male and female, He created them. We don't know a lot about what was meant by the image of God, but we do know this it's right there, male and female, He created them. Genesis 2 a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife and they become one flesh, the mystery of the oneness of the Trinity, Trinity is reflected in the oneness of husband and wife. Okay, wedding, let's look at the wedding. The parts of the wedding, there's the vows. There's the ceremony plan, like, like, what's the flow of this wedding ceremony? What's it? What are the parts? What is it going to look like? Then there's the rehearsal, often, you know, where the whole wedding party comes and practices. And then you have the reception. So I want to talk about these four things. First of all, the vows, Like I said, the vows are the most important thing. This is a traditional vow, I, you know, Steve, take thee Marie to be my wedded husband/wife, to have to hold
from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance, and there to I pledge myself to you, this is probably the most traditional vow out there. The first couple that I married, this is probably the vow that I had it, it was in the back of the songbook of our denomination. And, and, you know, a lot of weddings use this. It's probably you've probably heard these words before, but I want to make a pitch for writing your own vows. If I'm coaching a couple, I want to push them towards writing their own and a lot of couples are intimidated by this. But my little story is the first couple I ever married, I just used the generic vows. They got married and I met with them. They got married, they went on their way. And two years later, they come back to me meet me in my office and they say we want to divorce. So I said, Well, you know, before we do that, well, let's see if we can salvage this thing. Let's look at what went wrong. So I have them in my office for several sessions. And you know what went wrong? What don't you like? What don't you like? And I thought, you know, I was very optimistic at that time, I thought, you know, if we just put the broken pieces of a puzzle into the puzzle of your marriage, we just stick them on the table, we'll be able to just, you know, over time, we'll be able to put these pieces together, there was probably some missing pieces when you got married. And we just have to reflect on this and to fix these things. You know, logical stuff. Well, we did that for several weeks, looked at things, we saw what happened, we saw what went wrong, we saw what had to be changed. But in the end, they both said, We don't want to do it. They both said, We don't want to do it. We want to divorce. So as a last resort, I said, Okay, well, what about the vows that you said to each other? You said vows, promises to each other, in front of God and all of God's people? What about that? They looked at me and said, Well, those were just vows in a book. Those are just vows you gave us. So, you know, out the door, they went. And I vowed, this will never happen under my ministry. Again, I never want to hear a couple say that, you know, we can break these Vows because they were just vows in a book. From that moment on, I made every single couple that I ever married, you write your own. So when you want to get out of this marriage, it's your own vows that you break, not mine. I didn't give you them. I didn't write them. What is it that you really want to promise I'm not going to put words into your mouth. So I really want to encourage you to try to get a couple to write their own vows. Number one, why do it, it helps the couple figure out what they really want to promise each other, it really helps them focus on the thing they should focus on. They're focusing on the flowers, they're focusing on, you know, the food and all the you know, the cake, all the extra things about a wedding. And they're not focusing on the one thing that it's about. It's about your commitment before God and God's people. So what is it that you want to do? Yeah, this might be hard for a couple to do. But this is where they should struggle.
Number two, it helps, helps the couple understand what marriage is all about. Not just the promises that they want to make each other. But what isn't the thing we're doing anyway. See, this is where we should spend some time. And it makes it more memorable, and makes it more memorable. The first couple that I married, where I made them write that write their own vows was my sister, my sister married my brother in law, and I made them write their vows. Not only did they write their vows, but they memorize their vows. And they send them to each other. And every year on the anniversary. They say their vows to them. So I always ask every year did, how did that go? You still remember your vows? I mean, isn't that a powerful thing? So the Vows are not just a one time thing. The vows get said every year, it's memorable. Number four more likely to be held accountable. To be held accountable to them. Okau, you make up your own vows, you put some time and thought and energy into it, you're more likely to do it. And you're more nuts, and you're less likely to blame something else. Fears in writing vows, okay, you bring it up and a couple of right away are like, this seems like an insurmountable thing. A lot of people are not good with words. Okay, that means a good speaking words. But a lot of people are not very gifted at writing. And that looks like a totally intimidating thing. How are we going to write these vows? And everyone that comes to our wedding, they're going to be judging us look at the vows. Number 2, don't know where to start. You know, all for a lot of people, when they start thinking about vows, all they can think about is the traditional, I pledge to you, you know, in sickness and in health and good times in the bad. You know, that's all they can think about. They can't think of anything else than what has already been said. Number three won't be as good as off the shelf vowa. Those are polished. They have some order to it. They have some symmetry to it in the good and the bad. You know, in sickness and in health. There's a bit of poetry to them. There what I write is not going to look good at all. Number four, too busy with all the other wedding plans. I get this all the time, a couple is so busy with all the things that don't make a difference, that won't make a big difference in the end. And the couples skip the thing or don't have time for the thing, that's going to make all the difference. So you need to convince them that this is not just a trivial thing. This is not a side issues. This isn't just a cake, or the clothes or the food. This is the core that this whole wedding thing is, is is resting on. Well, how do you write vows? step one, it's really not that hard. Every couple that I've ever married has succeeded. Marvelously. They've always done better than they ever thought they could. Step one, have the bride and groom separately brainstorm on paper, any thoughts about what they want to promise, what marriage means how they love the other person, how they will support and help the other person anything related to marriage at all. So just just write anything down. It doesn't have to be I promise, don't write out of a vow just right out a thought. Cherish is the word I like love. I
