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“Wedding, Wedding, Wedding”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A wedding is the ceremony in which two people are united in marriage. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of wedding vows 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 followed by a wedding reception. Music, poetry, prayer or readings from Scripture may also be incorporated in the ceremony.

Common elements across cultures

A number of cultures adopt the western custom of a bride wearing a white dress. This tradition came to symbolize purity in the Victorian era (despite popular misconception, the white dress did not indicate virginity, which was symbolized by the face veil). Within the ‘white wedding’ tradition, a white dress and veil would not have been considered appropriate for a second or third wedding of a widow or a divorcee.

Exchanging rings may be the oldest and most universal symbol of marriage, but the origins are unclear.[citation needed] The ring’s circular shape represents perfection and never-ending love. The rings are exchanged during the wedding ceremony and according to tradition, symbolize the love, faithfulness and commitment of the marriage union.[citation needed]

The wedding is often followed by a reception during which the rituals include toasting the bride and groom, the newlyweds’ first dance as husband and wife, cake cutting, etc.

Traditional wedding garb

Chinese weddings
Main article: Chinese marriage

A band of musicians with gongs and flute-like instruments accompanies the bride parade to groom’s home. Similar music is also played at the wedding banquet. Depending on the region that the bride hails from, Chinese weddings will have different traditions such as Tea Ceremony or the use of a Wedding emcee. Also in modern times, Chinese couples will often go to photo studios to take “glamour shots” posing in multiple gowns and various backgrounds.

Jewish weddings

Main article: Jewish wedding
See also: Jewish marriage

At some Jewish weddings, a solemn, wordless tune is sung as the groom and then bride walk down the aisles.

Wedding customs around the world

Arab wedding customs

Main Article:Arabic wedding

Although Christian weddings in the Arab World bear similarities to Western weddings, Muslim weddings in the Arab countries are influenced by Muslim traditions. Muslim weddings start with a Shaikh and Al-Kitab (book) for the bride and groom. It is a western misconception that the groom may not see his bride until the wedding day; indeed, a wedding is not Islamically valid unless both bride and groom are willing, and the groom is often encouraged to visit her before the wedding (as advised in many hadeeths of the prophet Muhammad). However, these visits must be chaperoned to ensure purity of action between the two. Men and women in wedding ceremonies and receptions are segregated, with areas for men and for women.

An old tradition, now rarely observed, involves the women at the ceremony symbolically mourning the loss of the bride by doing the “wedding wail”. The bride’s dress is an ornate Caftan, and the bride’s hands and feet are decorated in intricate lace-like patterns painted using a henna dye. Women guests do not show their hair, shoulders or legs; and all guests at a Mosque remove their shoes on entering. Guests may give gifts to the bride and groom. In many Arab countries including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories, the practice of carrying the bride and groom on chairs and dancing in a circle around them (dabke) is still carried out. The bride and groom hold separate corners of a handkerchief. Arabs may have Western-like weddings, but still preserve most Arab customs and traditions.[citation needed]

Bengali wedding customs

Main article: Bengali wedding

Bengali wedding refers to both Muslim and Hindu weddings in Bangladesh and West Bengal. Although Muslim and Hindu marriages have their distinctive religious rituals, there are many common cultural rituals in marriages across religion among Bengali people.

Chinese wedding customs

Main article: Chinese marriage

Traditional Chinese marriage is a ceremonial ritual within Chinese societies that involve a marriage established by pre-arrangement between families. Within Chinese culture, romantic love was allowed, and monogamy was the norm for most ordinary citizens.

Cantonese wedding customs

Main article: Cantonese wedding

Most Cantonese wedding rituals follow the main Chinese wedding traditions, although some rituals are particular to the Cantonese people.

Filipino wedding customs

The groom usually wears the Barong Tagalog during the wedding, along with the male attendants, though nowadays the wealthy opt to don Western attire such as a tuxedo. Sukob: weddings held within the same year by two siblings, usually sisters, are frowned upon as it is regarded as bad luck. Some hold it that the wedding rings dropping to the ground is a portent of bad luck (this is usually said to the ringbearer to ensure that the child is careful in handling the rings). Money, in the form of paper bills, is sometimes taped or pinned to the groom and bride during the reception.

