Guide for Pre-Marriage Counseling

Preparing for Your Marriage, by William J. McRae is also available as a paperback book.

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Foreword to Pre-Marriage Guide

This Guide has been compiled for the benefit of those couples involved in Pre-Marriage Counseling or considering involvement in this ministry. It has always been the desire of the leadership of the church to develop a curriculum guide for counselors. This is a first attempt to do so. We expect it to be modified and updated, and assume it will be adapted to each counselor’s gifts and style.

Over the years many couples have participated in this ministry. For those couples embarking on their first counseling journey, invariably the question is asked…”OK, what do we do now?”. This guide has been put together to help answer that question. Perhaps even the “veterans” will find this information helpful.


Leadership Responsibilities

[Name] – Elder over this ministry

[Name] – Pre-Marriage Counseling Coordinator


Current List Of Pre-Marriage Counselors

[List names of counselors below]

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1. Responsibilities Of Being A Premarriage Counselor

Prayerfully keep in mind Proverbs 10:19, ”When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Nonetheless, Matthew records what Jesus told his disciples at the end of his earthly ministry in chapter 28:19, 20; “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Although you aren’t “making disciples” in the strict sense, you are teaching and counseling what God requires of husbands and wives. Making disciples may be a good way to view your responsibilities.

As the Pre-Marriage Counselor you are the quarterback! You will communicate with the couple, with the wedding officiant, and the Pre-Marriage Coordinator. You have the responsibility to either approve of the marriage or call it off as far as the church’s involvement is concerned. What a responsibility! You may even be asked to perform the wedding! Presently, all Elder’s and Deacon’s of the church are recognized by the State as qualified to perform weddings.

Your responsibilities could be summarized as follows.

    A. Be familiar with the church’s Wedding Policies (Sec. 6) and Process (Sec. 7).

    B. Take the couple through the five basic parts in building a biblical understanding and foundation for their marriage.

    1. The criteria for marriage.

    2. Christian Marriage I: Basics.

    3. Christian Marriage II: A Christian husband. A Christian wife.

    4. Before your marriage.

    5. Your wedding and after.

    C. After third meeting, determine if it is advisable for the couple to marry. Notify Pre-Marriage Coordinator, and couple of approval or disapproval. If approved, and non-church officiant approved, couple can now send out invitations.

    D. Follow up with the couple within one year of their wedding.

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2. Recommended Preparation For Leaders Prior To Counseling

Time would not permit any of us to be absolutely prepared for marriage, let alone try to prepare someone else! If you were to try, you would not lack for reading material. Just go to any library and search under “Marriage” to see for yourself. If you did read all there is to read, would it match with the truth of Scripture? Please don’t misunderstand. There are many good books and resources available on the topic of marriage. Some are listed in the resources section of this Guide. They have been listed to encourage you to review some of them and to incorporate these into your counseling meetings when appropriate. But they should never be a substitute for what we know to be true. 2 Timothy 3:16,17: Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. With this in mind, the following might prove helpful as you begin the Pre-Marriage Counseling process.

    A. Commit to read through the Bible in a year.

    B. Do a personal study of Genesis 2 & 3, Ephesians 5, and I Corinthians 7.

    C. Each day for 31 days read and meditate on one chapter of Proverbs. Pay particular attention to those verses about relationships and money.

    D. Read and complete the book, “Preparing for Your Marriage” by William J. McRae.

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3. Overview Of Pre-Marriage Counseling

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to take an ordinary, imperfect couple, counsel them with many words of wisdom and thereby virtually guarantee a perfect, lifelong marriage! If this is your expectation for this process, your mission will self-destruct in five seconds!

No marriage is perfect, as we all know. However, it is precisely because we believe the Scriptures teach that marriage is an institution established by God, and is a life-time commitment, that we require certain things from each couple before granting them approval to be married at the church or to use our facilities. One such requirement is to go through counseling. Your mission is not to produce a perfectly married couple, but rather to help a couple establish a biblical understanding and foundation for their marriage. This is not to be taken lightly and thus the encouragement for you, as the counselor, to be in the Word on a regular basis!

You, your spouse, and the couple you are counseling will meet approximately one time each month for at least five meetings, starting about five months before the wedding date. This can vary according to needs and schedules. Men, you must take the lead in each meeting in terms of guiding the discussion. There will normally be assignments for the engaged couple to complete between meetings. It will be expected that the couple will come prepared for each meeting, except for the first meeting. During each meeting, discussion among all is preferable. You will want to be more focused on what the Lord is teaching them through their study than giving them good tips for their marriage. As you go through each meeting keep in mind the qualifications for marriage as outlined in the church’s counseling and wedding policies found in Section 6 of this guide. Maintain close contact with the wedding Officiant so that problems are surfaced and dealt with.

The meetings can be broken down into five basic parts; you will essentially cover one part in each meeting. You, and the couple you are counseling will be using McRae’s book, “Preparing for Your Marriage” as a reference for working through the scriptures and for bringing up topics to be discussed. The book is primarily a “workbook” format. Don’t assume though that during your meetings you need to follow a question and answer “workbook” format. The best utilization of McRae’s book is to complete each assignment and be very familiar with the scripture references used in each chapter. Make the study of the Scriptures the central part of each meeting. Use questions as a springboard to dive into the scriptures! If you are both the Counselor, and Wedding Officiant, plan to invite another Pre-Marriage Counselor to sit in on at least one counseling meeting to get their insight. The five meetings are listed below.

    1. The criteria for marriage. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 1, 2)

    2. Christian Marriage I: Basics. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 3-11)

    3. Christian Marriage II: A Christian husband, A Christian wife.
    (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 12-17)

    4. Before your marriage. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 18-21)

    5. Your wedding and after. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 22-26)

Each meeting will last between one and two hours. At the end of each meeting, plan what chapters from “Preparing for Your Marriage” you will cover at the next meeting. It would be preferable to meet in a place where you will not be interrupted. The church has rooms that are available for this purpose. Simply call the church Office to make sure the room you want to use is available when you want it. It might be necessary to fill out a building use form. Plan to have at least one meeting in your home over lunch or dinner. A Sample Approach to Pre-Marriage Counseling in this guide provides an approach to covering the five basic parts. Additional Resources and Suggestions/Ideas from Counselors in this Guide offer additional information you might find helpful as you plan and conduct your meetings.

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4. A Sample Approach To Pre-Marriage Counseling

Introduction

What follows is a guide for counselors to take a couple contemplating marriage, or engaged to be married, through a basic process of discovery. Few things are more profitable than men and women committed to the study of God’s Word as it relates to marriage, particularly in today’s society. Counselors should feel free to adapt this approach to their own gifts and style, so long as the essentials are covered. Keep in mind also that each couple to be counseled will have different levels of spiritual maturity and needs. Circumstances among couples will also vary. Some will be engaged for the first time; others may have been married before. Children may or may not be involved. There are many possible scenarios.

