A Sample Christ-centered, Gospel-focused Wedding Sermon and Vows

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Below is a sample wedding sermon for a Christ-centered, gospel-focused wedding ceremony.

In 1949, Jim Elliot (1930-1956), who would be martyred while serving as a missionary in Ecuador, wrote an entry in his journal.

Twentieth-century Christian weddings are the vainest, most meaningless forms. There is no vestige of reality. The witnesses dress for a show. The flesh is given all the place. The songs are absurd, if one paid any attention to the words, but no one does; they simply listen to how it is sung, not what it means. Candles are useless but expensive trifles.  Ushers help no one, but appear very officious and the ceremony itself is the most meaningless hodge-podge of obsolete grammar and phraseology – sounds like a schoolboy’s translation of something from Cicero. And the stupid form of asking who gives this bride in marriage. Who cares?  Everyone knows it is her father or uncle or some such sweating pawn standing before the altar. Talk of Romanism! We Fundamentalists are a pack of mood-loving show-offs. I’m sure the minor prophets would have found subject for correction in this affair. I must read this to myself on my wedding day (if I have one)” (Shadow of the Almighty, 290).

Jim Elliot did eventually marry Elisabeth at age 26 and true to his convictions he chose to wed in a civil ceremony. From an observational standpoint Elliot provides a tragic description of what is too often the case; the marriage ceremony is simply meaningless form, ritual, and individualized self-exalting pomp. I tell couples that the least important thing about their wedding ceremony is what makes it unique and the most important thing is what makes it like every faithful Christian wedding in history. It is the pastors job to make sure that Elliot’s critique is unwarranted for the weddings you officiate.



[All words spoken by the Pastor unless otherwise indicated]

We gather here this evening in the sight of a sovereign God, whom the Bible describes as holy, holy, holy, and in the sight of these assembled witnesses to a ceremony honoring the holy institution of marriage.

Marriage is not the invention of man; it is the invention of God. The purpose of marriage resides within the purpose and plan of God. Your marriage is to honor God because it was created by God and for the glory of God. As in all of life what matters most in marriage is God.

I would also remind those who have been invited here today, that you are not here as spectators but as witnesses. You have been invited by this couple to witness them be charged and give vows in the sight of God, before you, and before one another. You have been summoned here to hear vows and you have a responsibility to hold them accountable to those vows. This beautiful wedding party, the guests, and the beauty of this moment is not mere formality and ceremony.

Something fundamental is changing today. We gather for worship because we believe this moment of change has been ordained and designed by God. Joe and Tina, as you hear the charge that you will be given today and make vows know that these witnesses have assembled to hold you accountable. Joe and Tina stand here today to declare that they believe that it is God’s sovereign and providential will that they commit to one another and become one flesh. They believe that God has directed their steps in such a way to put all of you in their lives and to bring them to one another. They believe that they gather here today according to the providential will of God.

Joe and Tina, I am honored to be leading this service. We have spent much time in these months leading to today, talking about marriage and working through issues related to your preparation for marriage. I understand that you both have struggles and that you both have incredible strengths. We have been honest about these things and we have tried to work through them together. I have seen within both of you a desire to submit yourself to the word of God. I have seen within you a desire to change according to the truth of God word and the truth of the gospel. And thus, I am honored to be here today as your pastor, as the one leading this service, but also as your friend.

I have known Joe since he was in High School and you have changed a great deal, most of it is for the good. I have known Tina a short time but it has been a blessing to get to know you. I am thrilled that God has brought you to this moment and that I get to have a part in it. We live in a world that often ridicules marriage. You will hear people say things to you like, “Oh no, your freedom is over now. You are trapped in marriage.” That voice is from Hell itself. Marriage is a gift that brings a new freedom to your life. A self-centeredness focus on rights and privileges does not bring freedom; it brings bondage.

The Bible says that God gives a woman to a man, to complement him. I stand before you today to give personal testimony that before Judi was in my life, I was not free as I have been since God graciously gave me a wife. Marriage brings a new liberty according to the wisdom and design of God. What a blessed and glorious reality. You are not perfect and you are not here because you are compatible puzzle pieces that just fit together. You are people who believe the gospel and have committed your life to the word of God and with that you can live married to the glory of God.


