Wedding
Overview
A wedding is the ceremony
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 in which two people are united in marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s, countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

, and social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

es. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of wedding vows
Marriage vows
Marriage vows are promises each partner in a couple makes to the other during a wedding ceremony. Marriage customs have developed over history and keep changing as human society develops.-Background:...

 by the couple, presentation of a gift (offering, ring(s), symbolic item, flowers, money), and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or leader. Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception
Wedding reception
A wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. It is held usually as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple. Hosts...

.
Encyclopedia
A wedding is the ceremony
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 in which two people are united in marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

 or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s, countries
Country
A country is a region legally identified as a distinct entity in political geography. A country may be an independent sovereign state or one that is occupied by another state, as a non-sovereign or formerly sovereign political division, or a geographic region associated with a previously...

, and social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

es. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of wedding vows
Marriage vows
Marriage vows are promises each partner in a couple makes to the other during a wedding ceremony. Marriage customs have developed over history and keep changing as human society develops.-Background:...

 by the couple, presentation of a gift (offering, ring(s), symbolic item, flowers, money), and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or leader. Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception
Wedding reception
A wedding reception is a party held after the completion of a marriage ceremony. It is held usually as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receives society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple. Hosts...

. Music, poetry, prayers or readings from scripture
Religious text
Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition...

 or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony.

Common elements across cultures

A number of cultures have adopted the traditional Western custom of the white wedding
White wedding
A white wedding is a traditional formal or semi-formal wedding originating in Europe.The term originates from the white color of the wedding dress, which first became popular with Victorian era elites, after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress at her wedding; however, the term now also...

, in which a bride
Bride
A bride is a woman about to be married or newlywed.The word may come from the Proto-Germanic verb root *brū-, meaning 'to cook, brew, or make a broth' which was the role of the daughter-in-law in primitive families...

 wears a white wedding dress
Wedding dress
A wedding dress or wedding gown is the clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. Color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants.- Western culture :...

 and veil
Veil
A veil is an article of clothing, worn almost exclusively by women, that is intended to cover some part of the head or face.One view is that as a religious item, it is intended to show honor to an object or space...

. This tradition was popularized through the wedding of Queen Victoria. Some say Victoria's choice of a white gown may have simply been a sign of extravagance, but may have also been influenced by the values she held which emphasized sexual purity. Within the modern 'white wedding
White wedding
A white wedding is a traditional formal or semi-formal wedding originating in Europe.The term originates from the white color of the wedding dress, which first became popular with Victorian era elites, after Queen Victoria wore a white lace dress at her wedding; however, the term now also...

' tradition, a white dress and veil are unusual choices for a woman's second or subsequent wedding. The notion that a white gown might symbolize sexual purity has been long abandoned, and is criticized by etiquette writers like Judith Martin
Judith Martin
Judith Martin , better known by the pen name Miss Manners, is an American journalist, author, and etiquette authority. Martin's uncle was economist and labor historian Selig Perlman.- Early life and career :...

 as distasteful.

The use of a wedding ring has long been part of religious weddings in Europe and America, but the origin of the tradition is unclear. Historians like Vicki Howard point out that belief in the "ancient" quality of the practice are most likely a modern invention. "Double ring" ceremonies are also a modern practice, a groom's wedding band not appearing in the United States until the early 20th century.

The wedding is often followed by a reception, in which the rituals may include toasting the newlyweds, their first dance as spouses
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, and the cutting of a wedding cake.

Traditional wedding garb

  • Cheongsam or Hanfu
    Han Chinese clothing
    Hanfu or Han Chinese Clothing, also sometimes known as Hanzhuang , Huafu , and sometimes referred in English sources simply as Silk Robe or Chinese Silk Robe refers to the historical dress of the Han Chinese people, which was worn for millennia before the conquest by the Manchus and the...

    , Chinese
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     traditional formal wear
    Formal wear
    Formal wear and formal dress are the general terms for clothing suitable for formal social events, such as a wedding, formal garden party or dinner, débutante cotillion, dance, or race...

    .
  • Batik
    Batik
    Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

     and Kebaya
    Kebaya
    A Kebaya is a traditional blouse-dress combination worn by women in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Burma, Singapore, southern Thailand. It is sometimes made from sheer material and usually worn with a sarong or batik kain panjang, or other traditional woven garment such as ikat, songket with a...

