I do

Yesterday I went to the wedding of my equal-favourite niece and the man of her dreams. Inevitably, there was a linguistic point.

One of the clichés about wedding services is that they involves saying “I do” (see the movie Four Weddings and Funeral, for example) . At all of the wedding services I’ve ever been to (including yesterday’s) people have said  “I will”. The question is “[Name], will you have [Name] to be your husband/wife?”. Other Christian denominations may have different wordings, which might involve the question “Do you take [Name] to be your husband?”, to which the answer is “I do”. (We could also ask “Will you take …?” but not “Do you have …?”) 

The only person who might say “I do” is the person “giving away” (horrible expression) the bride, who might answer the question “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”. I say “might” because the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican Church of Australia’s An Anglican Prayer Book both don’t require that person to say anything. Other Church of England/Anglican wedding services have different questions for the “giving away”, including “Who brings this women …” (which I think was the question yesterday, to which my sister and brother-in-law answered “We do”). (Other wedding services I found online have “Who gives their blessing to this marriage? Parent/Family Members: We do” and “Families and friends, you are witnesses to these vows. Will you do everything in your power to uphold N and N in their marriage? [Answer]: We will.”)

In fact the only things required to be said at weddings in Australia (which are authorised by the Marriage Act 1961) are the celebrant saying a legal preamble and the two people saying “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I, A.B. (or C.D.), take thee, C.D. (or A.B.), to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)” “or words to that effect” (no-one these days says “thee” or “lawful wedded”). Surprisingly, there is no requirement for the celebrant to say “I now pronounce you husband and wife”. I think a couple and their families and friends would be very surprised if the celebrant didn’t say that, though.

By the way, I would expect that that Christian church building had all or most or some or at least one of a font for baptism, an altar/table for communion, a lectern/bible desk for reading the bible, a prayer desk for praying, a pulpit for preaching/teaching and a cross. This particular building had none of those (except for a cross on the outside).


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