Dear family and friends we assemble here because of our great love for Joe and Tina in the presence of God to witness the uniting of this couple in the holy institution of marriage. The Word of God tells us,

Genesis 2:21-24,  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and he slept and He took one of the ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.”  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

 I ask, who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Father of the Bride answers: “I do.”


Pray with me. Lord, we thank you that you have brought us here to this moment on this day. We love Joe and Tina and we are excited about you bringing them together. We pray, Lord, that this covenantal commitment being made today would be one that would honor you and glorify you for their lifetime. May the gospel be clear in this marriage and may this marriage preach the glorious reality of Christ and the church to anybody who is willing to watch. Oh, Lord, we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Perhaps the most familiar verse in the entire Bible is,

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”

For God so loved, He gave. For God so loved, He self-sacrificed. For God so loved, there was a bloody cross on behalf of guilty sinners.

The Bible describes the Son as the groom, and the church is described as His bride. The Son expresses His love for His bride in self-sacrifice—absolute self-sacrifice, self-sacrifice to the uttermost, love that knows no end, love that goes to a cross and is resurrected. The church expresses her love to the One that gives everything for her. The bride joyfully submits to her loving head, acknowledging him as her leader and following gladly where He leads. This is the marriage to which all other marriages are to point. This is the marriage to which your marriage is to point.

Joe, I want to say to you today: This is your bride. As her father walked away moments ago, that was no mere formality, and it wasn’t just simply symbolic. Something is changing here today. You have a new responsibility, a responsibility that you have never had before. This is your bride. You are to love her to the point of absolute self-sacrifice. Your love is to know no end. You are her provider and her protector. Her father has taken care of her and brought her to this point, but he should be able to lay his head on his pillow each night, knowing that you will do whatever it takes to protect Tina and to provide for Tina the rest of your life. She should be able to sleep with a sense of peace that God has given her a provider and protector.

And Tina, I want to say to you today: This is your husband. No one has forced you to be here. You are to joyfully submit to him, to trust him, to follow his leadership. You are making a choice today that Joe will be your provider, that Joe will be your protector and you are to love him through submitting to his leadership, supporting him, caring for him, and through being the complement that God has provided him. I would remind you as well today, when your father walked away, something really changed.

As you look at one another: Joe, this is your bride. Tina, this is your husband. Here and heed the words of God in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 22-32:

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church and He is the Savior of body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word. That he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church, for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

The marriage between a man and a woman is to be living testimony of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and his chosen people, his bride, whom he purchased with His own blood. The bride of Christ was, specially chosen by the Father, from sinful humanity for the Son. His love for her knows absolutely no end.

Therefore to be unfaithful to this marriage covenant will not just bring shame upon you personally and lead to negative consequences in your life. To be unfaithful to this marriage covenant will be to lie to the world about Christ and His church. It would be for you to say that Christ is not faithful husband, does not keep His promises, and that the church does not trust Christ. To walk away from this marriage covenant would be to trample the blood of Christ under your feet.

You are beautifully adorned as a bride today, Tina, may it remind you the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ has clothed his church. He has adorned her in the robes of his righteousness. The bride of Christ had nothing but filthy rags but she is now clothed forever with glorious robes of righteousness.

Joe and Tina, your marriage exists because of the gospel, and it must be built upon the gospel. Your marriage is not to say to the world, “Look at a perfect couple.” But your marriage is to say to the world, “Look at two people who are sinners and are needy of grace, who have found that grace in Jesus Christ.” He is our Lord. He is our Savior. He is our only hope now and forever. He is the great promise keeper and his promises will all be fulfilled. Every promise in Jesus Christ is “yes” and “amen.”

