Wedding Ceremonies Bridging The Gap Between Culture, Tradition and Religion
Did you know that there are over 4,200 recognized religions around the world but the ceremony of joining two people’s lives together are commonly celebrated in the tradition of only three or five major religions in America?
As the world shrinks with migration, mixed marriages, the Internet and social media, cultural blending happen at a faster rate. The clearly drawn lines between cultures, race, ethnicity, traditions becomes blurred. The question everyone’s asking is if wedding ceremonies bridge that gap between cultures and religions, or does it create a negative impact on the couple, such as cultural loss.
With more bi-racial couples getting wed and the legalization of LGBT marriages, another question raised is how wedding ceremonies are evolving to accommodate this cultural change. A lot of controversy surrounds this issue and many couples who’d like a non-traditional wedding often find themselves at a loss.
Let’s look at the typical wedding ceremonies out there today and what they can offer if you or a friend is planning to get married.
Different types of wedding ceremonies available for couples getting married:
Wedding ceremonies are typically categorized into two: religious ceremony for weddings and non-religious or secular ceremonies to wed a couple.
Religious ceremonies :
Catholic weddings are officiated by the priest and held in the church. It is one of the most common wedding ceremonies around and follows a predetermined order of rites that have been unchanged for centuries. The wedding vows : “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part” has been recited since 1552.
Here’s an outline for a Catholic Marriage Rite
Note that for catholic weddings, additional rituals such as the unity sand ceremony may not be allowed by the priest since for Catholics, The Rite of Marriage is enough without need for additional unity rituals.
Jewish ceremony for weddings
Jewish weddings are officiated by the rabbi. The ceremony opens with the bride and groom being veiled and escorted to the chupah, which represents their future home. The rabbi intones the betrothal blessing, followed by the couple drinking a glass of wine. There is an exchange of rings, then the contract of marriage is signed, followed by the recital of seven wedding blessings, and a second glass of wine is drank. That done, the wine glass is broken under the groom’s foot, signifying the conclusion of the ceremony.
Also known as Al Nika, the Muslim ceremony to wed couples starts with the officiant’s sermon. Praise of Allah follows and a confession of faith is done. Verses from the Koran are read, and the officiant ends the ceremony for the couple, their families, and all Muslims.
Protestant weddings can either be held in a church or off-site with ministers performing the ceremony at the couple’s preferred location. Weddings for Protestants begin with a processional, the parent’s blessings, followed by the wedding vows. The minister blesses the rings after which a unity ceremony such as the unity candle ceremony (link to newest article) is held. The benediction prayer and the recessional follows.
TIP: If you intend to get married in a religious ceremony, ask the head of the religious organization you belong to for marriage requirements you need to comply with for the marriage to be legal.
Many couples find that planning a non-traditional wedding or non-religious wedding is difficult, especially if both come from religious backgrounds, are of mixed faiths, or interracial. This stems from the fact that many of well-meaning family members feel a church or temple wedding adds solemnity and grace to the occasion.
Bucking the norm is certainly controversial and creates friction especially among members of the family, some of whom wish to preserve old traditions. But don’t let that stop you from having the ceremony you and your partner think is most meaningful to you.
Here are the types of secular wedding ceremonies to consider:
Ceremony for Interfaith or intercultural weddings
Mixed marriages are often frowned upon by ethnic and religious groups but some concessions are made. Rabbis perform wedding ceremonies, and the community supports and hopes the non-Jewish partner converts to Judaism, all the while, there is a clear requirement that the children from the union will be raised embracing Judaism
There is much controversy surrounding interfaith marriages and you can read more about it here
The primary purpose of civil weddings is to witness the couples’ consent to marriage that all legalities are complied with for the marriage to be valid. Considered as the cheapest and fastest way to get married, the ceremony lasts from 10 -20 minutes and is often held within a civic office, officiated by the judge, county clerks, or justice of peace. Due to time constraints on the officiant’s part, there is little you can do to personalize this type of wedding ceremony.
Once the only option for intermarriages, divorcees, and persons with no religious beliefs, the civil ceremony has declined in popularity thanks to the 1994 marriage Act. Now, same-sex couples, couples with different faiths, and bi-racial couples can get married at licensed wedding venues.
A humanist wedding allows you to express your personalities as a couple without any religious connotations. Humanists do not believe in a god. Instead, they believe in the good that resides within human beings and celebrate each individual’s right to freedom of choice.
The humanist ceremony respects any and all situations such as same-sex marriage, interfaith marriage, and remarriage after a divorce. It can be conducted by a celebrant at a location of your choice. The USA is one of three countries where humanist weddings have full legal status.
These ceremonies, while having no religious aspects, can be as solemn and meaningful as the couple wants it to be. Vows are written by the couple with emphasis on their mutual commitment to love and cherish each other. An exchange of rings and unity ceremonies such as a unity sand ceremony or unity candle ceremony is performed in a humanist wedding.
A spiritual ceremony may come across as religious when it’s not. The couple may opt to have a basic ceremony at the start and choose to incorporate meaningful traditions rooted in their own spirituality. There is no actual religious practice when a spiritual ceremony is performed. The couple can make the ceremony unique by including readings and selected wedding songs.
What many should come to accept is the fact that there’s no stopping this mixed marriages. If you want to see the result of this cultural phenomenon, look at this projection. While the wheels are slow in turning, marriage ceremonies do evolve to accommodate the ever growing demand for a meaningful union that would embrace cultural diversity and focus on the mutual love, commitment, respect and hope as two lives are pledged to face the world as one.
Wedding ceremonies signify a start of a new life together. Your choice of wedding should reflect both your beliefs and values, highlight what’s meaningful and important to you both in terms culture, tradition, religion or ethical beliefs.
We at CouplesOnCakes.com celebrate cross-cultural diversity. That’s why we carry a wide list of wedding accessories and cake-toppers that perfectly represents you. Chat with us live today!
Caitlinn Mahar-Daniels Photography