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We have chosen to feature several religions here in very broad terms. Please contact your own religious leader to fully understand the legal and religious ramifications.

Naturally you will be most familiar with the requirements of your own religion and the minister or leader of your church will be best able to explain their requirements. In most cases there will be formal teaching available to you during the weeks prior to your wedding day. Any fees involved will be discussed with you at this time and may include anything from a charge for the central heating to a charge for the attendance of the choir.

The Catholic Church has strict rules on marriages and the issue of divorce. They still on the whole have not accepted re-marriage or divorcees. You can re-marry within the Catholic faith only if your first marriage has not been recognised by the church and this will need to be discussed with the priest. If you are intending to marry in a Catholic church there are a few rules you must adhere to: firstly you or your partner must be Roman Catholic, next the priest will ask you a few questions regarding your religious outlook, leading to keeping the faith within your marriage and bringing up your children as Catholics. You should arrange the dates well in advance as the Catholic church has many religious events in its calendar and may place restrictions at certain times of the year.

Prior to the day itself you will need to get together with the priest to discuss arrangements. He will help you through the choice of hymns and readings and give you an indication on guest list size for the particular church. It is not unusual to have a couple of rehearsals for all involved.

The service can be broken into two parts, the marriage itself, which is a religious uniting of husband and wife, but also includes the legal and civil aspects. The second part is usually performed when both are practising Catholics, this is the Mass where both receive Communion. In mixed marriages the Mass is skipped but the service remains the same.

The Bride and her father (or whoever has been chosen to give her away) walk down the aisle to join the Groom and Best Man, usually accompanied by the wedding march (the choice is yours). The priest will give a short introduction followed by some readings from the Bible. The readings are chosen by the couple and are read by someone of their choice. A chosen hymn is sung followed by another reading (psalm). The priest will now read a chosen gospel followed by a sermon. There will then be the exchange of religious and civil vows followed by the blessing of the rings and the couple. At this point, if appropriate to the couple, Mass is taken with another blessing and Communion and then a final blessing.

The couple and their witnesses sign the registry while hymns/music are played and the happy couple make their way out of church followed by the congregation.

The church does not usually charge a fee for the priest's time, which does include some legal paperwork on your behalf, but a small donation £80 - £100 in an envelope is usually given to the priest at the end of the service by the bride's father. The flowers used to decorate the church are left as a token of thanks. Don't forget to invite the priest to your reception!!

The Church of England service is both a religious and civil procedure. You will have to arrange a meeting with the vicar of the parish to get his consent to your marrying in his church however you may choose the area you wish to marry in even if you don’t live there. You would have to explain why you feel you have the right to marry in that particular parish (parents married there, lived in the village when you where young...). The vicar will help you through all the required form filling and registrations. Arrange the dates well in advance as the church has many religious events in its calendar and may have restrictions at certain times of the year.

Prior to the day itself you will need to get together with the vicar to discuss arrangements, he will help you through the choice of hymns and readings and give you a indication on guest list size for the particular church. It is not unusual to have a couple of rehearsals for all involved prior to the day. The vicar can also help with service sheets (remember to print enough for all the guests, plus a few extra) and organising the choirs and organist if available.

The cost are usually paid by the groom prior to the service, this includes the service, vicar, choir and organist. Most grooms leave this to the Best Man.

The Bride and her father (or whoever has been chosen to give her away) walk down the aisle to join the Groom and Best Man, usually accompanied by the wedding march (the choice is yours). The minister will give you a brief introduction followed by asking if anyone knows of any reason why your marriage should not take place.

He will then ask who is giving the bride away at which point whoever is giving the bride away, usually her father, will place her hand in the hand of the minister. It is then proper for this person to sit with the family and for the bride, groom and minister to remain standing.The marriage vows are taken, first by the groom then by the bride.The Best Man places the ring(s) on the bible and the vicar blesses them. The groom places the ring on his bride's finger. The bride will place the ring on the groom's finger if the couple have chosen for the groom to wear a ring.The vicar pronounces them man and wife (religiously married but not legally until the register is signed) followed by him saying “You may kiss the bride” (this is optional and is often not used unless by prior arrangement with the minister)

The vicar will deliver a short sermon followed by hymns and the couple may receive Holy Communion. (if arranged)

The couple and their witnesses sign the registry while hymns or music are played.

