Marriage Under the Care of the Meeting
Quakers and marriage
For a detailed description of marriage after the manner of Friends, visit
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s web pages on marriage. Check the sidebar to the right—there's more than this short landing page; additional outline tabs about marriage are listed under “Quaker Marriage Procedure” in the sidebar on the right of the page.
New York Yearly Meeting’s web page on marriage, which has a much fuller treatment.
The meeting for marriage—a brief introduction
Friends conduct a meeting for marriage—the wedding ceremony—as a meeting for worship. The meeting appoints a clerk for the meeting and the couple chooses two witnesses, who will sign the certificate of marriage. The couple chooses their own vows, in consultation with the committee appointed to arrange the meeting for marriage.
In the meeting itself, the couple sits together and their guests and the members of the meeting sit as they would in a normal meeting for worship. The clerk opens the meeting by explaining how things will go, mostly for the benefit of family and friends of the couple, who may not be familiar with our way of worship.
The meeting begins with worship. After a time of worship, the clerk invites the couple to exchange vows and rings, and the couple and their witnesses sign the wedding certificate. The certificate is then read aloud. Then worship continues, with spoken messages if persons are so moved. When it seems to the clerk that the meeting is fully gathered and the messages have all been given, she or he closes the meeting and the couple and wedding party withdraw. All present are invited to sign the wedding certificate as witnesses themselves after the meeting.
If you seek to be married after the manner of Friends and under the care of the meeting, contact the office at office[at]cpmm[dot]org, or 215-241-7260 and the office secretary will put you in touch with the committee. The committee will arrange a clearness committee that works much like a clearness committee for membership. It will meet with you and you will talk together until both you and the committee are clear that the marriage should go forward as requested, or not.
If yes, the clearness committee brings a recommendation to Membership Care Committee, and then after the committee’s discernment, the committee brings a recommendation to the meeting for business in worship. If the meeting approves, then Membership Care appoints a committee to help you arrange the meeting for marriage.