Religious Wedding Ceremonies

A Ceremony Filled with Faith

Religious wedding ceremonies are the perfect way for a couple to confirm their commitment to each before the eyes of God. Whether or not you normally attend church, having a religious wedding ceremony often provides a renewal of faith - an unexpected benefit of getting married. In fact, many couples feel that getting married in a chapel or temple gives their wedding vow a special significance that can't be provided elsewhere. However, if you haven't attended church for several years, but want to have a religious wedding ceremony, here's what to expect for each faith.

Catholic: Catholic wedding ceremonies may or may not include a Mass. The following description is for a ceremony that includes a Mass. The ceremony begins with processional hymn, followed by an opening prayer by the priest. The Liturgy of the Word comes next, followed by the Rite of Marriage, which includes the exchange of vows, the blessing of the rings and the exchange of rings. Next is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, followed by Holy Communion. The Lord's Prayer is then recited and a Nuptial Blessing given. The ceremony concludes with the proclamation of the couple, a closing blessing and a recessional hymn.

Protestant: while most Protestant ceremonies are similar each denomination has its own customs and practices. Wedding ceremonies can be held in the church or in an off-site chapel. Many ministers are happy to perform weddings in any venue of the couple’s choice. For the most part the majority follow this order: the wedding begins with a processional that may or may not be a hymn. The minister will open with the words "we are gathered here to today to join (bride) and (groom) in holy matrimony." He/she then asks for the parents' blessing after which the vows begin. The couple pledge their love, loyalty and support to one another, "'til death do us part." The minister may or may not bless the rings (depending on the particular denomination). The couple exchanges rings, which is sometimes followed by a unity candle ceremony. A benediction prayer or the Lord's Prayer is recited. The couple is then proclaimed and the ceremony concludes with the recessional.

Jewish: the wedding ceremony starts with the badeken, the ceremonial veiling of the bride by the groom. This act symbolizes the value the groom places on the bride's spiritual rather than physical self. The couple are then escorted to a chupah, an outdoor canopy which represents the couple's future home. The rabbi then recites the betrothal blessing after which the couple drinks a glass of wine. Next the wedding rings are exchanged. Then the ketubbah, the marriage contract, is signed. This is followed by the recital of seven wedding blessings, after which a second glass of wine is consumed. This glass is wrapped in a napkin and broken under the groom's foot. This act concludes the wedding ceremony.

Muslim: called an Al Nika. The Muslim wedding ceremony begins with a sermon by the officiant, which invites the couple, as well as guests, to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness and social responsibility. Praise of Allah is given and his guidance and help is requested. This is followed by a confession of faith stating "There is not worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His servant and messenger." Three verses from the Koran are read as well as a prophetic saying, called a hadith. The officiant concludes the ceremony with a prayer for the couple and their families, the local Muslim community and all Muslims worldwide.

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