The happy couple make their way in procession with the attendants following out of the church.

You will perhaps have flowers to remove from the church and re-assembled at the reception venue and you will almost certainly chose to have some photographs/video of this special occasion. Talking through your requirements with the minister in charge will certainly help you as he or she will be very experienced in these matters. Don’t forget to ask the minister or vicar if he/she would like to join you at your wedding reception!

The use of confetti is often a concern. There are many recycled and biodegradable products available.

You should always check with the religious building itself to see when the next and previous weddings are taking place as this may well affect the time you have available both before and after the ceremony.

The Jewish Ceremony from the first stage of a traditional Jewish marriage, is the shidduch, or matchmaking. This means that the process of finding a partner is not haphazard or based on purely external aspects. Rather, a close friend or relative of the young man or woman, who knows someone that they feel may be a compatible partner, suggests that they meet. The purpose of the meeting is for the prospective bride and groom to determine if they are indeed compatible. The meetings usually focus on discussion of issues important to marriage as well as casual conversation. The Talmud states that the couple must also be physically attractive to each other, something that can only be determined by meeting. According to Jewish law physical contact is not allowed between a man and a woman until they are married (except for certain close relatives), and also they may not be alone together in a closed room or secluded area. This helps to ensure that one's choice of partner will be based on the intellect and emotion as opposed to physical desire alone.

When the families have met, and the young couple have decided to marry, the families usually announce the occasion with a small reception, known as a vort. Some families sign a contract, the tenaim, meaning "conditions," that delineates the obligations of each side regarding the wedding and a final date for the wedding. Others do this at the wedding reception an hour or so before the marriage. One week before the wedding the bride and groom, the chosson and kallah, stop seeing each other, in order to enhance the joy of their wedding through their separation.

At the reception itself, the first thing usually done is the completion, signing and witnessing of the ketuvah, or marriage contract. This contract is ordained by Mishnaic law (circa 170 CE) and according to some authorities dates back to Biblical times. The ketuvah, written in Aramaic, details the husband's obligations to his wife: food, clothing, dwelling and pleasure. It also creates a lien on all his property to pay her a sum of money and support should he divorce her, or predecease her. The document is signed by the groom and witnessed by two people, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement, that in many countries is enforceable by secular law. The ketuvah is often written as an illuminated manuscript, and becomes a work of art in itself, and many couples frame it and display it in their home.

After the signing of the ketuvah, which is usually accompanied by some light snacks and some hard liquor for the traditional lechaims (the Jewish salute when drinking, which means, "to life!"), the groom does the bedekin, or "veiling." The groom, together with his father and future father-in-law, is accompanied by musicians and the male guests to the room where the bride is receiving her guests. She sits, like a queen, on a throne-like chair surrounded by her family and friends. The groom, who has not seen her for a week (an eternity for a young couple!), covers her face with her veil. This ceremony is mainly for the legal purpose of the groom identifying the bride before the wedding.

The next stage is known as the chuppah, or "canopy." The chuppah is a decorated piece of cloth held aloft as a symbolic home for the new couple. It is usually held outside, under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by G-d to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be "as the stars of the heavens." The groom is accompanied to the chuppah by his parents, and usually wears a white robe, known as a kittel, to indicate the fact that for the bride and groom, life is starting anew with a clean white slate, since they are uniting to become a new entity, without past sins. In fact, the bride and groom usually fast on the day of the wedding (until the chuppah) since for them it is like Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. While the bride comes to the chuppah with her parents, a cantor sings a selection from the Song of Songs, and the groom prays that his unmarried friends find their true partners in life.

When the bride arrives at the chuppah she circles the groom seven times with her mother and future mother-in-law, while the groom continues to pray. This symbolizes the idea of the woman being a protective, surrounding light of the household, that illuminates it with understanding and love from within and protects it from harm from the outside. The number seven parallels the seven days of creation, and symbolizes the fact that the bride and groom are about to create their own "new world" together.