Indian wedding customs

Main article: Indian wedding

Indian weddings continue for several days. Due to the diversity of Indian culture, the wedding style, ceremony and rituals may vary greatly from amongst various states, regions, religions and castes. While the Christians of India usually follow a more or less Western wedding ceremony, the Indian Hindus, Muslims, Jains and Sikhs follow traditions quite different from the West. It is quite common that during the traditional wedding days, there would be a tilak ceremony (where the groom is anointed on his forehead), a ceremony for adorning the bride’s hand and feet with henna (called mehendi) accompanied by Ladies’ Sangeet (music and dance), and many other pre-wedding ceremonies. On the day (i.e. late evening) of the wedding proper, the Bridegroom, his friends and relatives come singing and dancing to the wedding site in a procession called baraat, and then the religious rituals take place to solemnize the wedding according to the religion of the couple. While the groom may wear traditional Sherwani or dhoti or Western suit, his face is usually veiled with a mini-curtain of flowers called sehra. The bride (Hindu or Muslim) always wears red clothes, never white because white symbolizes widowhood in Indian culture. In Southern and Eastern states the bride usually wears a red Sari, but in northern and central states the preferred garment is a decorated skirt-blouse and veil called lehenga. After the solemnization of marriage, the bride departs with her husband. This is a very sad event for the bride’s relatives because traditionally she is supposed to permanently “break-off” her relations with her blood relatives to join her husband’s family. The wedding may be followed by a “reception” by the groom’s parents at the groom’s place. While gifts and money to the couple are commonly given, the traditional dowry from the bride’s parents to the couple is officially forbidden by the law.

Japanese wedding customs

Japanese wedding customs fall into two categories: traditional Shinto ceremonies, and modern Western-style ceremonies. In either case, the couple must first be legally married by filing for marriage at their local government office, and the official documentation must be produced in order for the ceremony to be held. Before ever getting married there are two types of mate selection that may occur with the couple: (1) miai, or an arranged marriage and (2) ren ai, or a love match [5] .The Japanese bride-to-be may be painted pure white from head to toe, visibly declaring her maiden status to the gods. Two choices of headgear exist. One, the watabōshi, is a white hood; the other, called the tsunokakushi, serves to hide the bride’s ‘horns of jealousy.’ It also symbolizes the bride’s intention to become a gentle and obedient wife.

A traditional Japanese wedding ceremony

Traditional Japanese wedding customs (shinzen shiki) involve an elaborate ceremony held at a Shinto shrine. Japanese weddings are being increasingly extravagant with all the elaborate details placed into thought. However, in some cases, younger generations choose to abandon the formal ways by having a “no host party” for a wedding [6]. In this situation, the guests include mainly of the couple’s friends who pay an attendance fee.

Western-style ceremonies

In recent years, the “Western Style Wedding” (influenced by Christian weddings) has become the choice of most couple in Japan[7]. An industry has sprung up, dedicated to providing couples with a ceremony modeled after church rituals. Japanese western style weddings are generally held in a chapel, either in a simple or elaborate ceremony, often at a dedicated wedding chapel within a hotel.

Before the ceremony, there is a rehearsal. Often during this rehearsal, the bride’s mother lowers the veil for her daughter, signifying the last act that a mother can do for her daughter, before “giving her away”. The father of the bride, much like in Western ceremonies, walks the bride down the aisle to her awaiting groom.

After the rehearsal comes the procession. The wedding celebrant will often wear a wedding cross, or cana, a cross with two interlocking wedding rings attached, which symbolize a couple’s commitment to sharing a life together in the bonds of holy matrimony. The wedding celebrant gives a brief welcome and an introductory speech before announcing the bride’s entrance. The procession ends with the groom bowing to the bride’s father. The father bows in return.

The service then starts. The service is given either in Japanese, English or quite often, a mix of both. It follows Protestant ceremony, relaxed and not overtly religious. Typically part of 1 Corinthians 13 is read from the Bible. After the reading, there is a prayer and a short message, explaining the sanctity of the wedding vows (seiyaku). The bride and groom share their vows and exchange rings. The chapel register is signed and the new couple is announced. This is often followed by the traditional wedding kiss. The service can conclude with another hymn and a benediction.

