A Masonic Wedding
Delivered in the Victorian
Lodge of Research by Kent Henderson
Past Grand Sword Bearer - on
July 23, 1993
A wedding, when mentioned in most circles, usually
evokes pleasant thoughts, of a son or daughter commencing married life, of
children, of grandchildren, the wedding day itself, the preparations, the
When we add the word Masonic to the occasion, what
emotions are then aroused ? Incredulity mostly, I'd suggest. Most Masons, at
least in this country, have never heard of such a thing. Indeed, most would
immediately think - how could such be possible? Is not a wedding
a religious occasion, and as such how can you have a Masonic wedding in our
organization which is neither a religion or a substitute for a religion?
Surely a wedding is for the church, not for the Masonic Temple ?
But is it ? Freemasonry is not a religion, but its
content is certainly religious in character as are, indeed, many organizations
that function outside church doors. Parliamentary proceedings are religious -
they open with prayers, but I doubt anybody would consider parliament a
religion ! In truth, of course, a marriage does not need to be celebrated in a
church. Essentially, while clearly derived in our society from the
Judeo-Christian tradition, marriage is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as
the condition of man and woman legally united for the purpose of living
together etc. Thus, despite the religious connotations many ascribe to it,
marriage is but a civil act. All one needs is a legally-designated marriage
celebrant (who may or may not be affiliated to a religion) to require an
unmarried man and unmarried women to sign a legal document binding the
signatories to matrimony in law.
Working backwards from the minimalist legal
position, many religions have ceremonies to celebrate marriage, but marriage
is not the sole preserve of religion. Many marrying couples, using a marriage
celebrant can, and often do, write their own marriage ceremony. Why then,
couldn't a Masonic Wedding ceremony be written ? The answer is there is no
reason at all.
The next question is if one was written,
would it be considered regular? If such a ceremony was permitted to be worked
by craft lodges under a recognized Masonic Constitution, then it must be
tacitly considered as regular at least. Whether ones own jurisdiction allows
it to be analogously worked is a different matter, but that is irrelevant
in the context of its regularity.
Now, I am here to tell you that a Masonic Wedding
Ritual does exist. Not only does it exist, but it is officially sanctioned by
at least one regular Grand Lodge (The Grand Lodge of Turkey), and is not
infrequently used by its craft lodges. This ceremony, or one similar to it, is
at least permitted to be worked in several other European jurisdictions. If
you accept my logic as to regularity, the Wedding Ceremony must be considered
a regular Craft ceremony by all Grand Lodges that recognize the Grand Lodges
under which it is worked.
In giving an analogous example, in the context of
our own Grand Lodge, you would mention our Masonic Funeral Ritual, or our
Vacant Chair Ceremony. Be that as it may, it needs to be recognized that the
ceremony is also worked under irregular Grand Lodges, notably in France, but
that does not ipso facto make the ceremony itself irregular. I will refer
again to this later.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Masonic
Wedding Ceremony in Istanbul in 1986, hosted by a Turkish-speaking lodge. The
ceremony, replete with bride and groom (indeed, two couples in this instance),
took place in a Masonic Temple, followed by a full wedding breakfast in an
adjoining banqueting area. Fortunately, there is an English-speaking Turkish
lodge in Istanbul (Lodge Freedom No.35) from which I was able to obtain a copy
of the ritual in English and to which I will shortly refer. However, prior to
launching into a commentary on the ritual, it is useful to consider The Grand
Lodge of Turkey and its background.
There is documented reference to the existence of
lodges in Turkey in 1738, which appear to have emanated from various European
sources. A Supreme Council of the Ottoman Empire was erected in 1861, probably
under the patronage of the Grand Orient of France. The expansion of the
Craft was slow in this era, with various Ottoman Sultans issuing edicts
suppressing Freemasonry. The suppression became particularly harsh during the
reign of Sultan Abdulhamid 11 (1876-1909) and many Turkish Masons were forced
to flee the country. However, this repression did not appear to extend to
lodges warranted from foreign countries. An English lodge - Oriental No 687
was formed in Turkey in 1856, and ten further English lodges were established
between 1860 and 1870. Ireland, Scotland, and the Grand Orients of Italy and
France also had lodges in Turkey in this period. Most English, speaking lodges
had expired by the first world war. However, Oriental Lodge worked on into the
1930s. It did not survive the Second World War, and was formally erased in
Upon the coming of constitutional government to
Turkey in 1909, Turkish Masonry revived and it is from this year that the
current Grand Lodge dates it origin. The revival was in the form of a Supreme
Council warranted from Egypt. In turn, the Supreme Council sponsored a
National Grand Orient of Turkey which was constituted by 14 lodges then
holding charters from either France, Italy, Belgium, or Spain. Expansion was
sustained and by 1935 it possessed 65 lodges.
However, the political climate in the pre-war
years deteriorated, and the Grand Orient of Turkey was dormant by 1935 and
remained so until after the Second World War. The Turkish Supreme Council
revived in 1948, and it controlled Turkish Craft lodges until 1956, when they
were divested to a new Grand Lodge of Turkey founded on a regular basis. The
Grand Lodge suffered a small split in 1966, when a Grand Orient of Turkey was
formed. This body, endorsed by the irregular Grand Orient of France, still
exists with about 30 lodges.
