Wedding ceremonies, although formal occasions, can be structured to provide a sense of the Spirit's presence.
Wedding ceremonies, although formal occasions, can be structured to provide a sense of the Spirit's presence.

The Assemblies of God was born from the Pentecostal revival in America in the late 1890s to early 1900s. Then, as now, the primary distinctive doctrine of the Assemblies of God is belief in Spirit Baptism with the outward physical sign of speaking in other tongues. Worship in the Assemblies of God tends to be less liturgical than many mainline denominations, and spontaneity, or following the leading of the Spirit, is valued. Wedding ceremonies, although they tend to be more formal occasions, can still be imbued with a sense of the Spirit's leading.

Schedule four to six premarital counseling sessions. Use these sessions to help prepare the couple for the transition to married life. Cover the following topics in the first session: relationship background and history; God in marriage; fiance evaluation; and sexual purity. Use the second session to discuss: shared values; clarified expectations; and the importance of acceptance. Use the third session to discuss: healthy communication; problem-solving; and finances. Use the fourth session to discuss their life history and the lessons and impacts they have gained from their family of origin. The fifth session can be used to cover any material left incomplete from the previous sessions or to begin discussing plans for the ceremony itself. It is best to begin this course of counseling at least 3 months before the ceremony.

Provide a sample outline to the bride and groom and interview them to see what they may wish to add or delete. Ask what songs they wish to be sung, whether they will have soloists or plan to use taped music, and what level of decorating they wish to do. The Gospel Publishing House, the printing arm of the Assemblies of God, makes available the Minister's Manuals, compiled by William E. Pickthorn. The second volume provides sample services for special occasions, including weddings. The following outline is adapted from the various recommendations:

I. Prelude Music II. Entrance of Groom and Pastor III. Entrance of Wedding Party IV. Entrance of the Bride V. Giving of the Bride VI. Song VII. Welcome by Pastor VIII. Pastoral Prayer IX. Scripture Reading X. Vows XI. Scripture Reading XII. Ring Ceremony XIII. Unity Candle XIV. Communion XV. Song XVI. Presentation of Bride and Groom

Recruit workers once an outline and flow for the ceremony are set. You will need someone for the sound booth, and you will need workers present to help with parking and clean up. It may be good to designate a wedding coordinator for your church. This person can ensure that the church is open at the appropriate time for decorating and flower deliveries and to get members of the wedding party in place at the appropriate times in the ceremony. You may also need a pianist.

Encourage the couple to make room for the Holy Spirit's ministry. Wedding ceremonies tend to be more formal affairs, but this does not preclude experiencing the Spirit's presence. This can be accomplished by incorporating meaningful Scriptures, setting aside space for prayer and contemplation, selecting songs that are not only romantic but worshipful, and perhaps by including one congregational song in the ceremony.