No other aspect of your wedding is as important as the ceremony. The walk down the aisle, the exchanging of rings and vows, and the first kiss as husband and wife are the dreams of every bride-to-be.
But true commitment is what marriage is all about, gently nudging your dreams into the background as your wedding becomes a reality. Most couples choose to have a ceremony that includes aspects of their religious heritage. If you and your fiancé are members of a church or synagogue, you should be in touch with your clergy soon after you are engaged. Discuss what is required by your religion for your wedding to be recognized. Many churches and synagogues require pre-marital counseling. Even if yours does not, you should enroll in counseling where it is available. It is one of the best things two people can do to help make their marriage strong.
Finding a church or synagogue If you want a church wedding, the obvious place to start is with your own religious institution. Most of them are glad to accommodate their members; some will accept non-members. It’s important to select your site and confirm a date well in advance. If a bride and groom are not affiliated with a church or synagogue, they can usually find a community chapel or other location that will meet their spiritual needs. Colleges frequently have on-campus chapels, and there are special wedding chapels that cater exclusively to those who don’t want a full church wedding but want something beyond the pronouncement of marriage by a courthouse magistrate. In the military? Consider the base chapel. If you are unable to find a house of worship in which to marry, some lovely alternatives include gardens, lakesides, community parks or historic sites. Ask your wedding consultant for guidance.
Clergy When a bride and groom have different religious backgrounds, two members of the clergy will often officiate, with one representing the bride’s faith, the other the groom’s. Today, most religious leaders of all faiths understand that a dual ceremony is more than merely homage to each individual’s religious heritage – it’s an expression of acceptance and blending of a couple’s individual spiritual values. If a bride and groom choose to have a ceremony in a location outside of a house of worship, there are priests, ministers and rabbis available to officiate. From a practical point of view, remember that there are almost always fees involved, no matter where you are married, or by whom. Be sure to discuss what those fees are and when and how they are to be paid. The groom is traditionally responsible for paying the officiant, organist, soloist or anyone else providing services at the ceremony. Regardless of where you marry or who performs the ceremony, the truly important thing is that you and your fiancé have discussed your values with each other and have come to understand that spiritual sharing is one of the most important keys to a long and successful marriage.
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