The regular Grand Lodge was recognized by the
United Grand Lodge of England in 1970. Virtually all regular Grand Lodges in
world have long since been in fraternal relations with The Grand Lodge of
Turkey. In 1992. it reported 98 lodges, and a membership of 7,780.
Having looked very briefly at Turkish Masonic
history, the question is in the current context, why a Turkish Masonic Wedding
Ritual ? Where did this ritual come ? Indeed, is it used elsewhere in Masonry
? In order to gain at least some clues a look at the ceremony itself is a
As a beginning, let us consider the layout of the
Temple for the Wedding Ceremony. The wardens sit in the places with which we
are familiar - WJW (Worshipful Junior Warden) in the South, and the WSW
(Worshipful Senior Warden) in the West. The difference is the WSW sits well
forward of the west wall of the temple on the edge of the squared pavement
flanked by the two great pillars (J & B) which dominant the lodge -
reaching nearly to the ceiling. The use of the pillars thus is a quite typical
continental-type practice. The RWM (Right Worshipful Master) is in the
East. You will note that the designations of the principal officers are the
same as those of the Scottish Constitution, and some European Grand Lodges.
Indeed. Turkish Craft Ritual is in some ways similar to that practised under
the Grand Lodge of Scotland, although Scotland was not its source, at least
The other main feature is a altar in the centre of
the Temple (in the middle of the squared pavement) -again, a continental-type
feature. but also common in both Irish and American Masonry. As will be
appreciated the large cross-fertilization of Masonic ritual across the world
in the last few hundred years makes any study of ritual origins and influences
a massive jigsaw, and well outside the scope of this paper.
In preparation for the ceremony the temple,
officers pedestals, and the East are decorated with flowers. Brethren wear
flowers in their lapels. Lodge officers wear two flowers, and the RWM wears
three flowers, preferably with a red and white ribbon. Lodge Officers only
wear their collars. Brethren do not wear their aprons but white gloves only.
Sisters (as females are designated) when admitted sit in the South, while
brethren sit in the North..,
A small table and two chairs are placed in front
of the altar, facing the RWM, on which are a silver platter with the wedding
rings, a glass of red wine, a glass of water, an empty glass, a glass rod and
a blue ribbon long enough to encircle the newly weds. The table is decorated
with flowers, and an incense burner is on the Secretary's table.
The lodge officers, members, and visiting brethren
take their places in the Temple, and what is effectively an occasional lodge
is opened by a single knock by the RWM, repeated by the WSW and WJW. The
Director of Ceremonies (DC) retires with staff in hand, and admits the Sisters
into the Lodge. The bride and groom wait outside.
The RWM asks everyone to he seated, and then
introduces the proceedings thus.
Brethren, we are gathered here today to celebrate and Masonically re-confirm
the marriage of Sister and Brother , whose marriage was performed in
accordance with the civil Laws of our country.
Here we now see that the ceremony is not
for the purposes of legal marriage, but a re-confirmation ceremony. Upon
reflection, of course, it could not be used per se to create a legal
marriage unless the presiding officer, in this case the RWM, was in fact a
legally designated civil marriage celebrant.
The RWM continues:
As you well know,
Masons strive to gather men and women around an ideal of peace and to awaken
in their hearts mutual love and affection.
union of two people who have decided to unite their lives in order to
establish a family, avid reaffirming this union in the pure atmosphere created
by our efforts for love and peace, will surely give this marriage a better
meaning, create further understanding and harmony.
consider today's meeting to be unusually important and valuable; because we
are today reaffirming a contract which helps to ensure the survival of
humanity, to unite two people who love one another on the road to happiness
and understanding, and because we thus have the opportunity to give voice to
the spiritual uplift and moral satisfaction derived from our participation in
celebrating their union.
That grand force
directing the universe in an eternal order has put in the hearts of men and
women created in this earth, the fire of love, the will and desire to unite
The JD (Junior
Deacon) then moves the Secretary's table, lights incense, and stands adjacent
to the RWM.
The RWM continues:
Let the pleasant
odour rising from the burning incense fill our hearts and the hearts of those
who today honour us with their presence, with love for humanity, with love for
the family. with affection and protection for the children. Short Pause.
see whether the bride and groom have arrived, and if so bring them to the
The J.D. then leaves the lodge and after a short
pause knocks four times. Thereafter follows a very familiar pattern of Masonic
admission, as follows:
RWM, there is a knock at the door.
R.W.M.: Investigate who seeks admission.
W.J.W.. Bro.Inner Guard, see who seeks
I.G.: (After investigating).
WJW, Bro.J.D. is at the door, accompanied by Sister
. and Bro
. who have been married in accordance with 'Our civil laws and
who now desire to celebrate and reaffirm their union in this Worshipful Lodge.
The WJW then makes the same report to the RWM, who
Brethren, form the dome of
An equal number of Brethren appointed in advance
form the dome with their swords down the North side of the lodge. You will
note that the use of swords in this manner shows a distinct continental
Masonic influence. There are others in the ritual, as we will see later. When
they are in place the RWM then continues:
Bro J. D. lead
the bride and groom to their places.
While this is happening, the Brethren forming the
dome of steel knock the tips of their swords and the WSW and WJW their gavels.
The organist plays the Wedding March. When the couple reach their places the
RWM knocks once and all noise stops.
The ceremony continues as follows:
Brother and Sister
..what is your wish?
Having fulfilled the requirements imposed upon us by the Laws
of our country, we wish our marriage to be celebrated and Masonically
reaffirmed by our brethren.
