What's an 'Unprogrammed' Quaker Wedding?

A 'Friend' friend of mine is getting married in this tradition. What should I expect?

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Yes, some kind of food will be served at a reception afterward. This might be a complete meal or finger food or a potluck meal at the meeting house or someone's house. (Check your invitation for details.) Often, in keeping with the Quaker teetotaler tradition that extended from the 19th century through the mid-20th century, no alcoholic beverages will be served.

Gifts are always appreciated. Use your discretion. Many Quaker newlyweds request that contributions be given to a charity.

Finally, the actual ceremony is the culmination of a process within the particular meeting house your friend belongs to. When told that the couple planned to marry, the meeting appointed a “Clearness Committee” to meet with the couple. The committee determined whether the couple understood the commitments necessary for a good marriage and if they had fully discussed having children and appreciated the financial obligations of marriage. The committee then presented its recommendation about the couple to the meeting's monthly business meeting, which voted on whether they should be married under “the care” of the meeting. This process reflects Friends’ sense of community and compassion, as well as how their meetings function in lieu of a pastor.


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