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March 29, 2018

Wedding Cultures and Traditions

I love meeting couples and learning all about how they met but another aspect of being a wedding photographer that is so interesting to me is learning about each individual’s culture and traditions that they plan to include in their celebration of love. Even for the traditional “American family”, wearing a white wedding gown is their tradition. I’ve had the privilege of photographing diverse cultures and a mixture of religions. Here is some insight into all of the traditions that are possible when it comes to your special day.

Christian – A traditional Christian wedding is often started with a processional of the wedding party walking down the aisle, followed by the bride and her father. The minister will then share their personal views of the bride and groom and how they met. The family or friends will recite a verse from the Bible, typically first Corinthians thirteen is recited speaking of charity or love. The couple exchanges personal or arranged vows and wedding rings are exchanged and sealed with a kiss!

Jewish – The Jewish wedding ceremony takes place under a Chuppah, which is a canopy and no jewelry is to be worn by the bride and groom under the Chuppah because it is a symbol of focus on material possessions. The bride circles the groom seven times and stands on his right side. Betrothial blessings are recited by the rabbi with the use of two cups of wine during the ceremony. The ring exchange, much like American traditions is what makes the marriage official, except in Jewish culture where the groom is the only one to give a ring. If the bride opts to give her groom a ring, it is done after the ceremony. The Ketubah will be read at the ceremony, in addition to a contract that is read out loud which outlines the responsibilities of the groom to his wife. Also the Breaking of the glass is a symbol of the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Couples normally includes this as it symbolizes the absolute finality of the marital covenant. 

Catholicism – Considered one of the seven sacraments to Catholicism, the wedding ceremony is one of the most serious affairs in the Catholic Church which is full of deep spirituality. The wedding will begin with an opening prayer by the priest. Family members will read passages from the Bible that have been pre-approved by the priest and followed by a short sermon about marriage, given by the priest. The guests stand as the couple takes their vows, followed by the exchange of rings. The couple may opt to also have a mass or no mass ceremony, a three fold cord ceremony, candle lighting and/or jumping the broom. In some Catholic weddings, the bride places flowers on the Virgin Mary as a musician plays “Ave Maria” in the recessional.

Muslim – The Muslim celebration begins where the bride and her closest friends and family partake in henna parties, where henna is placed on their skin, symbolizing the adorning of the bride and embodies the protection she now has. There is a ceremony of bathing purification for the bride and groom and in the wedding ceremony a contract called the Meher is read speaking of how much money the groom will give to the bride, which is a symbol of the bride’s security. The ceremony is closed out with a reading of the Fatinah, the first chapter of the Qur’an.

Hindu – This Indian ceremony is strategically held on a day that the “bright half” of the sun is present and under the Mandap which is a canopy, a sacred fire is held under the Mandap. In the wedding ceremony, the groom and his family arrive with a celebration of singing and dancing. In some ceremonies, the nine planets are invoked and blessings are received for each planet in the ceremony called the Grahashanti. Also in some Hindu cultures you the groom will lead the bride around the table 7 times as well as provide reefs around the bride and groom and handing them back and forth. 

Old, New, Borrowed & Blue – The tradition of carrying something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue down the wedding aisle dates back many years. Check out my blog post titled Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue where I explain the history behind this tradition.

I love how every marriage begins with a distinct way of expressing and honoring their love to one another in a ceremony of unity, combining the two lives together as one. Although many marriages begin in diverse forms of traditions, the love they share is still universal.

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