Types of weddings and ceremonies

Differences between a civil, religious, and ceremonial wedding

The choice between the various types of ceremonies is a very personal one.
Explaining all the options would make this answer too long.
Therefore we have created separate pages for each of them.
But in short, there are 3 main types of ceremonies ;

THE CIVIL WEDDING

The wedding couple signs the marriage registry, and commit themselves to each other by law. 
This is an administrative procedure with only minimal emotional involvement. 
Even though it is the legal basis of the marriage, it often has only limited influence on day-to-day life.
It is therefore often called 'the legal wedding'. 
The proceedings are often only remembered in no so joyful circumstances, such as divorce or decease.
The conditions for a legal wedding are different in each country.

THE CEREMONIAL WEDDING

The wedding couple exchange vows in the presence of their closest family, friends and guests.
This is the ( part of ) the wedding that is usually remembered for many years to come, and it's also therefore often called 'the emotional wedding'. 
This type of ceremony has much fewer restrictions can, therefore, be celebrated regardless of venue, date, time, etc.

THE RELIGIOUS WEDDING

The wedding couple expresses their vows towards their God(s) and their church. 
The choice is very personal, and it's the religious basis of the marriage.
The conditions for a religious wedding depend on the country and religion.

Related topics on this site and useful links ;
Can I get married in Spain ( 33.1)
Ceremonial wedding (15.2)
Renewal of the vows (15.3)
Wedding blessing (15.4)
Church wedding (15.5)
Indian wedding (15.6)
Hindu wedding (15.7)

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The ceremonial wedding

Bride and groom kissing during their ceremonial wedding in Spain

The ceremonial wedding ceremony is the most romantic and emotional of all.
It's usually the part of the wedding that the couple will remember for many years to come.
One of the most significant advantages is that this is the only type of ceremony which is least subject to lots of restrictions and rules.

Here are a few examples of some advantages of a ceremonial wedding ;

  • Freedom of choice of venue, beach, beachfront, etc
  • Freedom of length and content of the ceremony  
  • Freedom of involvement of guests ( readings, unity candle, etc.)
  • Freedom of choice of witnesses, even young children of the wedding couple if they want it.
  • available to all couples, straight, LGBTQ, blessing, renewal of the vows, etc

etc.
So we can easily say that the ceremonial wedding is the emotional foundation of the whole day.

So what are the conditions for the ceremonial wedding?

De conditions and procedures are set by the officiant.
This person leads the ceremony, based on the wishes and preferences of the wedding couple.
However, the association of wedding planners may require that ;

  • The wedding couple is legally married before organising the ceremonial wedding, OR
  • The wedding couple certify that at earliest convenience they will get legally married, OR
  • The wedding couple have a civil partnership, OR
  • The wedding couple renews their vows

The officiant must be convinced, and if requested, the wedding couple must be able to proof, that the conditions set to perform the ceremony are fulfilled. 

Before the ceremony, the officiant will need information about the wedding couple. 
This can be done via a personal interview, or by contacting ( some of ) the guest. 
This information is used by the officiant to write a personal wedding ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, the wedding couple and their witnesses, sign the ceremonial wedding certificate.

Often, family and guests are not told that the legal marriage is organised separately.

Related topics on this site and useful links ;
Can I get married in Spain ( 33.1)
Ceremonial wedding (15.2)
Renewal of the vows (15.3)
Wedding blessing (15.4)
Church wedding (15.5)
Indian wedding (15.6)
Hindu wedding (15.7)

Read More

Renew wedding vows in Spain ceremony

Moodbook photo of a renew wedding vows abroad

Renewing your wedding vows is a way to (re-)affirm your commitment to your partner.

It's very healthy for a relationship and gives it a new boost.
Often after a difficult period in the relationship, or after a family tragedy.

When you renew your wedding vows abroad, it combines the emotional experience with a (mini) vacation.