Contemporary-style ceremonies

With the two types of ceremonies, Shinto and Western, available it was bound for the two to be combined into what is called a contemporary Japanese wedding. Contemporary Japanese weddings are celebrated in many ways. On the beginning of the wedding day, the participants are to get ready at the parlor’s beauty shop. The responsibility of the beauty shop is to dress the bride, the groom, and the other participants in the formal Japanese attire. Dressing the bride is the important task for the bride is to change into several outfits throughout her wedding day. Due to the complexity of the design, dressing a bride can be difficult and time consuming and for this reason the bride must be the first person to arrive two hours prior to the wedding ceremony. The bride’s attire consists of an extravagant kimono, heavy make-up, a wig, and a head covering. An hour prior to the wedding ceremony, the guests and the groom should start to arrive. [8]

When everyone is dressed in their formal attire, the bride and the groom are to separate from each other and meet their close relatives in a waiting room. The relatives present will appear in the family photo and will also attend the religious ceremony. During this gathering, the kaizoe (assistant) will inform the participants of what will take place and what they should do during the day for they are not familiar with the ceremony. [9]

When all is understood, the relatives and participants are brought to the photo studio where the professional photographs are to be taken. Taking the photographs of the bride, the groom, and their relatives are considered to be the essential part of the wedding day. The photographs of the couple and their family are designed to represent the couple’s prospective future together. [10]

After the lengthy photo session, the bride, the groom, and others are brought to the Shinto shrine. Nowadays, the Shinto shrine may be conveniently located inside a hotel where all the activities will take place. A Shinto priest conducts the ceremony. In the ceremony, the bride and the groom are purified. However, the ceremony’s important event occurs when the bride and the groom exchange nuptial cups of sake also known as san-san-ku-do. With the addition of Western tradition, the exchange of rings and weddings vows also take place. Those guests who did not attend the religious ceremony are able to view the ceremony on video screens located in the lobby. [11]

Like Western-style traditions, a reception takes place right after the wedding ceremony. The guest of the reception includes family members, friends, and colleagues. Due to the wedding industry’s attempt to maximize time and space, the reception will last exactly two hours. The reception does not include any random activities, but follows a strict order of events. The reception includes dramatic entrances by the bride and the groom with special effects, speeches, and other performances. [12]

Throughout the reception, the bride shall receive the guests’ utmost attention for she changes two to three times for the dramatic entrances. With all the dramatic entrances, the groom will join the bride. For example, the first entrance includes the bride, the groom, and the nakodo couple. Nakodo means a “matchmaker” or a “go-between”, which is usually referred to the husband. The nakodo couple plays such an important role that their names appear on the announcement of the wedding. The purpose of the nakodo is to symbolize a stable marriage. As the two couples appear a special effect of a cloud of white smoke will appear to surround them. Simultaneously, the hall lights are dimmed and the stage lighting will turn to the color of rose-pink; this astonishes the guests. Pictures are to be taken during the dramatic entrances of the bride and the groom. After the photographs have been taken, they will be led back to their table. [13]

At this point the Master of Ceremonies will congratulate the newlyweds and their family. He/she will then introduce the nakodo, who will start the opening speeches and more speeches will follow. Being that the reception is highly structured the speakers will have the idea of being formal and concise in mind. With all the speeches finished, the bride and the groom will perform the Western-style traditions, which include the following: (1) the cake cutting ceremony and (2) the newlyweds’ first dance as husband and wife. [14]

The next part of the reception is the toast, or kanpai, which simplifies the mood of the reception where the guest can start to relax, eat, and drink. What follows the toast are the short congratulatory speeches made by relatives, friends, and colleagues. During this time, the bride has gone to change into her first costume and continues throughout the reception. However, the groom will also have a chance to change into his costume, which is the Western tuxedo. By the end of the night, both the bride and the groom have changed from their traditional Japanese attire to their Western-style attire. [15]

After their last change of costumes, the newlyweds will perform the candle service. Both will have a long, unlit candle, which will be lit from the table where their parents are seated. Next, the couple will walk around the room in a circle and light the candles placed on their guests’ table. Once all the candles are lit, the newlyweds will return to their table where they will light what is called the Memorial Candle. [16]

