Review of Responsibilities Required for the Good Order of a Quaker Wedding Ceremony

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

  • 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 this request should be accompanied by letters from parents or guardians assuring the meeting of their interest in, and approval of, the plans under consideration.
    • Upon approval for marriage, a request for permission to be married in a specially appointed meeting for worship for marriage (or, more rarely, a regular meeting for worship). The request should include the date of wedding and the time of day desired.
    • Suggested names of Friends whom the couple would like to serve on an oversight committee for the wedding.
  • To meet with a clearness committee to explore their leading to marry.
  • To mail out invitations only after approval has been granted by the meeting or meetings involved.
  • To meet with the oversight committee named to oversee the marriage, at a time and place suggested by the committee, to discuss plans for the wedding, including the choice of persons to read the marriage certificate and to open and close the meeting for worship.
  • To have the certificate prepared in ample time, with carefully considered language.
  • To inform themselves, with the assistance of their oversight committee, of all applicable legal requirements of the state in which the marriage is to take place and of the forms to be used.
  • To arrange for securing the appropriate license.
  • To give the license to the oversight committee before the wedding and also have the marriage certificate ready.
  • To commit to memory the promises to be made vocally, which are traditionally to the following effect: In the presence of God and these our friends, I ____[Name]____ take thee ____[Name]_____to be my husband/wife/partner, promising with divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife/partner so long as we both shall live.
  • To sign the marriage certificate after the promises have been made.
  • To sign both sections of the marriage license directly after the wedding, one section being kept by them and the other returned by a member of the committee overseeing the wedding to the office from which the license was obtained.

Responsibilities of the clerk of the meeting

  • To present the letter of intention to marry—and other letters received supporting the request—to the appropriate meeting committee at the earliest opportunity.
  • To see that the request is considered and, if accepted, that a committee for clearness is appointed.
  • To arrange for presentation of the clearness committee’s report to the next monthly meeting for business.
  • When the report has been accepted and the wedding allowed by the monthly meeting:
  • To request the meeting to name an oversight 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
  • To inform the couple that the wedding has been allowed and they should meet with the oversight committee.
  • To ensure that the oversight committee reports to the meeting for business following the wedding.

Responsibilities of the clearness committee

  • To make inquiry and conscientiously satisfy itself that there is nothing to interfere with the accomplishment of the marriage; and in interviews with the couple to explore their leading to marry. To make available to the couple books and pamphlets on marriage. (The yearly meeting has a special fund that pays for books from Friends General Conference for newlyweds.)
  • To report its findings and recommendations to the next meeting for business, including any plans the couple has for date and time of the wedding.
  • To make sure that the welfare and rights of any children by a former marriage have been properly considered and legally secured.

Responsibilities of the oversight committee

  • To meet with the couple to discuss plans for the wedding, including the choice of a person to read the certificate and one to close the meeting, and to arrange for a rehearsal.
  • To see in advance that all applicable legal requirements have been met and that the proper license has been obtained; also to see that both sections of the license are dated and signed by the couple following the wedding and by two members of the committee as witnesses and that the proper section of the license thus signed is returned to the office from which it was obtained within the time required by law.
  • To review with the couple the promises they propose to exchange at the wedding and make sure that the words of the certificate are consistent with them.
  • To see that the wedding and reception, if any, are accomplished with dignity, reverence and simplicity.
  • To arrange for the care of the certificate following the meeting for worship for marriage and to see that it is signed by those who are present as witnesses.
  • To deliver the certificate to the recorder for copying or duplication for the records of the monthly meeting and to give the recorder the couple’s address to which the certificate may be forwarded.
  • To report to the meeting whether the wedding has been suitably accomplished; whether the applicable legal requirements have been satisfied; whether the certificate has been properly recorded; and to report any name changes that result from the marriage for the minutes of the monthly meeting.