This guide is intended to assist you in planning and working through the counseling process with your couple. The primary source to help you in organizing your meetings will be William J. McRae’s book “Preparing for Your Marriage.” You, your spouse, and the couple you are counseling, should have a copy of this book. Encourage the couple to complete the assignments separately. Using this book as a resource helps facilitate an orderly approach to gleaning from God’s Word topics related to marriage. At this point, it should be noted that if you have not read the book and done the assignments with your spouse, by all means stop and do so now! Only in this way will you be able to know what additional resources you will want to incorporate into your meetings. It will be wise to work through those passages of Scripture in Section 3, Recommended Preparation Prior to Counseling.


I. Meeting 1: The Criteria for Marriage.

In this first meeting you will cover chapters one and two of “Preparing for Your Marriage.” If the couple has already set a wedding date, this meeting should take place approximately five months before the wedding day. It is preferable that the couple NOT prepare ahead of time for this first meeting; I’ll explain why in a moment. You, on the other hand, will have prepared and have a mental outline of what you would like to accomplish. That outline should include the following.

    A. For you to get to know the couple and to make them feel comfortable and at ease with you, your spouse, and with the counseling process.

    B. To discern the spiritual condition of the counselees, and the degree to which each is familiar with the spiritual history and commitment of the other.

    C. To discern problem areas which might disqualify the couple for marriage, and determine if the couple meets the qualifications for marriage.

    D. To come to an understanding of the necessity of sexual purity prior to their marriage.

    E. To outline the counseling process and what will be required of the couple.
    Schedule all other meetings, about one month apart, and outline what will be covered in each meeting.

    F. To clarify that no announcements should be sent out until approval by the counseling couple is given and communicated to the Officiant and church Office.
    Tell the couple that this final approval will not be given until after the third meeting.

The following questions need to be asked in this meeting.

    A. How did the two of you meet?

    B. How long have you known each other?

    C. How long have you been dating? Are you formally engaged?

    D. How and why did you decide that you should get married?

    E. When do you plan to get married? Where? By whom?

    F. Why do you want to get married?

    G. Why do you want to have Pre-Marriage counseling?

    H. Is it your desire to have a Christian ceremony and Christian wedding? To the best of your knowledge, what is a Christian marriage? How is a Christian service and marriage different from other marriages?

    I. How do your friends and family (including children) feel about your engagement?

    J. Have any expressed concerns? If so, what are they?

    K. Have either of you been married before? (More questions should follow if yes)

    L. Have either of you been “in love” before? How many times? How long ago was the last time? What is there about your present relationship that makes it different from those past instances which did not last?

    M. Describe the spiritual dimension of your relationship up to this time? How do you want your spiritual relationship to improve?

    N. Describe both the strengths and the weaknesses of your mate. What is it about your mate that attracted you? What potential problems do you anticipate in your marriage?

    O. Have you been involved in pornography in the past or are you at present?

Although there is a lot to do in this first meeting, there are four things that must take priority. First, and most important; Do both the bride and groom profess faith in the Lord? The church will not be involved in the wedding if this question is not answered in the affirmative. It was mentioned earlier that it would be preferable for the couple to come unprepared for this meeting. If the couple knows ahead of time they will be asked about their faith, they will have time to “prepare” an answer. This might be okay, but you will have missed an opportunity to gain insight into them as individuals and as a couple. Consider approaching it this way. With no prior prompting, have the bride tell you the groom’s testimony of his faith! Likewise, have the groom tell you the bride’s testimony of her faith. In other words, do they know how the other came to faith and can they tell the story? From this approach, you might be able to glean the following.

    A. Does the couple talk about their faith with each other?

    B. Are they confident about the other’s conversion, and is it true faith so far as they can tell?

    C. Does the couple seem to have an interest in spiritual things?

    D. How well do they really know each other?

    E. How well do they communicate about spiritual things?

As you might guess, this approach can open up some wonderful and meaningful discussion. It is a delight to hear a couple talk about the Lord, what He has done in their life, and how He is still at work. This approach can also completely stump the couple! Should that be the case, rather that allow them to “wing it,” make this an assignment they will be ready to do at the next meeting. The church’s Pre-Marriage Counseling and/or Wedding Process, states that after the first meeting you and the Wedding Officiant are to decide if the couple qualifies to continue. Since you are postponing this requirement to the next meeting, this won’t be completed. Don’t worry about it. Pre-Marriage counseling is a process, and it’s better to get to the heart of the matter rather than to complete a checklist.

Second, is the couple committed to a Christian marriage as defined in the Bible? If the couple is not committed in this way, it will be impossible, for example, for the husband to obey the command of Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” How can a husband love his wife as Christ also loved the church if he is not committed to the principals of biblical headship? A Christian marriage is a lifelong building project that begins on the foundation of God’s Word. The couple must express a desire to be in God’s Word on a regular basis and to worship and fellowship with other believers.

Third, does the couple have parental approval? Although not necessarily a biblical requirement for marriage, it can be inferred and is very important. Should you grant your approval for their wedding and for the church’s involvement if one or more parents are against it? That’s hard to say. Lack of parental approval is a huge red flag! Granting approval without parental consent should be an extreme exception. The church desires and expects parental approval. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have parental approval, proceed with much prayer and caution. Take some time and find out the reason.

If possible meet with the parents and have them articulate their concern. You may want to devote an entire meeting or more just to address this issue. Consult with other Pre-Marriage Counselors who may have experienced this situation, and certainly seek the counsel of the Elders and Deacons of the church.

Fourth, and somewhat uncomfortable to discuss, is sexual purity. To be specific, you need to find out if the couple is involved physically and to what extent. If they are involved physically, communicate clearly the expectation that from here on to the wedding, they must commit to refraining from physical intimacy. Tell the couple you will check with them at each meeting on how they are doing on their commitment. You also need to find out if they have been involved physically with others, and have they discussed it? Although potentially very hurtful, it is better for the couple to address this issue now rather that after they are married. You might ask, “How do you bring up the subject of sexual purity tactfully?” The best way to start is to look at God’s Word on the subject. Have the couple turn to and read Ephesians 5:3, I Thessalonians 4:1-8 and Hebrews 13:4. Then ask them where they stand in relation to these verses. Let the discussion proceed from there. Another difficult discussion to have, but necessary, is the issue of pornography and/or sexual abuse. Many in our body have witnessed first hand the tragic result of pornography and sexual abuse on individuals and married couples. You might have to meet privately, men with men, women with women, in order for this to surface as an issue to address.


II. Meeting 2: Christian Marriage I – Basics.

This second meeting will cover chapters 3-11 in “Preparing For Your Marriage.” It should take place about one month after meeting one unless there were circumstances that required an additional meeting. The couple should come to this meeting prepared to cover these chapters. If they do not come prepared, you may be getting an indication as to how serious they are about Pre-Marriage Counseling. These meetings work best when everyone comes prepared. It would probably be better not to meet if the couple is not prepared. Simply reschedule the meeting as quickly as possible so as not to throw off the rest of the schedule. Don’t let a lack of preparation become a habit. Tell the groom you are expecting leadership from him in this area and that it is now time to start demonstrating it!

