Ideas for a Creation-Centered Wedding Ceremony
The Rev. Dr. Leah D. Schade (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the assistance of The Rev. Melissa Frantz, Associate Pastor of Daytona Beach Drive-in Christian Church.
For couples wanting to have a “green wedding,” there are many websites that provide ideas about how to reduce their carbon footprint and lessen their impact on Earth’s resources. (See the end of this article for links.) But resources specifically for a Creation-centered liturgy are difficult to find. So, my former student, Rev. Melissa Frantz, and I have put together this eco-wedding liturgy. Rev. Frantz is an alumna of Lexington Theological Seminary where I teach worship and preaching. She first approached me with the need for an Earth-centered ceremony for a couple she was marrying on Earth Day.
Below you will find several options for the Words of Welcome, Opening Prayer, Scripture Passages, Declaration of Intent, Wedding Vows, Exchange of Rings, and Final Blessing. You are free to adapt these as you see fit. You’ll also find a tree-blessing ceremony for couples who want to mark their wedding by planting a tree. At the end, you’ll find a brief list of other ideas for an Earth-friendly wedding.
WORDS OF WELCOME
(These options are written with an outdoor wedding in mind, but they can be adapted any setting.)
We have gathered here in the beauty of Creation and in the presence of God to give thanks for the Earth, to celebrate the gift of marriage, and to witness the joining together of [Name] & [Name]. Just as our first ancestors found love in a garden, so this couple has received the gift of a loving relationship within God’s Creation. We surround them with our prayers and ask God’s blessing upon them, so that they may be strengthened for their life together and nurtured in their love for one another.
Siblings in Christ, today we gather in the beauty of God’s Creation to celebrate with [Name] & [Name] as they commit themselves to each other, to their vocation as caretakers of this Earth, and to their faith in God. As Jesus took the simple gift of water and created the sweetest wine for the wedding at Cana, we rejoice that the love of two people can be transformed into a covenant of grace, mercy, and service that blesses so many.
Consider offering a land acknowledgement of the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples where the wedding will be held. A land acknowledgement recognizes, respects, and affirms the ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the land. Land acknowledgements also raise awareness about the Indigenous histories, perspectives, and experiences that are often suppressed or forgotten, including the pain of stolen lives, culture, language, and land. However, this should not be a token gesture. A meaningful acknowledgement will affirm the couple’s willingness to repair the wrongdoings of the past. For guidance on how to create an appropriate land acknowledgement, visit: https://www.randstad.ca/employers/workplace-insights/corporate-culture/how-to-create-a-land-acknowledgement/.
BLESSING OF THE FOUR DIRECTIONS
(By Jay Rochelle, 1990, Web of Creation: http://www.webofcreation.org/Worship/liturgy/litany.htm. Invite the congregation to stand and turn to face each direction as the blessing is shared.)
Let us give thanks for the East: for the ancient hills and valleys and streams without end, for the green Atlantic from the beaches of Maine to the Florida Keys, for larch and hemlock, for black bear and mountain trout, for cardinals and eastern bluebirds, for heat in the hayfields of late August.
Response: We bless you, O God, for the East.
Let us give thanks for the West: for soaring mountains and searing deserts, for waters roaring into the Pacific Ocean, for Columbia River salmon, snow buntings and western meadowlarks, for ponderosa and Jeffrey pine, for the mists of the Oregon coast and for the Olympic peninsula.
Response: We bless you, O God, for the West.
Let us give thanks for the North, for the bright band of prairie and wheatfields stretching across the land, for the jayhawk and the loon, for the badlands of the Dakotas and the lakes of Minnesota, for northern pike and steeleye, for winding two-lane blacktops in the heart of Wyoming.
Response: We bless you, O God, for the North
Let us give thanks for the South, for the broad Mississippi delta and the great Smokey Mountains, for the bayous of Louisiana, for magnolia trees, for the kiskadee and egret, for catfish and parrotfish, and for the cotton and the colors on the sands and strands of the southland.
Response: We bless you, O God, for the South.
Creator God, today we acknowledge you as the Source of all good things and celebrate the love of two who have found joy and meaning together on this Earth you have created. As [Name] and [Name] covenant together before you, their family and friends, and all Creation, we ask that you bless them with faith that reflects your love. In the name of Jesus, the Gardener, we pray. Amen.
Creating God, your steadfast love endures forever. On this day when we rejoice in the gift of love, we are reminded of the way you have loved us through the gifts of this Earth. With [Name] & [Name], we give thanks to you who nurtures and sustains us with such wonders. For the sheltering sky, the generous land, the warming sun that feeds the plants, the plants that exhale oxygen for us, the water that cleanses, nourishes, and refreshes us, we give thanks. Holy God, we praise you because your steadfast love endures forever. Look with favor upon [Name] & [Name] who have come seeking your blessings. Let your Holy Spirit guide them so that with steadfast love they may honor the promises they make this day. Amen.
SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE PASSAGES FOR SITUATING THE WEDDING WITHIN GOD’S CREATION
Genesis 1:26-31 (God created humankind in God’s image.)
Genesis 2:15-24 (God placed humankind in the garden to till and keep it, and created humans to be in relationship with each other and with Earth.)
Psalm 8 (“O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”)
Psalm 65 (God blesses humankind and all the earth.)
Psalm 121 (“My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”)
Romans 8:18-2 (Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the Children of God.)
Colossians 1:15 – 20 (In Christ, all things in heaven and earth were created.)
Matthew 6:25-34 (Jesus pointed to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field to teach us about faith and trust in God’s abundance.)
Matthew 13:1-9 (The seed that falls on good soil yields an abundance.)
DECLARATION OF INTENT THAT INCORPORATES GOD’S CREATION
[Name] & [Name], you have heard the word of God that spoke Creation into existence and gave each of you the breath of life. Your faith has been nurtured by your families and the church that has accompanied you along your journey. And you have felt the guidance of the Holy Spirit leading you join your two paths into one as your care for the Earth and support your community. I ask you now before God, in the presence of this beloved community and all of Creation that bears witness, to declare your intention to enter the union of marriage with one another.
[Name], do you intend to enter into this sacred marriage with [Name], and do you promise to be a faithful companion, a co-laborer in the Garden of this Earth, a support in times of sickness and in health, and a devoted spouse in all circumstances of your life together for as long as you both shall live? I do.
We were created to be in relationship with each other, with the whole Creation, and with God. The gift of marriage is the foundation of human community in a joy that begins now and is brought to perfection in the life to come. There are times when sin and selfishness can test those relationships and threaten the bonds between nus. But just as God covenants with us and all the Earth to protect and preserve life, we are invited into those promises that sustain us in difficult times and restore our joy. [Name] & [Name], if it is your intention to share with each other your joys and sorrows, your love of Creation, and all that the years will bring, with your promises bind yourselves to each other in this sacred covenant.
[Name], do you promise to take [Name] as your wife/husband/spouse? Do you trust in our God to sustain your relationship and preserve the good Earth that nurtures your bodies and spirits and guides your lives together?
And do you promise to be faithful, devoted, forgiving, and loving in your marriage no matter what the years will bring until your life comes to an end? I do.
“GREEN” WEDDING VOWS
[Name], I take you to be my husband/wife/spouse from this time onward, to join with you in our work of caring for Creation, and to share all that is to come. I promise to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and respond. And in all circumstances of our life together, in sickness and in health, I promise to be faithful to you and to the covenant God has made with us and all the Earth with my whole life and all my being until death parts us.
I take you, [Name], to be my wife/husband/spouse, and these things I promise you: I will be faithful to you and honest with you. I will respect, trust, help, and care for you. I will share my life with you and forgive you as we have been forgiven. And I will work alongside you to care for God’s Creation. All of this I promise, through the best and worst of what is to come, until death parts us.
I [Name] take you [Name], to be my [wife/husband/spouse]. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, joy and in sorrow, I promise to love and cherish you and to be faithful to you. I covenant with you to tend, protect, nurture, and defend God’s Creation as it has been entrusted to us. This is my promise, a commitment made in love, kept in faith, and lived in hope, until death parts us.
I take you, [Name], to be my [wife/husband/spouse]. Before God and these witnesses, I promise to be faithful, honest, and loyal to you. As we covenant together to tend, nurture, protect, and defend God’s Creation, promise to share all the joy and sorrow, all the good and bad, in sickness and health. I promise to forgive you and lift you up until my last breath is gone and I return to the Earth and our Creator God.
BLESSING AND EXCHANGE OF RINGS
To lessen their impact on Earth’s resources and avoid contributing to the brutality of the mining industry, some couples choose to exchange rings that are recycled, made of fair-mined metals, or passed down as family heirlooms. (See “Other Ideas for an Earth-Friendly Wedding” below.) The presiding minister can acknowledge this eco-ethical choice with brief words of introduction before the blessing and exchange of vows.
Holy God, the circle of these rings reminds us of the never-ending cycle of care and reciprocity between you, the Earth you have created, and the whole human family. By your blessing, may these rings be to [Name] & [Name] symbols of unending love and faithfulness. May these rings remind them of the covenant they have made this day to each other, to you, and to the Earth you have created. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[Name], with this ring I pledge myself to you as a symbol of my love, my commitment, and my faith in God and all that God has made. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God of Creation, as your love encircled the Earth at the beginning and continues to sustain us with your care, bless these rings that symbolize the love of [Name] & [Name]. May these rings remind them of their vows to join together in the unending cycle of life, love, and faith in you. Amen.
