A wedding ceremony consists of a large number of cultures from across the world. While it is common to have wedding traditions based upon centuries of habits, the format of wedding ceremonies is changing to a “by-couple” affair. However, while each couple can take their wedding in a direction different than the next, most couples follow the same foundational rules. If you and your spouse plan to marry soon, keep the basic traditions and questions in mind.
1. Neutral vs Religious Ceremonies
A wedding ceremony is either a religious affair or a non-religious one. Even if both you and your partner identify as non-religious, there is a likely chance that you come from religious families, so the question of having a religious or irreligious ceremony is important to answer. Depending on you and your partner’s answer to the question of having a religious ceremony, the ideal venue and set of traditional practices should change.
Most people believe marriage to be a holy union between two people and this means that most ceremonies involve religion at some level. While you and your future spouse may lean towards a irreligious ceremony, you may include religion to temporarily please each other’s respective families. In fact, it is advised to do so considering a complaining family is great way to ruin a wedding.
2. Venue Speaks to a Couple’s Common Ground
Most wedding ceremonies in North America take place in one of the five locations:
- A place of worship
- An irreligious indoor venue
- A picturesque outdoor setting
- A chapel, or
- A courthouse
Whatever venue is chosen, the venue acts as a representation of a major commonality, religious or otherwise, of you and your impending.
When one party of the couple is of a different religion that the other, whoever is the most dedicated to their religion gets say-so over the venue and a majority of the accompanying wedding traditions.
If you and your partner wish for a more neutral setting, you all can opt for an irreligious indoor venue or a picturesque outdoor setting. Whichever is the decided upon venue depends on mutual preference.
However, you all may dislike the intrusion of many guests at the wedding ceremony. To avoid the pressure of inviting more than just a handful of guests and of preparing a beautiful location for the ceremony, you and your fiance can get married in a chapel or court house. Possibly more so than in any other area in the world, many couples host their wedding ceremonies in these low key venues. Chapels are places designed solely for the purpose of hosting wedding ceremonies. They may or may not have affiliation with a religious institution.
Regardless of the chosen venue and what the marriage means socially, the marriage means the same legally.
3. Just a Few Staples of Tradition
Regardless of venue, traditions transcend location (except for chapels).
In most cases, the bride will wear a white dress. She will wear something new, something old (any wearable item the was passed down to her), something borrowed (a to-be-returned, important wearable item from a close friend or relative), and something blue. The exact origin of this tradition is unknown, but is believed to be from the 1800s United Kingdom. If a couple involves more guests than the bare minimum, the father of the bride (or an important male figure in her life) will “give her away.” This means he will walk her to the end of the aisle where her future spouse awaits as a symbol of her crossing the threshold from being just a part of a family to starting her own.
The groom, unlike the bride, has few traditions to abide by. Religious practices aside, he simply has to wear a tuxedo or a suit while the bride worries about a majority of the ceremony’s intricacies.
If you all want to skip the hassle of tradition, settle for a non-traditional wedding venue to coincide with the non-traditional process.
Where both spouses traditionally have an equal footing are the wedding vows. You both can write your own wedding vows. While some settle for the vows derived from a religious text, you can write a brief but heartfelt message to your spouse about your feelings towards him or her. These self-written vows may accompany ones recited from spiritually important texts.
4. The Importance of the Wedding Ceremony
You and your future spouse are among the thousands of couples getting married on a daily basis. While some say the importance of marriage is decreasing in North America, the wedding ceremony still stands as a life changing event. Most regard the planning of and the wedding ceremony itself as a precursor to your marriage. Presumptions made about the impending marriage during this time period usually stick to the couple throughout their time together, so, with regards your marriage’s image to your family and friends, a wedding ceremony is very important. However, regardless of how small or large the ceremony is, the ceremony is the social and legal binding of two individual lives into an official family unit. From now and until the unforeseeable future, North Americans will view the wedding ceremony as a key component and symbolization of a couple’s marriage.
It’s not easy pleasing everyone and at the end of the day all this planning is to commemorate something much bigger. All the best.