Having gone through the book with your spouse, you should be familiar with each chapter. If you try to cover every question from each chapter in discussion format, you will never finish a meeting! Therefore, as you and your spouse prepare for each meeting, with prayer and discernment decide which portions will be emphasized. Some portions you may cover in a lecture format but most should be through discussion. The emphasis should always be on the truth of Scripture. Remember, you will want to hear what God is teaching them through their study. You and your spouse simply facilitate the discovery process. With each meeting and counseling session, you will get better in this area. The outline for this meeting should include the following.

    A. The basics of marriage. A thorough study of Genesis 2:18-24. Put these verses in context with chapters one and three. Much can be gleaned from these verses but place an emphasis on the following.

    1. Adam did not a take a wife; he received one from God!

    2. Marriage is permanent! Ask the couple for their view about divorce. What they believe Scripture teaches about it, etc. (If you, as the counselor, are unclear what Scripture say about divorce, take some time and think about the following passages: Leviticus 21:7,14, Deuteronomy 22:19, 24:1-3, Jeremiah 3:1,8, Ezekiel 44:22; Malachi 2:16, Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18, Romans 7:1-3.)

    3. Genesis 2:18: Then the Lord God said,” It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Clarify why their marriage at this time is the right thing to pursue. The “Why now?” question.

    4. Discern if there will be any hindrances to “becoming one flesh.” The directive of Genesis 2:24 for the man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Will there be any problems from parents and siblings in this regard?

    B. The tests of love from I Corinthians 13:4-7. To what extent do these qualities of love exist in their relationship? Which are less evident?

    C. A discernment of their maturity, both spiritually and emotionally. (This would be a good time to introduce the value of reading through the Bible in a year.)


III. Meeting 3: Christian Marriage II – A Christian husband, A Christian wife.

This meeting will cover chapters 12-17 in “Preparing for Your Marriage.” It is the most challenging and interesting meeting you will have. By now you will have developed a relationship with the couple and learned about them in terms of personality, spiritual and emotional maturity, etc. This insight will be very valuable as you prepare and conduct this session.

For most couples, this will be their first in-depth study of what it means to be a Godly husband and a Godly wife. There is so much misinformation about this topic that many couples find the truth quiet a relief!, while others find it hard to accept. Keep in mind Ephesians 4:14-16: “So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.” In context, these verses are talking about the maturity and unity of the body of Christ. These verses precede Ephesians 5 which talks about, among other things, the proper relationship between husbands and wives. Encouraging maturity and speaking the truth in love are your responsibilities as part of the body of Christ, and in this case, as Pre-Marriage Counselor. You are encouraged to not shy away from the truth of Scripture, particularly as it relates to husbands and wives.

This meeting is conducted differently than the other meetings. First, the men will talk, covering chapters 12-13, while the women remain silent and listen. Then the women will talk, covering chapters 15-17, while the men remain silent and listen. For some, the temptation to talk instead of listen is very great, but this must be resisted.

The outline for the men should include the following.

    A. Biblical headship and leadership. The main Scripture references will come from Ephesians 5.

    B. How is the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church? Verses from Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3 should be emphasized.

    C. Define what it means to live with your wife in an understanding way. What is the command and warning of I Peter 3:7?

The outline for the women should include the following:

    A. How is the wife to be a helper to her husband?

    B. A submissive wife as defined by Scripture. There will be many passages studied in chapter 16 of “Preparing for Your Marriage.” The project pages of this chapter will play a key role.

    C. Home is where the heart is!

During your discussion about headship and submission would be a good time to discuss personal convictions. In particular, the husband must especially be sensitive to his wife’s convictions. He should not seek to override those convictions in the name of headship. Have the couple read I Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14. Then consider asking the following questions.

    A. What if a husband disagrees with his wife’s convictions? Should a husband expect or require his wife to submit to him when it would cause her to violate her convictions?

    B. Should the husband or wife try to impose their personal convictions on their mate?

    C. What are some of your personal convictions regarding tithing, Christian service or ministry, children, birth control, sexual activities/practices?

By the end of this meeting, you will probably have enough information to determine if you will give your final approval for the marriage. If you do give the green light, you will need to call the couple, the wedding Officiant, and the Pre-Marriage Coordinator to let them know. The wedding date should still be about two months away, plenty of time for the couple to get wedding invitations out and finalize their plans. Keep in mind that, even though you have given your approval, it doesn’t mean you can’t call off The church’s involvement in the wedding if circumstances warrant it. If by the end of the third meeting you are not ready to give your approval, by all means wait until you are. Be respectful of the couple in terms of plans that they still need to make and your impact on those plans. If you are reluctant to give your approval, you need to communicate that to the couple. Perhaps the wedding date needs to be pushed back or eliminated altogether. You may be doing the couple a great service by giving them more time. There is no reason to hurry into marriage or rush the counseling process because of a date on the calendar! Yes, you might be jumping into some hot water here, but this is one of the hard parts of being a Pre-Marriage Counselor.


IV. Meeting 4 – Before Your Marriage.

This meeting will cover chapters 18-21 of “Preparing for Your Marriage.” You’re on the home stretch! The majority of the critical subject matter has been covered. If you were a novice at Pre-Marriage Counseling before you started, by now you’re a bona-fide pro! If you have given your approval for the wedding, these last two meetings are full of enthusiasm and anticipation. It’s a joy to spend time with an engaged couple just prior to their marriage. If you are still undecided on the marriage, these final meetings could prove to be critical in your final evaluation.

The Book of Proverbs will figure prominently in this meeting. It would be wise if the couple started pondering through Proverbs, as outlined in chapter 19, from the start of counseling so that they don’t rush to complete chapter 14. Bill McRae makes a great suggestion in his book regarding Proverbs. Proverbs is 31 chapters long. During the time between the last meeting and this one, (approximately one month), have the couple read one chapter each day. Encourage the couple to meditate through Proverbs rather than complete it as an assignment!

In addition to completing chapter 23 from the book for the next meeting, which is an overview of I Corinthians 7: 1-7, have the couple study I Thessalonians 4: 1-8 and be prepared to discuss how a sexual relationship in a Christian marriage differs from a pagan one. You might find it helpful to get Bob Deffinbaugh’s notes from his exposition of I Corinthians 7.

The gift of money management is sometimes lacking in a newly married couple. “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples” by Larry Burkett would be a good book for the couple to read. It is available to be checked out from the church library. At minimum, you should ask the couple to come to the next meeting with a complete budget, which will be reviewed and discussed. The outline for this meeting should include the following.

    A. Become familiar with Scripture as it relates to solving problems and conflicts.

    B. Thoroughly review the Book of Proverbs and encourage the couple to heed the counsel found there.

    C. Add the study of I Thessalonians 4: 1-8 to the homework assignment.

    D. Add the preparation of a budget to the homework assignment.


V. Meeting 5 – Your Wedding and After.

This meeting will cover chapters 22 – 26 of “Preparing for Your Marriage.” Schedule this meeting as close to the wedding date as possible, preferably within three weeks. In this meeting, you will give the couple the opportunity to ask any unanswered questions they may have. It is also an opportunity for you to review previous meetings and potential problem areas that will require more attention in the coming months.

