Basics

Christian Wedding- Celebrations and Rituals

Marriage is a merger of souls, a fusion of hearts and a  testimony of love. No matter how you describe a marriage, it is the foundation of the family and the basis of modern civilization.

Religion, ethics, sociology and law, besides many other branches of study, treat family as the fundamental unit of the society. It is the first brick and also the last of the entire edifice of human civilization. No wonder then that wedding has always been the single most important event of human life.
 
Marriage and wedding are often confused and people tend to use the terms interchangeably. They are, actually, quite different, though related. Wedding is actually a celebration whereas a marriage is a lifelong partnership. All cultures celebrate weddings as a beginning of a marriage; only the rituals and ceremonies differ.
 
Despite the differences in celebration, marriage vows and proclamation of the union are a feature that are common to all weddings. Wearing traditional clothes is another common aspect, and so is a wedding reception. And, it is a fact that the origin of popular wedding customs and traditions in most of the cases have common threads.

Christian Wedding
A christian wedding usually takes place in a Church.  It is attended by relatives and friends of both the bride and the groom. The bride wears a flowing, beautiful white gown in the typical western style, and the groom dons a suit or a tuxedo. The full length white dress of the bride symbolizes purity. There is also a white veil over the bride's face. She comes wearing a floral crown with a flower bouquet in her hand.

The ceremony begins with the ushers escorting the grandparents of both the bride and the groom to their respective seats, after which they escort the mothers of the groom and the bride to their respective seats. Thereafter enter the bridesmaids, who are escorted by the groomsmen. Then comes the maid of honor. She comes either on her own or the best man escorts her. Then comes the ringbearer followed by the flower girl, who sometimes comes with the ringbearer.

After everyone has entered the church, the bride walks down the aisle escorted by her father. The music wells up in celebration. The guests throw confetti, flower petals, birdseed or rice on the newlywed couple, for they believe it brings good fortune. After the two have excnahed vows, there is a photo session before the bride and the groom together with their guests leave the church.

Once the ceremony is over, the bride and the groom with the officiating authority and two witnesses go to a side room and sign the wedding register. In the US, a marriage license is awarded to the newly weds by the state. Unless the register is signed or the marriage license issued, the marriage is not considered to be legally valid.
 
Often, after the wedding, there is a wedding reception, wherein a big and decorated wedding cake is served. Guests toast the newlywed and the couple have their first dance as partners in life. The cake is cut and the merrymaking goes on.

A modern tradition of long standing is that of the brides carrying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. So, the brides these days pick one such item that meets all of the conditions. For instance, she borrows a blue scarf from her grandmother, which, naturally, makes it new for her but otherwise old, being her grandmother's.
 
Though a typical wedding ceremony is just like that, there may be variations depending upon the local customs and traditions of the place where the wedding is conducted. Interestingly, the bride’s white gown owes its origin to the Victorian age, for Queen Victoria chose to wear a white gown at her wedding. Many of the traditions like exchanging rings and taking marriage vows and the wedding cake are widely considered to be of Elizabethan origin.

Modern christian marriages are steeped in tradition. The marriage ceremony marks the beginning of  a new life for the couple. The beginning of a happy married life! A point of time when life enters an altogether new phase. Perhaps, that's the reason why  the marriages are said to be so spectacular!