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Wedding Traditions

inspired customs ...116

Photo Essay 116

Wedding day traditions with Meaning

In this photo essay FRANKLY features some wedding day traditions that are loaded with significance and greatly empowering for couples.

Veiling the Sacred In many religions, veils are used to cover what is precious. Historically, Christian women have worn veils while at prayer in honour of their sacred status as the bearers of new life. The white wedding dress and veil also have a basis in Scripture, in Revelation 19:7-8, which images Christ as marrying his bride, the Church, who has been given clothing that is “fine linen, bright and pure�.


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Photo credit: Giovanni Portelli

Several Eastern Catholic and Orthodox traditions include a crowning of the couple by the priest. The crowns symbolise the royal inheritance of the children of God, and the new family home they will ‘rule’ with wisdom. Often after the crowning the clergy and assembly may sing a coronation hymn, such as one based on Psalm 8:

“You have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands.”

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A coronation


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The nuptial blessing Before the couple leaves the church, the celebrant extends his hands in blessing, inviting the congregation to pray for their future. Archbishop Julian Porteous (pictured) notes: “A couple choosing to marry in a church are consciously placing their married love and their future together before God, humbly seeking his blessing. As a celebrant I am very conscious that it is the couple in their act of self-giving that brings about the marriage. It is also a moment when God in his great love before them binds them together in a covenant that includes God’s sacramental actions in their lives. The marriage of a Christian couple is a moment of grace for them. God blesses their union and desires to accompany them each day of their lives.� Photo credit: Giovanni Portelli


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Photo credit: Giovanni Portelli

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Bestowing the beads Blessed rosary beads feature in many Catholic weddings, and can be a beautiful gift from a parent to the bride or groom. Double rosaries, two rosaries joined together, are also sometimes given or used.

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The term ‘tying the knot’ comes from the ancient Celtic tradition of hand fasting, or hand binding. It was also a tradition in the early Church, in which the priest would bind the right hands of the bride and groom with a cloth or a stole to symbolise their union from two individuals into ‘one flesh’.

“Whatever God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9

Photo credit: Giovanni Portelli

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Binding of hands


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marriage-saving Cross The small Croatian town of Siroki-Brijeg in Bosnia and Herzagovina links its extremely low divorce rate to the tradition of the marriage cross, which links couples’ marriage vows with acceptance of the inevitable sufferings that their life together will bring. During the wedding ceremony the priest blesses the cross and exclaims...

“You have found your Cross! It is a Cross to love, to carry with you, a Cross that is not to be thrown off, but rather cherished.” While exchanging vows, the bride and groom’s hands are bound together and united to the cross with the priest’s stole. Then they both kiss the cross, before kissing each other. After the wedding their cross is given prominent place in their home. The cross shown here is from the home of Croatian couple Lily and Anthony Zdilar and shows the traditional interlace design.

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Catholic Logic “He who drinks, sleeps. He who sleeps, does not sin. He who does not sin, is holy. Therefore he who drinks, is holy.”

Artist: Joseph Haier - Monks in a cellar 1873. Public Domain.

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Photo credit: Alamy Stock



Photo Essay: Wedding Traditions