The Ethical Culture Wedding Ceremony

The Ethical Culture Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony reflects the humanistic values of Ethical Culture, and the joy and significance of the occasion. The focus is on the couple — their values, commitments and styles — and on the ideals of Ethical Culture as they pertain to marriage.

A successful way of giving the ceremony this personal dimension is by inviting the couple to collaborate with the Leader in its creation. Among elements that couples may include in the ceremony are the following: An initial greeting to a guest; brief talks by friends and relatives (no more than six is best); an instrumental or vocal piece as part of the ceremony; a ceremony within the ceremony such as lighting a single candle, drinking wine from a common goblet, etc.; composing and speaking vows that they have created; recommending concepts to be included by the Leader in his or her presentation.
Ethical Culture wedding ceremonies express a warm and simple dignity, with values and personalism that can be appreciated by all. However, it must be emphasized that Ethical Culture wedding ceremonies are humanistic ceremonies. It is therefore outside the scope of Ethical Culture to include prayer or theistic references. Ethnic and cultural expressions conveying the backgrounds of the couple may be factored into the ceremony. The professional association of Ethical Culture Leaders is committed to the legalization of gay and lesbian marriage. We welcome same sex couples for “ceremonies of commitment” in the absence of legal sanctions.
Dr. Joseph Chuman, our leader is a state certified wedding officiant.
Outline of the Wedding Ceremony
Ethical Culture ceremonies have no required liturgical format. A plan such as the following is aesthetically appropriate:

  • Welcome by couple
  • Statements by friends/relatives
  • Instrumental/vocal piece
  • Address by Leader
  • Ceremony
  • Second instrumental piece
  • Exchange of vows
  • Exchange of rings
  • Pronouncement of marriage

Ceremonies usually last between twenty to thirty minutes. The outline above provides suggestions only. Couples may choose to include all, none, or some of them as per their wishes. The spoken elements of the ceremony are the Leader’s primary focus. Issues involving orchestration such as the processional, recessional, receiving lines, etc. are left exclusively to the couple. The Leader is prepared, however, to discuss all issues pertaining to the entire ceremony, as well as the marriage.

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