This meeting will have three parts. In the first part, everyone will meet together and review the key Scriptures studied during counseling. The purpose being to help them formulate goals for their marriage. Chapter 22 of “Preparing for Your Marriage” has an interesting assignment about setting goals which you will want to spend some time talking about. It will also be important to emphasize the necessity, after they are married, of praying and being in God’s Word on a daily basis. Ask the couple if they have found a church home, if they have been attending on a regular basis and if they plan to continue. It will be worth noting if the groom has taken steps of leadership in this area.

The second part of the meeting you will split up, men with men, women with women. Don’t assume the couple has talked about the “birds and the bees” with anyone. Even if they have, there still may be unanswered questions. Splitting up will provide an opportunity for private conversation which otherwise would be awkward in a “group” setting. Simply make yourself available to talk with them about issues like birth control, the wedding night, sex after marriage, etc. For many couples, this will be unnecessary, but for others, it will be quite helpful.

The third part of the meeting you will all get back together. Find out if they have selected their wedding vows and if you could read them. Have them consider the following Bible texts dealing with vows: Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Judges 11:29-40; Psalms 15:4; 76:11; Proverbs 20:25; Ecclesiastes 5:4-5. You probably already know, but in case you don’t, inquire how the wedding ceremony plans are coming along. Finally, but still very important, review a budget with them to see if they have realistic financial expectations. Suggest that they read one of the books on finances listed in Section 11.

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5. Pre-Marriage Counseling And Wedding Policies

Qualifications and Approval

We believe the Scriptures teach that marriage is an institution established by God, and that it is a lifetime commitment. We also believe an understanding of the biblical foundation for marriage is essential for any couple considering marriage. For those requesting Pre-Marriage Counseling, asking to be married, or inquiring about the use of our facilities, we require:

    1. Both partners give clear testimony of being born-again believers, who personally trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and for eternal life.

    2. Both partners be scripturally qualified to marry.

    3. Both believing partners be committed to a Christian marriage, as defined in the Bible.

    4. The couple be married by a church Elder-approved Officiant, who holds to the teaching of Scripture. If the Officiant is unknown to us, one or more church Elders will meet with him for approval.

    5. Both partners be willing to complete our Pre-Marriage Counseling or a church Elder-approved Pre-Marriage Counseling program.

    6. The wedding participants abide by the Building Use Policies of the church.


Pre-Marriage Counseling

The ideal would be to enter into Pre-Marriage Counseling before having made a commitment to one another. In view of the seriousness of the commitment you are considering and the importance of the material to be covered, couples should allow at least four months before their marriage to complete the counseling comfortably.

The church Pre-Marriage Counseling is designed to assist the couple in building a biblical understanding and foundation for their marriage and consists of five basic parts:

    1. The Criteria for Marriage

    2. Christian Marriage I: Basics

    3. Christian Marriage II: A Christian Husband, A Christian Wife

    4. Before Your Marriage

    5. Your Wedding and After

We want to be very clear that going through Pre-Marriage Counseling does not guarantee approval of your marriage. The Officiant and Pre-Marriage Counselors assigned to you must be satisfied that you understand and meet the requirements and qualifications for marriage before approval. After the third session, your Pre-Marriage Counselor will submit his recommendation to you and to the Officiant for final approval. Wedding dates are penciled in on the Master Calendar until final approval. Invitations should not be sent until final approval is received.


Your Wedding Ceremony and the Church Facilities Use

Your wedding ceremony and accompanying music is expected to be Christ-centered, God honoring, spiritually edifying, and in good taste. Any departure from traditional music and ceremony requires prior approval of the Elder overseeing Pre-Marriage Counseling. The couple should ask themselves how their ceremony and music will bring honor to the Lord.

It is the desire of the church to make the building available to the Lord's people who wish to use it for weddings and to minimize the expense for them. For church members, there is no cost for use of the building, unless extensive plans incur above-normal wedding costs. Non-church members may contact the church Office to determine the wedding fee. Reserved dates for the wedding and rehearsal are tentatively penciled in, awaiting approval of the marriage Officiant and/or Pre-Marriage Counselor. The fee is fully refundable if the wedding is canceled. Reservation requests and subsequent confirmation are considered on the basis of: 1) the clear testimony of personal salvation on the part of both partners and your biblical eligibility for marriage; 2) the approval by the church Elders of the Officiant, and 3) your willingness to actively participate in a Pre-Marriage Counseling program.

The couple requesting use of the building is responsible for arranging music and providing all decorations, flower containers, candelabra, candles, table linens, dishes, etc. All equipment, including rental equipment, must be removed from Chapel premises immediately following the reception. The piano and organ are available for the wedding, reception, and rehearsal but may not be moved.

Dripless candles must be used. Non-flammable, protective material must be placed under candles on the platform to protect carpeting. The florist should be careful not to cover air-conditioning or heating vents when arranging protective material.

Smoking is not permitted inside the building. The wedding party is asked to notify their Florist, Caterer, and Wedding Consultant to observe this policy. Birdseed is permitted outside the building only.

If desired, the Building Manager will make a cassette recording of your wedding if you provide a C-90 or C-120 cassette tape to him at the wedding rehearsal.

A church Wedding Liaison will be present to assist the wedding party both at the rehearsal and at the wedding. She is there to help with church policy and to offer assistance to the Officiant and the wedding party in sending the wedding party down the aisle, etc. Should you have a Wedding Consultant, she will be happy to work with her.

The wedding party assumes responsibility for any damage, loss, or breakage to Chapel property.

If both participants are in agreement with these policies, return the enclosed Request Form to the church Office within two weeks. When Pre-Marriage Counseling is begun, a Wedding Information packet will be sent.

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6. Pre-Marriage Counseling And Wedding Process

    1. office directs all wedding and pre-marriage counseling calls to pre-marriage coordinator. pre-marriage coordinator contacts couple, and lets them know pre-marriage counselors will be in touch.

    2. wedding secretary sends set 1 (couples checklist, pre-marriage/wedding policies & wedding request form) and “pencils-in” wedding date as “tentative” on master calendar.

    3. pre-marriage coordinator assigns pre-marriage counselors and provides copies of preparing for your marriage. counselors arranges first meeting. four meetings to follow.

    4. when request form returned, wedding secretary mails copies to: pre-marriage counseling coordinator, counselors, wedding liaison, and files original. sends set 2 to couple: (pre-marriage counseling & wedding process, planning your ceremony, wedding schedule, wedding vows, wedding rehearsal, information for caterer, information for florist, wedding liaison, request for building use, and facilities policies & guidelines).

    5. if officiant is unknown, pre-marriage coordinator contacts officiant to confirm he holds to the sound teaching of scripture.

    6. after third pre-marriage counseling meeting, pre-marriage counselors notify coordinator of approval/disapproval of wedding. coordinator notifies wedding secretary & liaison.

    7. wedding liaison will arrange a meeting with the bride prior to the wedding.