Bro the brotherly feelings which prompt you to desire this
ceremony are a source of pride to us. Family love is not only one of the basic
principles of Masonry, but also a source of hope. We thank you for giving us
the opportunity to live those sweet feelings once again. Please all be seated.
At this point the RWM then proceeds to give a
short address about the duties and sacrifices required by couples for a happy
marriage. No ritual is prescribed. Interestingly, if this was to occur in an
English-type lodge such as ours, such an address would probably be ceded to
the lodge chaplain. In Turkish lodges, there is no office of chaplain. Of
course, a chaplain has Christian connotations which would not be compatible
with Turkish Masonry wherein most members are Moslem. Nonetheless, the office
of chaplain is rare in continental jurisdictions generally.
Upon completing his address, the ceremony
Bro do you feel that you have the strength to perform these
. do you also feel you possess this strength?
Sister do you promise to love and honour your husband, and be
tied to him with bonds of respect, fidelity and trust ?
Bride: I do, RWM.
Bro do you engage yourself to love and honour your wife and
remain tied to her with bonds of fidelity and confidence?
I do, RWM
R.W.M.: Bro.J.D., burn more incense. (A
short pause follows).
May these promises, which form
the foundation of your happiness, rise to eternity like the pleasant smelling
smoke rising from this burning incense. May this pleasant smell penetrate into
your hearts and awaken in you feelings of sincerity and purity, and may mutual
love and affection join you forever, without differences, of thought. of body
and of property.
. give each other your hands.
hands is a sweet symbol of your desire to walk the path of life together. Even
if on that road of togetherness something causes pain to one of you. If one
somehow hurts the other, let a smile, an apology, an embrace make your
differences remain superficial and never have time to reach your hearts and
. and Sister
. Please rise.
Bro.J.D. please tie the newly
weds with the ribbon of unity.
The J.D. ties the blue ribbon over the left
shoulder of the groom and around the waist of the bride.
Make the dome of steel.
A number of brethren rise and form a semi-circle
around the back of the newly weds, and form a dome with their swords, points
R.W.W Put your ring on your wife's finger.
. you to put your ring on the finger of your husband. These rings
have always symbolized eternal togetherness.
give the magic rod to the newly weds.
The J.D. gives the glass rod to the bride and
Hold this magic rod each at
R.W.M This rod symbolically wits us that mutual
love should be clear and pure, and that carelessness can break it quickly. Let
this rod always remind you that love, like a rare flower, must be cultivated
and requires constant attention and care. See that it never breaks.
Bro.J.D. gives the glass of wine to Bro
and the glass of water to Sister
The J.D. does this and standing opposite the
couple, holds the empty glass in his hand.
. and Sister
. empty your glasses into the one held by
As the wine and
water unite in this glass, may your different characters and qualities combine
to provide harmony, happiness and prosperity for your family. Please drink
from the same glass.
The J.D. offers the glass first to the bride, then
to the groom.
Bro J.D. untie the newly weds.
(Done). Brethren, please rise and form the chain of
present form the Chain of Unity. The chain is broken between the WSW and WJW
in the west. The bride and groom take position in the centre of the circle.
The RWM is in centre East.
The Chain of Unity is very continental in
character and found in many European Degree ceremonies. When complete all the
brethren link hands. The symbolism, in Masonic terms, is quite obvious. The
Chain of Unity is not to be detected in any English-form Craft Ritual of which
I am aware, and indeed, in English Masonry it is only found as such in the
Masonic Rosicrucian Society (S.R.I.A.), although echoes exist in The Royal and
Select Masters, and the Ancient and Accepted Rite.
The ceremony continues:
W.S.W.: RWM, our chain is incomplete. A link is
missing. Bro (the groom) has remained near his wife. Please ask him to join us
to complete the chain.
R.W.M WSW, your wish will be fulfilled. Sister
. please bring your husband to his place amongst us. This will symbolize
that a Mason's wife will always support her husband's Masonic work.
Bro.J.D. remain with our Sister
. to show her
that a Mason's wife is never alone, never without our assistance and
The J.D. leaves the Chain, leads the couple to the
groom's place in the chain, and returns to the centre with the bride.
RWM, our chain is now complete and perfect.
As women, over the ages, through their understanding, Love and
help, have eased the burden carried by men and as women have understood our
legends, profound symbols and aims, making it easier for us to reach our
goals, so has this chain been formed with the help of a new sister. Brethren,
return to your places and be seated.
The J.D. now returns the couple to their places
before the altar, telling them to remain standing. the RWM stands before them,
facing them. He now "Masonically marries" them, as follows:
R.W.M.: Brother ..... and Sister
. bow your
heads in the presence of absolute truth (The RWM places his hands on the
couple's heads). In the name of T.G.A.0.T.U., and being vested with authority
by the M.W. Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Turkey, and as RWM of
this Worshipful Lodge ...... No I hereby Masonically reaffirm your marriage.
May your union be happy and your promises sacred. I congratulate you and on
behalf of all my brethren wish you every happiness. (The RWM returns to
his place). All please rise. Sisters and Brethren, Masonry today is happy
to celebrate the union of two people who have promised each other fidelity,
love, affection, and mutual assistance as long as they live. Their promises
are honourable and bear great value. Happy are those who fulfil their promises
fully and with courage. Please be seated.