Usually, the groups are smaller than at a wedding. Still, the rest of the experience is very similar to a ceremonial wedding.

Related topics on this site and useful links ;
The ceremonial wedding (15.2)

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The wedding blessing ceremony in Spain

Couple celebrating a wedding blessings ceremony in Spain

By definition, a 'wedding blessing ceremony' is a religious event. However, the term is also often used for a non-religious 'ceremonial wedding abroad'.
In fact, there are 3 options ;

1 ) A ROMAN CATHOLIC WEDDING BLESSING CEREMONY BY A LOCAL PRIEST, IN CHURCH

This type of ceremony would traditionally be performed by a Spanish priest, in a Church.
However, Spain is one of the few countries worldwide where a Roman Catholic wedding ceremony is by default, also registered as a civil wedding.
So, a Spanish priest doesn't understand why you would want to have a blessing when you can have the real religious & civil ceremony at the same time.

2 ) A RELIGIOUS WEDDING BLESSING CEREMONY BY YOUR PRIEST, IN A VENUE OF CHOICE

This is an often chosen option because it can be performed by a religious priest, minister, ... of your choice and religion.
Since this ceremony is in most religions not registered as a wedding, it's often not bound by a lot of restrictions.

3 ) A CEREMONIAL WEDDING BLESSING
A lot of couples use the term 'wedding blessing' for this option.
They want to celebrate their wedding, in a venue of choice, with a non-religious and very personal ceremony.

Related topics on this site and useful links ;
The ceremonial wedding ( 15.2)
Differences between a civil, religious, and ceremonial wedding ( 15.1)
Church weddings (15.5)
Indian weddings ( 15.6)
Hindu weddings ( 15.7)

Read More

Catholic wedding in Spain

Catholic wedding in spain, in one of the beautiful spanish churches

Spain is one of the very few countries in the world where a Roman Catholic wedding is by default, also registered as a civil wedding!
So, there is no need to do a civil wedding in your home country.

Of course, this means that the ceremony must take place in a local church.

The ceremony can either be performed by a local priest ( In Spanish ), or you can bring your own priest.

The procedure for a Catholic wedding in Spain is initiated in the local church in your home country.
Your local priest will explain the procedure and start the paperwork.

Once the paperwork has been correctly processed, the Spanish priest is allowed to perform the ceremony, or make his church available to your priest.

After the church ceremony, the wedding continues in the venue of your choice.

Related topics on this site and useful links ;

Church weddings in Spain ( 33.3)

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Indian weddings in Spain

Photo of a indian wedding in Spain ceremony
Indian weddings, particularly held in the country itself, are in a league of their own!
Those weddings are lavish and huge, never a one-day affair.
Many of the weddings range from a few days to a week or even ten days, depending on the form of planning and all the wedding-related functions.
That is certainly one key aspect defining Indian weddings; they are long, joyful occasions packed with colour, festivities and ceremonies. 

Although the country is so diverse in its population and home to many different ceremonies, some traditional wedding-related functions that you will find in India, spanning the different faiths ,

  • are the Marriage,
  • Mehendi function (where the bride and the women near her are adorned with henna patterns),
  • the Haldi or Pithi ceremony (where a turmeric paste is put on the bride and groom for beautification and blessing.
Indian weddings, of course, vary significantly from one part of the world to another, as the various cultures common to various states and regions give a special flavour to the weddings there.
Many Indian weddings attach great importance to custom and ritual, though some vary from household to household. 
For intercultural weddings on the rise, of course, nowadays a beautiful melting pot of assimilated religious ceremonies and celebrations is also seen.

Related pages on our site or useful links to other sites :

Hindu weddings in Spain (page 15-07)
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Hindu weddings in Spain

Hindu wedding ceremony in Spain

Commitment Ceremony 

The ceremony of marriage, considered one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies not only in Hindu weddings but also in other religions, is often an intimate one with close relatives and friends from both the bride and groom side. Typically, this event happens a few months before the wedding. The fathers of both about to be married vouch for their child's values during the service, and make a formal wedding announcement to the invited guests of their children. Then the bride and the groom exchange rings to reinforce their engagement.