    8. the final meeting with the pre-marriage counselors and the couple should be scheduled as close to the actual wedding date as feasibly possible.

    9. wedding

    10. pre-marriage counselor follow-up

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7. Forms and Checklists for Pre-Marriage Counseling And/Or Wedding

Couples Checklist

DATE

Action

________.

1.

After receiving Pre-Marriage Counseling Policies and Request Form, individually read and sign the form, and return to the church Office.

________.

2.

Receive Wedding Information Packet following return of Request form.
Pre-Marriage Counselors____________________________________ .
Phone:____________________ .

________.

3.

First meeting date and time:________________________ .
Assignment?____________________________________________ .

________.

4.

Return Building Use Form if wedding is at the church.

________.

5.

Second meeting date and time:____________________ .
Assignment?____________________________________________ .

________.

6.

Third meeting date and time:____________________ .
Assignment?____________________________________________ .

________.

7.

After approval by your Counselors, confirm date with Office
BEFORE SENDING INVITATIONS
then SEND INVITATIONS!

________.

8.

Send Information for Florist and Caterer sheets

________.

9.

Fourth meeting date and time:____________________ .
Assignment?____________________________________________ .

________.

10.

Fifth meeting date and time:________________________.
Assignment?____________________________________________ .

Contact

Name

Phone

Building Manager:

__________________________.

________________________

Wedding Liaison:

__________________________.

________________________

Wedding Secretary:

__________________________

________________________


Wedding Request Form

Date _____________

BRIDE ______________________________________________________________________________

Res. Phone

Bus. Phone

Address

City

State

Zip:

Church

Do you attend regularly?

Born-again believer in Jesus Christ?

Do both parents approve?

Number of previous engagements

Number of previous marriages

Pre-Marriage Counseling: Where?

With Whom?

GROOM _____________________________________________________________________________

Res. Phone

Bus. Phone

Address

City

State

Zip:

Church

Do you attend regularly?

Born-again believer in Jesus Christ?

Do both parents approve?

Number of previous engagements

Number of previous marriages

Pre-Marriage Counseling: Where?

With Whom?

(If known, please provide the following information.):

Planned date

Time

Place of wedding

Place of reception

Rehearsal date

Time

Officiant’s name

Phone (H)

(W)

Officiant’s church

Person helping with wedding arrangements (mother, friend, wedding consultant):

Name

Phone

Number of Attendants

Number of Guests

Florist

Phone

Caterer

Phone

A formal request to pursue Pre-Marriage Counseling and Wedding plans at the church may be made by individually signing below that you have read and agree with the enclosed policies. Please return this form within two weeks from the above date to the church office.

BRIDE __________________________________________

GROOM _________________________________________

FOR Church USE

Dates forms sent:

Office Personnel

Date Returned

Assigned Pre-marriage counselor:

Date

Final approval by:

Date

 

Information For Florist

The wedding party must provide all decorations, flower containers, dripless candles, table linens, dishes, etc. The wedding party assumes responsibility for arranging for all equipment and decorations to be removed immediately following the wedding/reception. The church provides only the re-cleaning of the building after everything has been removed. The piano or the organ must not be moved.

Dripless candles are permitted at the front of the auditorium only. Non-flammable, protective material must be placed under all candles to protect the carpeting. Candles are not permitted in the aisles or windows.

No nails, thumb tacks, staples, or screws are to be used in any part of the building or on furniture. Be careful not to block air-conditioning or heating vents.

The florist should contact the church office during normal Office hours for delivery or set up. A 2:00 p.m. closing time should be given to delivery personnel as they are often late, and the Office will be closed. Any other access to the building must be arranged through the church Office from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. weekdays. The church will accept deliveries of rental equipment if financial arrangements have been settled by the responsible party. We cannot accept C.O.D. deliveries.

Please note that:

  • Supplies stored in the refrigerator are stored at your own risk.
  • Smoking is not permitted inside the building.
  • Birdseed only is permitted outside the building.
  • The florist or wedding party is responsible to remove all floral decorations and accompanying equipment.

The wedding party assumes full responsibility for any damage, loss or breakage of Chapel property.

Please give this information sheet to your florist.


Information For Caterer

The church’s kitchen is available for your wedding and/or reception. The Parlor is normally used for the reception. A reception involves the wedding party being willing to provide:

      1) Set up

      2) Food service personnel

      3) Clean up after the wedding and/or reception.
      The kitchen, parlor and all used facilities should be left in the condition in which they are found.
      The caterer or wedding party is responsible for providing any and all needed supplies.

The wedding party, or the caterer, should contact the church office during normal Office hours for delivery or set up. A 2:00 p.m. closing time should be given to delivery personnel as they are often late, and the Office will be closed. Any other access to the building must be arranged through the church Office from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. weekdays. The church will accept deliveries of rental equipment if financial arrangements have been settled by the responsible party. We cannot accept C.O.D. deliveries.

Supplies stored in the refrigerator are stored at your own risk. We do have a freezer for storage and an ice machine. Leftover food and supplies must be removed immediately after your wedding/reception. If there is no caterer, the wedding party should assign someone this responsibility, and indicate on your building use form their name and telephone number.

Please note that:

  • The piano or organ must not be moved.
  • Our facility does not have storage room available after the wedding.
  • Smoking is not permitted inside the building.
  • ALL REFUSE MUST BE TAKEN TO THE DUMPSTERS IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR WEDDING.

Please give a copy of this information sheet to your caterer.


Information For Wedding Liaison

A church Wedding Liaison who represents the church and its policies will be available for the wedding rehearsal and wedding ceremony to help your wedding go smoothly.

She will assist the Officiant in both the Processional and Recessional, assist in lining up the wedding party, sending each one down the aisle at the appropriate time, coordinating with the pianist or organist when it is time for the bride to enter, and straighten her train, etc. If you have a Wedding Consultant, she will be happy to work with her.

She will alert ushers when it is time to seat people, and, at the proper time, have grandparents or other family members seated, followed by the parents.

At the rehearsal, she will work with the Officiant to assist in placement of bridesmaids and groomsmen for balance, and mark their places with masking tape for the wedding.

The Wedding Liaison will conduct a bridal interview to discuss details of your wedding and rehearsal. While she may be able to offer helpful suggestions for your reception, the reception will be the responsibility of the wedding party.

The Wedding Liaison will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the church. A bridal room is available for the bride's party; groomsmen may dress in the Conference Room.

Please give this information sheet to your Wedding Consultant if applicable.


Planning Your Ceremony

    1. Mood of the ceremony:

    How would you like your ceremony to be distinctly Christian?

    What mood do you want to prevail at your wedding ceremony?

    How does the music and those participating relate to this mood?

    What impression do you want to leave with the audience?

    What memories do you want to cherish about your ceremony?

    Other comments:

    2. How can the one officiating at the wedding help you create this mood and convey these impressions, which you desire?

    3. In what ways do your feel you ceremony will be glorifying to our Lord Jesus Christ?

    4. Both of you may wish to consider giving your testimonies (how you met Christ and how He brought you together) or both praying at the conclusion of your wedding. Have you considered this?

