A Quaker wedding is a meeting for worship in which a marriage takes place. As the meeting for worship begins, some designated person may rise to explain, for the benefit of those new to Quaker worship, the absence of clergy, the role of the gathered, and the solemnity of the occasion. Printed information also has been found useful. Consider this script and this sample program.
Following a period of silence, as long or as short as the couple is led to observe, the two
Friends are urged to consider carefully the intrusion into the spirit of worship that recording of any kind can present. Photographing, visible audio taping, and videotaping during the ceremony are often discouraged (but recreation for photos may be conducted later).
Following the wedding
Both sections of the marriage license obtained from the county or municipality are signed by the couple and by members of the oversight committee as witnesses. The proper section of the license thus signed is then returned within the legal time limit to the office from which it has been obtained.
The marriage certificate is handed to the Meeting’s recorder to be entered in the records of the monthly meeting. When this has been done, the recorder sends the certificate to the newly married couple.
At the next business meeting the oversight committee reports to the monthly meeting that the wedding has taken place in accordance with Friends’ practice, and that the requirements of the law have been properly observed.
Ongoing care and nurture of Friends married under a Meeting’s care continues as long as the couple is in the community of the Meeting. If the couple relocates, the Meeting may maintain an informal relationship with them and stay open to requests for support or help, but the actual nurture is best carried out by the Meeting to which the couple transfers.
Marriage not under the care of the Meeting
Marriage of members apart from the Meeting community
Members who marry outside the Meeting should promptly inform the Meeting of their marriage. It is then the task of the Meeting to assign overseers to visit the newly married couple—or, if they live far away, to write to them—and to express the Meeting’s continuing interest and care. Non-member marriage partners should be made welcome and invited to attend meetings for worship and business if they live within reach of the monthly meeting.
Meetings may offer a place of worship and other assistance at the request of Friends from a distance who wish to be married there but under the care of their home meeting. Communication between Meetings assures the proper clearness process and help in the oversight of the wedding.
Marriage of non-members
There are occasions when non-members request marriage with the help of a Meeting, using the Friends marriage ceremony. Since Friends do hold marriage to be under divine guidance, the couple should be fully aware and agreeable to the context of marriage for Friends. Meetings are encouraged to consider in advance what services they can offer, and to look into the
Review of responsibilities required for the good order of a Quaker marriage ceremony
A review of the duties and responsibilities of those concerned: To promote clarity and understanding, the duties and responsibilities of the persons to be married, of the clerk, and of the committees of the monthly meeting are separately outlined here. These should be reviewed in conjunction with the previous text.
Responsibilities of the persons to be married:
1. To present to the monthly meeting under whose care they wish to be married the following written communications, usually directed to the clerk’s attention:
- a letter signed by both parties stating their intention of marriage and their desire that the monthly meeting have oversight of the wedding. Whenever possible or appropriate it should be accompanied by letters from parents or guardians assuring the Meeting of their interest in, and approval of, the plans under consideration. (opinion- letters from parents seem an outdated notion for adults)
- Upon approval for marriage, the request for permission to be married in a regular or, the usual practice, a specially appointed meeting for worship. The request should include the date of marriage and the time of day desired.
- Suggested names of Friends whom the couple would like to have serve as an oversight committee for the wedding.
2.To meet with a clearness committee to explore the leading to marry.
6.To arrange for the appropriate license for use where there is no clergy.
11.To sign the marriage certificate after the promises have been made.
13. Make all arrangements for rehearsal, wedding, accommodations for guests, food, wedding details.
Responsibilities of the clerk of the Meeting:
4.When the report has been accepted and the marriage allowed by the monthly meeting:
a. to request the Meeting to name an oversight/marriage committee for the wedding and to appoint a meeting for worship to be held at the time and place requested for the wedding, if at all possible; and
b. to inform the parties that they are free to proceed with their plans.
Responsibilities of the committee seeking clearness:
5.To be informed concerning the applicable legal requirements for obtaining a marriage license.