By the time the candle service is done the two hours restriction will soon expire. The remaining few minutes includes short speeches, songs, dances, etc. As the reception ends a flower presentation ceremony will take place, which is where the newlyweds will present their parents with a gift of flowers to display appreciation for their parents raising them to the people they are today. At this point, the reception has ended with quick flashes and farewells. [17]

Malay wedding customs

Main article: Malay wedding

A Malay wedding ceremony spreads over two days, beginning with the akad nikah ceremony. The groom signs the marriage contract and agrees to provide the bride with a mas kahwin(dowry). After that, their hands are dyed with henna during the berinai besar ceremony. The bride’s hair is also trimmed or her eyebrows shaped by a beautician known as the mak andam.

Pakistani wedding customs

Main article: Pakistani wedding

A Pakistani wedding typically consist of four ceremonies on four separate days. It may consist of 3 days if the first function called “Mehndi” is done in a combined manner by both the bride and groom’s family.

The first function is Mehndi in which the families get together and celebrate the upcoming wedding function. The next day is “baarat” in which the groom comes over to the bride’s house with all his family, there is a big feast hosted by the bride’s family. Then there is holy ceremony of “Nikkah” after which bride and groom are declared as Husband and Wife.

Next day there is a function of “Walima” in which the groom’s family is the host and the bride’s family come over for a big feast.

Russian wedding customs

Main article: Russian wedding

A traditional Russian wedding lasts for at least two days and some weddings last as long as a week. Throughout the celebration there is dancing, singing, long toasts, and food and drinks. The best man and maid of honor are called witnesses, “svideteli” in Russian. The ceremony and the ring exchange takes place on the first day of the wedding.

Throughout the years, Russian weddings have adopted many western cultures, including bridesmaids and flower girls. During the wedding feast any of the guests can start chanting “Gorko” (“bitter”) which usually is immediately supported by the rest of the guests. In this case bride and groom should kiss each other and the kiss should last for as long as the chanting continues.

European customs

A wedding carriage in Bristol, England

The Western custom of a bride wearing a white wedding dress, came to symbolize purity in the Victorian era (despite popular misconception and the hackneyed jokes of situation comedies the white dress did not indicate virginity, which was symbolized by a face veil). Within the “white wedding” tradition, a white dress and veil would not have been considered appropriate in the second or third wedding of a widow or divorcee. The specific conventions of Western weddings, largely from a Protestant and Catholic viewpoint, are discussed at “White wedding.”

A wedding is often followed or accompanied by a wedding reception, at which an elaborate wedding cake is served. Western traditions include toasting the couple, the newlyweds having the first dance, and cutting the cake. A bride may throw her bouquet to the assembled group of all unmarried women in attendance, with folklore suggesting the person who catches it will be the next to wed. A fairly recent equivalent has the groom throwing the bride’s garter to the assembled unmarried men; the man who catches it is supposedly the next to wed.

A modern tradition is for brides to wear or carry “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” during the service. It is considered good luck to do so. Often the bride attempts to have one item that meets all of these qualifications, such as a borrowed blue handkerchief which is “new to her” but loaned by her grandmother (thus making it old). Another addition to this custom is to wear a penny in your shoe, this will bring you prosperity.

French customs

In smaller French towns, the groom may meet his fiancée at her home on the day of the wedding and escort her to the chapel where the ceremony is being held. As the couple proceeds to the chapel, children will stretch long white ribbons across the road which the bride will cut as she passes.

At the chapel, the bride and groom are seated on two red velvet chairs underneath a silk canopy called a carre. Laurel leaves may be scattered across their paths when they exit the chapel. Sometimes small coins are also tossed for the children to gather.

A traditional French wedding celebration at Château de Hattonchâtel

At the reception, the couple customarily uses a toasting cup called a Coupe de Marriage. The origin of giving this toast began in France, when a small piece of toast was literally dropped into the couple’s wine to ensure a healthy life. The couple would lift their glass to “a toast”, as is common in Western culture today.

