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A chapter has also been devoted to dozens of touching ethnic toasts, including a wedding toast inspired by an old Eskimo wedding prayer, a beautiful Scottish wedding toast and fifteen lovely, lilting Irish wedding toasts.

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This chapter is filled with unique toasts inspired by Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aristotle, George Eliot, and many others. Diane also writes for magazines, newspapers and Web sites. She is a popular speaker and radio and television guest.


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She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her author-husband, Jack. The officiant usually conducts the rehearsal, along with the wedding coordinator, if you choose to hire one, who will help line everyone up and establish a pace for the processional, and so forth. Who Should Attend? Basically, everyone involved in the ceremony should attend, including the officiant, attendants, musicians, bride, groom, their parents, and any other participants.

This should allow plenty of time for the participants to run through the entire service twice. Otherwise, ask friends and relatives to bring their cameras and video cameras, plus you can also provide disposable cameras for anyone to use during both events. Who Hosts It? Or, the dinner may be hosted as a joint effort by both sets of parents, the bride and groom, and anyone else who wants to contribute to the cause. It can be a get-together at a pizza place, a picnic in the park, a potluck dinner where several people involved contribute a favorite dish, or it may be an ala carte affair in a private dining room of a nice restaurant.

Who Attends? The bride and groom attend, of course, plus their parents, grandparents, siblings, and any close out-of-town relatives who have traveled especially to attend the wedding. The officiant and his or her spouse should also be invited. See Chapter 15 for the suggested order of the toasts. Etiquette Tips for the Rehearsal Dinner b This is a great time to make introductions all around, affording an opportunity for the extended families of the bride and groom to meet and get to know each other before the wedding.

Whoever hosts this dinner should pay for all the food and drink. A less formal ceremony, or a civil ceremony that takes place at a secular venue, are much less restrictive. In fact, as the formality of the wedding decreases, the rules slacken to the point of being practically nonexistent for a supercasual wedding, such as a surprise wedding or a novelty wedding on board a hot-air balloon.

So, your first step is to take a look at these requirements before you commit to getting married at a religious venue. Take your time as you consider your options— this is a big decision. Protestant A protestant wedding may be more or less restrictive than a Catholic wedding, depending on the denomination.

For example, a protestant church wedding is almost never allowed on a Sunday. The parents are usually seated in the front rows, and brothers, sisters, and their spouses in the second rows on each side. The third rows are reserved for grandparents and other close relatives, followed by additional relatives, and, finally, friends of the bride or groom. When parents are divorced, the mother is usually seated in the front pew alone or with her new husband , and the father is seated in the third pew alone or with his new wife.

The rule of thumb is to keep one pew between divorced parents. Processional The processional takes place in this order: b The clergyman optional. The ring bearer and flower girl may walk down the aisle side by side, if you like.

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In the case of an encore wedding, the bride may want her children to walk her down the aisle. If the bride is close to her natural father and her stepfather, she may choose one of them to walk her down the aisle, but she should make a point to include her other dad in some way during the ceremony. Recessional The recessional follows this order: b The bride and groom. Then the attendant should be seated, with the hope that any late visitors will see the book and know to sign it before seating themselves in a back row. Providing a guest book at the ceremony site is optional, and many couples provide guest books only at their reception sites.

One requirement may be the posting of the banns a notice of your intention to wed each Sunday for three weeks before the wedding. Another will probably be premarital counseling, including a discussion of your religious beliefs. You may also be required to furnish the priest with a copy of your certificate of baptism or confirmation diploma. A Roman Catholic ceremony usually takes place in a church or cathedral on a Saturday at noon, and often includes a nuptial mass, or it may take place on a Friday evening or early Sunday morning.

However, the Friday and Sunday ceremony may not include a mass. The processional, recessional, and the seating are similar to those for a Protestant ceremony. Jewish The three main branches of Judaism—Orthodox, Conservative and Reform—differ in their requirements. The Orthodox branch follows the laws of the Jewish faith most strictly. The Conservative branch follows the laws less strictly than the Orthodox, and the Reform branch is the most liberal. Most branches do not allow weddings to take place on the Sabbath or during any holy days, and also require that a Jewish divorce be obtained before a divorced bride or groom may be married.

