A marriage is celebrated either civilly or religiously through a wedding. Wedding traditions vary greatly from country to country and region to region.
Over the years, in many societies, a number of customs have emerged, centered on the wedding ceremony. Elements of a wedding ceremony symbolize the bride leaving her father’s care and control to enter into a new family with her husband. In the West, since man and wife are considered equal, this is largely symbolic. Brides traditionally wear white on their wedding days; this tradition has roots in the Victorian area to symbolize purity. Contrary to the belief of many, white does not symbolize virginity; a face veil indicates it.
Weddings are often followed by a reception where Western tradition indicates a toast for the bride and groom, the first dance for the couple and the cutting of an elaborate wedding cake. The bride throws her bouquet to single women and the groom throws the bride’s garter to single men. The catcher of each article is said to be the next to get married.
In modern China, weddings combine elements traditional to the country’s culture as well as those influenced by Western society. The civil ceremony registers the marriage and is done with little ceremony. The reception is elaborate and the Chinese wedding album plays a prominent role.
In multi-cultural ceremonies, customs may be mixed or created in order to best serve the interest of the couple.
A double wedding occurs when two couples conduct two weddings in one ceremony.
In some cultures, same-sex weddings are beginning to be celebrated. This, however, is a controversial topic since they remain illegal in a number of nations.
In nations where same-sex marriages are still illegal, couples often engage in a commitment ceremony, which has no legal impact.