Your wedding day is a wonderful excuse for a great party – but first comes the wedding ceremony itself. There are many different wedding ceremony types so how do you choose?
Church or civil wedding ceremony?
This is the big question to ask – but it raises lots more. Are you and your partner both religious? Is just one of you religious, or neither? Are you both religious but of different faiths? And what about your respective parents – do they have certain expectations or wishes based on their particular beliefs?
If you decide a civil wedding ceremony you’ll have more freedom. But you’ll still need to ask whether you want religion to play any part at all. Are you and your partner from different cultures or backgrounds, and if so to what extent do you want to honour your heritage and give due respect to the feelings of your respective families?
Do you want a very traditional ceremony - and what does that mean for you and your partner? If you want to eschew tradition do you want the emphasis to be on romance, or would something fun and offbeat be more your style? The most important thing is to create a ceremony that’s right for the two of you, rather than just trying to please others. Having said that, it’s best to be slightly sensitive to the expectations and feelings of your close family and friends.
Love and the law – wedding ceremony
This bit is complicated as it depends on where you plan to wed. If you go down the civil route can you say “I do” anywhere you like? Yes, if you marry in the USA, but different US states have different laws, as do different countries. There may be regulations about who can officiate or whether you need to apply for some kind of special permission for the type of wedding ceremony you have planned - you’ll have to do some research as there is not room here to offer comprehensive information.
Some aspects of the wedding ceremony are more traditional than legal. For instance, it’s not obligatory to exchange rings, for the bride to wear white, or for her to walk down the aisle ready to be ‘given away’. Many of these traditions are also being swept aside by the increasing number of same sex marriages.
Wedding ceremony types
Wedding ceremonies tend to come under one of the following headings. Which type of wedding ceremony you choose is up to you – but these are the standard options.
Traditional - Faith-based in accordance with the bride and groom’s religion
Non-denominational - A spiritual ceremony that may refer to God but not linked to any religious faith
Inter-faith - Blending two or more faiths to include religious rituals or readings from each faith
Non-religious/humanist - A ceremony with no mention of God or faith
Intercultural - A ceremony that blends cultures and may also blend religious aspects
A big part of any wedding ceremony is the exchange of vows. If you are opting for a religious ceremony the vows probably follow a set format that leaves little room for variation. However, with a civil ceremony you can be pretty much as creative as you like.
Composing your own vows gives you the opportunity to sum up all your love, dreams, and promises to your partner – to open your heart and publicly express what the relationship means to you and to share sweet words with the person you love.
So many ways to tie the knot
You obviously can’t have a wedding without a ceremony. But that’s about the only given – when it comes to the type of ceremony there are a lot of different factors to be taken into consideration!