Ceremony at the Mehendi

The bride and her female family members meet to apply their henna prior to the wedding day. Such diverse patterns symbolize happiness, elegance, spiritual awakening and giving. And it's said the darker the colour, the stronger the bride and groom bond. As an added bonus, the thicker the henna, the better is your bond with your mother's in law too! So Indian brides must require their henna to dry up to eight hours to provide a deep, dark colour. The Mehendi artist would also cover the bride and groom 's names in her henna for the groom to later find.

Sangeet

The families usually hold a Sangeet the evening before the wedding. It is a more casual party where they will meet and mingle the two families. Often, the entire guest list may be invited, and friends and family members perform the couple's skits or dances, and a buffet-style dinner is served.

Pithi

Usually performed separately in the own homes of the bride and groom, the pithy ceremony is a ritual which brings wealth. Pithi is a paste of Tumeric, rose water, and chickpea flour spread to the face of the bride / groom. A thick yellow paste brightens the skin tone and blesses the pair.

The Mandap

Similar to a Jewish chuppah, the mandap is the altar that unites the groom and the bride. The four canopy pillars represent the four parents, and a holy fire called the Agni burns in the centre of the mandap.

The wedding Procession 

The day starts with the procession of the groom at most Indian wedding ceremonies, as his whole family and friends all take him to the wedding altar.

Arriving in style on the back of a finely dressed white horse, the ceremony starts at the entrance of the groom. Surrounded in a wide circle of friends and relatives dancing and singing, he arrives at the entrance to the venue with his bride's family. The mother of the bride then welcomes the groom, and the families with floral garlands hug and greet one another. The groom then gets escorted to the altar (mandap) to wait for his bride.

After that, the bride and her family will welcome the groom and the couple will wear Milni Malas, floral garlands, around their necks. Those symbolize their shared acceptance.'

The groom is dressed in a long jacket called a Sherwani, and tailored trousers called Churidars, in the Baraat. He wears on his head a Safa, a turban, with a large fancy brooch called Kalgi pinned on it.

The Lighting of the Agni

After the garlands are exchanged, the priest lights the sacred fire or Agni. Agni symbolizes the witness of the divine. So any commitments made in front of it are made in the presence of God.

The Mangal Phera

The pair performs the mangal phera after the Kanya Daan ceremony, in which the parents of the bride give her away. They join hands and circle around the Agni four to seven times, holding the four pillars in mind for a happy life. Such pillars reflect the obligation to one another, family and Christ, wealth, passion and strength, and redemption. Then the couple races after they have circled the fire to be the first back to their place. The quickest to sit is said to maintain dominance in marriage...

Saptapadi (The Seven Sacred Steps)

The couple takes seven sacred steps together, after the mangal phera is complete. Each step is a sacred promise that the couple must make, symbolizing a happy, faithful and prosperous life. The groom then adds a red powder to the middle of the bride's forehead and wraps a beaded black and gold necklace around her waist, symbolizing her new status as a married woman and her promise to always protect her. The priest must finally offer his union blessings, and the celebration can begin! (Some couples will steal a kiss here to scandalize their older relatives, but it's not an Indian wedding tradition).

The Party!

Wedding celebrations in India are quite close to those in the West, it is all one big crowd! A big buffet-style dinner ends in desserts and cakes. So then they invite us to reach the dance floor! Since guests are told to stop bringing packaged presents, the guests will lavish the dancing couple with money at some point during the evening in order to wish them a happy and healthy life. 

Indian weddings are enjoyable and entertaining from beginning to end. So put on your best gold jewellery and have a wonderful time!

Related pages on our site or useful links to other sites :

Indian weddings in Spain (page 15-06)
Read More