R.W.M.: Bro.J.D. take Bro
. and Sister
.first to the WSW and then to the MW so they can congratulate them on behalf
of their respective pillars, and bring them between the two columns. (This
WSW, the marriage
. and Sister
. now having been reaffirmed by this Worshipful Lodge.
please announce it.
W.S.W.: From the East to the West and from the
North to the South, I hereby announce to all men and Freemasons throughout the
world that Bro
. and Sister
.are lawfully married and their marriage is
reaffirmed by this Worshipful Lodge. (Applause).
R.WA.: Let us be seated. (The J.D. returns
the bride and groom to their seats).
WSW, what is
Marriage is the union of a wan and a women, into which both
enter of their own free will and accord, to ensure the happiness and
continuation of humanity. It is the union of two people who join their
destinies to carry the burden of life more easily and to help each other on
the road of life, RWM.
WJW, how is happiness and strength created in marriage?
WJW; Since both parties enter into this union
willingly to form a unified family and because it is this freedom of choice
which makes their love to continue, the harvest of this can be nothing but
happiness and strength, RWM.
WSW, what should be done to ensure eternal happiness in
W.S.W.: Keep marriage pure and noble without
searching for material benefits. It is only then M hearts beat with such pure
feelings that the chain of love remains a permanent and unbroken entity,
Bro.Orator do you have anything to add to these
The Orator then makes a short speech not exceeding
ten minutes. In Turkish lodges, as in many continental lodges, the Orator is
the lecture master of the lodge, invariably a senior and learned past master.
Dear Sisters, execution of good deeds is one of the virtues
loved and Practiced by masons We never leave any of our meetings without
giving thought to the unfortunate. For this purpose a bag will now be
circulated into which every brother can leave whatever amount of money he
wishes, or from which any Bro. can take any amount he desires. The money
collected is spent for philanthropic purposes. The reason why we make this
collection discreetly is not to render the giver proud nor the receiver
ashamed. Any sister who wishes to join us can do so as if she too was a Mason.
Bro.Almoner please circulate the charity bag. Bro.J.D. please assist
When this is done sweets or candy are circulated.
R.W.M.: Please all rise. Dear Sisters, thank
you again for joining us today for this ceremony. Such ceremonies of joy and
happiness bring men and women together and permit all to bask in mutual love
and respect. We hope that your impressions of this ceremony will make you
support us in our work more than before. Bro.J.D. accompany our Sister
. first, and then our Sisters out of the Temple. We will join them in a
short while. (This is done).
R.W.M.: Brethren, I declare our labours closed.
He knocks once, followed by the WSW and WJW. The
D.C. then leads the RWM, and his Wardens, out of the Temple.
It now only remains to delve into the origins of
the Wedding Ritual. Inquiries in Istanbul reveal that the ritual has been used
by Turkish Lodges since the revival of Turkish Masonry in 1909. The ritual
came to Turkish Masonry from Belgium about this time - almost certainly from
the Grand Orient of Belgium. In turn, Belgian Masonry obtained the ceremony
from the French. Whether the ceremony is still worked within irregular Belgian
Masonry is not clear, though information to hand suggests it is not worked (at
least officially) under the Regular. Grand Lodge of Belgium.
The ritual itself appears to have been horn in
pre-revolutionary France and it has always been a part of irregular French
Masonry, particularly under the Grand Orient of France. Be that as it may, as
I alluded earlier, the ceremony itself is not ipso facto irregular. The
Grand Orient of France did not sink into irregularity until the second half of
the 19th Century, long after the Wedding Ceremonial first appeared.
Before, during and after the French Revolution
(1789) there was certainly a movement in France to replace religious
ceremonies with civil ceremonies. This probably explains how, in Continental
Freemasonry, a number of ceremonies were added over the years relating to
It was this era in which the Wedding Ceremony
appeared, and which also fostered what were known as Adoptive Lodges in
France and elsewhere in Europe, as well as several other diversions such as
androgynous Masonry. The Ceremony of Adoption of Children of
the Lodge was generally only held on the request of a brother, and then
usually only every 3 to 5 years. Hence, an adoption ceremony would be for a
group of children, usually about twelve years of age.
Of course, there exist today a large number of
Family Orders associated with Freemasonry, particularly in the U.S.A., such as
The Order of the Eastern Star, DeMolay, Job's Daughters, etc. None of
these can be considered as Masonic, as such, although this view is not
universally held. For example, while The Grand Lodge of Scotland does
not object to the Order of the Eastern Star, its English counterpart does not
permit its members to be associated with it.
In the Dictionnaire de la Franc Maηonnerie (Daniel
Ligou), under the heading Reconnaissance Conjugale, the Wedding Ceremony is
described as tenue blanche , i.e. "holding to the purity", where the
spouses, bound by a string, share bread and wine. Ligou claims the Wedding
Ritual springs from the French Le Droit Hurnain (Co-Masonry). However, as
Adoptive Lodges thrived in France and elsewhere in Europe in the 19th Century
in particular, and that Le Droit Humain was not officially formed until
1893, Ligou probably confused the two.