Some couples choose to serve a croquembouche instead of a wedding cake. This dessert is a pyramid of crème-filled pastry puffs, drizzled with a caramel glaze.

At a more boisterous wedding, tradition involves continuing the celebration until very late at night. After the reception, those invited to the wedding will gather outside the newlyweds’ window and bang pots and pans. They are then invited into the house for some more drinks in the couple’s honor, after which the couple is finally allowed to be alone for their first night together as husband and wife. This practice spread throughout France as a way to celebrate special occasions. Decorative replicas of these special sabres can be purchased from artisans in Lyon, France (the French capital of cutlery).

If the couple is also having a religious ceremony, the civil ceremony acts as a private family wedding. The mayor of the town where the wedding is taking place usually performs the civil ceremony. Once the civil ceremony is complete, the couple will receive a livret de famille, the French marriage certificate. This is an official document and, should the couple have children, each child’s birth will be recorded in the livret de famille. There is no cost to get married civilly in France.

Greek customs

Two or three days before the wedding, the couple organizes a celebration called “Krevati” (Greek for bed) in their new home. In Krevati, friends and relatives of the couple put money and young children on the couple’s new bed for prosperity and fertility in their life. After the custom, they usually have a party with food and music.

On the day of the wedding, usually Saturday, but also Friday or Sunday, groom cannot see the bride, until the wedding ceremony. The groom usually arrives first in church and waits for bride, who usually arrives late. After they exchange flower bouquets, they have the wedding ceremony, where the best man puts the wedding rings and crowns on the couple. The couple drink red wine from the same glass (between one and three sips, depending on the tradition). This is not “communion” in the formal religious sense, but about sharing the cup of life. At the end of the wedding ceremony, as the newly wedded pair leave the church, the guests throw rice and flowers for fertility and felicity. Special guests, such as close friends and family receive sugar-coated almonds (traditionally an odd number, usually seven but sometimes five) as a gift from the couple. Most Greek ceremonies are Orthodox, see there for more details.

After the ceremony, usually the couple hold a great wedding party in some place with plenty of food, drinks, music and dance, usually until next morning. The wedding party starts with the invited people waiting for the couple, who usually come after some time. They start the party dancing blues and eating a piece of their wedding cake. In some point of the party, they also dance the traditional zeibekiko (groom) and tsifteteli (bride).

In many places of Greece, where they hold a more traditional wedding, they usually play only traditional music and eating local food. For example in the region of Cyclades, they eat the traditional pasteli (solid honey with sesame) and in the region of Crete they cook rice with goat. In most traditional weddings, they bake whole animals like pigs, goats or sheep just like the Greek Easter celebration. Before the church ceremony, especially in smaller areas, usually friends and relatives of the bribe and the groom, accompanies them separately to the church playing traditional instruments, according to the region.

A typical Greek wedding will usually have more than 100 invited people (but usually 250-500) who are friends, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, first or second cousins, neighbors and colleagues. It is common to have guests whom the couple has never met before. This is because the people who will be invited are usually determined by the parents of the couple and not by the couple themselves. Traditionally, the whole village would have attended the wedding, so very often the parents invite friends of theirs and their children, to the weddings of their own children.

There are many other traditions which are local to their regional areas. One famous tradition is the pinning of money on the bride’s dress. This custom originated in one part of Greece, where it is a substitute for wedding presents, however it has become more widespread recently.

Italian customs

In some parts of Italy, a party, known as a Serenade, is thrown outside of the bride’s home by the groom. His family and friends come and wait for the bride, entertaining themselves until she appears. The groom then sings to his bride to further seduce her. Once his song is sung, the party ends.

The day of the wedding the groom’s men try their hardest to make the groom as uncomfortable as possible by saying things like “Maybe she forgot where the church is”

It is also traditional for the grooms family to give a dowry to the bride and to provide the engagement ring. The bride’s family is then responsible for receiving the guests of the wedding in their home for a reception afterward.

The color green is very important in the Italian wedding. In Italy, the tradition of some thing blue is replaced with something green. This color brings good luck to the married couple. The veil and brides maids also were important in an Italian wedding. The tradition began in Ancient Rome when the veil was used to hide the bride from any spirits that would corrupt her and the bridesmaids were to wear similar outfits so that the evil spirits were further confused.

