The Seiyaku Wedsite
We'll take you inside the wedding chapel and look at
- candles and wedding crosses
- the Order Of Service
- a few hymns
- Bible readings
- the vows
- the wedding kiss
- and wedding bells
Many of the old and traditional ways have been lost to make way for fresh ideas – and this is a shame, because they have stood the test of time and proved to be worthwhile.
To get back to what we know works, we'll look at weddings in Eastern countries, since their 'Western' style of weddings are in some ways more Western traditional than those in the West. We'll take a look at weddings in Japan and Philippines. (And for anyone thinking of marrying a Japanese or Filipino, we'll look at some of the problems and pleasures of interracial and intercultural marriages, the procedure for getting married in Japan, and the legality of weddings in Japan.)
You may also be interested to scan this quick overview to compare wedding traditions of (in alphabetical order) Buddhism, Christianity, Civil (non-religious), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Neoaganism, and Sikhism:
- BuddhismMarriage is not considered a sacrament and wedding ceremonies are civil. However, monks are often asked to bless couples at the local temple after their wedding ceremony. No notices or pre-marriage counselling is required prior to such blessing.
- ChristianityA minister officiating at the marriage ceremony leads the couple in the exchange of their wedding vows. Bible readings, hymns, prayers and personalised message are normally given. Rings are exchanged and the groom usually kisses the bride at the end of the ceremony, but the most important parts of the ceremony are the exchange of vows and as with all marriages, regardless of faith, the blessing of God. (See Wedding Vows in Different Languages)
- Civil (non-religious)A civil wedding ceremony is favoured by atheists and will have whatever rituals the couple want. The words "promise", "love", "forever", etc. may be splattered throughout the event, along with other profound concepts that warrant much more than a few speeches, toasts and applause. Perhaps for this reason, most people still favour a religious wedding, even if they are not normally particularly religious. Those who do opt for the speech-toast-applause event, are comfortable without invoking a higher dimension to bless and support them through the trials awaiting them.
- HinduismMantras are recited by a holy person, who leads the couple in making their seven oaths as they walk around the Havan (sacred fire). When married, the woman has a red powder mark at the parting of hair on the forehead.
- IslamMuslim couples often do not recite vows; their attendance at the wedding is sufficient to attest their commitment to one another. However, the ceremony does include a formal proposal and a declaration that the couple accept each other. Sermons and prayers are also read during the celebrations. (See Turkish wedding vows)
- JudaismDuring a Jewish wedding ceremony, the couple stand under a chuppah (a special canopy), and at the end of the service a glass is broken under foot. There is a formal contract of marriage, known as a ketubbah, which is read out during the ceremony. It is customary for the bride and groom not to see each other for a week preceding the wedding. Some couples fast on the day before the wedding.
- NeopaganismAs with other religions, there is no set pattern for a ceremony for Neopagans, Neowiccans, Neodruids, etc. and "Handfasting" is the common term for such weddings. They all might attempt to replicate ancient customs, with the exception of animal sacrifices or other things that don't really suit today's understanding of being nice to all living creatures.
Handfasting may include rituals such as the couple leaping over a broom or small fire, which may seem bizarre to those more familiar with Abrahamic weddings, and yet they are no more ridiculous than veil-lifting and exchanging rings. Instead of, or in addition to the ring ceremony, Handfasting guests may tie a ribbon around the couple's clasped hands. In other words, the guests 'tie the knot' for the couple (i.e. fasten their hands in wedlock).
However, one difference is that Handfasting traditionally has been a promise for the marriage to last a year and a day. as a trial period before a permanent union. This may seem a good idea for many people, but inevitably dilutes the seriousness of the wedding ceremony.
A greater difference is that whilst Handfastings may invoke their various goddesses to "watch over" the couple, being weak on theology, they neglect to pray to the Supreme God that their love will strengthen. Love is, of course, the prime reason for people to marry, so it is a strange element of a wedding to ignore.
For this reason, Handfasting is not far removed from any non-religious civil wedding.
- SikhismA scarf is draped over the groom's shoulders. The bride's father takes one end of the scarf and passes it to the bride to hold, as a symbol of handing over the responsibility of his daughter to the groom. The lavan follows, which sees the couple, led by the groom, walking four times clockwise around the Guru Granth Sahib whilst still holding the scarf.
The groom leads, walking ahead of the bride. Four hymns are sung during this ceremony. On completion of each hymn, the bride and groom will have fully moved around the holy book, bowed to it and sat down in front of it to listen to the next hymn. After the final hymn, flowers are showered on the newly-wedded couple.
This wedsite is far from finished. We'll continue putting up many more pages about the lovely concept of weddings. So check back here from time to time, and if you have any comments or ideas, please email us.