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What to Expect at a Quaker Wedding

A Quaker (or Society of Friends) wedding ceremony will be very different than what you’re used to. For one thing, it’ll be quieter. A Quaker wedding is a lot like a normal Friends meeting. Which means most of it will involve sitting in silence. Quakers usually don’t have clergy, or even one leader who takes charge of meetings. Most are spent in silence until a member is moved to speak. You’ll be welcome in the meeting and welcome to speak, but don’t feel pressured unless you’re really moved to do so. Quakers are very cool with silence. You might share a memory of the bride or groom, a prayer, or a piece of advice for a happy marriage, but, again, no pressure, and absolutely don’t worry about filling the silence if there’s a long pause. Pausing is part of the idea. The bride and groom may sit in front of the meeting (or in the middle of the circle, if that’s the way the meeting house is set up). No attendants, no music, no giving away. At the end of the meeting, the bride and groom will stand, make promises to each other, and declare themselves married. Everyone present will sign the couple’s wedding certificate, which they will often hang in their home as a keepsake. The reception will probably be much more like what you’re used to. Many Quakers don’t drink, but they’re tolerant of others who do. A Quaker wedding can be a tough adjustment – it’s surprising how odd it can be to sit in silence in a crowd – but it’s a beautiful reduction of the marriage ceremony to its essence.

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