Christian weddings resemble worship services through scripture, music, prayers and blessings. Marriage ceremonies held in churches follow a set order and use scripted prayers and blessings according to the denomination's policy. Christians marrying outside of the church who wish to keep a religious tone in their ceremony have more flexibility. They can adapt the order of events as well as select the wording their officiant uses in any prayers or blessings they include.
Christian marriage ceremonies traditionally begin with a set prayer or invocation asking for God's guidance and presence. Some, including the Lutheran and Episcopal faiths, pray after a couple has declared its intent to marry; others, such as the Presbyterian Church, pray after scripture readings. After the couple exchanges vows and rings, the minister or priest leads a prayer for the new union. All present then recite the Lord's prayer, although this may take place following Communion. Baptists gives the couple the option of adding prayer requests to the traditional prayer time held before the minister pronounces them married. The Catholic Rite of Marriage gives couples four opening prayer and three post-Communion options for marriages celebrated within Mass.
Christian church marriages include one or more standard blessings asking God to grant the bride and groom success as husband and wife. Rings are blessed as symbols of the couple's commitment to adhere to their vows. Presbyterian polity calls for the officiating minister to bless the couple before dismissal, a blessing closer to a benediction bestowing hope for the Lord's presence in the lives of all present. A Catholic ceremony also includes the nuptial blessing for the new couple during the Rite of Marriage segment. Couples chose from three versions of the nuptial blessing and from the blessings requested after exchanging rings.
Christian weddings in which no particular denomination prevails or weddings of mixed denominations that take place in nonreligious settings may include personally worded prayers and blessings, such as adaptations of those used in a traditional church or versions recommended by the officiant. Sometimes a scripture verse serves as a prayer or blessing source. A blessing said after the couple arrives at the altar gives the ceremony solemnity and recognizes the hope those attending have for their success. Blessings and prayers can be performed by the officiant or someone the couple designates, such as a relative who is a member of the clergy.
Christian Orthodox marriages consist of two ceremonies: the Rite of Betrothal and the Service of the Crowning. No vows are exchanged but prayers and blessings dominate the proceedings. The priest blesses the rings exchanged during the Rite of Betrothal and the Communion cup during the Service of Crowning with a scripted, traditional blessing. Much of the Service of Crowning involves prayers sung and recited by the priest according to Orthodox polity.