    5. Important information:

    Date and time of wedding rehearsal ____________________________________________________

    Date and time of wedding ceremony ____________________________________________________

    Location of rehearsal and ceremony ____________________________________________________

    Have you completed all arrangements and reservations for the use of facilities for your wedding?

    Location of wedding reception _________________________________________________________

    Name of wedding consultant __________________________________________________________

    Name of florist _____________________________________________________________________

    Name of caterer ____________________________________________________________________

      (When will the caterer need to be on site to set up for the wedding?___________________________)

    6. Concerning the Rehearsal:

      Be on time!

      Please insist on the presence of all members of the bridal party at the rehearsal.

      Invite your marriage consultant to be present. Also make it clear that the minister will

      conduct the entire rehearsal, but would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

      The church secretary responsible for weddings will be present to help you as well.

      Plan on at least one hour for the rehearsal.

      Bring your marriage license to the rehearsal and give it to the one officiating.

      Remember that what is done at the rehearsal sets the tone for the ceremony. Your

        attitude and conduct at the rehearsal will set the standard for others.

      The same can be said for the rehearsal dinner (if any). Here the groom will be

      responsible for setting the tone for the evening. I would suggest that you consider

      giving your testimonies to the bridal party, thus setting the tone for the occasion. In the

      past, wedding rehearsal dinners have proven to be excellent opportunities for

      witnessing. You may wish to consider this in the placement of members of the wedding

      party at the table.

    7. Please prepare the following diagrams and give them to the officiant before the wedding rehearsal:

      A diagram of your processional (Names of each person in the proper place).

      A diagram of the wedding party standing at the front of the auditorium. (Again with the

      names of the party in their positions, and also indicate the location of microphones for

      soloist, etc.)

      A diagram of your recessional, with the names of the party in their positions.

    8. Concerning your vows, you have three options:

      Leave the choice to the one officiating.

      From a variety of selections which are available for your consideration, you may choose the one you prefer.

      Write your own vows. If this is the option you choose, the vows ought to be submitted to the one officiating, at the last session, for his approval. These vows should reflect your desire to follow the Scriptures in your marriage. They should also be concise.

      Which option will you take? _________________________________________________________

      Will you memorize your vows or repeat them after the one officiating? _______________________

    9. The wedding party: Please assist the officiant by listing those in the wedding party by name.

    Bride’s parents:
    ____________________________________________________

        ____________________________________________________

    Maid (maiden) of honor:
    ____________________________________________________

    Bridesmaids:
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    Others (include their relationship to the bride, if pertinent):
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    Groom’s parents:
    ___________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    Best man:
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    Ushers:
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    Others (Again, give relationship to groom, if pertinent):
    ____________________________________________________
    ____________________________________________________

    10. A suggested order for the ceremony:

    Organ Prelude by
    __________________________________________________________________

    Lighting of Candles by
    ______________________________________________________________

    Seating of groom’s parents by
    _________________________________________________________

    Seating of bride’s mother by
    __________________________________________________________

    Enter: minister, groom, best man, etc.

    Processional: As bride enters, organ introduces her; audience stands (as prompted by bride’s mother standing).

    Solo (when all the bridal party is at the front in their positions):

        Title of solo
        __________________________________________________________________

        Name of soloist
        ___________________________________________________________________

    “Who is giving away the bride?”
    Bride kisses the father.
    Bride’s father seated.

    Ascend platform

    Message: The Meaning of Christian Marriage

    Vows: Which selection have you chosen?
    _______________________________________________

    Exchange of Rings.

    Pronouncement of Husband and Wife.

    Optional: Lighting of single candle from two candles (Genesis 2:24) yes / no

    Prayer: You have several options (circle your choices):

      Use of a kneeler? yes / no

      Prayer with no “Amen” followed by solo, “The Lord’s Prayer”. yes / no

      Prayer by minister only. yes / no

      Prayer by groom, bride, then minister. yes / no

    Solo (optional): yes / no

      Title of solo
      ______________________________________________________________________

      Name of soloist
      ___________________________________________________________________

    Congratulations by minister

    Presentation of Mr. & Mrs. _______________________________________ to audience.

    Recessional

    How do you want the audience dismissed? En masse? _____________ or by rows? _____________

    Do you wish to have the minister announce time and place of reception? ______________________

    11. Concerning your pictures:

    Be sure to check with the church or facility, as well as the officiant, concerning regulations regarding the taking of pictures during the ceremony. Some, due to tradition, shy away from picture taking before the ceremony, but generally it is easier on the bridal party and the audience to have most of the pictures taken in advance. These decisions should be discussed and made in advance.

    12. One final word:

    You should assume the responsibility for the conduct of individuals at your wedding (rehearsal and ceremony). If there is likelihood of the use of tobacco or alcoholic beverages, please inform them politely not to do so either during the rehearsal or the wedding. This will spare many difficult situations.


Wedding Rehearsal

    1. Begin with prayer.

    2. Introduction of those involved in the wedding

    Groom introduces his relatives, groomsmen and ushers.

    Bride introduces her relatives and bridal party.

    I introduce the church wedding consultant and those assisting in the wedding who will discuss where the microphones are to be placed, what time the caterers will arrive, review the church rules, and if the wedding will be taped.

    3. Instructions

    Ushers

    ____________________________, ____________________________ are lighting the candles.

    The candles are to be lit at (time): ______________________________.

    Seating instructions:

        Offer the right arm to ladies 14 years and older.

        Seat Bride’s friends on the left, groom’s on the right (from the rear of the auditorium).

        If one side of the auditorium becomes over-crowded, seat people on the other side.

        __________________________ will seat the groom’s grandparents.

        __________________________ will seat the bride’s grandparents.

        __________________________ will seat the groom’s parents.

        __________________________ will seat the bride’s mother.

    Bride’s mother

    She stands (when I nod to her) as the bride enters, signaling the audience to stand.

    Bridesmaids and Ushers

    Everyone starts down the aisle on his/her left foot.

    Walk naturally, in time with the music, and slowly.

    Four pews spacing between bridesmaids and between groomsmen, with 6 pews spacing between last groomsman and first bridesmaid.

    4. Order of processional

    Processional

    Groom’s grandmother

    Bride’s grandmother

    Groom’s mother

    Bride’s mother

        Pastor – Groom – Best Man

    Ushers

    Groomsmen

    Bridesmaids

    Matron of Honor (Optional: the one who assists the bride precedes the bride)

    Maid of Honor

    Ring Bearer

    Flower Girl

    Bride on father’s left arm traditionally

    Recessional

    Reverse of the above

    5. Wedding party at front of auditorium

    Stand wedding party in place at front but not on platform (watch for symmetry, with tallest to the outside, thus coming in first).

    Groomsmen stand 10 inches apart with all hands to your side or with all hands crossed in front.

    Father gives daughter his left arm and escorts her down the aisle. Show him how to hand off the bride. (Bride may kiss father farewell). To avoid stepping on the Bride’s train, father takes one large step backward before turning to take his seat.

