A wedding is an occasion where two individuals are legally joined in matrimony. Different wedding traditions and customs may vary widely between cultures, religious groups, societies, states, and other social groups. The following is a brief discussion of some popular wedding traditions and customs in the United States.
In some southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi, wedding ceremonies require that the bride and groom perform a “rite of passage” before they are declared husband and wife. This involves the bride and groom swearing to remain chaste for a year after the wedding and to support one another through sickness and death. In the Georgia state capitol, there is a reading of the Old Testament before a vote on marriage and it is also recited by the maid of honor, the father of the bride, the best man, and the groom. The bride then gives twelve glasses of water to the groom and reads a poem prior to their recital in front of all of their friends and family.
In the wedding of Justice Antonin Scalia and Pamela Karlan of Texas, the Justice and the Matron of Honor read from the United States Constitution before their recessional. The bride then drank from a golden vintage wine cup in the presence of her parents, and the groom performed a handstand on the floor in the presence of his parents. After the ceremony was over, the bride presented the Justice with a book entitled “The Federalist Papers” inscribed in gold on silk pads. The wedding ceremony celebrated the union of Pamela Karlan and Antonin Scalia, as they became the first ever legally wed couple in Texas.
There are many diverse customs and practices associated with non-religious weddings. One of the most common types of non-religious weddings in the United States is the Christian wedding ceremony. Christian weddings are usually performed in churches or chapels. The ceremony consists of a wedding service followed by a reception at a banquet hall. Unlike a Jewish wedding ceremony, Christian wedding ceremonies do not require a bride to be a Jewish person of faith. It is the groom’s ceremony that is required by law to have a Jewish leader to officiate the ceremony.
Another wedding that is non-religious is the civil wedding ceremony. Civil weddings occur when two people marry in the court of law instead of at a rabbi’s temple. A civil wedding differs from a Jewish wedding in that it does not require the Jewish submission to the laws of the temple. A civil wedding differs slightly from a Jewish wedding in that it does not require the bride to be Jewish. If she is married outside of the Jewish faith, there is no requirement to be Jewish in order for the wedding to take place.
Wedding cakes and wedding favors are now becoming more popular wedding items. Many couples who are not Jewish will choose to give wedding favors to their guests in order to thank them for attending the wedding. Jewish wedding favors can include money, jewelry, certificates, or artwork. For a long time, Jewish wedding cakes were a staple of Jewish marriage ceremonies and are still widely used today.