Preparing a Meaningful Wedding Message
Preparing A Meaningful Wedding Message
Funerals provide a wonderful opportunity to share the Good News, as we’ve seen in the previous posts. People face their own mortality as they deal with the loss of a friend or family member, and are therefore ready to hear about heavenly things. Weddings are different. Preparing a meaningful wedding message is a challenge, because people are in celebration mode. They aren’t ready to listen.
Learning An Important Lesson: The Setting
I learned this at a wedding that I officiated while I lived in Southern California. The venue was a beautiful old winery that had been converted into a reception hall. We gathered for a quick rehearsal with the wedding party, and walked through the steps of the wedding–where everyone would stand in the little copula, how we would do the processional and recessional, etc. Then the guests arrived, and soon the wedding ceremony began.
This was a wedding where I was “on”. What I mean is this: I was great in my role as the officiant. I was appropriately humorous, engaging, serious at the right moments, and spoke a message that I could tell connected with the audience. I was feeling pretty good about my role in this wedding when the wedding party (including me) was called to go back outside for pictures while the guests were seated inside. As we were making our way out, I was right behind the bride and groom. The groom turned toward me and said, “Pastor Bruce, thank you so much for being here! I don’t remember a thing you said, but I’m glad you were here.”
Learning An Important Lesson: The Lesson
What a moment that was for me. I realized that I had to rethink my theory about preparing a meaningful wedding message as a pastor. Here are some things I learned.
Prepare the Way for the Message Before the Wedding
I have never done a wedding without at least 2 meetings with the couple. Most often, I met 3 to 5 times with the couple to do premarital counseling. If they received premarital counseling through another qualified person, I would limit my time with them to discussing the ceremony and their own faith. It was in these times with the couple that I developed a relationship with them. In these meetings I talked to them about the gospel, and I asked them what they would want communicated to their family and friends during the ceremony.
Hopefully, my interest in them and their lives will earn me the right to share meaningfully in the wedding message. This time is well spent. There are many resources available for premarital counseling. For the past 8 years or so, I have been using material by Les and Leslie, Parrot. Here’s a link to their system of premarital counseling.
Preach a Meaningful Wedding Message to the Audience
The people involved in a wedding ceremony have all kinds of things going on their minds. They are thinking about their emotions, about where to move and when, and they are trying to remember vows. They aren’t in a place to hear a great message based on what the Bible says about marriage.
However, the audience is in that place. They have gathered for a wedding. They expect and are maybe ready to hear again about the covenant of marriage. So, as you prepare your message, keep in mind that you are going to be preaching to a variety of people. Some will be in great marriages, and will love to hear you affirm what they have committed to. Others will be in struggling marriages, and they may need the reminder of the covenant promises that they have made. And the fact that you are the one preaching may open a contact for you for further ministry to someone in your audience.
There are a variety of other possible receivers for your message. Some will be in grief, because the have gone through divorce or the death of a loved spouse. There may be people in your audience who desperately wanted to be married, but that hasn’t happened for them.
Think about these kinds of people as you go about making a meaningful wedding message for each occasion.
Preach To The Recording
Most wedding ceremonies these days arrange for their wedding to be recorded, either by a professional or by someone with a phone. So, as you prepare your message, know that they will watch that video at some time in the future. I have even said that in a ceremony. Something like, “I’m talking to the future right now, when your children are going to get this recording out and watch it.” So in your message, speak to that future couple who will hopefully be celebrating 5, 10 or more years of living out the marriage covenant.