Guide To Wedding Ceremonies
In the whirlwind of wedding preparations, the most crucial part of the big day, the ceremony, is often overlooked. Taking the time to decide how you want to wed and what you want to say to each other in the exchange of vows makes that special moment more memorable. After all, this is the reason why you are doing this.
There is a range of ceremonies including civil, religious and humanist. The law says the marriage must take place on legal premises: a register office, a religious building such as a church or synagogue, or a licensed venue.
The marriage must also be officiated by a registrar or, depending on the couple’s faith, an authorised person such as a vicar, priest, rabbi, pastor or even a ship’s captain, if the couple are marrying at sea.
Combine traditions and romantic touches
Finding your own personal style is about deciding what ceremony suits you the best; it could be a blend of rituals, blessings, prayers – if you are religious – and readings. The couple should decide on what type of ceremony suits them and then combine traditions they like with romantic and personal touches. In specially tailored ceremonies, the biggest issue is deciding whether a couple want any religious elements; if they don’t, they can add more about their love and relationship.
The types of weddings are:
Traditional: Faith-based in line with the religion that the bride and groom were born into.
Non-denominational: A spiritual ceremony with reference to God but not linked to any religious faith.
Inter-faith: Blending two or more faiths by including religious rituals or readings that are symbolic of each faith.
Non-religious: A ceremony where there is no mention of God or faith.
There are some traditions that are not legal requirements. You don’t have to exchange rings, the bride doesn’t need to wear white or walk down the aisle ready to be ‘given away’.
Many choices for civil services
You do need two witnesses for your wedding and that doesn’t include the person legally officiating.
These days there are many choices of venue for civil services other than the conventional register office. Outdoor ‘I dos’ are becoming more popular; the legal requirement in England and Wales is that a couple has to exchange vows under a permanent structure such as a pergola. As well as the required legal wording, you can add personalised vows and readings.
Some are symbolic gestures
The minimum time weddings at register offices can be booked is 28 days and the maximum is no more than 12 months in advance. With a Church of England ceremony, you must announce your intention to marry through the reading of banns on three months before the wedding.
For some ceremonies, you will also have to arrange a civil ceremony to be legally wed. For example, a humanist ceremony is non-religious; a couple choose the wording, readings and structure of the whole ceremony – complete with location – but it isn’t legally binding.
One of the symbolic gestures during a humanist ceremony is hand fasting – tying ribbon around the couple’s joined hands. Another charming ritual is when a member of each family lights two candles early in the ceremony and, later, the bride and groom use these candles to light one large ‘unity’ candle to represent the joining of themselves and their families.
Write your own vows
In Scotland the ceremony rules are slightly different. A Church of Scotland ceremony can take place anywhere as long as your minister agrees. Ceremonies for most religions and belief systems such as humanism have legal status.
If you want to make your wedding service more personal, write something about you and your husband-to-be that can be included in the ceremony.
There are also hundreds of readings to choose from – the person who is taking the ceremony may be able to guide you. Read through your favourite books, poems or lyrics that mean something to both of you. Nothing is more special and moving than writing your own vows and saying those heartfelt promises in front of family and friends.
With the help of a few ideas you can adapt the template of a traditional ceremony to reflect you as a couple.