[Name], I give you this ring as a sign of my love, my commitment to you and all God’s Creation, and my faith sustained by God’s eternal care. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
MARRIAGE ANNOUNCEMENT AND BLESSING
[Name] & [Name], you have made your solemn vows to each other before God, these witnesses, and all of Creation today. You have confirmed your promises by the joining of hands and by the giving and receiving of rings. It is my joy to declare that [Name] & [Name] are joined in marriage! May our Creator God bless you and keep you. May Jesus Christ guide you and be gracious with you. May the Spirit look upon you with favor and give you peace. Amen!
[Name] & [Name], in the presence of your friends and family, with all of Creation bearing witness, and with the blessings of our loving God, you have covenanted with each other in marriage today. With your promises and with these rings you have made this commitment in love, trust, and joy. And now it is my privilege to pronounce you married in the name of our Creator God, our Loving Savior, and our Guiding Spirit. Amen!
BLESSING FOR TREE PLANTING TO CELEBRATE THE MARRIAGE
(One way to symbolize the couple’s marriage is to plant a native tree that will grow just as their relationship grows.)
Because caring for the Earth is important to [Name] and [Name], one of the first acts that they will do as a married couple will be to plant a [name of species] tree now that the wedding ceremony is complete. Prayer: God of heaven and earth, the work of your hands is made known in your bountiful Creation and in the lives of those who faithfully live their lives in your grace. Today as we celebrate the marriage of [Name and Name], we trust your promise of everlasting life and love to sustain them the way the soil, water, sun, and air will sustain this tree. Be present with us this day as we mark their marriage through the planting of this tree.
May this tree speak the power of your love in our midst, deeply rooted and ever growing in your good Creation, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reading: Psalm 1
Blessing of the Tree: Creator of life and Sustainer of seed and soil, of tree and flower, you have created this world and all that lives in it. As [Name and Name] plant this tree as a symbol of their commitment to each other, to you, and to your Creation, we ask you to bless this tree as it both receives and gives life. May this tree’s roots reach deep into the earth and its limbs grow stronger each year as a sign of your strengthening bond in their marriage together. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Gardener who prayed among the trees. Amen.
OTHER IDEAS FOR AN EARTH-FRIENDLY WEDDING
Re-use a wedding dress. Using a family member’s dress or one that has been previously used not only saves costs but also reduces your impact on Earth’s resources.
Avoid single-use bridesmaids dresses. Instead of insisting that all the bridesmaids wear the same expensive dress (that they will probably only wear for this one occasion), they can wear a dress they already own. They can choose different styles within a color scheme, or each person can wear a different color reflecting a
rainbow of diversity.
Choose wedding rings made of recycled materials or passed down from family members. According to Eco Bible, “Behind many gold rings are mountains of toxic waste and trails of destruction,” that includes poisonous chemicals, releases harmful elements, and consumes massive amounts of water (155). To avoid harming fish, vegetation, soil, and the thousands of people harmed by mining for gold, choose rings that are passed down from family members, or purchase rings from one of the many emerging jewelry recycling companies. See “25 Eco Jewelry Brands Making Stunning Pieces out of Up-Cycled and Fair-Mined Metals,” Conscious Collective, Green Dreamer, https://consciousfashion.co/guides/eco-jewelry-brands.
Use recycled or eco-friendly products for decorations, bulletins, place settings, etc. A simple Google search will turn up numerous websites for buying and selling used and recycled items for weddings. Some include: https://www.wedding-recycle.com/ and https://ecopartytime.com/eco-wedding/.
Use local flowers. Shipping exotic flowers across the U.S. is costly both for the couple and for the Earth. Seek out a local florist to provide simple arrangements using native plants. For the wedding party, consider carrying a single rose and baby’s breath.
Serve a meal with organic and local foods, vegetarian options, and rented serving-ware. Utilizing a local caterer who specializes in serving organic and local foods supports local businesses and the farming community. Offering plenty of hearty vegetarian options gives people choices for the meal that use less resources than meat options. Renting serving-ware and silverware instead of using single-use plastics lessens impacts on landfills and reduces plastic waste.
Consider a local honeymoon. To reduce your carbon footprint, choose to honeymoon locally instead of flying or driving long distances. Find a bed & breakfast and take day trips to historic sites, spend time in nature, and visit local restaurants.
More websites for having an Eco-friendly wedding: