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Should you elope, or have a Big Wedding?
ancient times, people got 'married' by the bride moving to the
husband's house (or, of course, in some cultures, the reverse). Gifts
were exchanged, cattle and clothing and bread and food. The community
understood that this was a family unit.
In Jewish tradition, a couple usually signs the ketubah
before the ceremony. The ketubah is
written in Aramaic, and the bride and groom write their Hebrew names in the blanks
in the marriage contract, then the rabbi signs the contract. Modern Ketubahs may have English decorations, and many are unique works of art. Some have spaces for the family and witnesses to sign at the reception.
In Quaker tradition, the bride and groom sign a large, beautiful Marriage Certificate, which is then also signed by all the family and guests. This involves the community, and makes the
marriage binding to each of its witnesses as well as to the couple.
The certificate is usually framed and placed in the home.
A couple may have a private wedding for personal reasons, with a marriage announcement at a later date. And some couples pledge their troth to each other in a commitment ceremony, without a legal component, just an ethical one. Some have handfasting (or betrothal) ceremonies which they consider binding. A vow renewal is an example of a wedding ceremony without a legal ceremony, as well.
If you are having two ceremonies, a legal, private wedding and a future wedding blessing with a larger group of friends or family, you can save your rings for the second ceremony, perhaps, and have a Wedding Blessing and a Blessing of Rings for your second ceremony. Your family might also like to participate in the second Wedding Blessing, offering readings or blessings or a candle-lighting or other appropriate rituals.
Some cultural traditions also have several separate ceremonies on several days. Some of these ceremonies are vestiges of earlier village rituals, where the bride or groom makes a journey to the house of the new relatives, and offers food or gifts (such as the Tea Ceremony, in some Asian cultures, and the large Wedding Banquet with the required special courses.) The modern wedding showers and rehearsal dinners are vestiges of these earlier rituals.
This is YOUR
decision. You can combine the legal and the ceremonial events, or hold
them separately,and at separate times, or hold only one part - the legal wedding or the wedding
ceremony. Your officiant will always be happy to discuss these
variations with you, and help you through the planning for each.
This article by Mary Beaty licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.
This article also posted on Printnpost.com