What Are the Different Types of Wedding Ceremonies?

Clara Kedrek
Clara Kedrek
Weddings may take place at outdoor locations.
Weddings may take place at outdoor locations.

A number of different types of wedding ceremonies are available to couples wishing to get married. In general, they can be grouped into religious and non-religious types. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Catholic ceremonies are examples of religious wedding ceremonies. The different beliefs and traditions of these religions are reflected in their wedding ceremonies. Non-religious ceremonies may have a variety of different components, but often still include the exchange of wedding vows.

Wedding ceremonies may take place in a church.
Wedding ceremonies may take place in a church.

For many people, marriage is a rite of passage that involves various holy elements. They often desire to have religious ceremonies that reflect their faith traditions. Depending on the religion of the couple, these weddings could take place in a church, a temple, a cathedral, or even outdoors. Interfaith ceremonies include elements from different religions, and may be a good option when the members of the couple have different faiths.

Some wedding ceremonies include readings from the Bible.
Some wedding ceremonies include readings from the Bible.

Christian weddings are one type of religious wedding ceremony. An important aspect is the bride's walk down the aisle with her father, after which she is "given away" to her groom. The ceremony often includes readings from the Bible, hymns, and a sermon by the minister. Perhaps most important is the exchange of marriage vows and rings between the couple. At the end of the ceremony, the new couple walks back down the aisle together.

Christian weddings are usually religious ceremonies that involve the bride being walked down the aisle by her father.
Christian weddings are usually religious ceremonies that involve the bride being walked down the aisle by her father.

Another religious wedding ceremony is the Jewish wedding. It takes place under a chuppah, which is a canopy that represents the home that the bride and groom will soon make together. Before the ceremony, the bride and groom sign a ketubah, which is a marriage contract. As in Christian weddings, the couple exchanges vows and rings. At the end the newly-married couple stomps on a glass to signal the beginning of the marriage.

Outdoor weddings are usually less formal and expensive than a church ceremony.
Outdoor weddings are usually less formal and expensive than a church ceremony.

The other types of religious wedding ceremonies are diverse, and reflect a variety of religious traditions. Muslim wedding ceremonies involve a payment made to the wife, and an official signing of a marriage contract by the couple. Hindu ceremonies can last hours, and include numerous rites, prayers, and songs. Catholic ceremonies are similar to other Christian weddings, but include lighting a unity candle and celebrating a Mass.

Some wedding ceremonies involve a prayer.
Some wedding ceremonies involve a prayer.

Non-religious ceremonies represent another category of weddings. Often these weddings are presided over by judges, clerks, or other public officials. They can occur at a court house, or at another location chosen by the couple. Many people choose to have an outdoor wedding in order to take advantage of a scenic backdrop. The content of these ceremonies differs according to the couple, but typically still includes the exchange of vows, meaningful readings, and music.

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Discussion Comments

anon1004266

The above entry is amazingly shallow. Marriage is a complex combination of civil, social, religious, cultural, and social behaviors. It has roots in the formal associations of tribal lines, consanguinity, and intergenerational rights. Both matrilineal, and patrilineal cultures use marriage to solidify their bundles of rights, responsibilities, and duties. From the bride's price to the widow's dower, the exchange binds families together, and insures long term relationships. Civil, and religious, sanctification makes the bonds even stronger. The stronger the intertwining, the less likely conflict. Do the different ceremonies, and incantations matter if the linkages are maintained? Does the imprimatur of the divine help, or complicate the survival of a bad marriage? If it outweighs, even a little; lust, boredom, and cupidity, it works.

croydon

@Iluviaporos - I think that's why so much emphasis is put on wedding ceremony vows. This is where, if the couple writes their own, all the rest of the day falls away and you get to see what, exactly, the couple means to each other and what they hope will happen over the rest of their lifetime.

lluviaporos

@clintflint - I know a lot of people who stick with what is traditional in their culture in order to make their parents and older relatives happy. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, as long as they aren't making themselves unhappy in the process. A wedding is a celebration within a community, or at least, that's what it should be. If I were getting married I'd rather concentrate on the marriage that comes afterwards, rather than the single day's worth of festivities that starts it off.

clintflint

Remember that it is your wedding and you need to do what is comfortable for you. You can still have a Christian ceremony and not have your father "give you away". I've noticed a lot of people modify this now so that both parents are present, and the wording is changed to reflect that the woman isn't being presented like a sack of potatoes to the groom. Or they cut this part out altogether.

People seem to think the Christian wedding ceremony is set in stone, but it's fairly recent. It's not like ancient Christians followed the exact same traditions or ceremonies or even close to them.

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    • Weddings may take place at outdoor locations.
      Weddings may take place at outdoor locations.
    • Wedding ceremonies may take place in a church.
      Wedding ceremonies may take place in a church.
    • Some wedding ceremonies include readings from the Bible.
      Some wedding ceremonies include readings from the Bible.
    • Christian weddings are usually religious ceremonies that involve the bride being walked down the aisle by her father.
      Christian weddings are usually religious ceremonies that involve the bride being walked down the aisle by her father.
    • Outdoor weddings are usually less formal and expensive than a church ceremony.
      Outdoor weddings are usually less formal and expensive than a church ceremony.
    • Some wedding ceremonies involve a prayer.
      Some wedding ceremonies involve a prayer.