    , a garment worn by the Javanese people of Indonesia
    Indonesia
    Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

     and also by the Malay people of Malaysia.
  • Barong Tagalog
    Barong Tagalog
    The barong Tagalog is an embroidered formal garment of the Philippines. It is very lightweight and worn untucked , over an undershirt. In Filipino culture it is a common wedding and formal attire, mostly for men but also for women...

    , an embroidered, formal men's garment of the Philippines
    Philippines
    The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

    .
  • Kimono
    Kimono
    The is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" , has come to denote these full-length robes...

    , the traditional garments of Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

  • Sari
    Sari
    A sari or sareeThe name of the garment in various regional languages include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , is a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Nepal,...

    , Indian popular and traditional dress in India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

  • Dhoti
    Dhoti
    The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

    , male garment in South India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

  • Dashiki
    Dashiki
    The dashiki is a colorful men's garment widely worn in West Africa that covers the top half of the body. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits. Traditional female attire is called a caftan, or kaftan...

    , the traditional West Africa
    West Africa
    West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

    n wedding attire
  • Áo Dài
    Áo dài
    The áo dài is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly for women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pantaloons. The word is pronounced ow zai in the North and ow yai in the South of the country. Áo is derived from a Middle Chinese word meaning "padded coat"...

    , traditional garments of Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

  • Morning dress
    Morning dress
    Morning dress is the daytime formal dress code, consisting chiefly for men of a morning coat, waistcoat, and striped trousers, and an appropriate dress for women...

    , western daytime formal dress
  • Ribbon shirt, often worn by American Indian
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

     men on auspicious occasions, such as weddings, another common custom is to wrap bride and groom in a blanket
  • Kilt
    Kilt
    The kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic heritage even more broadly...

    , male garment particular to Scottish culture
    Culture of Scotland
    The culture of Scotland refers to the patterns of human activity and symbolism associated with Scotland and the Scottish people. Some elements of Scottish culture, such as its separate national church, are protected in law as agreed in the Treaty of Union, and other instruments...

  • Kittel
    Kittel
    right|180pxA kittel, also spelled kitl, coat’) is a white robe which serves as a burial shroud for male Jews. It is also worn on special occasions by Ashkenazi Jews. In western Europe this garment is called a Sargenes. The word Sargenes is related to the Old French Serge as well as Latin Serica...

    , a white robe worn by the groom at an Orthodox Jewish
    Orthodox Judaism
    Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

     wedding. The kittel is worn only under the Chupah
    Chuppah
    A chuppah , also huppah, chupah, or chuppa, is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet, sometimes a tallit, stretched or supported over four poles, or sometimes manually held up by attendants to the ceremony. A chuppah symbolizes the...

    , and is removed before the reception.
  • Topor
    Topor (headgear)
    A topor is a type of conical headgear traditionally worn by grooms as part of the Bengali Hindu wedding ceremony. The topor is typically fragile, made of sholapith and white in colour....

    , a type of conical headgear
  • Evening Suits
    Black tie
    Black tie is a dress code for evening events and social functions. For a man, the main component is a usually black jacket, known as a dinner jacket or tuxedo...

    • Black tie
      Black tie
      Black tie is a dress code for evening events and social functions. For a man, the main component is a usually black jacket, known as a dinner jacket or tuxedo...

       ("dinner jacket" in the UK; often referred to as a "Tuxedo
      Tuxedo
      A tuxedo is a type of semi-formal dress for men.Tuxedo may also refer to:-Places:Canada* Tuxedo, Winnipeg, Manitoba, a city neighborhood** Tuxedo , a provincial electoral district in Manitoba...

      " in the US; traditionally appropriate only for use after 6:00 p.m., but also seen in daytime, especially in the United States)
    • Non-traditional "tuxedo" variants (colored jackets/ties, "wedding suits")
  • White tie
    White tie
    White tie is the most formal evening dress code in Western fashion. It is worn to ceremonial occasions such as state dinners in some countries, as well as to very formal balls and evening weddings...

     ("evening dress" in the UK; very formal evening attire)
  • Sherwani
    Sherwani
    Sherwani is a long coat-like garment worn in South Asia, very similar to an Achkan or doublet, and is traditionally associated with the Muslim aristocracy of the northern Indian subcontinent....