Under the chuppah, an honored Rabbi or family member then recites a blessing over wine, and a blessing that praises and thanks G-d for giving us laws of sanctity and morality to preserve the sanctity of family life and of the Jewish people. The bride and groom then drink from the wine. The blessings are recited over wine, since wine is symbolic of life: it begins as grape-juice, goes through fermentation, during which it is sour, but in the end turns into a superior product that brings joy, and has a wonderful taste. The full cup of wine also symbolizes the overflowing of Divine blessing, as in the verse in Psalms, "My cup runneth over."

The groom, now takes a plain gold ring and places it on the finger of the bride, and recites in the presence of two witnesses, "Behold you are sanctified (betrothed) to me with this ring, according to the Law of Moses and Israel." The ring symbolizes the concept of the groom encompassing, protecting and providing for his wife. The ketuvah is now read aloud, usually by another honoree, after which it is given to the bride.

After this, the sheva brachos, or seven blessings, are recited, either by one Rabbi, or at many weddings a different blessing is given to various people the families wish to honor. The blessings are also recited over a full cup of wine. The blessings begin with praising G-d for His creation in general and creation of the human being and proceed with praise for the creation of the human as a "two part creature," woman and man. The blessings express the hope that the new couple will rejoice together forever as though they are the original couple, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The blessings also include a prayer that Jerusalem will be fully rebuilt and restored with the Temple in its midst and the Jewish people within her gates.

At this point the couple again share in drinking the cup of wine, and the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it. This custom dates back to Talmudic times, and symbolizes the idea of our keeping Jerusalem and Israel in our minds even at times of our joy. Just as the Temple in Jerusalem is destroyed, so we break a utensil to show our identification with the sorrow of Jewish exile. The verse, "If I forget thee O' Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning: If I do not raise thee over my own joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth", is sometimes recited at this point. With the breaking of the glass the band plays, and the guests usually break out into dancing and cries of "Mazaltov! Mazaltov!" (Some say, tongue in cheek, that this moment symbolizes the last time the groom gets to "put his foot down")

Now that the couple are married they are accompanied by dancing guests to the cheder yichud, "the room of privacy." They may now be alone in a closed room together, an intimacy reserved only for a married couple. In fact, according to many Jewish legal authorities, the very fact that they are alone together in a locked room, is a requirement of the legal act of marriage, and hence their entry into the room must be observed by the two witnesses of the marriage.

While the bride and groom are alone together (usually eating, after having fasted all day) the guests sit down to eat a festive meal. The meal is preceded by ritual washing of the hands, and the blessing over bread. At some point, the band announces the arrival "for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. _____!!!" and everyone joins in dancing around the bride and groom. The dancing, in accordance with Jewish law requires a separation between men and women for reasons of modesty, and hence there is a mechitzah, or partition between the men and women. The main focus of the dancing is to entertain and enhance the joy of the newlyweds, hence large circles are formed around the "king and queen," and different guests often perform in front of the seated couple. It is not unusual to see jugglers, fire eaters, and acrobats at a wedding (most of whom are guests, not professionals!) The meal ends with the Birchas Hamazon, Grace After Meals, and again the seven blessings are recited over wine, shared afterwards by the bride and groom.


*A Muslim marriage is different again. The marriage is a contract between two parties, a man and a woman, made in the presence of witnesses as well as the woman's guardian. It also involves the payment of a dower, the amount of which is agreed between the two parties and become payable by the husband at the time when the contract is made (though the payment may be deferred by mutual consent). A marriage contract does not need to be written down in order to be valid. But the documentation is important, particularly these days in order to ensure that all future formalities are properly made. In many Muslim marriages, the wife may not be present when the actual contract is made. However, her father or guardian comes to her with two witnesses and asks her whether she gives him the [verbal] power of attorney [in presence of the two witnesses] to act for her in marrying her to the man concerned and whether she agrees to the amount of dower to be paid to her. When she has given him the power of attorney, he proceeds to complete the marriage contract. An offer of marriage is made by the woman's father or guardian. Secondly, an acceptance made by the man in the presence of two Muslim witnesses. The witnesses may be required to confirm the actual marriage in front of a judge. In order that their testimony be binding on a Muslim party, they must be Muslims.

