by Holly Parmer (Ste. Genevieve, MO)
God our Father, & Lord of all Creation:
We gather here now to celebrate the love and commitment of (bride) & (groom), as they share their first meal together as husband and wife.
We thank You for giving Your Holy blessing today upon their marriage, and ask that You continue to bless them with Your love and mercy throughout their lives together.
Let this be the first of many loving meals shared together with their family and friends, and blessed by Your amazing grace.
And with (bride) & (groom), as we are their family, friends, & loved ones gathered here in Your presence,
we ask for Your Holy blessing upon this meal as together we say:
Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty; through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Return to Wedding Prayers and Blessings
A month ago, James and Ashley asked if I would offer the grace before the meal at their wedding reception. Of course, I said yes right away. While I’ve officiated at a lot of weddings, I’ve had fewer opportunities to offer a table grace, and I felt honoured by their request. Here is the introduction and prayer I offered, followed by a few helpful tips and other sample prayers in case you ever have the privilege of saying grace for a wedding reception.
The Introduction and Prayer
It’s a joy for me to know James and Ashley as uniquely gifted individuals and as a wonderful couple. They are talented and kind, and you know, they’re so organized that not only did they ask me weeks ago for this prayer, but last night James was Facebooking me, “Just writing to remind you about the grace before dinner tomorrow!”
As if I could forget such a privilege of offering a prayer before the first meal that they share together as husband and wife!
So as we pray for this meal and wedding celebration, let’s also pray for James and Ashley and their future together. I’m excited at what God will do in their lives.
O God, the great Creator of this beautiful setting and all that is,
the Lord of life and love,
we give you thanks for all of your goodness:
~ for the abundance of food this evening
~ the abundance of family and friends,
~ the abundance of laughter and love.
We pray that this meal might be a time to nourish our bodies
and nourish strong relationships.
We pray for James and Ashley that the love they share today would flourish and grow.
May they continue in your joy and strength.
May they bless their families as they have been blessed by them.
And may all of us who participate in this celebration,
carry your joy and love with us as we move forward.
For you are the Source and Ground of all being. Amen.
A few helpful tips:
Start early. Don’t wait until you’re driving to the wedding, or having to madly scribble down some notes while hiding in the washroom between the ceremony and the reception. Jot down your thoughts a week or two before the wedding so you can be well prepared.
Write it out. Speaking off the cuff is great if you can pull it off, but for a smooth delivery so people can focus on your words and not get distracted by the uhs and ums, write out what you want to say.
Say it out loud. Practice it enough so you know it, but not so much that you squeeze the life out of it.
Give your prayer an introduction. Share briefly how you know the couple or what you appreciate about them. Include a short anecdote. Be funny if you can–but think gentle humour instead of embarrassing story.
Keep your focus on the bride and groom. Remember the occasion isn’t about you or your marriage. You might have the microphone for a few moments, but use it to draw attention to the happy couple, not yourself.
Really pray. The prayer before the wedding meal isn’t for show. It’s a real opportunity to pray for the meal, for the couple, and for all those present. Think sincerely, what do you want to pray for the couple? What do you want to pray for the family and friends who have gathered?
Make it a keepsake. For an added touch, print a copy of your prayer and tuck it into your wedding card for the couple.
These are a few selected excerpts of prayers before the wedding meal. Click through for the rest of the prayer and more samples.
Lord God, Creator of the universe, Father of us all,
we have gathered here around this dinner table to celebrate the love and commitment
that have united (bride’s name) and (groom’s name), in a wonderful bond of marriage. – Dinner Prayer At Wedding Reception
We thank You for giving Your Holy blessing today upon their marriage, and ask that You continue to bless them with Your love and mercy throughout their lives together. Let this be the first of many loving meals shared together with their family and friends, and blessed by Your amazing grace. – Wedding Meal Prayer by Holly Parmer
We have come from many places, many backgrounds, many beliefs, but and have drawn us together to share this meal together, their first meal as a married couple. We are grateful for love which seeks us and finds us. We are grateful for this meal. – Wedding Prayers for the Meal
Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank you for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded us this day, for the hope with which we expect the morrow, for the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful; for our friends in all parts of the earth. . . . – The Wedding Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson
Father we thank you for the food that we are about to partake. We ask you to take your place at our tables and be our special guest. As this food nourishes our body and mind, let your Spirit feed our souls. – Scribbles of an Event Planner
May we never forget those who . . . are in need and may our eyes and our hearts be alert and our hands be open to give from the abundance you have given us. As we break bread together, we remember your sacrifice and know that you are among us. – Prayer Before Dinner
We thank You for providing for us, we ask that You bless this food, and bless those who have worked to prepare it. Thank You for being in our midst, for allowing us to enjoy good fellowship, and for being the perfect example of love. Just as this meal nourishes us and makes us healthy, we ask that You will give this couple a long and healthy life together. – Wedding Prayers and Blessings
Writing/Reflection Prompt: Imagine you’ve been asked to offer a prayer before a wedding dinner, and try writing one of your own. Or if you’ve already written a prayer, consider sharing it in the comments below. I’d love to see what you come up with!
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It was a lovely wedding. The bride was radiant, the groom was handsome, and the attendants were obviously thrilled to support their friends. Now it’s time for the reception, and the wedding couple has honored you with the request that you offer the prayer before the meal — that you say grace. There were prayers as part of the wedding service, but the prayer you have been asked to give is the prayer at the first meal the bride and groom are sharing as a married couple.
