When lost beneath the details of the reception, DJ, catering, dress, bridesmaids, rings, honeymoon and who to invite, the marriage ceremony often gets marginalized in our list of priorities when planning a wedding, until we remember that without the ceremony, there is no wedding!
The marriage ceremony, no matter how you mark it, forms the heart of your wedding. It is a social and/or religious rite of passage that features in almost all cultures and, for most western societies, represents the culmination of a true loving relationship and the promise of a lifetime commitment. It is during the ceremonial ritual that two people are actually united in marriage, everything else marks the celebration of the union.
are many different types of marriage ceremony depending on religion, culture, ethnicity and personal preferences; and while the format of religious ceremonies tend to shape the structure of modern secular rituals, couples are free in most countries to make their symbolic commitment to one another in any way they please, as long as the legal requirements are covered to make the marriage legitimate.
Some of the common elements to feature in most wedding ceremonies is the exchanging of vows, the offering of symbolic gifts (wedding rings, flowers, money etc) and the pronouncement of marriage by an authorized figure or religious representative. In almost all cultures, special clothing is worn by the bride and groom, and the ceremony frequently features prayers, readings and music. In today’s society, if couples are not committed to a specific religion, they are pretty much free to mix and match customs to suit their relationship and the kind of marriage they envision.
In all cases, if you want your marriage to be recognized legally, you must comply with certain requirements depending on the country where you are getting married. Under many circumstances, the legal specifications can be incorporated into a symbolic ritualistic ceremony, otherwise you will need to perform the legal procedures on a separate occasion or in an additional ceremony.
If you and your partner are religious, then you are likely to want to comply with the traditions of your faith, whether that be getting married in a church, mosque, synagogue and so on. In these cases, there will be specific rites and rituals that must be performed in order to consummate the marriage in the sanctified venue.
The idea of a symbolic ceremony is very common nowadays as people wish to mark their wedding with some kind of spiritual significance without adhering to a specific religion. In these cases, couples mix and match the traditions that please them or even add their own unique rituals that are specific to them. Symbolic ceremonies do not have to be spiritual in essence (although they can be); should the couple wish for a completely secular ceremony, they can simply represent the union through simple metaphors like exchanging fruits, mixing grains of sand or merging vases of water.
What is most important when deciding on the kind of ceremony that is right for you and your partner is to think about who you both are at your very essence and avoid ceremonies for the sake of tradition if in your heart your want something different. Everyone will have an opinion about how your wedding should be, but only you and your future spouse can be the judge of what is right for you.