Speak with your rabbi about other stipulations. A Jewish wedding may take place in a temple or synagogue, as well as at a secular site, such as a resort or at your reception location, depending on the accepted custom of each particular rabbi. However, for an Orthodox ceremony, men sit on one side of the temple and women on the other. Processional A Reform Jewish processional is usually the same as a Protestant processional.

However, an Orthodox or Conservative Jewish processional differs slightly by following this order: b The rabbi.

The Ceremony b The groom, escorted down the aisle between his parents father on his left arm, mother on his right. Recessional A b b b b b b b b Jewish recessional takes place in this order: The bride and groom. The flower girl. The ring bearer. The best man.

The bridesmaids, each escorted by an usher groomsman. A Chuppah is optional for a Reform ceremony. A Chuppah may be a piece of fabric or a prayer shawl, supported by a pole on each corner. If the rabbi approves, the poles may be decorated with flowers. Often, the parents stand with the couple under the Chuppah during the ceremony. While standing under the Chuppah, the Seven Blessings are recited.

At the end of the ceremony, the groom crushes a glass under his foot, which is Jewish symbolism for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. After the recessional, a Jewish couple traditionally disappears into a private room where they eat something before proceeding to the reception. The reason for this custom is that a newly married Jewish couple must take their first meal alone together.

Other Faiths Every religious faith has certain requirements and traditions for a wedding ceremony. Meet with your clergyman or -woman to find out what your particular church requires. To give you an idea of how varied these services may be, here are a few examples: Orthodox Each Orthodox ceremony, whether Eastern, Greek, or Russian, has its own unique traditions concerning the importance of the Holy Trinity, where the couple stands during the ceremony, how the wedding rings are exchanged, the wearing of crowns, and other strict rituals that must be incorporated.

The Ceremony Quaker The Quaker faith requires that a notice of intent to wed be read at least a month before the wedding, in front of a meeting of the Society of Friends. The ceremony is quite simple and much less ostentatious than other faiths, with the bride and groom seated facing the congregation. Amish An Amish ceremony is also quite simple, with no wedding march or musical instruments.

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One of these ceremonies usually takes place on a Tuesday or a Thursday, following the harvest. Congregational A bride and groom are usually expected to be members or regular participants of the congregation where the wedding will take place. This religious denomination places a great emphasis on personalizing the service, with the bride and groom involved in planning the ceremony, including which hymns will be sung and which Scripture will be read. Muslim A Muslim ceremony is composed of a contract, a covenant, and mutual affirmation.


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The marriage itself becomes public when it is declared during an Islamic service. Interfaith Ceremony Interfaith ceremonies are not permitted by all faiths, especially at a place of worship. Many couples opt for a civil ceremony instead, especially in certain cases. Also, many priests will agree to co-officiate with a Protestant minister, with a ceremony that includes traditions from both faiths. For example, you may want to include customs from each of your faiths, including musical selections, prayers, and scripture readings.

Although a brief civil ceremony usually follows protocol and phrasing established by the Book of Common Prayer, you may be allowed to add to the ceremony with customized vows, prayers, or readings. This will not only lengthen the ceremony, but will personalize it. Most secular officiants prefer to personalize the ceremony for the couple, so ask beforehand. The Ceremony Military Ceremony A military wedding usually takes place in a military chapel and is almost always considered a formal affair. The groom wears his dress uniform white in summer or blue in winter , as do any of his attendants who are also in the military.

The most stunning and dramatic part of a military wedding is when the bride and groom walk under arched military swords or rifles as they exit the ceremony venue.

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Here are a few rules that must be followed for a military wedding: b The invitations must be worded properly, according to rank see page If he does so, the bride stands on his right. If not, she stands on his left.

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Double Ceremony A double ceremony is one where two couples are married during the same service, usually two sisters or two brothers, or occasionally two cousins or two close friends. In some cases, one group of attendants serves both couples. In the case of two sisters being married in a double ceremony, the oldest sister is the first to walk down the aisle and the first to be married. The two couples stand at the altar at the same time; however, the oldest bride and her groom recite their wedding and ring vows first, followed by the younger sister and her groom.

The order of the ceremony differs in each case, but I have included three common orders of ceremony, to give you an idea of what to expect. Order of Typical Protestant Ceremony b b b b b b b b b b b b b b b Prelude.