    , a long coat-like garment worn in South Asia
    South Asia
    South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

  • Wedding crown
    Crown (headgear)
    A crown is the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn by a monarch or by a deity, for whom the crown traditionally represents power, legitimacy, immortality, righteousness, victory, triumph, resurrection, honour and glory of life after death. In art, the crown may be shown being offered to...

    , worn by Scandinavia
    Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

    n brides
  • Wedding veil
  • Wedding dress
    Wedding dress
    A wedding dress or wedding gown is the clothing worn by a bride during a wedding ceremony. Color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants.- Western culture :...

  • Langa Oni
    Langa oni
    A Langa Voni is a traditional dress worn mainly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala by young girls between puberty and marriage...

    , traditional two piece garment worn by unmarried Telugu Hindu women.

Western weddings

Music
Wedding music
Wedding music applies music played at wedding celebrations, including the ceremony and any festivities before or after the event. The music can be performed live by musicians and/or vocalists or use pre-recorded songs, depending on the format of the event, traditions associated with the...

 played at Western weddings includes a processional song for walking down the aisle (ex: wedding march) and reception dance music includes:
  • Various works for trumpet and organ, arguably the most famous of which include the Prince of Denmark's March
    Prince of Denmark's March
    The Prince of Denmark's March, commonly but erroneously called the Trumpet Voluntary, is a musical composition written circa. 1700, by English baroque composer Jeremiah Clarke .-Composition:For many years the piece was attributed incorrectly to Clarke's elder and more widely known contemporary Henry...

     by Jeremiah Clarke
    Jeremiah Clarke
    Jeremiah Clarke was an English baroque composer and organist.Thought to have been born in London around 1674, Clarke was a pupil of John Blow at St Paul's Cathedral. He later became organist at the Chapel Royal...

     as a processional, the "Trumpet Tune" by Henry Purcell
    Henry Purcell
    Henry Purcell – 21 November 1695), was an English organist and Baroque composer of secular and sacred music. Although Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, his legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music...

     and the "Trumpet Voluntary
    Trumpet Voluntary
    Trumpet Voluntary is the name given to some English keyboard pieces from the Baroque era. A trumpet voluntary is most commonly played on the organ using the trumpet stop, hence the name...

    " by John Stanley
    John Stanley (composer)
    Charles John Stanley was an English composer and organist.-Biography:Stanley, who was blind from an early age, studied music with Maurice Greene and held a number of organist appointments in London, such as St Andrew's, Holborn from 1726...

     as recessionals.
  • Selections by George Frideric Handel
    George Frideric Handel
    George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

    , perhaps most notably the "Air" from his Water Music
    Water Music (Handel)
    The Water Music is a collection of orchestral movements, often considered three suites, composed by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July 1717 after King George I had requested a concert on the River Thames...

     as processional and the "Alla Hornpipe" as recessional.
  • The "Bridal Chorus
    Bridal Chorus
    The "Bridal Chorus" "Treulich geführt", from the 1850 opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, is a march played for the bride's entrance at many formal weddings throughout the Western world...

    " from Lohengrin
    Lohengrin (opera)
    Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

    by Richard Wagner
    Richard Wagner
    Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

    , often used as the processional and commonly known as "Here Comes the Bride". Richard Wagner is said to have been anti-Semitic, and as a result, the Bridal Chorus is often not used at Jewish weddings.
  • Johann Pachelbel
    Johann Pachelbel
    Johann Pachelbel was a German Baroque composer, organist and teacher, who brought the south German organ tradition to its peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue have earned him a place among the most...

    's Canon in D is an alternative processional.
  • The "Wedding March
    Wedding March (Mendelssohn)
    Felix Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" in C major, written in 1842, is one of the best known of the pieces from his suite of incidental music to Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream...

    " from Felix Mendelssohn
    Felix Mendelssohn
    Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

    's incidental music
    Incidental music
    Incidental music is music in a play, television program, radio program, video game, film or some other form not primarily musical. The term is less frequently applied to film music, with such music being referred to instead as the "film score" or "soundtrack"....

     for the Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

     play
    Play (theatre)
    A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

    , A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...

