Book Review: Inclusive Marriage Services: A Wedding Sourcebook

“You may kiss the bride.”

I remember it as though it were yesterday. I had planned a marriage service with a couple, but would not be able to perform it. A colleague stepped in to help. When I got back to the office, the order of service was lying open on my desk. The above sentence was scrawled out and in its place was written:

“You may seal your vows with a kiss.”

So much better!

So much more appropriate language. 

Inclusive Marriage Services: A Wedding Sourcebook by Kimberly Bracken Long and David Maxwell (editors) provides the same service for us as that colleague did for me so many years ago. Like her changes, this book updates the language, tone and context of wedding services providing liturgies from various denominations, specifically for:

  • Same sex marriages
  • Interfaith marriages
  • Couples with children
  • Couples where one individual is not a person of faith

In addition to complete services the book also provides marriage ‘ingredients’; prayers, vows, blessings and the like. It also provides music and hymn suggestions along with prayers for occasions surrounding the wedding service; engagements, the rehearsal dinner and anniversaries to name a few.

Like any recipe, the recipe for a good marriage ceremony typically requires some improvisation. In my own use of this book I have still included vows from my previous services, and have mixed and matched to make the services both personal and appropriate. One size will never fit all, even with the best of books.

This year the Presbyterian Church in Canada voted to allow our clergy to perform same sex wedding ceremonies. For those who will find themselves seeking to provide caring and inclusive services this book is an important and helpful resource. It is just as helpful for those performing weddings for blended families, interfaith families and all the other wedding variations we now regularly encounter.

Recently a colleague asked for wedding resources and I recommended this book right away. In commending it, I also said “it moved my wedding ceremonies from the 20th to the 21st century in about 200 pages.” That alone makes it worth having on my book shelf. My friend bought it sight unseen!

Kimberly Bracken Long & David Matthew, editors, Inclusive Marriage Services: A Wedding Sourcebook (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015)

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