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What Happens at a Wedding of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

Weddings of Jehovah’s Witnesses often consist of a simple and dignified ceremony that features a brief talk based on the Bible. The ceremony may be followed by a social gathering, or reception, which may include a meal. * Jesus attended such a feast in the city of Cana early in his ministry.—John 2:1-11.

 How does the wedding ceremony proceed?

The main feature is the wedding talk, which is about 30 minutes long and delivered by a minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The warm and upbuilding discussion emphasizes how the Bible can help the couple have a lasting, loving, and happy marriage.—Ephesians 5:33.

In many countries, the government authorizes ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses to solemnize marriages. In that case, toward the end of the talk, the couple exchange vows. They might also exchange rings. The minister then pronounces them husband and wife.

In other countries, the law requires that a couple marry at a government office. The couple do this shortly before the wedding talk. If the bride and groom did not exchange vows at the civil marriage, they may do so toward the end of the talk. If they did exchange vows, they may choose to repeat them, doing so in the past tense. The talk concludes with a prayer asking God to bless the newly married couple.

 Where are weddings of Jehovah’s Witnesses held?

Many Witnesses choose to have their wedding ceremony in a Kingdom Hall if one is available. * If the couple have a reception afterward, they choose another location for that.

 Who can attend?

If the wedding is held at a Kingdom Hall, it is usually open to anyone to attend—both Witnesses and non-Witnesses. If the couple have a reception, they choose whom they will invite.

 Is there a dress code?

While weddings at a Kingdom Hall have no specific dress code, Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to follow the Bible’s direction to dress modestly and respectfully. They appreciate it when others do the same. (1 Timothy 2:9) Of course, the same principles apply to the reception, if the couple choose to have one.

 Will there be wedding gifts?

The Bible encourages generosity. (Psalm 37:21) Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to give and receive wedding gifts. (Luke 6:38) However, Witnesses avoid soliciting gifts or publicly announcing the names of the givers. (Matthew 6:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 9:7; 1 Peter 3:8) Besides being unscriptural, such practices can make those in attendance feel uncomfortable.

 Will there be a toast?

No. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not toast, because the practice has roots in false religious customs. * The Witnesses express their good wishes to the couple in other ways.

 Will rice or confetti be thrown?

No. In some places, people throw rice, confetti, or something similar on the newly married couple. They believe that this will bring the couple good luck, happiness, and a long life. But Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid practices connected with superstition. This includes invoking good luck, which conflicts with Bible principles.—Isaiah 65:11.

 Will there be food and drink?

The wedding ceremony at a Kingdom Hall does not include food or drink. Some couples choose to have a reception afterward where a meal or refreshments may be served. (Ecclesiastes 9:7) If they decide to serve alcohol, they ensure that it will be made available in a moderate quantity and only to those who are of legal age to drink.—Luke 21:34; Romans 13:1, 13.

 Will there be music or dancing?

If the couple have a reception, they may choose to include music and dancing. (Ecclesiastes 3:4) The selection of music will reflect good taste, yet vary according to personal preference and culture. The wedding ceremony at a Kingdom Hall often includes music with themes based on the Scriptures.

 Do Jehovah’s Witnesses celebrate wedding anniversaries?

Because Bible principles neither approve nor forbid wedding anniversaries, Witness couples decide for themselves whether or not to celebrate their anniversary. If they choose to do so, they might celebrate it privately or with friends and family.

^ par. 1 Specific customs, practices, and legal requirements may vary according to location.

^ par. 5 The minister giving the talk does not charge a fee for the wedding ceremony, and there is no charge for the use of the Kingdom Hall.

^ par. 9 For a discussion of the pagan origins of toasting, see “Questions From Readers” in the February 15, 2007, issue of The Watchtower.