Having a dinner prayer at wedding reception meals is a common practice for those with a religious ceremony. Just as a family would pray together before their meals at home, the new couple may choose to have a prayer before their first dinner together as husband and wife.
Who Gives the Prayer
Who gives the prayer is really up to the couple. Often the clergy who performed the ceremony gives the dinner prayer. If you want to have your priest or clergyman give the blessing before the dinner, be sure to mention this in planning sessions before the wedding date.
Though it is customary to ask the pastor to give the wedding prayer, by no means is it the only option. Asking someone important you, such as the father of the bride, mother of the groom, or a beloved relative is also appropriate. Be prepared that the person you ask may not feel comfortable with public speaking, so do not be offended if she/he turns you down.
Certain people may not be suited to giving the wedding speech. If you are having a very religious ceremony of Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, or other denominational faith, asking someone of a different religion to give the dinner prayer at wedding reception meals could make him/her ill at ease. Additionally, most children and teens will not feel relaxed in a situation such as this. Instead, find other ways to include the special people in your life, such as asking them to help with the guest book, distribute programs, or take snapshots.
Elements in a Dinner Prayer at Wedding Reception
If you have been asked to give the dinner prayer at the reception, you should write it before that night. Unrehearsed speeches tend to sound off-the-cuff and be riddled with "um," "oh," and other fillers as you try to think of the right things to say. Being prepared will make you look polished and honor the newlywed couple.
Writing a dinner prayer can be hard, even for the most eloquent of speakers. Keep in mind that unlike wedding speeches, the dinner prayer can be broader in topic and is typically only a couple minutes long at most. Elements to include in the prayer:
- Asking God (or other deity for the couple's particular faith) to bless the couple in their marriage
- Blessing the friends, family, and guests attending the wedding
- Thanking God for the food which everyone is going to eat
- Praising God
Compose the prayer a week or two before the wedding. Ask close friends and family to read the prayer, listen to you practice, and offer constructive criticism. Use index cards with an outline of key points in the prayer if you have difficulty memorizing what you have written.
If you are invited to the wedding rehearsal dinner, use this opportunity to practice your public speaking skills. Offer to give the prayer at the rehearsal dinner. Should someone else already be given this task, you could also ask the bride or groom if you can stop by the reception location after dinner to practice.
Help Writing Dinner Prayers
Should you find yourself stumped writing an original dinner prayer, do not be upset. It is hard to write under pressure. To get your creative juices flowing, speak with your own religious leader about writing a prayer. You may also want to use an already written prayer for the reception dinner. You can find these in prayer books, and even on the web. Use the prayers as your base and edit them for your occasion. Good online resources include:
- Grace Before Meals-This site offers several wedding prayers for the Christian faith. Use them as starters or as your entire prayer.
- Wedding Ceremony Center-Three samples of wedding dinner prayers are given, along with a short Catholic prayer.
Asking the bride and groom to help with your prayer can also be advantageous to everyone involved. You will find out exactly what the couple had in mind for the prayer (such as length and topics) and they will know what to expect when you stand to give the prayer.
Giving a dinner prayer at wedding reception meals is a solemn yet simultaneously joyous task. Guests asked to participate in this way should feel honored by the bride and groom, and should do their best to return that honor with an appropriate prayer.