The Purpose of the Prayer
Prayers can be categorized as praise (worship of God), thanksgiving, intercession (asking for something specific) and confession. While there may be elements of praise, intercession and confession in the prayer at a meal, it is usually placed in the thanksgiving category. This is true whether the meal is an informal family dinner around the kitchen table or a formal wedding reception. At a wedding, the purpose of the prayer is primarily to thank God for the food and for those who prepared it. A related but secondary purpose is to thank God for the newly married couple and the community of friends and family who have gathered to support them.
Who is Listening?
Unlike leading grace at a family dinner, praying at a wedding reception is a public event, involving people you may not know. The bride and groom will have invited an assortment of people — young and old family members, friends, coworkers, business associates and former classmates. This varied group likely are not all members of the same faith tradition. They likely do not share the same values and beliefs. Some may not even believe in God.
Your prayer should rise out of your own faith tradition, but you should avoid triumphalism — the assumption that everyone does or should believe what you do. If it is a multicultural and multi-religious group, your prayer can acknowledge that.
Prepare in Advance
Compose the prayer in advance to be sure that you have included everything you want to. If possible, memorize it. You can keep the written version with you when you lead the prayer, but if you have memorized it, it will flow better and sound more natural.
If you are not accustomed to leading public worship, practice the prayer aloud in a large space, preferably the reception hall itself. Find out if you will have the use of a microphone, and if not practice pitching your voice so it will carry without shouting. Get someone to stand at the back of the hall and tell you whether they can hear you clearly. Be aware that when a room is filled with people, your voice will not carry as well as in an empty hall.
Things to Avoid
If you did not preside at the wedding, you may be tempted to cover everything you want to say to and about the couple. If it was a church wedding, remember that a wedding homily has already been preached and that prayers for the couple’s married life have already been offered.
Do not evangelize. You have a “captive audience,” but this is not a license to hold forth about your faith, your view of marriage, your concern about the high divorce rate or any other topic.
Keep your focus on giving thanks for the meal, and keep the prayer brief — no more than two minutes.
A Sample Christian Prayer
The following is a sample of a prayer that could be offered from a Christian faith tradition at a reception with multi-faith guests.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love, which we have seen today reflected in and ‘s eyes. We have come from many places, many backgrounds, many beliefs, but and have drawn us together to share this meal together, their first meal as a married couple. We are grateful for love which seeks us and finds us. We are grateful for this meal. We pray your blessing upon those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We ask that you bless Jane and John and us as we celebrate tonight. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Sample Secular Prayer
Ground and source of all life, we stop and recall with gratitude the gift of life. We are grateful for the love of and parents, who raised them from childhood with care and concern, bringing them to this day. We are grateful for the example of and love in their new commitment to one another. We express our gratitude to those who grew and harvested the food we will share today, those who prepared it and those who will serve it. We are grateful also to the wind and the rain, the sun and the earth, who provide not only this meal but all of our life on this planet. Let us take a moment of silence now in gratitude for life. Amen.
Are you planning to have a religious wedding ceremony? If you are going by the book, you might as well include wedding prayers before dinner, at your reception.
Grace before meals is a way of thanking the Almighty for giving us a beautiful life, and seeking His blessings. No matter what religion you belong to, prayers and blessings will always be an integral part of every important occasion of your life. Weddings are particularly characterized by a religious ceremony, complete with prayers and blessings. Even if you are not going to have a typical religious affair, you would want to include wedding prayers, before your reception dinner. It sure makes sense to seek the God’s blessings before having your first meal as husband and wife. Here are some guiding tips to arrange for these.
Who Should Give Many couples choose to give the prayers themselves, or ask the minister to do the honors. Oftentimes, they may ask another family member or a special guest to give grace. No matter whom you choose, always inform the person beforehand so that he is prepared for it. If you ask a guest to give a prayer, without prior intimation, he may turn it down if he is wary of public speaking. As far as possible, choose a person who is of same religious denomination as you, since a person of a different denomination may not feel comfortable giving a prayer for your denomination.
What Should be Included The marriage prayers should be short, and written from the heart. If you decide to give it as a couple, you should thank everyone for attending the ceremony, and pray for their good health. A person, other than the couple, should seek blessings from God through his or her prayers. Lastly, thank God for the meal that you are about to eat. If you have been asked to give a prayer at a wedding dinner, make sure you write it down well ahead of time, and rehearse. If you are absolutely clueless, consult a pastor or clergy regarding what to include in the prayer. You may ask the couple about what exactly they expect from the prayer. You can also refer to readings on Internet, such as those given below.
Sample Wedding Prayers By Couple
“Thank you for this beautiful day. You have fulfilled the desire of our hearts, to be together in this life. We pray that your blessings will always rest upon our home; that joy, peace, and contentment would dwell within us as we live together in unity, and that all who enter our home may experience the strength of your love. Father, help us to follow and serve you with an ever-growing commitment because of our union. Guide us into greater love and sacrifice as we care for each other’s needs, knowing you will care for us. May we always be as keenly aware of your presence as we sense it today, on our wedding day. And, may our devotion in marriage be a radiant reflection of your love for us. Thank you Lord for the fellowship around this table, for the good friends, for the hearts of love that manifested themselves through hands that prepared this wonderful feast. Bless us as we eat, and bless us as we fellowship. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, we pray. Amen.”
“Lord God, Creator of the universe, Father of us all, we have gathered here around this dinner table to celebrate the love and commitment that have united (bride’s name) and (groom’s name), in a wonderful bond of marriage. Bless, Father, this food that we are about to receive with grateful hearts as a sign of your continuous bounty and providence. May your generous blessing descend also upon these newly married spouses, their families, and friends present here at this joyful banquet. We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit of God forever. Amen”
Go through these for reference, and write your own prayer for the couple. Close your eyes, and try to communicate with God, before writing the prayer. This should help you to bring out your deepest, truest emotions so that you can write a heartfelt prayer.