MaryP and I have been thinking about wedding ceremonies recently. I was googling a particular phrase ("all spiritual benediction and grace") when I came across a reconstruction of the medieval wedding ceremony.
If this was my preferred wording, I think MaryP would lose much of her enthusiasm for marriage. I bet she would call the wedding off!
The ceremony is asymmetrical: the man says one thing, the woman another. First, there are the notorious lines where the woman promises to serve and obey her husband (whereas he pledges to comfort her):
|Man’s vows||Woman’s vows|
|Wilt thou have this Woman to be thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?||Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?|
OK, everybody’s familiar with that bit. We’ll pass over it in solemn silence. To insert a cheap joke here might be a risky venture, what with the wedding merely hours away.
Then there’s the line, “Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?” I’m not sure how this is supposed to work when it’s a second marriage. But again, it’s best to move along post haste.
I had never heard of the next bit. Get a load of these vows:
|Man says||Woman says|
|I, Stephen, take thee MaryP to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, for fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.||I, MaryP, take thee Stephen to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.|
To be bonny and buxom? At bed and at board? I almost want to include it in the ceremony just to see whether MaryP can say it with a straight face. But I suspect the whole event would quickly disintegrate at that point.
All in all, the medieval wedding ceremony is not for us. But I do love the traditional benediction, which is what I was looking for in the first place:
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.
When the Reverend pronounces those words over the two of you, you have been blessed!