An old Roman custom was that brides threw nuts at rejected suitors as they left the ceremony.[18]

In Sicilian customs, the dessert course is often presented as a Venetian Table, a dazzling array of pastries, fruits, coffees, cakes, (etc) presented in great quantity with much celebration. This is often called Venetian Hour.

After dessert, more dancing commences, gifts are given, and the guests eventually begin to leave. In Southern Italy, as the guests leave, they hand envelopes of money to the bride and groom, who return the gift with a wedding favor, a small token of appreciation.

Polish customs

In Polish weddings the celebrations may continue for two or three days. In the past, the engagement ceremony was organized by the future groom as a formal family gathering, during which he asked his chosen lady to marry him. In the recent years this custom has changed and today an engagement is much more personal and intimate. An elegant dinner party afterwards is still a nice way to inform the closest family members about the couples’ decision to get married.

In some regions of Poland the tradition to invite the wedding guests in person is still upheld. Many young couples, accompanied by the parents, visit their family and friends to hand them the wedding invitations personally.

According to the old tradition a groom arrives with his parents at the house of a bride just before the wedding ceremony. At that time both parents and parents-in-law give a young couple their blessing. The couple enter the church together and walks up to the altar followed by two witnesses and the parents. In Poland it is quite unusual for the bride to be walked down the aisle or to have bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding. The couple is assisted by two witnesses, a man (usually grooms’ side) and a woman (usually brides’ side) who are either family members or close friends.

The Polish bride traditionally wears a white dress and a veil. The groom, on the other hand usually wears a fitted suit with a bow tie and a boutonnière that matches the brides’ bouquet. During the ceremony wedding rings are exchanged and both the husband and wife wear them on their right hand. When they leave the church the guests toss rice or coins at the married couple for good and prosperous future together. Right after the ceremony the closest family and all the guest form a line in the front of the church to congratulate the newlyweds and wish them love and happiness. As soon as the married couple leave the church they get showered with rice for luck or guests drop coins at their feet for them to pick up.

Once all the guests have showered the couple with kisses, hugs and flowers everyone heads to the reception. It is a custom in Poland to prepare “passing gates” on the way to the reception for the newlyweds, who in order to pass have to give the “gate keepers” some vodka. This is a misinterpretation of an earlier tradition, when the “passing gates” were built when the bride was an orphan and money collected by “gate keepers” from the guests was handed over to the bride as her dowry (being orphan implied usually poverty).

The married couple is welcomed at the reception place by the parents with bread and salt. The bread symbolizes the prosperity, salt stands for hardship of life, the parents wish the young couple that they never go hungry and learn how to deal with every day hardships together. The wedding party lasts (and the bride and groom remain) until the last guest leaves, usually until morning.

In Poland, movements like Human Liberties Crusade [19] [20] or Wedding of the Weddings promote non-alcoholic wedding celebrations.

 Romanian customs

Main article: Lăutari

Lăutari are musicians performing traditional songs. The music of the lăutari establishes the structure of the elaborate Romanian peasant weddings. The lăutari also function as guides through the wedding rituals and moderate any conflicts that may arise during what can be a long, alcohol-fueled party. Over a period of nearly 48 hours, this can be very physically strenuous.

Following custom almost certainly dating back at least to the Middle Ages, most lăutari spend the fees from these wedding ceremonies on extended banquets for their friends and families over the days immediately following the wedding.

Scottish customs

Scotland is a popular place for young English couples to get married since, in Scotland, parents’ permission is not required if both the bride and groom are old enough to legally be married (16). In England it was the case that if either was 16 or 17 then the permission of parents had to be sought. Thus Scotland, and especially the blacksmith’s at Gretna Green, became a very popular place for couples to elope to, especially those under 18 and usually living in England. Gretna Green now hosts hundreds of weddings a year and is Scotland’s third most popular tourist attraction.

