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In many religions, a wedding is viewed as a sacred event in which two people are united physically and spiritually. To commemorate the occasion, each religion has its own customs and traditions. Below are descriptions of several religions' typical wedding ceremonies.
In the Christian faith, a wedding marks the spiritual union of two individuals in front of God, family, and friends. The service takes place in a church with a congregation of "witnesses." Most Christian brides wear a white dress. Christian grooms wear tuxedos or suits. As a tribute to the Christian faith, the bride may also wear a cross necklace. During the ceremony, the couple will exchange traditional vows, and the officiant will read passages from the Holy Bible.
Christians are either Protestant or Catholic. While Protestant ceremonies are more relaxed, Catholic ceremonies involve more formal rituals. For example, during a Catholic wedding, the congregation often stands or kneels at certain times during the service. At the end of either type of service, the minister will declare the couple to be married, and they will share a kiss. Christians see marriage as a sacrament, meaning that getting married is another way to show devotion to God.
Most Muslim ceremonies take place in the home of the bride or groom. At the beginning of the wedding ceremony, which is called Nikaah, traditional music announces the groom's arrival. Only family and close friends are present during the ceremony, which is conducted by an imam. After the ceremony, the bride and groom sign legal marriage documents and proceed to a dinner at either the bride or groom's home. Throughout the ceremony, both parties must cover their heads with cloths, and they must look at each other using mirrors.
Most Jewish weddings include several long-standing traditions intended to bind the couple together in holy matrimony. Prior to the wedding, the couple signs a marriage contract, or ketubah, in front of two witnesses. The ceremony itself takes place under a canopy known as a Chuppah, which is symbolic of the couple's new home together. The bride typically wears a veil over her face during the ceremony. After the groom presents the bride with a ring, the rabbi recites the seven blessings, or Sheva Brachot. Finally, the groom breaks a glass with his right foot, and the entire congregation shouts "mazel tov," which means "congratulations" in Hebrew.
Regardless of a couple's religion, a wedding ceremony is typically beautiful, elaborate, and full of symbolic gestures that signify the couple's unification. A wedding ceremony in any religion is a celebration of a promise made between two individuals who pledge to remain loyal to each other for the rest of their lives. Though the ceremonies may appear different from one another, the common an most important inspiration; love, is the same.