The clearness committee, if it is satisfied that there is no obstacle to the proposed marriage, reports its approval of the marriage to the monthly meeting at its next business session. If two meetings are involved, then each will consider the request. The meeting(s) will then approve holding an appointed meeting for worship for marriage, in accordance with the couple’s wishes. Wedding invitations should be sent out only after the meeting’s approval is granted.
Overseeing the Wedding
When the meeting has given its approval for the wedding to take place under its care, it appoints an oversight committee from among its members to oversee the arrangements. The persons to be married should be asked whether there is anyone they would like particularly to serve on this committee. Members of another meeting may be included if so desired.
The oversight committee provides guidance to the couple as the marriage ceremony is arranged, including the obtaining of the applicable legal license and the Quaker marriage certificate. Oversight continues through the ceremony and afterwards, to assure that details are completed in right order. The oversight committee ordinarily assumes responsibility for the certificate and license until these are signed by the couple after the wedding, and the latter is submitted to the proper office.
It is important to allow enough time to obtain the license and to prepare the Quaker marriage certificate. The couple, in consultation with the oversight committee, should give thoughtful consideration to the text of the certificate, which includes the marriage vows. The couple arranges for the preparation of the certificate.
Conducting a Quaker Wedding
A Quaker wedding is a meeting for worship in which a marriage commitment takes place. As the meeting for worship begins, a designated person will rise to explain the nature of Quaker worship, and of a Quaker wedding specifically. Printed information about Quaker worship is also useful.
Following a period of silence, as long or as short as the couple is led to observe, the two rise and, each taking the other by the hand, make their promises to each other, in the words from their marriage certificate, in tones clear enough to be heard throughout the meeting. When they are seated again, the marriage certificate is brought to them for their signatures. The certificate is then read to the meeting by a person asked in advance to do so. The meeting then continues and offers an opportunity to those present to share messages about marriage and the couple. The person chosen to close the meeting may, if desired, first allow the wedding party to withdraw. At the close of the meeting, all those who have been present are asked to sign the certificate as witnesses.
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 usually discouraged.
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 was obtained.
The marriage certificate is given to the meeting’s recorder (or other designated person) to be copied for the records of the monthly meeting. When this has been done, the recorder gives the certificate to the newly married couple.
At the next business meeting the oversight committee reports to the meeting that the marriage has taken place in accordance with Friends practice, and that the requirements of the law have been properly observed.
Ongoing care and nurture of those 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 a meeting to which the couple transfers.