Many couples prefer a traditional religious ceremony, though some people depart from custom. Some even write their own wedding service. A traditional marriage ceremony begins with the bridesmaids and ushers walking slowly down a center aisle to the altar. They stand on each side of the altar throughout the ceremony. The groom enters and waits for the bride at the altar. The bride then walks down the aisle with her father, another male relative, or a family friend. She wears a white dress and veil and carries a bouquet. At the altar, the bride and groom exchange marriage vows and accept each other as husband and wife. The groom puts a wedding ring on the ring finger of the bride's left hand, and the bride may also give the groom a ring. After the ceremony, the bride and groom kiss and then leave down the main aisle. People of many backgrounds follow the traditional wedding ceremony, but certain religious groups add their own features to it. For example, different Protestant groups have their own versions of the ceremony. Many Roman Catholic weddings take place during a Mass, and the bride and groom receive Holy Communion. Most Jewish weddings are held under a special canopy that represents the couple's future home. At the end of the ceremony, an empty glass or other breakable object is placed on the floor and the groom breaks it with his foot. This act symbolizes the destruction of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and reminds the couple that a marriage can also break if it is not protected.
Mormon weddings are held privately in Mormon temples. Only church members in good standing can attend these ceremonies. Mormons believe that marriage and family life continue after death. A Quaker man and woman marry at a public gathering where they declare their commitment to each other. Quakers believe that God makes a couple husband and wife, and so a minister or other official is not required. Many wedding customs have been popular since ancient times. For example, Roman brides probably wore veils more than 2,000 years ago. Bridal veils became popular in the United Kingdom and the New World during the late 1700's.
The custom of giving a wedding ring dates back to the ancient Romans. The roundness of the ring probably represents eternity, and the presentation of wedding rings symbolizes that the man and woman are united forever. Wearing the wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand is another old custom. People once thought that a vein or nerve ran directly from this finger to the heart. An old superstition says that a bride can ensure good luck by wearing "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue." Another superstition is that it is bad luck for a bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony on their wedding day. After many weddings, the guests throw rice at the bride and groom as a wish for children and good fortune. Rice was once a symbol of fertility, happiness, and long life. The bride may toss her bouquet to the unmarried female guests. The woman who catches the flowers will supposedly be the next to marry. This custom probably started in France in the 1300's. The bride may also throw her garter to the unmarried men. The man who catches it will supposedly be the next male to marry.
We, at The Wedding Wizards, wish you and your family a very happy 4th of July celebration weekend!
by Debbie Christensen, Author
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