    6. Ascending platform

    Bride hands bouquet to Maid/Matron of Honor, allowing her to use both hands to raise skirt.

    Groom holds her right elbow securely.

    Bride takes bouquet back.

    7. Wedding party on the platform

    Bride hands bouquet to Maid/Matron of Honor when she takes ring.

    Bride and Groom turn toward each other for ring exchange.

    When exchanging rings, don’t be concerned about getting ring on all the way. Simply let the other person work it on slowly as the ceremony proceeds.

    8. Recessional

    Bride gets flowers back from Maid/Matron of Honor.

    Bride turns and Maid/Matron of Honor arranges Bride’s train behind her.

    Bride and Groom exit, followed by Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor, then remaining wedding party exits.

    Leave happily, but not hastily – with dignity.

    9. Walk though the ceremony once or twice until all are comfortable with it.

    10. Exact order of ceremony:

    11. Final instructions

    Directions concerning rehearsal dinner, when, where, how to get there.

    When to arrive for the wedding.

    the church wedding consultant will show dressing rooms, if necessary.


Wedding Party Schedule

We appreciate your participation in our wedding! This list should help each of us, so please read it carefully, and feel free to ask any question you may have.

    1. ALL ATTENDANTS arrive at the church at ___________________________________.

    2. INSTRUMENTALISTS arrive at the church at _________________________________.

    3. WOMEN may dress in the Bride’s Room.

    4. MEN may dress in the Conference Room.

    5. PHOTOGRAPHER will begin taking pictures at _______________________________.

    6. (Arrive 15 minutes prior to this time!)

    7. BOUTONNIERE for the Groomsmen and Groom to be worn on LEFT side.

    8. ALL USHERS will escort women on RIGHT arm. Seat Bride’s friends on LEFT, Groom’s on RIGHT, or balance the seating if Bride/Groom desire (ask).

    9. Bride on Father’s LEFT arm.

    10. Everyone starts down the aisle on his or her LEFT foot. Set your pace naturally, in time with the music, slowly and enjoyably!

    11. PLEASE – no chewing gum!

    12. Mothers will be seated at five minutes until ____________ (time of wedding).

    13. GROOMSMEN, please help your Bridesmaid up and down the steps with your RIGHT arm; secure her arm BEFORE you start UP or DOWN the steps.

    14. Look pleasant during the ceremony; this is a joyous occasion.

    15. AFTER THE CEREMONY, go immediately to ________________________________.

    16. There (will will not) be a receiving line. If not, mix, mingle, have fun.


Wedding Vows

    Selection 1

GROOM: I, ___________________________ take you, ________________________________

    to be my wedded wife;

    And I do covenant and promise;

    Before God and these witnesses

    To be your loving and faithful husband;

    In plenty and in want;

    In joy and in sorrow;

    In sickness and in health;

    As long as we both shall live.

BRIDE: I, ___________________________ take you, ____________________________________

    to be my wedded husband;

    And I do covenant and promise;

    Before God and these witnesses

    To be your loving and faithful wife;

    In plenty and in want;

    In joy and in sorrow;

    In sickness and in health;

    As long as we both shall live.

 

    Selection 2

GROOM: I, ___________________________ take you, ________________________________

    to be my wedded wife,

      to have and to hold from this day forward,

      for better, for worse,

      for richer, for poorer

      in sickness and in health,

      to love and to cherish

      as long as we both shall live

      according to God’s holy ordinance,

      and thereto I pledge thee my troth.

BRIDE: I, ___________________________ take you, ____________________________________

    to be my wedded husband,

      to have and to hold from this day forward

      for better, for worse,

      for richer, for poorer

      in sickness and in health,

      to love and to cherish

      as long as we both shall live

      according to God’s holy ordinance,

      and thereto I give thee my troth.

    Selection 3

GROOM: I, ___________________________ take you, ____________________________________

    to be my wedded wife,

    With deepest joy I receive you into my life,

    That together we may be one.

    As Christ is to the Church, so I will be to you –

    A loyal, sacrificial husband,

    Always performing my headship over you,

    Even as Christ does over me.

    I promise you my deepest love and tender care.

    No matter where the Lord may lead us,

    I pledge you my life,

    As a loving and faithful husband.

BRIDE: I, ___________________________ take you, ____________________________________

    to be my wedded husband.

    With deepest joy I enter my new life with you.

    As is the Church in her relationship to Christ,

    So I will be to you.

    I submit myself to your headship as to the Lord.

    I will live for you,

      loving you,

      learning from you, and

      seeking to please you,

    I pledge you my life

    As a loving, obedient and faithful wife.

    (optional) – that like Ruth, I may say,

      “Wither thou goest, I will go;

      Where thou lodgest, I will lodge

      Thy people shall be my people;

      And thy God, my God.”

    Selection 4

GROOM: I, ____________________________________________________

    acknowledge before God and these witnesses

    that God has brought ________________________________ to me

    to become one with me,

    as my companion and counterpart and help,

      as long as we both shall live.

    _________________________________, according to God’s Word,

    and by His grace,

    I vow to be your loving leader,

    your faithful provider and protector,

    even as Christ is to His church.

BRIDE: I, ____________________________________________________

    acknowledge before God and these witnesses

    that God has led me

    to become one flesh with ________________________________

    as his companion and counterpart and helper,

    as long as we both shall live.

    ______________________________________, by God’s grace,

    I covenant to be your faithful, submissive, and obedient wife,

    even as the church is to be to Christ

    This I do

    in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ

    and to His Word.

(After each has said their vows, they would place the ring on the finger of their partner as a sign or token of this vow.)

    Selection 5

GROOM: In God’s perfect will and the presence of these friends,

    I take you, ________________________________, to be my wife

    to love, honor, and respect from this day forward,

    I promise to provide for you, protect and defend you

    as God shall make me able.

    I will strive without ceasing to edify, encourage and instruct you,

    according to the command of the lord Jesus Christ.

    With the love God has so freely manifested in me,

    I shall endeavor to give likewise this same affection to you.

    I vow my life to you, trusting in the providence of God,

    the power of the Holy Spirit,

    and the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ,

    in whom all things hold together.

BRIDE: _____________________________________, I take you to be my husband,

    and give to you all that I am and have.

    Through the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

    I promise to love you with all of my being;

    to honor, respect and esteem you above all others,

    submitting to your loving leadership in all things as unto Christ.

    I will comfort and care for you,

    endeavoring always to encourage and edify you.

    As we are blessed of God with children,

    I will strive to bring them up in the love of God,

    instructing them in His ways.

    As Jesus Christ is the most important person in our lives

    because He gives us life,

    I will seek to help you attain the stature and fullness of Christ

    as we serve him together,

    from this day forward.

    Selection 5a

ALTERNATE BRIDE’S VOW: ________________________________, because we are both at peace

    in the assurance that our Lord planned and blesses our coming together,

    I entrust my life and my love to you from this day forward.

    I come to you with my need for you strength,

    your understanding, and your tender care –

    needs you have so lovingly developed in me by completely filling them for me.