Nonetheless, some suggest that the use of the term
"sisters" in the ritual indicates a strong Co-Masonic link and that this alone
is grounds enough to call the ritual irregular. This is erroneous as
Co-Masonry uses the term "brother" to describe all its members, both male and
female. In any case, as we have just seen, available evidence suggests the
ceremony has no historical links with Co-Masonry but in fact substantially
pre-dates it. One body which does use the term "sister" is The Order of
the Eastern Star, but that organization certainly has. no connection with the
Returning to the Wedding Ceremony itself, it seems
that various although similar rituals are used in varying locations. Given the
history of the divergences of Craft ritual, this will astound nobody. Evidence
to hand suggests that a Wedding Ceremony is worked intermittently under the
irregular French Grand Lodges. It is certainly worked under the regular Grand
Lodges of Greece and Turkey and has been worked at least once in The
Netherlands (see the Appendix below). It would come as no surprise to find it
worked elsewhere in Europe.
In conclusion, the Wedding Ceremony is used to
varying extents across a section of regular Freemasonry, and must therefore be
judged as such, as indeed it clearly is. Regardless of its origins and
position in the
Masonic framework, it is difficult to escape the
fact that the Wedding Ritual itself is one of very great beauty. Its
symbolism, such as that of the glass rod, the mixing of water and wine, and
the chain of unity, hold great meaning. It is not surprising, therefore, that
the ceremony holds a cherished place within the realm of the Grand Lodge of
Turkey and, one assumes, within other Grand Lodges under which it is worked.
An interesting article appeared in a Dutch Masonic
Magazine (A.M.T. Sept.1979, P. 16) concerning a Wedding Ceremony held in
Utrecht. It is reproduced below with its accompanying photograph. A
translation of the text is as follows:
Masonic Wedding in Lodge "Hermannus
The brethren of Lodge Hermannus van Tongeren, in
the East of Utrecht, experienced on Saturday 9 June 1979 a unique meeting in
the Temple, under the leadership of Bro.H.van Eck, W.M.
On that day, the wedding of one of its members,
Bro. B. A.A. Kesselring and Miss I. Borrius was confirmed and dedicated in
Masonic style, a few hours after the civil wedding was performed.
After those present, the members of the happy
pair's families, their friends and many brethren were welcomed by the W.M. and
informed of the special place the Temple occupies in the activities of the
Lodge, the Master of Ceremonies conducted everybody into the Temple.
Thereafter the bride and groom were fetched and. accompanied by organ music,
were brought into the flower-decorated Temple.
The meeting was opened by a dialogue between the
W.M. and both Wardens, specially created for the purpose. The W.M. in his
address pointed among others to our principles which are deeply religious and
humane. He referred to the (Dutch Masonic) axiom: "It depends on you" which
demonstrates in an inescapable manner how much we are responsible for our own
The symbolical journey through life made
thereafter finished at the altar where the bride and groom knelt and where in
the midst of their family, friends and brethren, the solemn confirmation of
the wedding took place.
After the rings were exchanged, one single white
rose was given to the bride - as the most beautiful symbol that we as
Freemasons know - as well as a small silver Trowel. The ceremony was concluded
with a dialogue.
As can be seen even from the limited information
contained in this article this ceremony while similar to the Turkish version,
has its differences. Interestingly, the article seems to indicate that this
particular ceremony was the first ever performed in the Netherlands, and this
assertion is supported from the fact that an opening and closing ritual were
specially created for it. It will be noted that essentially the Turkish
version is devoid of an opening and closing ritual of any consequence, and
this seems indicative also.
The "first ever performance is also supported by
the exhaustive research of my research lodge colleague W.Bro.Hank van Tongeren,
a. brother of Dutch descent to whom I am grateful for the above translation.
He asserts that following an extensive search of the indexes of all post war
issues of THOTH, an authoritative Dutch Masonic publication, and all Dutch
Masonic rituals, he can find no reference to the Wedding Ceremony. Of course,
one can readily speculate where the Dutch lodge concerned gained the ritual.
Post-Script to Appendix
Upon inquiries in The Netherlands, we received a
copy of the actual ritual used in the Dutch Ceremony mentioned in the article.
Our advice is that the ritual was "specially created for the occasion.
However, The Grand East of the Netherlands subsequently took a dim view of the
matter and forbade its use in its lodges. Therefore, this particular ceremony
was used on this one occasion only and has not been used in Dutch Masonry
since. Nonetheless, in the context of the current paper it makes interesting
Wedding Confirmation of Bro Boudewijn Kesselring
and Irma Borrius on 9 June 1979 in Lodge Hermannus van Tongeren. *
The Bride and Groom are received in the Board
Room, where flowers are placed on the table. A Table is placed in the
Forecourt to sign the Reception Book, looked after by a Brother. In the Temple
(Lodge Room), white flowers are placed near the (lesser) lights W, S and B,
and a bouquet of flowers in a vase in the East (in the manner of a F C s
passing (ceremony)). On the Altar is the Bible, opened at 1Corinthian13 and
placed thereon are the Square and Compasses (1st Degree). At the West side of
the Altar a kneeling cushion is placed. The (lesser) lights are lit, as are
the candies on the tables (pedestals) of both Wardens *and the W M . The All
Seeing Eye is illuminated, and the ceiling light above the Altar switched on.
The lights in the Temple are switched low (subdued). There is no Tableau. In
its place is a carpet on which are placed seats for the Bride and Groom. The
Wardens and the W M sit in their normal places. Dress is evening dress
(tails); collars are worn but no apron or gloves. Seam for family are reserved
in both front rows. Seats for the D C and Orator are also reserved.
