The Christian Ceremony
If you decide to have a Christian ceremony, you will have to meet up with your priest or minister as soon as the wedding plans begin. They will be able to assist you with the legal and doctrinal protocol of such a bond. They will be able to explain the rich symbolism and age old customs that need to be observed in a Christian ceremony.
The groom and best man enter from the side of the church and await the arrival of the bride. Traditionally, the processional music begins as the bride and her father (or significant other who has been chosen if her father, for any reason, is unable to do so) arrive at the church. The guests then rise and the groom and his best man take their place at the foot of the aisle.
Flower girls lead the procession, then the bridesmaids are escorted down the aisle by the groomsmen, followed by the maid-of-honour who enters alone. Finally, the bride and her father proceed down the aisle. The father leads her to the groom and places her hand in his.
The minister then addresses the congregation, welcoming them and asking who gives the bride to the groom. Her father responds and leaves her with the groom. At this point, there may be an opening hymn followed by the Greeting or Opening Prayer delivered by the priest. Usually the priest will give an introduction explaining what a Christian marriage entails. Readings follow, usually from the Old Testatment. During the ceremony there will be readings from the Gospel or elsewhere in the New Testament. Wedding vows follow. The vows may be traditional, or words of commitment may be spoken that have been written by the bride and groom. After the vows, rings are exchanged and the couple are permitted to kiss. The ring is a symbol for the unbreakable bond just professed in front of the priest and loved ones. During the ceremony, Communion will be shared with the other Christians present at the wedding. At this point there will probably be a prayer and blessing for the couple and then for the congegration as a whole. Then the couple are invited to sign the registry. The minister takes this opportunity to introduce the newly wedded couple to the congregtion and they will then leave the church as husband and wife to music playing festively. This is only a very general outline of a Christian ceremony.
The wedding process begins with the lobola agreement. In the Zulu kingdom, lobola is considered as a show of the grooms commitment to his future bride. It is also compensation to the father and his kraal for the loss of the girl. Zulu weddings are characterised by joyous singing and ululating, dancing and mock fighting by warriors in traditional dress. The women wear traditional headdresses, beautiful beaded necklaces and soft leather aprons.
No invitations are sent and the whole community can join in the celebrations. Unlike western style weddings no vows are exchanged. In Zulu wedding tradition the marriage is only finalised when the bride is taken to be bathed and examined by her sisters the morning after the wedding.
A Hindu wedding includes ancient rituals and customs which are still practised today. Tradition dictates that these rituals take place over several days. However, with the hectic lifestyle of today, many of these traditions will take place the night before and the day of the wedding.
Several days before the wedding, the bride is decorated with Mendhi which is highly exotic, intricate henna designs decorating the brides hands and feet. It is said that the deeper the colour of the designs, the stronger the brides love for her husband to be. The wedding ceremony is held under a four-pole canopy called a mandap. In the first part of the ceremony the brides parents wash the couples feet with milk and water to purify them for a new life. In the second part the brides right hand is placed on the grooms right hand while the priest chants holy verses. A loop of raw white cotton is wound around the shoulders of the bride and groom 24 times to bind them together with a bond that is not easily broken. A fire is lit in the centre and the fire God is invited to witness the marriage.
Cape Malay Weddings
The Cape Malays are descended from the early Muslim people brought to the Cape by the Dutch East India Company.
They remain faithful to Islam and still practice it at their traditional feasts. Marriages are usually arranged between families and permission is given by the prospective father-in-law with the consent of the bride. The dowry or Maskawi varies depending on the wealth of the bridegroom.
A few days before the wedding the bride and her bridesmaids, in wedding array, call on her friends to invite them to the feast.
On her wedding day the bride wears a gilded headdress and veil and will change her dress at least once. She receives guests in her first wedding dress while the bridegroom attends the ceremony at the mosque. She is represented there by her father.
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Planning Your Reception
Congratulations, you have reached one of life’s great milestones. Mark the entrance into your new life with the ultimate party. Share your elation with the people you love.
Religious and Legal Matters
The ceremony is the most sacred part of the entire day, but it is a tradition that comes in many different forms. Always remember, however, that marriage is a legal state with certain procedures that must be observed.
They’re the delightful little rituals or charms that make the
wedding day so special.