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Note: this is not a typical Buddhist wedding as there is no such thing as a typical Buddhist wedding. This was design for a couple who are not Buddhist but who have Buddha Nature, after all.

Wedding Ceremony

Opening: 

Bride and Groom take each other’s hands and face the nun 

Nun: “We are gathered here today to celebrate the Handfasting vows between name of bride and name of groom, both of whom wish to unite their bodies and spirits in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.” 

Nun gives address. “A successful Marriage is when the ‘you’ and the ‘I’ become the ‘us’, not two but one; an equal partnership, a single entity. A Marriage is a shared responsibility. A good marriage is plain old hard work. You each have strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths. The Buddha taught that a husband has certain duties to his wife and the wife to her husband. Among them are respect, courtesy and fidelity. Compassion and consideration for each other will go a long way in smoothing out the rough edges of life. To keep your love growing to its full glory, reject the poison of anger and grudges.  Sometimes you may disagree, but fight fair - avoid using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ and just be as polite to each other, as you would be to a stranger.

Treat your in-laws as you would want your own parents treated. May I suggest that every year you thank your mother-in-law on your spouse’s birthday with a gift or a call. Without her, you wouldn’t be standing here. And family and friends, don’t take sides. Name of bride and name of groom are adults and are taking on adult responsibilities. They will workout the rough spots if they are allowed to do it themselves.

It is important, too, to be careful with the money you earn. There is nothing that can poison a marriage faster. Some saved, some given away; being neither tightfisted nor a spendthrift and making major financial decisions together will go a long way in keeping your marriage on an even keel.

With love and trust comes respect. You are uniting in love and trust. Trust each other because, after all, your spouse had enough sense to choose you, and to love you. Be trust worthy in keeping your private life private, this way you know that you can confide your greatest fears and dreams, triumphs and failures. Communicate your love both verbally and physically.                    

Depending on mind reading is unreliable and leads to a break down of communication and in the end, the fabric of the marriage itself. So say when something really bothers you or you really like or dislike something. My great aunt Edith was stuck in Hawaii during World War II. Meat was scarce so her friend made a rather horrid soybean casserole and my aunt gagged down two big helpings, not wanting to hurt her friend’s feelings. Years later, they met and my aunt was invited to dinner. Her hostess proudly carried in a soybean casserole, saying, “I remember how much you enjoyed it last time.” I don’t believe she ever told another fib. Be honest with one another but refrain from using truth as a cruel weapon.

Feed your love with warmth and affection, with sharing and with unbirthday gifts.”

Nun addresses Bride and Groom saying:  “Now as you acknowledge your undying love today, remember that above all you are Spirit, equal in all things, neither one better than the other, each the support of the other.” 

Nun:  “Are you ready to proceed with this marriage?” 

Bride and Groom answer: “Yes.” 

 Vows:

 Nun asks, Name of groom, will you please tell, in your own words, why you wish to be joined with name of bride?” 

Groom responds. 

Groom takes Bride’s ring (Earth) from the altar: “With this ring, I give to you a reminder of our love and our vision for the future, a symbol of our union. Will you join with me?” 

Bride answers, “I will.” 

Groom places the ring on Bride’s finger. 

Nun asks, Name of bride, will you please tell, in your own words, why you wish to be joined with Name of groom?”

Bride responds.  

Bride takes Groom’s ring from the altar: “With this ring, I give to you a reminder of our love and our vision for the future, a symbol of our union. Will you join with me?” 

Groom answers, “I will.”  Bride places the ring on Groom’s finger.

 

Ceremonial Acts:

Nun lights 3 sticks of incense and recites an incense offering prayer:

“Homage to our teacher, Sakyamuni Budda, the Fully Enlightened One.    (3x) strike bell 3 times.

Precepts incense, Samadhi incense, Wisdom incense,

Liberation incense, Liberation from views incense.

Clouds of lighted incense pouring into the Dharma Realms,

Honor to all Buddhas of the ten directions.

I respectfully bow to the Incense Cloud Canopy Bodhisattva.”                 (3x) strike bell 3 times.

Groom and Bride turn toward the altar and each pick up a stick of incense (Air).  They light the incense using a small candle and then light the unity candle together (Fire).  The incense is placed in a bowl of salt on the altar. 

Nun (blesses the water) and holding the chalice (Water) says,  “Drink of this cup and be like the water inside, forming and  changing together in accordance with external circumstances.  When you encounter obstacles in your lives together that seem insurmountable, remember to follow your heart and always be flexible.  A wise man once said ‘be formless, shapeless  -- like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, and it becomes the teapot.  Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.’ ” 

Nun hands the chalice to Groom, who drinks and then hands it to Bride who drinks. Bride places the chalice on the altar and turns to face Groom.

Groom and Bride take each other’s right hands.  Nun takes the Handfasting cord (a braided cord that symbolizes the two being bound to one another) from the altar and wraps it around Groom and Bride’s wrists and hands three times, letting the ends dangle.

Nun says, “This cord, that you have braided together as a couple, is a symbol of your union within this Circle.

(Nun sprinkles water on the cord from the bottom of the chalice with a flower)

When the ceremony is over, your loved ones are encouraged to tie a knot in the cord to seal their good wishes for your future together.  If those standing with you today wish to tie a knot to symbolize their good wishes, they may do so now.” 

Matron of Honor and Best Men tie knots while cord still binds Groom and Bride.

 

Closing:

Nun says,Name of groom and name of bride, you are now husband and wife. (kiss, then turn to face your friends)  

Friends and family, let me present Mr. and Mrs. Last name of groom. (applause, turn back to Nun)

(Nun sprinkles water on Bride and Groom)

May you be happy and well, may no harm come to you, may you practice compassion with each other. (bell)

(Nun sprinkles water toward friends and families) May we, who have shared this day with you, be happy and well, may no harm come to us, may we learn compassion. (bell) 

(Nun sprinkles water around the area)

May all living beings be happy and well, may no harm come to them, may they learn compassion. (bell)

(Bride and Groom turn and face their friends and family)

Please offer prayers or kind thoughts tonight for them as they begin this journey into a new phase in their lives together.”

(at the word ‘journey’  Bride and  Groom walks out of the circle) (Nun strikes bell 3x).

 (this wedding performed April 19, 2003 at Samuel P. Taylor State Park in Marin County California by Sư Cô Thích N Chơn Đc)