After the Bride and Groom are seated in the Board
Room and every one has gathered in the Forecourt, the W M addresses those
W M Respected Brethren, family and friends,
I bid you all a hearty welcome
on this special day. At the request of Br Boudewijn Kesselring and in a few
moments time his marriage to Irma Borrius shall be confirmed in the
Het bruidspaar Kesselring-Borrius in de Tempel van het 0:.
Temple in Masonic style. For those who do not know
our Temple, 1 want to draw attention to the special place the Temple occupies
in our lodge activities. This Temple is not a church, and during our meetings
all our acts have a symbolic meaning. When we enter the Temple we enter into a
space which, for us, is a consecrated - a sacred space, with an atmosphere in
which the meetings - directed away from the outside world - are focused on a
closer relationship with the Supreme Being. And in this atmosphere the wedding
shall presently be confirmed.
Bro Director of Ceremonies, you will now conduct
every one to the Temple and when all are seated, I request you return to usher
in myself and both Wardens.
At their entrance, all remain seated. The W M and
both Wardens walk in the posture of Fidelity and sit down simultaneously.
W M Before I proceed to open this ceremony, I want
to make a few announcements.
1. Would you please rise when the Bride and Groom
enter, and I ask that the Brm adopt the posture of Fidelity.
2. At the end of the ceremony all will exit the
Temple with the exception of the Bride and Groom who will remain behind with
3. That will happen after 1 have closed the
meeting and you
are requested by the Director of Ceremonies to
Bro D C you will now solemnly usher in the Bride
and Groom and ask them to be seated. This occurs. The Bride and Groom are
received with every one standing and with triumphant music.
Please be seated.
W M Now that the ceremony shall commence. I
request Bro Wardens to assist me.
Bro S W , what is our duty, now that we have come
S W To concentrate on the labour that awaits us.
W M Bro J W, why are we presently assembled in our
J W W M , we have assembled because one of our
brethren has requested his wedding be masonically confirmed.
W M Bro S W , are we ready to commence the
S W The moment has arrived. We have opened
ourselves to this sacred atmosphere, so that harmony and peace may descend in
W M Then I open this special ceremony , the
masonic confirmation of the marriage of our Bro Boudewijn Kesselring with Irma
JW May Love illuminate our path through life.
S W May our faith support our a 1 aspirations.
W.M May our trust in ultimate Beauty govern our
The Inner Guard
now switches on full lighting.
W M This ceremony is opened; may this hour be
underlines this with a few chords.
After this, the W M gives the following address to
the Bride and Groom.
W M Dear Bride and Groom,
You announced your wish to have your wedding,
which was carried out today, confirmed in our Temple, and this makes us happy.
After all, this wish is the expression of your sincere intention, jointly to
be true to our principles which are deeply religious and noble minded. By its
acceptation, you have set yourselves a difficult objective in life through
which your life can be brought to its highest expression. However, never
forget that Freemasonry is not an end in itself, but merely a means to an end:
a resource to acquire correct insight and sufficient strength through the
considerable tests with which life presents us. Through these tests and while
striving after an existence in complete harmony, a man cannot be in want of
the support of his wife. That you, the Bride who hardly knows of Freemasonry,
have followed your husband with full confidence into our Temple, makes us most
grateful. Although our membership excludes women, at the initiation we clearly
give witness of our respect for "the woman" - the wife of our Brother who
indirectly is involved in our labour.
And this is totally proper, because the first and
most important workplace of the Freemason is within his family.. And now, in
this sacred atmosphere, full of peace, full of brotherly love, the bond which
exists shall be considered in its purest light, through which you shall become
conscious that happiness in the first place does not depend on earthly
possessions, but that it can be found within ourselves. In the midst of those
dear to you and surrounded by those of like mind and your friends, the solemn
confirmation of your wedding shall take place. Your path through life shall
lead over sunny heights, through worlds of radiating light, where you may
experience the greatest happiness. But life shall also lead you through
valleys, where dirt and rocks shall hinder your progress. Thus you shall need
to find support in each other. This shall raise the nexus, which has now been
made, above the bond made by human law. Bride and Groom, you have entered into
your marriage with' the knowledge that both of you are imperfect human beings
- as we all are. It is therefore a good thing for you both to realise once
more, that you have chosen each other as you are, to live together in your own
reality. Both must learn to employ the trowel of love, to smooth
imperfections. Presently you shall be asked if it is your sincere desire to
strive after the development of all the qualities of spirit and mind, which
shall raise you marriage to a higher spiritual and moral level. If that desire
is present within you, you shall succeed. 1 say this to you, not as a
preacher; however as W M and as your companion it is my duty to ensure you
realise the spiritual basis of the step you have taken on this significant
day. Also because of the fact that through this ceremony you will accept an
obligation towards the Lodge. The knowledge that the harmonious development of
your marriage is potentially present should make you happy. And with this
happiness you can now, in our Temple, commence your symbolic journey through
Bro D C , you will precede the Bride and Groom on
The Bride and Groom walk hand in hand. Bro
Musician accompanies them with music, and briefly stops playing when they are
at the W M and the Wardens pedestals. In the. East they. halt and face the W M
. Bro Musician stops during the address.
W M (To the Bride and Groom)
Know that your journey cannot always lead over
made roads. Shadows will also be present, and perhaps darkness. Still you will
proceed, guided by the inner light of Wisdom and supported by faith in the
The Inner Guard towers the lights during the
journey through the South. At the S W pedestal they halt and turn towards him.
S W Remember always that the belief in the victory
of Truth shall provide the necessary Strength.
