When planning the timeline of your wedding, there are many mini ceremonies you can include. Each one will have its set of meanings and logistics. Choosing a ceremony that speaks to you and your partner might be challenging.
The foot washing wedding ceremony is a Christian tradition wherein a couple washes each other’s feet. The act is based on a story with Jesus and His disciples, and it symbolizes humility, loyalty, and love.
The origin, meanings, and symbolism of couples washing each other’s feet at their wedding are explained in more detail below. A guide for incorporating the foot washing ceremony into your wedding is also given. Lastly, some sample scripts for your officiant are also provided.
Washing Feet at Wedding: Origin and Meanings
“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Even though the disciples regard Jesus as their teacher and Lord, His act of washing their feet showed them that they are equals.
Moreover, despite knowing that Judas will betray Him that night, He still chose to wash his feet. This choice displays His humility, righteousness, and forgiving nature.
Foot washing is a liturgical ceremony that churches worldwide perform during Holy Thursday. It reiterates that we are all God’s children. Moreover, it also teaches believers to seek to serve, just as Jesus did, instead of seeking to be served.
Based on the story above, many Christians include this tradition in their religious wedding ceremonies. Any ceremony will have unique importance and meaning to the couple but in general, washing each other’s feet at the wedding symbolizes a commitment to serve each other.
On one hand, being the one to wash your partner’s feet has several connotations:
- It communicates a commitment to stay together, no matter how rough life may get. “I will be beside you, helping you come rain or shine.”
- Kneeling in front of your partner is an act of humility.
- It is a simple yet effective way to say, “I love you.”
- It tells your partner that you respect and honor them.
- To kneel is to be in the position of prayer. Asking for God’s guidance and wisdom will be beneficial to your marriage.
On the other hand, having your feet washed by your partner symbolizes many things:
- It affirms that your partner loves you.
- It reassures you that you have your partner’s support.
- It displays your willingness to be vulnerable around your partner. You are showing that you allow your partner to help you.
- It reminds you that your partner respects and honors you. You must not take advantage of this reverence.
Symbolically, the water you use to clean each other’s feet represents purity. Cleaning another person’s feet signifies your submission to them. By having you and your partner do it to each other, you are communicating your loyalty and deference.
Washing feet at a wedding may feel awkward, but just as Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” As the years go by, you will start to comprehend the full meaning of this ceremony. No marriage is easy or smooth; it takes hard work and grit.
How to Incorporate Foot Washing Ceremony at Your Wedding
Include the Ceremony in Your Timeline
Determine which part of the wedding you want to place the foot washing ceremony. Many choose to do this just before or after the pronouncement. This order of events symbolizes that your marriage will be built on mutual love, respect, and service.
If you prefer, you can also perform this ceremony during the reception. If this is not possible, you also have the option to do it at the rehearsal dinner or the morning before the wedding starts.
Regardless, you need to coordinate with your planner, officiant, and the staff at your venue. They will help you determine the logistics, such as where you will do the ceremony.
Prepare the Necessary Materials
To perform the foot washing ceremony at your wedding, you will need the following items:
- Water basin. This basin will hold the water that you used to wash each other’s feet. As such, the basin needs to be large enough to fit two feet.
- Pitcher. Before the ceremony, someone will fill this pitcher with water. You will then pour the water over each other’s feet to wash them. If you do not have access to a pitcher, any container will do.
- Chair. Your partner needs to sit down before their feet can be washed. Make sure there is a chair dedicated to the foot washing ceremony.
- Towels. Once your feet have been washed, you will use these towels to dry them. Afterward, you can put on your shoes again and continue the rest of the wedding.
- Sponge. You can use a sponge to gently scrub your partner’s feet to ensure that they are clean. However, it is optional. Many couples opt to use their hands.
Talk to Your Officiant
Your officiant, regardless of whether they are a priest, pastor, or another type of religious leader, will be an essential part of the foot washing ceremony. As such, you need to inform them immediately if you plan on including this tradition.
Ask your officiant to prepare a speech that would explain the foot washing ceremony. Doing this is important, as your guests might not be aware of the purpose of the ceremony. They will realize that couples washing their feet at weddings is a symbol of commitment to each other.
Include a Pedicure in Your Checklist
Since your feet will be exposed to your guests for several minutes, you and your partner may want to get a pedicure before the wedding. Not only will a pedicure ensure your feet are healthy, but it will also make them look good.
Have Something Happen in the Background
The foot washing ceremony typically takes anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes to complete. This duration depends on some factors, such as your wedding attire, your nerves, and the logistics of your ceremony.
While you and your partner have an emotional and heartfelt moment, your guests need something to hold their attention.
After your officiant explains the meaning and significance of the ceremony, you can play soft and touching music. If you have live musicians, ask them to prepare a song for this part of the wedding.
You can also ask your officiant if someone could give a short reading while the ceremony takes place. Parts of the aforementioned verse — John 13: 1-17 — will be a unique but fitting reading for this moment. You can even ask a niece, nephew, or another relative to perform this duty.
Sample Scripts for Foot Washing Ceremony
1. The bride and groom will now wash each other’s feet. Some of you may know the meaning behind this act, but some of you may be unfamiliar.
The foot washing ceremony has its roots in Jesus’ show of humility toward His disciples. In John 13: 1-17, just before the Last Supper, Jesus washed all His disciples’ feet. He stressed that even though He is their Lord and teacher, they are all equal.
Equality is an important quality to bring to a marriage. No one is superior to the other; you are equal. You share each other’s victories and suffer through each other’s losses. You celebrate the other when they are at their best and support them at their worst.
With the washing of each other’s feet, you make a lifelong promise to each other. With this act, you vow to be humble, reverent, and supportive. You understand that love is not just a word, it is also an action and a choice.
From today, moving forward, you commit yourself to one another as partners and equals.
2. At this part of the ceremony, the couple would like to perform a special ceremony to symbolize their love and commitment. This is called the foot washing ceremony, which is a tradition inspired by what Jesus did to His disciples before the Last Supper.
From John 13: 12-17: “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
With this foot washing ceremony, [Your name] and [your partner’s name] vow to build their marriage on mutual respect, honor, and loyalty. These values will make their relationship stronger and more fulfilling.
For those who are not aware, a foot washing ceremony is exactly what it sounds like — a couple washes each other’s feet at their wedding. Firstly, this symbolizes that Christ’s teachings are essential to their relationship.
Moreover, this act represents their mutual respect, commitment, and loyalty to each other. Let us remember that love requires work — marriages take a lot of work. Like a Ferris wheel, there are times when we are up in the sky with happiness and success.
However, there will be moments when you feel low, helpless, and hopeless. By washing each other’s feet, [your name] and [your partner’s name] promise to stand by and support each other through thick and thin.
They vow to remember Jesus’ humility, kindness, and forgiving nature. As such, they vow to live by these principles. They vow to remember that God does not bring forth challenges He does not believe they can overcome.
Every person is different; thus, every relationship is also different. Some couples may feel awkward or uncomfortable about washing their feet at their wedding. Oppositely, some couples may feel as if this ceremony perfectly encapsulates their values, vows, and priorities.
To see which type of couple you are, discuss the ceremony with your partner. Through an open and honest conversation, you will determine if the foot washing ceremony is for you.