Christian weddings too follow certain rituals and customs of the land of their birth into the main ceremonies rest is all the same. Christian weddings could be with or without a ‘mass’. But preferably people opt for weddings in presence of holy mass for some extra blessings to their marriage.
The process may be anything but there are some Pre-Wedding, Wedding Day and Post-Wedding rituals to follow.
Engagement: Following the Christian tradition, the groom and his family stopover at the bride’s house. In presence of the priest and with his blessings the bride and the groom exchange the engagement rings. This ceremony signifies the beginning of a period during which the boy and girl get to know each other. If they decide to marry, it can happen in six months time.
Attending a Preparatory Course: The bride and groom attend a Marriage Preparatory Course. They can choose the course between one-day to three-days. To partake in this course the prospective bride and the groom are needed to fill a form affirming their personal details. Then they take an oath on the Holy Bible that they have not withheld any information. Besides, they should also produce their birth certificates. The priest announces the decision of the boy and the girl to marry after three successive Sundays in the church. In case one of the parties has concealed or distorted any information, anyone can make it public during this period. Soon after the course the bride and the groom are free to marry.
Bridal Shower: This is an informal party, which is hosted by the bride for bridesmaids, and close relatives. This is the bride’s last party as a maiden. It is more of a girl’s night out, where the bride’s friends bring her gifts to be used in her new home. Games are played and the affair is generally a fun filled affair. The bride also gives away gifts to the bridesmaid and serves a pink cake with a thimble hidden inside. It is said that the girl, who gets the piece of cake with the thimble, will be the next to get married.
The Bachelor Party: The Bachelor Party is actually a stag party hosted by the groom on the eve of the wedding. Like Bridal Shower, Bachelor party too is the last party as a bachelor. It is habitual to raise a toast before the drinking begins in solemn.
Arrival at the Church: T he bridegroom reaches the church first and waits for the bride to arrive. As the bride arrives at the church premises, the best man, from bridegroom’s party welcomes her with a kiss and a wedding bouquet. The priest then escorts the couple into the Church. The choir welcomes the bride and the groom with a special song. In front of the altar two decorated chairs are placed for the bridal couple.
The Wedding Mass: With the wedding procession in tow the couple walks down the aisle. Then the ceremony begins. The Priest welcomes them into the Church and proffers them his good wishes. The wedding ceremony begins with song and selected readings from the Bible. The couple and their relative have to walk to the plinth and read some holy messages from the Bible. Later, the priest delivers the sermon, where he explains the sanctity of marriage.
The Nuptials: During the nuptial the couple are asked few questions in the presence of two witnesses. Answers are expected in full honesty. The priest normally asks whether they are marrying in their own free will or not. The couple have to answer honestly and maintain the sanctity of the church.
The Solemn Promise: This is the time when the couple take vows with the guidance of the Priest. The couple are asked to join their right hand, which symbolises union. The individual repeat the following after the priest, “ I, _____, take you, ______, to be my wedded wife. With deepest joy I receive you into my life that together we may be one. As is Christ to His body, the church, so I will be to you a loving and faithful husband.”
Exchange of Rings: Holy Water given on the joined hands for blessing by the priest and also to the rings so that the couple that wears them will live happily ever after and should have faith in each other, do the Lord’s will and always live together in peace, goodwill and love. Then the couple put them on each other’s fingers with these words – ‘With this ring I wed thee, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen”. At this point, the priest pronounces them man and wife and asks the groom to kiss the bride. The groom lifts the veil to do the honour.
Prayer Service: The mass proceeds with the prayers of the faithful, petitions for blessings on the couple and finally an offertory pageant. The couple brings gifts like a house made of thermocol, candles, and flowers, fruits, Bible and rosaries that are symbolic of a happy married life. The priest baptizes them. He then gives them sacred bread and wine which stand for the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The assembly jointly recites Our Father, a Biblical prayer and then congregation receives Holy empathy.
Nuptial Blessing and the Recessional: The empathy follows and the mass ends with the signing of the register, which provide as a valid legal document of marriage. The copy of this document is sent to the Registrar of Marriages. The couple pose for photo session at the altar with the bridal company and then walks down the aisle arm in arm to the ‘The Wedding March’. A choir convoys nuptial masses, with a special solo at communion.
In a Christian wedding, the post wedding ceremony is the reception held to celebrate the wedding. Relatives, friends, and colleagues are invited to a grand gathering. They newly wedded couple cut wedding cake and feed each a bite of the first slice. In honour of the newly-weds the Toastmaster proposes a toast. The bride and groom get time for their ‘first dance’. The bride and her father then groom or the bride’s mother, the bride and the best man or the groom and the maid of honour, the bride and the groom’s father or the groom and his mother follow their dance. After dinner is over, the couple leaves the reception. At this occasion the bride must throw her bouquet behind her. The girl who gets it will be the first to marry, according to the belief.