At the J W pedestal they halt and turn towards
J W, In your house, when harmony and love reigns,
you shall always find the right path which shall lead you to ultimate Beauty.
From here the journey is continued to the Altar.
Both Wardens follow the Bride and Groom. The W M takes a position on the East
side facing South, the Bride and Groom on the South side facing East, and the
S and J W on the South and North sides respectively, facing inwards. Bro
Musician now stops playing.
W M In a symbolical manner you have given proof of
your earnest desire to advance through the rest of your life as a dual being.
We now approach the culmination of this ceremony. Before you - on top of the
Altar - the Bible is placed, on top of which is the Square and Compasses. For
us this is a sacred symbol, upon which you will soon give your confirmation.
The Compasses - a symbol of radiating energy.
The Square - a symbol of justice and sincerity.
The Bible - a symbol of Truth and Love.
The Bible is opened at 1 Corinthians Chapter 13,
in which the cement of the wedding is described further. Bro Orator, read to
us some extracts from this Chapter dealing with love* so that we, at this
sacred moment, may once again be impressed with its great worth.
Bro Orator places himself behind the Bride and
Bro Or Love# suffereth long, and is kind;
Love# vaunted not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her
own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the
Beareth all things, believes all things, hopeth
all things, endureth all things.
NOTE: In the Dutch Bible, this Chapter is entitled
"The Song of Love" and where "Charity" appears in the Authorised King James
Version, the word "love" appears in the Dutch version.
W M (addresses the Bride and Groom)
I now request you both kneel and place your right
hand on the Bible. (This is done)
Will every one please rise, and I ask that the
Brethren adopt the posture of Fidelity.
W M Boudewijn Kesselring and Irma Borrius,
Are you ready to confirm, before our Altar of
Truth, that it is your sincere wish to elevate your marriage to a state of
Harmony by striving jointly towards the development of all those qualities of
mind and spirit which can raise the state of matrimony to a higher spiritual
and moral level? Are you ready to strive jointly in your fatuity after the
realisation of Masonic principles throughout your life?
Boudewijn Kesselring, what is your answer? (YES)
Irma Borrius, what is your answer? (YES)
May your readiness receive the blessings of the
Bro. Boudewijn Kesselring and Irma Borrius, by
virtue of my power, granted to me by you and by our Brethren of Lodge
Hermannus van Tongeren, I herewith conclude this solemn confirmation of your
wedding, and I declare you are united in Masonic marriage.
Wisdom (places hand on Irma's shoulder)
Strength (places hand on Boudewijn's shoulder)
Beauty (places both hands on their right hands)
May this sacred bond be blessed, and this hour be
Rise, Brother and Sister Kesselring.
Will every one please be seated.
Both Wardens remain standing. Bro Orator returns
to his seat.
W M You have placed two gold rings before me,
symbols of faith, the faithfulness you have promised each other.
Groom, you will place this ring on your wife's
Bride, You will place this ring on your husband's
Dear Bride, I now present to you this single white
rose. For your husband it represents one of the most beautiful symbols he, as
a Freemason, knows. Keep this rose as a reminder of this solemn moment, and
may it direct your thoughts to the place where it was handed to you.
Bro D C., please escort the Bride and Groom to
When the Bride and Groom are seated, the W M and
both Wardens return to their places. After this, Br Musician plays an item of
music. This is followed by an address by the W M.
W M Dear Bride and Groom,
Your wedding has now been Masonically confirmed in
the presence of those near and dear to you, and filled with happiness we shall
remember that moment when both of you were united through Wisdom, Strength and
Beauty before our Altar. Totally in accordance with the character of
Freemasonry have you made this voluntary confirmation, and this makes us
Bro Kesselring, At your initiation, you were
acquainted with the words: "it depends on you" and, in an inescapable manner
this demonstrated how greatly you are responsibility for your own destiny -
for your own happiness.
On the night your husband was made a Freemason it
was strongly impressed upon him that it is he, and he alone, who must shape
his life. Today 1 want to repeat these words "It depends on you" to you both.
'No one in the world can do something that would guarantee the success of your
marriage. That you must do yourself. Every person is like a world, and much
wisdom and much love is necessary to ensure two persons - two worlds - can
live together in harmony. 1 wish you both Health, Blessings and Prosperity* on
your path to life's happiness.
(*Heil,, Zegen en Voorspoed" - a traditional Dutch
W M Respected Brethren, Family and Friends, 1 hope
this sacred meeting has been meaningful and inspiring, not only for the Bride
and Groom, but for all of us. Together we have confirmed the wedding of these
two people, and with them we have made the symbolic journey through life in
our Temple. The thoughts of many of us will return to that moment when we too
began that journey in love and with confidence. May we have experienced again
that peace reigns where love dwells.
W M I will now proceed to close this ceremony.
Every one please rise.
Bro J W what is the hour?
J W It is time to end our labours, W M
W M Bro S W , are the labours ended?
S W The labours are ended for the present, W M .
W M Then Faith Hope and Love (Charity!) remain,
these three but the greatest of these is Love.
Go in peace.
Br D C leads every one out of the Temple
(including the Wardens) except the Bride and Groom, who remain behind with the
During the exit, Bro Musician plays suitable music
and is the last one to depart. He closes the door behind him.
