As religious ceremonies, weddings traditionally include several prayers. While some couples prefer a more secular reception, some want the religious features of the wedding to carry over. Reciting a pre-meal prayer at a wedding serves not only to bless the food, but to bless the couple's entire life together. Essentially, it is often the first prayer that the two hear as a couple. When creating your own prayer, look to tradition and the couple for inspiration.
Purpose of Prayer
Prayer serves the purpose of connecting man with the divine, according to Jim Davis of Focus on God. In other words, he believes that while prayer is not necessary for God to act, God wants man to pray to remain humble before the divine.
Because the meal at a wedding ceremony is often the first viewing of the couple as man and wife, a pre-dinner wedding prayer serves the purpose of a blessing from the congregation to the couple. Additionally, it centres the couple's reception in religious celebration.
Wedding Prayer Variations
Christian wedding prayers are not the only kind: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews all use different prayers before a wedding meal. According to Buddhist Wedding, for example, a Buddhist wedding might contain elements of meditation before a meal, as a way for the couple to "intertwine" their spirits and lives. Alternatively, Jewish wedding meals begin with a prayer over challah bread. When incorporating a prayer into a wedding meal, look at the traditions of your religion for inspiration.
Parts to Include
When writing your own prayer, Faith and Worship suggests using one of four different types of saying grace: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. You may include one or any of these types of prayer for your wedding mealtime. While adoration and thanksgiving (which uplift God and thank God, respectively) work naturally with a wedding, confession and supplication might be harder to work into your prayer. Confessing prayers involve the act of humbling yourself before God, while supplicating prayers ask God to listen ("Hear us, O Lord").
Dr. Donald L. Muench, of St. John Fisher College in New York, included the following sections in the prayer he provided to Grace Before Meals: addressing God ("Heavenly Father"), a blessing over the food and a blessing for the couple. The blessing for the couple goes: "Heavenly Father ... we also ask your blessing on [bride's name] and [bridegroom's name] who have come to you this day to unite themselves to you in love and sacrament...."
Always make sure that your prayer honors the sacred and often difficult commitment of the couple.
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