    , used as a recessional.
  • The "Toccata" from Charles-Marie Widor
    Charles-Marie Widor
    Charles-Marie Jean Albert Widor was a French organist, composer and teacher.-Life:Widor was born in Lyon, to a family of organ builders, and initially studied music there with his father, François-Charles Widor, titular organist of Saint-François-de-Sales from 1838 to 1889...

    's Symphony for Organ No. 5
    Symphony for Organ No. 5 (Widor)
    The Symphony for Organ No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42, No. 1, was composed by Charles-Marie Widor in 1879. It lasts for about thirty-five minutes. Its Toccata is the best known of all of Widor's compositions.-Structure:The piece has five movements:# Allegro vivace...

    , used as a recessional.
  • Segments of the Ode to Joy
    Ode to Joy
    "Ode to Joy" is an ode written in 1785 by the German poet, playwright and historian Friedrich Schiller, enthusiastically celebrating the brotherhood and unity of all mankind...

    , the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

    's Ninth Symphony
    Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
    The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

    .

Religious aspects of weddings

Most religions recognize a life-long union with established ceremonies and ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

s. Some religions permit polygamous
Polygamy
Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

 marriages or same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

s.

Many Christian faiths emphasize the raising of children as a priority in a marriage. In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, marriage is so important that remaining unmarried is deemed unnatural. Islam also recommends marriage highly; among other things, it helps in the pursuit of spiritual perfection. The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 sees marriage
Bahá'í marriage
Bahá'í marriage is union of a man and a woman. Its purpose is mainly spiritual and is to foster harmony, fellowship and unity between the two partners...

 as a foundation of the structure of society, and considers it both a physical and spiritual bond that endures into the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

. Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. By contrast, Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 does not encourage or discourage marriage, although it does teach how one might live a happily married life and emphasizes that marital vows are not to be taken lightly (see separate article
Buddhist view of marriage
The Buddhist view of marriage considers marriage a secular affair and as such, it is not considered a sacrament. Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments....

 for details).

Different religions have different beliefs as regards the breakup of marriage (see divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

). For example, the Roman Catholic Church believes that marriage is a sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 and a valid marriage between two baptized
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 persons cannot be broken by any other means than death. This means that civil divorcés cannot remarry in a Catholic marriage while their spouse is alive. In the area of nullity
Nullity (conflict)
In conflict of laws, the issue of nullity in Family Law inspires a wide response among the laws of different states as to the circumstances in which a marriage will be valid, invalid or null...

, religions and the state often apply different rules. A couple, for example, may begin the process to have their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church only after they are no longer married in the eyes of the civil authority.

Christian customs

Most Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 churches give some form of blessing to a marriage; the wedding ceremony typically includes some sort of pledge by the community to support the couple's relationship. A church wedding is a ceremony presided over by a Christian priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 or pastor. Ceremonies are based on reference to God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, and are frequently embodied into other church ceremonies such as Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

.

Customs may vary widely between denominations. In the Roman Catholic Church "Holy Matrimony" is considered to be one of the seven sacraments, in this case one that the spouses bestow upon each other in front of a priest and members of the community as witnesses. As all sacraments, it is seen as having been instituted by Jesus himself (see Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 19:1-2, Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 §1614-1615). In the Eastern Orthodox church, it is one of the Mysteries
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

, and is seen as an ordination and a martyrdom. The wedding ceremony of St Thomas Christians, an ethnoreligious group of Christians in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 incorporate elements from Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

, Jewish
Jewish wedding
A Jewish wedding is a wedding ceremony that follows Jewish law and traditions.While wedding ceremonies vary, common features of a Jewish wedding include a ketuba signed by two witnesses, a wedding canopy , a ring owned by the groom that is given to the bride under the canopy, and the breaking of a...

 and Christian weddings.
Quaker customs


A Quaker wedding
Quaker wedding
Quaker weddings are the traditional ceremony of marriage within the Religious Society of Friends.-Quaker marriage in history:After the local meeting had approved the couple's intention, an announcement would be made and posted in the market on market day. After this the wedding could take place...

 ceremony in a Friends
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 meeting is similar to any other meeting for worship
Meeting for worship
A meeting for worship is a practice of the Religious Society of Friends in many ways comparable to a church service. These services have a wide variety of forms, creating a spectrum from typical Protestant liturgy to silent waiting for the Spirit .A Meeting for Worship may start with a query;...