W M Sister Irma Kesselring,
In this consecrated space your husband has made an
obligation which is sacred to him; and of which 1 want to remind you, Br
Boudewijn. I will leave you by yourselves for a moment - alone in our Temple
as a symbol that no one but yourselves can ensure your happiness. Know then
that to make' happy, is 'to be' happy. Boudewijn and Irma, jointly enter into
a strong covenant, and may the G.A.0.T.U. illuminate your path through life.
The WM departs the Temple and waits outside the
door. After a few moments the WM asks the Bride and Groom to leave the Temple
and they are placed in front of the Temple door .
The W M breaks up the meeting with a few words of
This ritual was kindly translated from the Dutch
by W Bro.Hank van Tongeren of the Lodge of Research No.218.
In August 1993, I applied to the Manager of the
Williamstown Masonic Centre in Melbourne to use its Masonic Temple for my
forthcoming marriage to my fiancιe Marise de Quadros. The booking was
accepted. Some weeks later the matter came to the attention of the Grand
Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of Victoria, who advised the Williamstown
Masonic Center Committee of Management in the following terms:
The Grand Master advises that it
is his policy and that of the Board of General Purposes that no Wedding should
be held in a Lodge Room, the main objection being that it could indicate
support for the erroneous criticism of Freemasonry by certain elements in the
community that Freemasonry is a "pseudo religion" and, therefore, incompatible
with Christianity or other recognized religion. It has been confirmed that
this policy is common throughout all Australian Grand Lodges. This policy also
applies to any other type of service which is not Masonic in nature.
Nonetheless, despite this ruling, the Grand
Secretary also agreed that the Williamstown Masonic center Committee of
Management was an autonomous body and any decision made concerning the booking
for the wedding was a matter for it. The Committee of Management subsequently
took the view that the booking had been arranged in good faith by the parties
involved prior to the opinion of Grand Lodge being sort, and voted unanimously
to confirm it.
As a result of this confirmation, my wedding took
place in the Williamstown Masonic Temple on the 19 December 1993. It appears
to have been the first wedding to occur in any Victorian Masonic Temple and
possibly in Australia. However, given the policy of the Australian Grand
Lodges, it could well be the last.
My wedding itself was a civil ceremony and
approximately eighty family and friends were present, many of whom were
Freemasons. I will add that I consider my wedding to have been a personal and
private matter, and as far as I am concerned any speculation about the form of
the ceremony used will remain just that.
Questions and Answers
Question by W Bro Bill White:
How often is the ceremony conducted in Turkish
The ceremony is worked as required, somewhat
similar to our vacant chair ceremony. It is not worked unless a lodge member
requests it. I understand that lodges working it more than once a year are
rare and that some lodges go for several years without using it at all.
Question by W Bro Tony Bowers:
You mentioned swords in the creation of the dome.
Are swords standard in the lodge?
When the bride and groom enter they do so under an
arch of steel. An arch of steel is common in Continental Freemasonry,
especially in the first degree.
Question by W Bro Mac Bedwell:
Would they have a Koran open on the pedestal?
From the photos accompanying this paper you will
see three sacred volumes on the pedestal in a Turkish lodge. They are the Old
Testament, the New Testament and the Koran. They are laid across each other,
not side by side, with the square and compasses across all three.
Question by W Bro Hank van Tongeren:
Do the Sisters have a special place to sit in the
Yes. The ladies sit in the south. the brethren in
Question by W Bro Michael Moore:
The altar is in the centre and the chain of unity
around it. Where do the bride and groom stand?
They stand in front of the altar. The altar has
three candles on three corners representing the lesser lights, as is common in
Europe, Ireland and America.
Question by WBro Bill Harding:
Were all the individuals involved Muslims? The
ceremony as you describe it seems far more Christian than Islamic for reasons
such as the wedding rings - which in Islamic custom are exchanged at the
engagement not at the wedding.
Yes, the vast majority of Turkish Masons are at
least nominally Muslim. In answer to the rest of your question two
observations can be made. Firstly, the origin of the ritual is European
so its original construction was against a Judeo/Christian background.
Of course, the ritual itself is de-christianized, although the ceremony
retains Christian connotations such as the rings. Nonetheless, these matters
are clearly not an issue in Turkish Masonry else the ceremony would not be
used. It also needs to be appreciated that, virtually alone in the Islamic
world, Turkey is a secular state. This, more than anything, allows the Craft
to both exist and prosper in that country. Few lodges exist in other Islamic
countries and in most the Craft is proscribed.
This Just In!
My name is Jesus E. Delgado, I'm a Past Master
of the Respetable Logia Antorcha de Oriente # 65 under the jurisdiction of
the Grand Lodge of F. & A. Masons of Puerto Rico. I'm also a member of
the AASR, the KT and the Shrine.
On January 20, 2007 I was married in a Masonic
Ceremony that took place at the Main Temple of the Grand Lodge of Puerto
Rico in Santrurce. My new wife Grace and I (Nesty) wanted to share some of
the pictures of our wedding pictures with the visitors to your museum.
Thanks for your wonderful work your website does
in favor of Freemasonry!
Be blessed by the Grand Architect of the
Together in Faith! Best Wishes!
W.:B.: Jesus E. Delgado, 32Ί, KT
Grace and Nesty on the steps of
the Grand Lodge of Puerto Rico
Getting ready for the Masonic
Entrance into the Lodge room under
a vault of steel
Exchanging the wedding bands
Exchanging their vows
As a part of their Masonic
ceremony a toast was made with a single glass of wine and then the glass was
Signing of the Masonic wedding