    And I will strive with Christ’s help

    to make you a sensitive, gentle, and godly wife,

    and with His strength and guidance, I’ll stand with you through everything.

    I’ll laugh with you and share your happiness, but, as well,

    I’ll comfort you in your sadness.

    I’ll care for you when you’re ill.

    I’ll honor you in your hours of strength.

    And, I’ll joyfully submit to you as the head of our home

    because I respect you and your integrity

    and because God planned that it should be this way.

    Selection 6

MINISTER: If you, then, ________________________ and ___________________________,

    have freely and deliberately chosen each other as partners

    in this holy estate,

    and know of no just cause why you should not be united,

    in token thereof , you will please join your right hands.

GROOM’S VOW: _____________________________, in taking the woman you hold by the right hand

    to be your lawful and wedded wife, before God and the witnesses present

    you must promise to love her, to honor and cherish her in that relationship

    and leaving all others cleave only unto her,

    and to be to her in all things a true and faithful husband

    so long as you both shall live. Do you so promise?

BRIDE’S VOW: _____________________________, in taking the man you hold by the right hand

    to be your lawful and wedded husband, before God and the witnesses present

    you must promise to love him, to honor and cherish him in that relationship,

    and leaving all others cleave only unto him,

    and to be to him in all things a true and faithful wife

    so long as you both shall live. Do you so promise?

MINISTER’S RESPONSE: Then are you each given to the other for richer or poorer,

    for better or worse, in sickness and in health,

    till death shall part you.

GROOM’S RING VOW: What token do you give as an everlasting symbol

    of your love, sincerity, and faithfulness?

    As a ceaseless reminder of this hour and of the vow you have taken,

    place this ring, the symbol of your love,

    on the hand of your bride and repeat after me:

    “With this ring I thee wed, with loyal love I thee endow,

    and all my worldly goods with thee I share,

    in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen”

BRIDE’S RING VOW: What token do you give as an everlasting symbol

    of your love, sincerity, faithfulness and submission?

    As a ceaseless reminder of this hour and of the vow you have taken,

    place this ring, the symbol of your love,

    on the hand of your groom and repeat after me:

    “With this ring , I thee wed, with loyal love I thee endow,

    and all my worldly goods with thee I share,

    in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen”

    Selection 7

MINISTER: ________________________, do you take ___________________________,

    Whose hand you hold, to be your lawfully wedded wife

    and do you sincerely promise in the presence of this company

    and in reverence before God,

    to love, honor, and protect her through sunshine and shadow, alike,

    keeping yourself unto her alone,

    until death shall separate you?

    Do you? (I do.)

    ____________________________, do you take this man, whose hand you hold,

    to be your lawfully wedded husband; do you sincerely promise

    in reverence for God and in the presence of this company

    to be to him a loving, tender, and true wife,

    through sunshine and shadow, alike,

    keeping yourself unto him alone,

    until death shall separate you.

    Do you? (I do.)

    Now will you repeat these vows.

    I, ________________________, take thee ___________________________,

    to be my wedded wife,

    to have and 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 us do part,

    according to God’s holy ordinance,

    and thereto I plight thee my troth.

    And _____________________, will you likewise repeat these vows.

    I, ________________________, take thee ___________________________,

    to be my wedded husband,

    to have and 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 thereto I plight thee my troth.

Now in God’s sacred providence with us, He has given us reminding tokens and following this precedence you have chosen rings. These rings are fitting symbols of this relationship in two respects. The ring is fashioned of the most precious metal, which suggests the most priceless relationship on earth, that of a Christian home. Furthermore, the ring represents the permanency of the marriage union, until it’s broken by the outside force of death.

    ___________________________, in placing this ring,

    will you repeat after me these words.

    I, _________________________, give thee this ring, ___________________________,

    As a token of my love,

    and I pledge thee my loyalty and devotion

    until death separates us.

    I, _________________________, give thee this ring, ___________________________,

    as a token of my love,

    and I pledge thee my loyalty and devotion

    until death separates us.

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8. First Letter And Forms Sent To Couple for Pre-Marriage

S A M P L E
1ST COVER LETTER

[date]

[salutation and name]

[street address]

[city, state, zip]

Dear:

We appreciate the opportunity to participate in your Pre-Marriage Counseling and wedding. Because we believe the Scriptures teach that marriage is an institution established by God, and that it is a life-time commitment, we have established the enclosed policies.

We would like you and __________ to read the enclosed policies carefully. If you then desire to move forward with your wedding, please complete the Request Form, and return it to the church office within two weeks. If you do not return the Request Form to the Office by ______________, we will assume you have changed your plans, and the requested date will be released for other uses. Your date will remain “penciled” in until final approval is given by your Pre-Marriage Counselors. At that time, if approval is given, the dates will be confirmed as “go” dates.

We want to be very clear that going through Pre-Marriage Counseling does not guarantee approval of your marriage. We desire to be faithful stewards of the gospel, and our hope is that, should you marry, you will enter into a marriage which will be to the glory of God.

If you have questions, please give me a call.

Sincerely in Christ,

[Name]

Pre-Marriage Coordinator

Enclosures (Pre-Marriage Counseling and Wedding Policies, Wedding Request Form, Pre-Marriage Counseling and/or Wedding Couples’ Checklist)

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9. Second Letter And Forms Sent To Couple for Pre-Marriage

S A M P L E
SET 2 – 2ND LETTER

[date]

[salutation and name]

[street address]

[city, state, zip]

Dear

We were delighted to receive your Wedding Request Form and are now enclosing a Wedding Packet with additional material. If you plan to be married at the church, it is important that you return the Building Use form even though all information may not be available at this time. As you will see on the Couple’s Checklist, a Wedding Liaison will work with you as we move along in the process.

As you read in the Wedding Policies, the wedding date has been tentatively “penciled” in until your Pre-Marriage Counselors notify the Office of their approval. We earnestly pray that this time will bring spiritual blessing to each of you.

In Christ,

[Name]

Pre-Marriage Coordinator

Enclosures (Pre-Marriage Counseling and/or Wedding Process, Information for Florist, Information for Caterer, Wedding Liaison, Planning Your Ceremony, Wedding Rehearsal, Wedding Party Schedule, Wedding Vows)

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10. Additional Resources for Pre-Marriage Counseling

  • “The Act of Marriage” by Tim Lahaye
  • “So You’re getting Married” video series by Dr. H. Norman Wright
  • “Master Your Money” by Ron Blue
  • “The Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples” by Larry Burkett
  • “Prepare/Enrich” testing (Call Pre-Marriage Coordinator)
  • “Her Hand in Marriage” by Douglas Wilson
  • Bob Definbaugh’s study notes:
  1. Ephesians 5, “The Meaning of Christian Marriage,” (Lesson 21).
  2. I Corinthians 7, “Sex and the Spiritual Christian,” (Lesson 11)
  3. I Corinthians 7, “The Relationship Between Spirituality and Sexuality,” (Lesson 12)
  4. I Corinthians 7, “Spirituality and the Status Quo,” (Lesson 13)