, and therefore often very different from the experience expected by non-Friends.

Hindu customs

Hindu ceremonies are usually conducted totally or at least partially in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, the language of the Hindu scriptures. The wedding celebrations may last for several days (see the previous sub-section on Indian customs) and they can be extremely diverse, depending upon the region, denomination and caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

. On the wedding day, the bride and the bridegroom garland each other in front of the guests. Most guests witness only this short ceremony and then socialize, have food and leave. The religious part (if applicable) comes hours later, witnessed by close friends and relatives. In cases where a religious ceremony is present, a Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 (Hindu priest) arranges a sacred yajna
Yajna
In Hinduism, yajna is a ritual of sacrifice derived from the practice of Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods or to attain certain wishes...

(fire-sacrifice), and the sacred fire (Agni
Agni
Agni is a Hindu deity, one of the most important of the Vedic gods. He is the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices. The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods...

) is considered the prime witness (sākshī) of the marriage. He chants mantra
Mantra
A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation"...

s from the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and subsidiary texts while the couple are seated before the fire. The most important step is saptapadi
Saptapadi
Saptapadi is the most important rite of a Hindu marriage ceremony. The word, Saptapadi means "Seven steps"...

or saat phere, wherein the bride and the groom, hand-in-hand, encircle the sacred fire seven times, each circle representing a matrimonial vow. Then the groom marks the bride's forehead with vermilion
Vermilion
Vermilion is an opaque orangish red pigment, similar to scarlet. As a naturally occurring mineral pigment, it is known as cinnabar, and was in use around the world before the Common Era began. Most naturally produced vermilion comes from cinnabar mined in China, and vermilion is nowadays commonly...

 (sindoor
Sindoor
Sindoor is a traditional red or orange-red colored cosmetic powder from the Indian subcontinent, usually worn by married women along the parting of their hair. Usage of sindoor denotes that a woman is married in many Hindu communities, and ceasing to wear it usually implies widowhood...

) and puts a gold necklace (mangalsutra
Mangalsutra
A Mangalsutra is a symbol of Hindu marriage union in South Asia. It is a sacred thread of love and goodwill worn by women as a symbol of their marriage...

) around her neck. Several other rituals may precede or follow these afore-mentioned rites. Then the bride formally departs from her blood-relatives to join the groom's family.

Jewish customs

A traditional Jewish wedding usually follows this format:
  • Before the ceremony, the couple formalize a written ketubah
    Ketubah
    A ketubah is a special type of Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of the groom, in relation to the bride.-History:...

    (marriage contract), specifying the obligations of husband to the wife and contingencies in case of divorce. The ketubah is signed by two witnesses and later read under the chuppah.
  • The couple is married under a wedding canopy (chuppah), signifying their new home together. The chuppah can be made from a piece of cloth or other material attached to four poles, or a prayer shawl (tallit
    Tallit
    A tallit pl. tallitot is a Jewish prayer shawl. The tallit is worn over the outer clothes during the morning prayers on weekdays, Shabbat and holidays...

    ) held over the couple by four family members or friends.
  • The couple is accompanied to the chuppah by both sets of parents, and stands under the chuppah along with other family members if desired.
  • Seven blessings are recited, blessing the bride and groom and their new home.
  • The couple sip from a glass of wine.
  • At some weddings the couple may declare that each is sanctified to the other, and/or repeat other vows, and exchange rings.
    • In Orthodox and traditional Jewish weddings, the bride does not speak under the chuppah and only she receives a ring. The groom recites "Harei at mekudeshet li k'dat Moshe V'Yisrael"- "behold you are [thus] sanctified to me by the law of Moses
      Torah
      Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

       and Israel" as he places the ring on the bride's right index finger. The bride's silence and acceptance of the ring signify her agreement to the marriage. This part of the ceremony is called kiddushin
      Nashim
      Nashim is the third order of the Mishnah , containing the laws related to women and family life...