Customs:

  • The bride’s family sends invitations on behalf of the couple to the wedding guests, addressed by hand. The couple may send the invitations themselves, especially if they are more middle-aged. The invites will specify if the invitation is for ceremony and/or reception and/or evening following the meal at the reception.
  • Guests send or deliver wedding gifts to the bride’s family home before the wedding day. Alternatively, the couple may register at department store and have a list of gifts there. The shop then organizes delivery, usually to the bride’s parents’ house or to the reception venue.
  • A wedding ceremony takes place at a church, register office or possibly another favorite location, such as a hilltop. In this regard Scotland differs significantly from England where only pre-approved public locations may be used for the wedding ceremony. Most ceremonies take place mid afternoon and last about half an hour during which the marriage schedule is signed by the couple and two witnesses, usually the best man and chief bridesmaid.
  • The newly wed couple may leave the ceremony to the sound of bagpipes.
  • There is a wedding reception following the ceremony, usually at a different venue.
  • The bridal party lines up in a receiving line and the wedding guests file past, introducing themselves.
  • Usually a drink is served while the guests and bridal party mingle. In some cases the drink may be whisky or wine with a non alcoholic alternative.
  • The best man and bride’s father toast the bride and groom with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes, usually humorous. The groom then follows with a response on behalf of his bride. Champagne is usually provided for the toast.
  • There is nearly always dancing following the meal. Often in Scotland this takes the form of a ceilidh, a night of informal traditional Scottish dancing in couples and groups to live traditional music. The first dance is led by the bride and groom, followed by the rest of the bridal party and finally the guests.
  • The cake-cutting ceremony takes place; the bride and groom jointly hold a cake cutter and cut the first pieces of the wedding cake.
  • Gifts are not opened at the reception; they are either opened ahead of time and sometimes displayed at the reception, or if guests could not deliver gifts ahead of time, they are placed on a table at the reception for the bride and groom to take home with them and open later.
  • A sprig of white heather is usually worn as a buttonhole for good luck.
  • It is the norm for the groom and much of the male bridal party and guests to wear kilts, although suits are also worn. Kilts and Highland dress are often hired for this purpose.

Handfasting

Main article: Handfasting

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic wedding ritual in which the bride’s and groom’s hands are tied together — hence the phrase “tying the knot”. “Handfasting” is favored by practitioners of Celtic-based religions and spiritual traditions, such as Wicca and Druidism.[citation needed]

North American customs

United States customs

Most weddings in the United States follow a similar pattern to the Italian wedding. Customs and traditions vary but common components are listed below.

See also: Etiquette in Canada and the United States#Weddings
  • The bride may wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”
See also: Ceremonial clothing in Western cultures#Marriage
  • The bride usually wears a white dress at her first marriage.[21]
  • A color scheme is often selected to match everything from bridesmaids‘ dresses, flowers, invitations, matchbooks, and table settings.
  • Rice is sometimes thrown at the newlyweds as they leave the ceremony to symbolize fertility. [1]Some individuals, churches or communities choose birdseed due to a false but widely believed myth that birds eating the rice will burst. [22]
  • The bride’s family sends engraved invitations to the wedding guests, addressed by hand (or in an elegant font) to show the importance and personal meaning of the occasion.
  • Guests send or deliver wedding gifts to the bride’s family home before the wedding day.
  • A wedding ceremony takes place at a church or other location, such as an outdoor venue.

At the wedding reception following the ceremony, sometimes at the same location but sometimes at a different venue:

  • The bridal party lines up in a receiving line and the wedding guests file past, introducing themselves.
  • Usually snacks or a meal are served while the guests and bridal party mingle.
  • Often the best man and/or maid of honor toast the bride and groom with personal thoughts, stories, and well-wishes; sometimes other guests follow with their own toasts. Champagne, sparkling cider, or nonalcoholic carbonated drinks are usually provided for this purpose.
  • Clinking silverware against glassware encourages the newlyweds to kiss.
  • If dancing is provided, the bride and groom first dance together. Often further protocol is followed, where they dance first with their respective mother and father, then possibly with the maid of honor and best man; then the bride and groom rejoin while the parents of the bride and groom join the dance and the best man and maid of honor dance together; then other attendants join in; then finally everyone is entitled to dance. Dancing continues throughout the reception. Music is sometimes provided by a live band or musical ensemble, sometimes by a disc jockey.
  • In some cultures, the dollar dance takes place, in which it is expected and encouraged for guests to pin money onto the young bride and groom to give them a financial base to start their new lives. This practice, as is any suggestion that the guests owe money to the couple, is contrary to etiquette and considered extremely rude in some circles.[23]
  • The cake-cutting ceremony takes place; the bride and groom jointly hold a cake cutter—often a special silver keepsake cutter purchased or given as a gift for the occasion–and cut the first pieces of the wedding cake. They then entwine arms and feed each other a bite of cake. In some social groups, the bride and groom smear cake on each other’s faces at this time, which again is considered quite vulgar elsewhere.
  • The bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to the assembled unmarried women; the woman who catches it, superstition has it, will be the next to marry. In some social groups, the process is repeated for unmarried men with the groom tossing the bride’s garter for the same purpose. These practices are falling into less favor in the 21st century.[24]
  • Gifts are not opened at the reception; they are either opened ahead of time and sometimes displayed at the reception, or if guests could not deliver gifts ahead of time, they are placed on a table at the reception for the bride and groom to take home with them and open later.

Wedding gifts

The purpose of inviting guests was to have them witness a couple’s marriage ceremony and vows and to share in the bride and groom’s joy and celebration. Gifts for the bride and groom are optional, although most guests attempt to give at least a token gift of their best wishes. Some brides and grooms and families feel, contrary to proper etiquette, that for the expense and effort they put into showing their guests a good time and to wine and dine them, the guests should reciprocate by providing nice gifts or cash.[25]

The couple often registers for gifts at a store well in advance of their wedding. This allows them to create a list of household items, usually including china, silverware and crystalware; often including linen preferences, pots and pans, and similar items. With brides and grooms who might already be independent and have lived on their own, even owning their own homes, they sometimes register at hardware or home improvement stores. Registries are intended to make it easy for guests who wish to purchase gifts to feel comfortable that they are purchasing gifts that the newlyweds will truly utilize. The registry information should, according to etiquette, be provided only to guests who request it, and should never be included in the invitation.[26] Some couples register with services that enable money gifts intended to fund items such as a honeymoon, home purchase or college fund.

Some guests may find bridal registries inappropriate. They can be seen as an anathema to traditional notions behind gift buying, such as contravening the belief that all gifts are optional and should be taken as delightful surprises, taking away the element of surprise, and leading to present buying as a type of competition, as the couple knows the costs of each individual item. Etiquette considers it inappropriate to invite people who know neither the bride nor groom well enough to be able to choose an appropriate gift.[27]

Many believe a false etiquette myth that thanks for gifts may occur up to a year after the ceremony. Gifts however, though optional, may be sent up to a year after the wedding date. Thanks should be sent as soon as possible, preferably within two weeks. Extra time can understandably be given for gifts received just after the ceremony, while the couple is honeymooning. While receiving an invitation does not require that a gift be given, etiquette dictates that all wedding invitations be returned with at least congratulations.

African-American customs
Main article: Jumping the broom

Jumping the broom developed out West African Asante custom. The broom in Asante and other Akan cultures also held spiritual value and symbolized sweeping away past wrongs or warding off evil spirits. Brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would often but not always jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony.

The custom took on additional significance in the context of slavery in the United States. Slaves had no right to legal marriage; slaveholders considered slaves property and feared that legal marriage and family bonds had the potential to lead to organization and revolt. Marriage rituals, however, were important events to the Africans, who came in many cases come from richly-ceremonial African cultures.

Taking marriage vows in the presence of a witness and then leaping over the handle of a broom became the common practice to create a recognized union. Brooms are also symbols of the hearth, the center of the new family being created. Jumping the broom has become a practice in many modern weddings between Black Americans.

There are also traditions of broom jumping in Europe, in the Wicca and Celtic communities especially. They are probably unconnected with the African practice.

African customs

Pygmy wedding traditions

Pygmy engagements were not long and usually formalized by an exchange of visits between the families concerned. The groom to be would bring a gift of game or maybe a few arrows to his new in-laws, take his bride home to live in his band and with his new parents. His only obligation is to find among his relatives a girl willing to marry a brother or male cousin of his wife. If he feels he can feed more than one wife, he may have additional wives.




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