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 [Jane] and [John] 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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