Seventh Day Adventist Wedding Ceremony
If you or your future spouse is Seventh-day Adventist (SDA), and you want to have the ceremony at an Adventist church, there are a few regulations to be aware of while planning your wedding.
The ceremony will most likely reflect some of the fundamental beliefs of the church, and clergy members are usually very happy to discuss these regulations with you before the wedding day.
There are no extreme rules for decorating the church for an Adventist wedding, but decor should be attractive and not too overwhelming to the eye. Fresh or synthetic flowers can be used, and a runner can be rolled out by the ushers for the wedding party to walk on. Candles are sometimes a part of an Adventist wedding ceremony as well, and are used to light the centre aisle that the parents of the bride and groom and wedding party walk down. A large, decorative candle holder is often placed at the front of the church for the part of the ceremony where the unity candle is lit by the bride and groom.
Seventh Day Adventists believe in modest dress, so members of the wedding party should be dressed accordingly for the ceremony. The bride's dress can have a train, but the dress should not be extremely form fitting or showcleavage. Bridesmaid's dresses are not to be too revealing as well. The groom and groomsmen usually don't have to worry about this, as a suit or tuxedo is perfectly acceptable. A veil is not required for the bride, but she can have one if she chooses.
Traditionally, Seventh Day Adventists do not exchange wedding rings during the ceremony, since Adventists do not believe in the wearing of jewellery. This, however, has changed in the modern church, as some pastors do permit ring exchange. The rings, however, should be modest (i.e. not too large or gaudy). A ruling in the 1980s from the General Conference (the governing body for Seventh Day Adventists) ruled that wedding bands were acceptable in North America--the bands had been worn by members in Europe and Australia for centuries. In previous years, some Adventist couples chose to exchange wedding watches (this jewellery is acceptable because it 'functional'), and this practice is still accepted in the church.
Adventist couples can choose to write their own vows, or they can simply repeat after the pastor officiating the ceremony. In most cases, the pastor will have a few words of advice or encouragement for the couple and may ask to see the vows before the actual ceremony to be sure that they are in keeping with the principles of the church.
Seventh Day Adventist couples who wish to express their cultural identities in the wedding ceremony will most likely be allowed to do so. For instance, if the couple wants to have the wedding party dress in the colours of their country's flag, this is acceptable. Or if an African-American Adventist couple chooses to 'jump the broom' at the end of the ceremony, this will simply need to be arranged ahead of time. If the bride or groom requests that the vows be exchanged in their native language, this will be permitted as well.