The bride is entitled to receive a dower. The dower, a sum of money, in cash or kind, must be specified as being given by the bridegroom to his bride. *This section is taken from Islamic City

Among Muslims, it is the family of the Groom who searches for a suitable Bride. There are many ceremonies which comprise the marriage process.

The Mangni or engagement ceremony is an exchange of rings. The outfit for the Bride is provided by the Groom's family.

The Manjha ceremony is where the Bride is anointed with turmeric paste. This takes place at the Bride's house one or two days before the wedding day. The paste of turmeric, sandalwood and chameli oil are provided by the Groom's family. Only unmarried women apply this to the bride to be. Henna is applied on her hands and feet. A symbolic token in the form of a spot is also applied to the groom. After this ceremony, the Bride does not leave her house until the wedding. On her wedding day, she is provided her clothing by the Groom's family.

On the wedding day, a procession of friends and relatives accompany the groom from his place to the wedding venue. This is done whether the groom rides on a horse or in a car. If no concrete covered area is available, a shamiana (large decorated tent) is erected.

The arrival of the groom is accompanied by the beating of drums and playing of musical instruments. On this arrival, the groom and the brother of the bride exchange a glass of sharbet (a sweetened drink) and money. The sisters of the bride welcome the guests by playfully hitting them with a stick wrapped around flowers.

Traditionally, the men and women are seated in separate rooms or have a curtain to separate them. The meher, (a compulsory amount of money given to the bride's family by the groom's family) is decided upon by elders of both families. Before reading a selected piece from the Koran (the holy book of the Muslims), witnessed by two male persons and a lawyer or eminent person, the officiating priest will ask the bride if she is happy with the arrangement and whether she agrees to marry the groom. The boy is asked the same. The marriage is registered (nikaahnama). It is first signed by the groom and then two witnesses. The bride will sign later. The groom is then taken to the women's section. He gives money and gifts to the sisters of the bride. He receives the blessings of the elder woman and offers his salutations. Dinner is served separately to the women and men. The groom's family feasts separately. After their first meal, the groom and bride are seated together and a long scarf is used to cover their heads while the priest makes them read prayers. The Holy Koran is kept between them and they are allowed to see each other through reflection by mirrors. Dried dates and a sweet dish are served to the guests. The dates have religious significance. The groom spends the night in a separate room at the girl's house with a younger brother. In the morning he is given clothes, money and gifts by the bride's parents. That afternoon his relatives come to accompany the bridal couple to their home.

The farewell by the father of the bride is performed by the father giving her hand to her husband and asking him to protect her always. Final farewells are offered and the couple leaves. Upon the bride entering her new home, her mother-in-law holds the Koran over her and the groom follows. Four days after the wedding she is taken back to her parent's place. The wedding reception is held when the husband brings his wife and her family back to a reception hosted by his family. It is then that the two families become one.

Gifts are exchanged between the bride's family and the groom's family before and after the wedding

Throughout the Muslim world, a cherry red shade is chosen for bridal robes. Covering the head during a wedding is a mark of respect to the deities worshipped and the elders present. The ghunghat, which is equivalent to the veil of the Christian bride, is worn by the bride. It may vary in length, covering not only the head but the shoulders, back and almost down to the waistline. The draping may be done is several ways. The chunri, worn with a ghaghra choli, is tucked in at the waist on one end, pleated beautifully around the body and draped delicately over one shoulder. An odhnis is usually made of silk with a tie dye pattern. The center of the veil is used as a head covering the ends taken carefully under the arms and tucked inside the neck of the abho or chorio (the upper garment). The groom may sport a safa with its flowing tail-end. Others may wear a nattily wound pagdi, or a topi. White flowers can be tied in suspended strings ove rthe forehead, called sehra. In northern, central and western India, a golden kalgi studded with precious stones is tied over the right side of the groom's safa. In the center of the forehead sandalwood is applied and further decorated with gold, red and white dots. This decoration may also be done over the eyebrows. The groom may wear a white silk brocade suit, sword and turban as his wedding outfit.


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