Sunday, March 27, 2005
A wedding is a civil or religious ceremony at which the beginning of a marriage is celebrated.
In most societies, a number of wedding traditions or customs have emerged around the wedding ceremony, many of which have lost their original symbolic meaning in the modern world. Other wedding traditions are relatively recent. Some elements of the Western wedding ceremony symbolize the bride's departure from her father's control and entry into a new family with her husband. In modern Western weddings, this symbolism is largely vestigial, since husband and wife are of equal power and status. Recently in some cultures, same-sex weddings have begun to be celebrated.
The Western custom of the bride wearing a white wedding dress came to symbolize purity in the Victorian era (despite popular misconception and the hackneyed jokes of situation comedies the white dress did not actually indicate virginity, which was symbolized by a face veil). Within the "white wedding" tradition, a white dress and veil would not have been considered appropriate in the second or third wedding of a widow or divorcee. The specific conventions of Western weddings largely from a Protestant and Catholic viewpoint, are discussed at "White wedding."
Weddings in modern China combine both traditional elements and elements influenced by the West. The actual civil ceremony consists of registering the marriage with the local registrar and is brief and done without much ceremony. The wedding reception, however, is elaborate and complex, and the one prominent element of modern Chinese weddings is the Chinese wedding album.

Preparing for the photographs, at a wedding in Thornbury Castle, England
A wedding is often followed or accompanied by a wedding reception, at which an elaborate wedding cake is served. Western traditions include toasting the bride and groom, the newlyweds having the first dance, and cutting the cake. The bride throws her bouquet to the assembled group of all unmarried women in attendance, and the woman who catches it is supposedly going to be the next to wed. A fairly recent egalitarian equivalent has the groom throwing the bride's garter to the assembled unmarried men; the man who catches it is supposedly the next to wed.
posted by Rainier & Katrina at 12:53 PM | Permalink |