want to I want to bring the best out in you. I'm amazed at you. I love the way you look. You know, you just write down anything and everything anything related to marriage at all, half phrases, a word of thought it does doesn't have to be a complete sentence. Things don't have to flow. Things don't have to be in order. You just brainstorm you just put whatever comes to your mind and just throw it on a piece of paper. The woman does that. And the man does that you both separately write your own thing without thought, without critique. Step two, have the bride and groom share what they wrote separately with each other. And make a note of what you like. So what what did you write down so the guy reads his paper? What did you write the girl reads or her paper now underlined some of the things that are the same I talked about that. And you talked about that. I really liked that. So you underline insert. See your brainstorm without any judgment. And now you have some stuff to look at. I like this. I like that word. I like part of that phrase. Or maybe if we change this word. See you're slowly crafting this thing. Step three, start making phrases out of what you like. I like this phrase, bringing the best out of you. Okay, I like that phrase. Is it a complete sentence? Is it polished? No. But it's a nice phrase. So now, you know we have some phrases, we have some words, we have some thoughts. Step four, make the vows. Great. Okay, see, now you can start arranging things. And as a coach, you can sort of help them, okay, we have all this stuff, you know, they put things together. And now as a coach, you can maybe help refine it. But really, what I've discovered is most couples have done, you know, 80% of the work on their own. And if they do it on their own, then they own them. Okay, then then you can hold them accountable to something that they own. They came up with it, and they're going to promise the very thing that they decided they would promise. Okay, that's the vows. It doesn't really take that long. Believe me, it only takes a week or two to figure the vows out. All right. Now we gotta go to the ceremony. Okay, the actual ceremony, what are we going to do? Let me share, you know, what I like to share with a couple is here's the basic outline. Here's the basic ingredients, the kind of logical order that these ingredients go into. Okay? Before the ceremony, there's a bunch of stuff that these things are totally optional. There's ushering in the parents, the grandparents, sometimes, couples will have their parents, you know, you know, like, you know, this parent lights, one candle, that parent lights another candle. And then in the middle of the ceremony, the couple getting married take their parents candle and they light the middle one. So it's signifying the two families joining together or some people have done it with sand mixing two different colors of sand and you know, parents bring up one color sand and another parent brings up the other color. So there's all these different things that people can do before the actual ceremony begins. And there's all kinds of options of this special music. someone sings a song, someone reads something. There's a lot of different things that can happen before the actual ceremony. Number two, generally the ceremony begins. A
couple of comes down the eye While everyone's there, everyone's standing. And then as the officiant as the pastor, I asked, Who gives this woman to this man. And then often it's the father that took his, his his daughter down the aisle, he'll say, my mother and I are and my wife, my wife and I are the ones that are handing off. And then the father hands, literally, and symbolically symbolically hands his daughter to this young man, that that wants to marry her. Okay, so now that the couple is there, everyone's sitting down and people are lined up. This is where the officiant or the pastor would explain why we're here, you know, welcome. This is their wedding. And what's a wedding? What's the what is this thing? What is this about commitment and why are, why are? Where is this you know, centered. And I like to always talk about, from Genesis, the one of the schticks that I have, when the couple goes down the aisle I always look at, I look at the man, everyone's looking at the bride coming down the aisle, but I was looking at the man, he's got this big smile on his face, his eyes are big, maybe he didn't see her in the dress before the hair and everything. And he's like, he's like dazzled. And so I talked about that. I say, you know, I watched you and I saw your eyes light up. And maybe you were thinking what the first man said, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called Whoa, man, you know, because he's so enamored with her. And then I start talking from Genesis and how God created us, and how we're made in His image, and how we reflect the very image of God and how Adam and Eve were naked, and they felt no shame, and they were working side by side, and, you know, everything was good, but then sin comes into the world, and there's brokenness, and the two things that happen when sin comes into the world, they hide from each other. There's brokenness now between husband or wife, and they hide from God when God comes around, and now there's brokenness in our relationship to God. And we see that it's repeated. And that's all the brokenness of the world, all the pain and the hurt and the brokenness in families, and the brokenness in our world, and the distance that we feel with God, you know, it's all gone south. But that's why God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross that who believes that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. And, and what what Jesus has brought, the possibility is to bring back that one. But that oneness doesn't come without a commitment. Okay, so I sort of wind down the talk on the meaning of marriage, and what marriage is all about working towards commitment, because the next piece number four, is the vows. So we've talked about what marriage is all about. And then it's about commitment. So now we're going to do it. So now I have them, say their vows to one another. And then the next logical thing is the ring. The ring is just a symbolic expression of the vows that they just made. And it just made the vows. But now the rings are in a symbolic expression of them. And the little thing that I do with a ring, is I just hold it up this ring is an outward and visible sign of an inward and a spiritual grace, signifying the uniting of this woman and this man in