When you deal with one another in all of you weaknesses and your struggles, may you remember that you yourself are needy of grace and may you show grace to one another. The difficulties you will face in marriage are no reason to walk away. The more difficult it gets, the more opportunity you have to show love. Remember that Christ died for the ungodly, and the commitment that you make here today is regardless of whether the other person holds up to their end of the commitment.

In Hebrews chapter 13, verses 4 and 5:

Let marriage beheld in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral adulteress. Keep your life from the love of money and be content with what you have. For He hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joe and Tina; be content with what you have. I want you to know that through all your weaknesses, Jesus Christ is perfectly content with you. Be content with one another. Joe and Tina; do not forsake one another. The Lord Jesus Christ will never forsake you. Finally let me remind you that in choosing each other, you are choosing never to pursue any other. You are uniquely God’s gift to one another, to become one flesh, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.


Lord, this charge has been received in the sight of these assembled witnesses and in your sight as well. Lord, I pray that this charge would be lived out for your glory. Lord, as these vows are made, may it be obvious to all who are gathered here, that these are not just words and that this is not simply religious formality. This is a commitment. Lord, we pray that these vows will never be broken. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


I want to ask you both a very important question.

Question 1:

Joe, Do you totally commit yourself to Tina to be all that God and she needs you to be?

Tina, Do you totally commit yourself to Joe to be all that God and he needs you to be?

Question 2:

Joe, Do you possess a token of your love and affection to give to your bride this day as a seal of this holy covenant?

Joe, as I hold this ring before you. I want it to always remind you of your commitment to love Tina to the uttermost. May every time you look upon this ring, you not simply see a piece of jewelry but you see the commitment that you’ve made in the sight of God and these witnesses to love Tina without end. Your love for her shall never end. May this ring always remind you of that sacred commitment.

If you will place the ring on the wedding finger of your bride and repeat after me:

[Groom repeats the following vow after prompts from the Pastor]:

I, Joe, take you Tina
As my lawfully and spiritually wedded wife
I promise to forsake all others
and cleave only to you
I promise to love
and spiritually build you up
I take you from this day forward
for better or for worse
in riches and in poverty
in sickness and in health
till death do us part
I promise to pray for you
to live with you in an understanding way
to grant you honor
as a fellow heir
of the grace of life
and to forgive you
as God has forgiven me
I promise to give myself to you
to be your spiritual leader
therefore I receive you
as God’s lovely gift to me

Tina, Do you possess a token of your love and affection to give your husband this day as a seal of this holy covenant?

Tina, I pray today that this ring would always remind you that your love for Ryan is to be second only to your love for Jesus Christ. May you see this ring and remember that you have committed today to respect and to trust Joe. I pray that it will also remind you that one of the ways you love and trust Jesus is by loving and trusting Joe.

Place this ring on the wedding finger of your husband and repeat after me.

[Bride repeats the following vow after prompts from the Pastor]:

I, Tina, take you Joe
as my lawfully and spiritually wedded husband
I promise to forsake all others
and cleave only to you
I promise to love
and spiritually build you up
I take you from this day forward
for better or for worse
in riches and in poverty
in sickness and in health
till death do us part
I promise to pray for you
to seek to understand you
to forgive you as God has forgiven me
and to be in loving subjection to you
as God’s man in our home
I promise to adorn myself
as a holy woman
with a meek and quiet spirit
I want to be an excellent wife
whose worth is far above jewels
therefore I receive you
as God’s gift to me

Joe and Tina want to say some personal words to one another in your sight and before God this day.
Joe speaks.
Tina speaks.


Based on the charge that you have received today and based on the vows that you have taken in the sight of God and these witnesses today, Joe and Tina, we rejoice with you that the two roads that brought you here will now be one as you leave.

Now, by virtue of the authority invested in me as the minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord in the presence of God and these assembled witnesses, I pronounce you husband and wife. You have given sacred vows before each other, before us, and before a holy and righteous God. These vows are never to be broken. What God has joined together let no man separate.

You may now kiss the bride.

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Joe William Thomas.

See also:

Questions to Ask before Agreeing to Officiate a Wedding

By |May 18th, 2015|Categories: Blog|Tags: |

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today


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