The shortest wedding service

A post-church, post-lunch interlude. Found this in a decades-old Unitarian ministers’ manual. Why would someone choose this service? Perhaps for a wedding in a hospital, at a sick-bed, or for a couple in mourning where the solemnization is otherwise unavoidable. Or by two who really do want the shortest service possible!

Later. Left out a rather important part, however implied it may be.

From A Handbook for Ministers. Volume 1. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1925. Page 32.

A Marriage Declaration

Where a mere declaration of marriage is desired the following may be used:

¶ The minister shall say:

Standing as you now do in the presence of God and these witnesses, do you covenant to take each other as husband and wife, and agree to live together as God’s ordinance and the laws of the land decree?

¶ Then shall the man and the woman each say:

I do.

¶ Then shall the minister say:

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the State, I pronounce you husband and wife.

5 Replies to “The shortest wedding service”

  1. I’ve had to do two three-minute weddings. One was a same-sex couple who needed to be married, thought they had been legally married by someone else, but he wasn’t a legal officiant. They already had the big wedding celebration, they wanted to make sure everything was totally legal, all they needed from me was a three-minutes wedding.

    My other three-minute wedding: The groom forgot to bring the wedding license. The law of that state said weddings had to be performed the same day the license was signed. I did a three-minute wedding for them a few days later.

    I’ll stay anonymous to protect confidentiality.

  2. I am told my paternal grandparents had a VERY brief wedding like this one. They had known each other in high school. It was World War 2, and they had decided to get married just before my Grandfather had to leave. The Methodist preacher came down to the train station, and conducted the ceremony in the waiting room.

    Because of the setting, and the impromptu nature of the ceremony, there were few wedding guests beyond the parents and a few younger siblings. And so 50 years later at their Golden Anniversary party, they realized that aside from my Grandmother’s sister, there were no longer any living witnesses to the ceremony. I could tell it felt a little bittersweet for them.

  3. A short yet sweet liturgy for those who want it. However, my fiance and I opted for the full Episcopal Prayerbook liturgy with celebration of the Eucharist.

  4. D.B. Clayton, in his autobiography mentions his having done a short wedding like this, while he had a layover for a train. Let me see if I can easily find it.

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