holy marriage. And then I hand the ring off to the guy and say this ring is for you to give. And then he puts the ring on her finger, and I usually have the person Respect Now there's a couple of ways of doing it. The traditional way has been, the man puts the ring on the girl's finger, and then he says, I give this ring as a symbol of my love and my faithfulness. Okay. So that was the way I saw weddings all the time. But when I got married, I got married and I asked my religion professor at my college to marry us. He was a very smart guy and just just a really gifted guy. And he said, you know, let's change this because you give her a ring once. Okay, so you give this ring as a symbol of your love and faithfulness, but now you've done it. You've given it. The truth is we wear the ring, and that's ongoing. I wear this ring is a symbol of my love, and faithfulness to you. That's really what a ring is doing. So I coach the couple and say, Okay, this way I say this ring is outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace this ring is for you to give. I give it to the man. He puts it on the woman and the woman says I wear this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness because that is constant. Then I hold up her his ring, this ring to is an outward and visible sign of an inward spiritual grade signifying the uniting of this man and this woman and holy marriage, this ring is for you to give, she puts it on his finger, and he says, I wear this ring is a symbol of my love and faithfulness. Number six, okay, so we had the explanation of the meaning of marriage, that leads to commitment, commitment is the vows, they say the vows The vows are symbolically expressed in the rings. And now the whole thing is symbolically expressed Oh, oh, I forgot. Oops, I forgot. Number. Number six is actually the pronouncement of marriage. Okay, I forgot that, would you say it's a pronouncement of marriage. So you've done the explanation, you've done the commitment, you've done the vows, you've done the symbolic expression of the vows. So there's only one thing left to do, let's declare the marriage. So in what I do is, I say, you know, by the authority given to me as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and by the state of Michigan, I'm licensed in the state of Michigan to marry people. But more importantly, by the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father andsSon and the Holy Spirit, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride. Okay. So we've had the explanation of a commitment. We've had the symbolic expression of the commitment. And now there's finally the consummation of that commitment in the declaration that you are now married. So what's next? Well, next is the symbolic expression of what you just did. Which is, you know, you just tied the knot, you're now married. And so now we're going to have an expression of that a symbolic expression. And some people light a unity candle, you know, there's a candle here lit and a candle here. This is me, this is you. And now we take our two candles, and we light the middle one. And some people blow out the two candles, is it to say okay, we were two and now are one. Some people leave them let's because even though we're one, we're still, you know, we express ourselves in two
different ways. That's up to you. Some people use two colors, Sands, and then they mix them together, there's a host of different ways that you can symbolically express what you've just done. And that's just a thing that couples do. They don't have to do it. It's not essential. Number seven, generally, then there's a message from the pastor, I usually ask a couple to pick out a verse or two that I then share and sort of, you're married now. And let me let me be the first one to give you encouragement from the Word of God as you go forward. And then usually have a prayer the couple kneels, this is their first prayer together. Different ways that you can do that, after the prayer. Okay, now, there's only one thing left to do introduce the couple to all those gathered this. You know, they came in separately from now on, you think of them as a married couple they are they came in two, and they're leaving one. So these are the sort of the basics of the wedding elements. And they're sort of in the order that they go. So when I do a wedding, I don't have a big planner with me. I walk up with the Bible, because the basics are right here. I mean, it's just they just logically flow from one thing to another you. Why are we here at this wedding? Well, let's talk about the meaning of marriage. And ultimately, the meaning of marriage is about commitment. Commitment is the vows. The vows are expressed in symbolically with rings. What else is there to do? Well, we might as well declare you married, because what else is there to say? And then how are we going to symbolically express this marriage? And then, you know, what should I as a pastor say to you, and let's ask God to bless it. And then I might as well introduce you all to this new couple. So this is just a basic thing. It just flows in a logical order. But there's other optional elements that you can talk about, with a couple. There's songs that you can have the congregation that people gather there, they can say you get a special numbers that can fit at different parts in the service. There might be a reading or a poem or some scripture passage that you want someone to read, there might be more parent involvement. When my son got married, he married a girl in Ecuador. Their tradition was there was a blessing that I had to pray over my future daughter in law, my son married this girl, and I had to with my wife to get up and actually, you know, stand behind her and pray over her and that What my, my, my sons in laws had to do the same thing they had to pray over my son. It was really a cool kind of experience. So you can get, you know, parents involved godparents involved, your favorite uncle, your brother, your sister, there's different people and ways that you can get others involved. There's a video, you might have a video thing that where you express something, and share something that that you want to do in a video form. That might be really interesting or testimonies. You know, sometimes we save a lot of these other things for the reception, but we could put them right in the right in the wedding ceremony. There could be you know, pictures of how you met, and how you progressed in your relationship. Or you might have the testimony of how you met. And, you know, God's provision in your life that might be very
encouraging for all those listening. So there's a lot of things that you could add to the wedding. So we'll talk about the the rehearsal, and we'll talk about the follow up to weddings in the next session.