04 Oct 2015
Wedding ceremonies differ according to different sects, but one thing Christian wedding ceremonies have in common is the vow that the bride and groom make to the priest, or god’s representative. The preparation for the ceremony is not much different from other weddings; starting with the engagement, finding a wedding dress, and preparing a place and invitation cards. Normally, all preparations begin about six months prior to the wedding date, as the bride and groom need time to find a proper church and a person to perform the ceremony (a priest for Catholics; a pastor for Protestants). A Catholic wedding must be held in a church and the wedding host should consult with the priest in advance about proper practices and preparations.
One of the most crucial elements of a wedding is of course the wedding ring, with the bride and groom exchanging rings as a symbol of their love and fidelity. A wedding ring is always worn on the ring finger of the left hand as it is believed that a blood vessel flows directly from that finger to the heart. Hymns and psalms are sung by a chorus during the ceremony or sometimes only a theme song is played, and music will be played when the procession starts or during the exchanging of rings. The bride and groom will normally choose the theme songs and flower decoration themselves.
Normally a rehearsal is held the night before the wedding ceremony when the bride, groom, priest and intimate guests will come to church to run through proceedings. Traditionally, the groom’s parents pay for dinner after the rehearsal.
The Ring Bearer is often a boy under 13 years old who carries either the wedding ring or a mock-up version.
The flower girl is a member of the wedding procession aged between three and seven years old. Typically, the flower girl walks in front of the bride during the entrance procession and may spread flower petals on the floor before the bride, or carry a bouquet of flowers.
One man and one woman may light one of the two candles. Test lighting is done beforehand to ensure that the candles will stay lit and not be extinguished until the wedding ceremony is over. When the candles are lit, the candle lighters will walk off and the music begins.
The bridal procession entering the church will be led by flower girls, bridesmaid, ring bearer, and father of the bride. The bride entering the church with her father in tow signifies that her father is willing to let his daughter get married. The complete wedding ceremony according to Christian practice must comprise of bride and groom, priest, wedding ring and two witnesses. However, the bride and groom may also have bridesmaids, flower girls, a best man, ring bearer and lector. The best man is usually a close friend or relative and normally keeps the ring until the wedding exchange ceremony. Often the bride will have several bridesmaids and a head bridesmaid called ‘maid of honor’ will walk at the front of the procession. She will carry a bouquet of flowers during the ceremony and will remove the veil when the bride and groom kiss.
The lector will read a testament issued by the priest, which must be rehearsed before the wedding day as this part is the core of the whole ceremony.
Ushers will lead parents and guests to their seats, with guests of the groom seated on the right and those of the bride on the left.