Quaker wedding ceremonies of the unprogrammed kind look fairly different from those performed in other religious organizations.

Quakers do not perform marriage ceremonies (unless, perhaps it is a pastoral, clergy-led meeting) – there isn’t a Quaker pastor who marries the couple.

Instead, Quakers believe that the couple marries each other in the eyes of God, without an officiating pastor. Rather than the bride being given away by her father or other family member, the spouses give themselves to each other.

What to Expect at a Quaker Wedding | QuakerSpeak by Friends Journal

Clearness for Marriage

Before the meeting agrees to hold their wedding in its care, the couple goes through what is called a “clearness process,” usually held by the committee charged with pastoral care for meeting members.

This clearness committee works similarly to what a pastor or priest would offer in counseling a couple asking to be married in another religious body.

They ask questions and reflect back about the couple’s individual opinions about children, money, emotional/physical crisis, etc.

The clearness committee’s job is to make sure that the couple is clear to marry, and that the meeting itself is clear to take the couple’s marriage under its care (this means that the meeting feels a continuing sense of responsibility for the couple’s marriage over the coming years.)

A Quaker meeting will usually only formally hold a wedding for a couple which has gone through this clearness process and when the meeting has discerned it is ready to take the couple’s marriage under its continuing care. It’s rare for the meeting to hold a wedding for people who do not have a strong connection to the meeting (meeting members or regular attenders.)

However, if you rent space at a Quaker meeting house, there is nothing to stop you from holding your own wedding “in the manner of Friends.”

The Wedding


After a period of silent worship, the couple will stand and declare their vows to one another, along the lines of “In the presence of God and these our friends I take thee to be my wife/husband, promising with Divine assistance to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife so long as we both shall live.”

Worship & Messages

After the couple has given their vows and sits down, the meeting returns to silent worship, out of which F/friends & family will offer spoken messages or song about their memories, hopes and love for the couple, and about marriage in general.

Witnesses & Wedding Certificate

The meeting acts as witnesses to the marriage, and as such, there is a sense of the meeting offering its support to the couple. A Quaker wedding certificate is usually a large, calligraphed document (a marriage certificate) with spaces for each person present at the wedding to sign as witnesses to the event (sometimes even babies’ handprints!).


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