Updated on 10 February 2021
A Quaker Wedding Certificate is signed by every guest who attends a Quaker wedding.
What Makes a Quaker Wedding Different?
Quakers, marry without a lot of fanfare. Often referred to as a silent ceremony, Quaker weddings differ from the traditional Protestant ceremony in six significant ways:
- There is no officiant
- No giving away of the bride (or groom)
- A wedding certificate is signed
- There is a period of silent worship
- Those attending may speak on the couple’s behalf
- The sexuality and gender of the couple are irrelevant
When a couple wishes to have a Quaker marriage they inform their Local Meeting who hold a Clearness Committee.
The process involves thoughtful questions and careful listening, addressing potential difficulties, and discussing the spiritual nature of marriage. If the Clearness Committee approves of the proposed marriage, they recommend to the meeting that the couple be married.
If Local Meeting finds no objection to the proposed marriage, it will appoint a small oversight committee to oversee the arrangements.
Committee members will help with such details as reserving the Meeting House, signing the marriage license, checking the wording of the wedding certificate, making sure that all legal requirements are met, and dealing with reception logistics.
The couple marry ‘under the care of a Quaker meeting’. Quakers believe that no church official is essential for a marriage to take place. Often there is a Quaker present who has a licence to officially recognize the marriage in law.
The wedding, held during a worship meeting, begins as the couple enters together and sits with their committee facing friends, family and meeting members. Everyone worships silently until the couple feels it’s time to say their vows.
They rise, hold hands, and each typically declare:
“In the presence of God and before these our families and friends, I take thee (bride’s/groom’s name) to be my wife/husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife so long as we both shall live.”
The couple then sign a Quaker marriage certificate and sit down, while it is read aloud by a friend or relative. Everyone returns to more silent worship, during which anyone present may stand to say a few words for the couple.
The meeting usually ends with a nod or a handshake from a committee member. All those present will also sign the certificate as witnesses.
The Handmade Quaker Wedding Certificate (pictured above) is made from woodcut by Woodland Paper Cuts (opens in a new window).
Image from www.woodlandpapercuts.com/