      . The groom's giving an object of value to the bride is necessary for the wedding to be valid.
    • In more egalitarian weddings, the bride responds verbally, often giving the groom a ring in return. A common response is "ani l'dodi, v'dodi li" (I am my beloved's, my beloved is mine)
  • In Orthodox weddings, the groom then says:
"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth.
If I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem in my highest joy."
  • The ceremony ends with the groom breaking a glass underfoot.
  • The couple spend their first moments as man and wife in seclusion (apart from the wedding guests, and with no other person present). This cheder yichud - "the room of seclusion (or 'oneness')" halachically
    Halakha
    Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

     strengthens the marriage bond, since unmarried women are traditionally not alone with an unrelated male.
  • The ceremony is followed by a seudat mitzvah
    Seudat mitzvah
    A seudat mitzvah , in Judaism, is an obligatory festive meal, usually referring to the celebratory meal following the fulfillment of a mitzvah , such as a bar mitzvah, a wedding, a brit milah , or a siyum...

    , the wedding meal, as well as music and dancing.
  • At the conclusion of the wedding meal, Birkat Hamazon
    Birkat Hamazon
    Birkat Hamazon or Birkath Hammazon, , known in English as the Grace After Meals, , is a set of Hebrew blessings that Jewish Law prescribes following a meal that includes bread or matzoh made from one or all of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt...

    (Grace After Meals) is recited, as well as the seven wedding blessings.


In more observant communities, the couple will celebrate for seven more days, called the Sheva Brachot
Sheva Brachot
Sheva Brachot literally "the seven blessings" also known as birkot Nesuim , "the wedding blessings" in Jewish religious law are blessings that are recited for a bride and her groom as part of nissuim...

(seven blessings) during which the seven wedding blessings are recited at every large gathering during this time.

LDS customs

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are from many places and backgrounds with over 14 Million LDS members worldwide, with more that half outside the United States. Because of this, most choose to celebrate in the traditions of their own culture, but are married in LDS temples. Members of the LDS Church believe their Temple marriages (Sealings) are eternal. The LDS church also recognizes civil marriages as legally contracted under local law and are dissolved upon the death of the participants. Temple marriages are performed by those called as sealers with Priesthood authority in temple ordinances. Members must receive recommends from their ecclesiastical leaders to go to the LDS Temple in general, and also interview for a specific recommend to be married to each other.
Those that wish to attend the sealing ceremony must be members of the LDS church who have a “Temple Recommend.” Others are welcome in a waiting area inside the LDS temple, and on temple grounds. A LDS Temple Sealing (marriage) is very sacred, generally only immediate family and close friends attend. It is common for extended family and friends to take wedding photos outside the temple, as well as wherever they choose to celebrate. Receptions and larger celebrations after the sealing vary. LDS couples from the United States and around the world often hold large wedding receptions to celebrate their Temple Sealing (Wedding).
Usually LDS couples obtain wedding licenses to be married (or Sealed) in the LDS temple. A civil wedding is only performed first if required by law, then couples are sealed in the temple ceremony shortly after. Occasionally LDS members are married civilly if they are not prepared to go to the temple or it maybe required by local law, such as the United Kingdom. They may request an LDS bishop or other church leader perform the ceremony in a chapel, or other location. Members of the church not prepared to marry in the temple must adhere to LDS practices and prepare for a year before they can be sealed in the temple after first getting married. Converts also prepare for a year to be sealed. If a couple already has children, they may accompany their parents to the ceremony so all family members are sealed together. Children who are born to parents who have already been sealed need no such ceremony, as they have been 'born in the covenant.'

Wedding types

Below are several types and styles of weddings. A wedding may include several of these aspects.

Civil wedding

A civil wedding is a ceremony presided over by a local civil authority
Civil authority
Civil authority is that apparatus of the state other than its military units that enforces law and order. It is also used to distinguish between religious authority and secular authority...

, such as an elected
Elected
Elected is the latest EP by Dutch Progressive metal project Ayreon. It was released on April 25, 2008 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and on April 28 in the rest of Europe...

 or appointed judge
Judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...

, Justice of the Peace
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 or the mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

 of a locality. Civil wedding ceremonies may use references to God or a deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 (except in UK law), but generally no references to a particular religion or denomination
Religious denomination
A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.The term describes various Christian denominations...

. They can be either elaborate or simple. Many civil wedding ceremonies take place in local town or city halls or courthouses in judges' chambers.

