Chapter 16 » 16.05

The meaning of marriage

Early Friends realised the importance of recording marriages which had taken place in a meeting for worship and increasingly recognised their responsibility for reporting such marriages to the authorities. They fervently maintained, however, that marriage was a solemn contract made in the presence of God in the meeting for worship. From the very early days of the Society stress was laid on the need for serious consideration prior to marriage, the clearness of each person from all other engagements, the publicity given to the intention of marriage and the value of the meeting for worship, in which the declarations were made by the couple in the presence of a number of members of the Society.

Britain Yearly Meeting has established certain procedures in the case of a marriage to be solemnised in a Friends’ meeting for worship, which are described later in this chapter. This is partly to ensure that the legal requirements are observed and the proper records kept. No less important is the value of the procedure in emphasising to those joining in marriage the solemn nature of their undertaking; to the area meeting the need to uphold the couple, both during the meeting for worship and thereafter; and to all those involved, their corporate responsibility for the meeting for worship being rightly held. Couples contemplating marriage should at an early stage seek advice from their registering officer.

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