Elopement

Eloping is the act of getting married, often unexpectedly, without inviting guests to the wedding. In some cases a small group of family and/or friends may be present, while in others, the engaged couple may marry without the consent and/or knowledge of parents or others. While the couple may or may not be widely known to be engaged prior to the elopement, the wedding itself is generally a surprise to those who are later informed of its occurrence.

Same-sex wedding

A same-sex wedding
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

is a ceremony in which two people of the same sex are married. This event may be legally documented as a marriage or another legally recognized partnership such as a civil union
Civil union
A civil union, also referred to as a civil partnership, is a legally recognized form of partnership similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples rights,...

. Where such partnerships are not legally recognized, the wedding may be a religious or symbolic ceremony designed to provide an opportunity to make the same public declarations and celebration with friends and family that any other type of wedding may afford. These are often referred to as "commitment ceremonies."

Officiants at same-sex weddings may be religiously ordained. Many religions and branches of religions, including Quakers, Unitarian
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

s, Ethical Culture
Ethical Culture
The Ethical movement, also referred to as the Ethical Culture movement or simply Ethical Culture, is an ethical, educational, and religious movement that is usually traced back to Felix Adler...

, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, the Metropolitan Community Church
Metropolitan Community Church
The Metropolitan Community Church or The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is an international Protestant Christian denomination...

, and the Reformed Catholic Church perform and recognize same-sex marriages, even if the government of their geographic area may not.

Destination wedding

Not to be confused with an elopement, a destination wedding is one in which a wedding is hosted, often in a vacation-like setting, at a location to which most of the invited guests must travel and often stay for several days. This could be a beach ceremony in the tropics, a lavish event in a metropolitan resort, or a simple ceremony at the home of a geographically distant friend or relative. During the recession of 2009, destination weddings continued to see growth compared to traditional weddings, as the typically smaller size results in lower costs.

White wedding

A white wedding is a term for a traditional formal or semi-formal Western wedding. This term refers to the color of the wedding dress, which became popular after Queen Victoria wore a pure white gown when she married Prince Albert, and many were quick to copy her choice. At the time, the color white to many symbolized both extravagance and sexual purity, and had become the color for use by girls of the royal court. Though white no longer symbolizes the same ideas today, the color remains the most popular choice for first time brides in the west.

Weekend wedding

A weekend wedding is a wedding in which couples and their guests celebrate over the course of an entire weekend. Special activities, such as spa treatments and golf tournaments may be scheduled into the wedding itinerary. Lodging usually is at the same facility as the wedding and couples often host a Sunday brunch for the weekend's finale.

Military wedding

A military wedding is a ceremony conducted in a military chapel and may involve a Saber Arch
Saber Arch
A Saber Arch is a wedding tradition in which sabers or swords are used to salute a newly married couple. The bride and groom pass under an honorary arch of sabers, typically when exiting the building in which the wedding ceremony took place...

. In most military weddings the groom, bride, or both (depending on which is a member of the armed services) will wear a military dress uniform
Military uniform
Military uniforms comprises standardised dress worn by members of the armed forces and paramilitaries of various nations. Military dress and military styles have gone through great changes over the centuries from colourful and elaborate to extremely utilitarian...

 in lieu of civilian formal wear, although military dress uniform
Dress uniform
Dress uniform , is the most formal military uniform, typically worn at ceremonies, official receptions, and other special occasions; with order insignias and full size medals...

s largely serve the same purpose. Some retired military personnel who marry after their service has ended may opt for a military wedding.

Double wedding

A double wedding is a single ceremony where two affianced
Engagement
An engagement or betrothal is a promise to marry, and also the period of time between proposal and marriage which may be lengthy or trivial. During this period, a couple is said to be betrothed, affianced, engaged to be married, or simply engaged...

 couples rendezvous for two simultaneous or consecutive weddings. Typically, a fiancé with a sibling
Sibling
Siblings are people who share at least one parent. A male sibling is called a brother; and a female sibling is called a sister. In most societies throughout the world, siblings usually grow up together and spend a good deal of their childhood socializing with one another...

 who is also engaged, or four close friends in which both couples within the friendship are engaged might plan a double wedding where both couples legally marry.

Mass wedding

A mass wedding is a single ceremony where numerous couples are married simultaneously.
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