A same-sex wedding is a ceremony in which two people of the same sex are married. This event may be legally documented as a marriage or another legally recognized partnership such as a civil union. Where such partnerships are not legally recognized, the wedding may be a religious or symbolic ceremony designed to provide an opportunity to make the same public declarations and celebration with friends and family that any other type of wedding may afford. These are often referred to as “commitment ceremonies.”
Officiates at same-sex weddings may be religiously ordained. Some religions and branches of religions, including Quakers, Unitarians, and the Reformed Catholic Church perform and recognize same-sex marriages, even if the government of their geographic area may not.
A civil wedding is a ceremony presided over by a local civil authority, such as an elected or appointed judge, Justice of the Peace or the mayor of a locality. Civil wedding ceremonies may use references to God or a deity but generally no references to a particular religion or denomination. They can be either elaborate or simple. Many civil wedding ceremonies take place in local town or city halls or courthouses in judges’ chambers.
A military wedding is a ceremony conducted in a military chapel and may involve a Saber Arch. In most military weddings the groom, bride, or both will wear a military dress uniform in lieu of civilian formal wear, although military dress uniforms largely serve the same purpose. Some retired military personnel who marry after their service has ended may opt for a military wedding.
Elopement is the act of getting married, often unexpectedly, without inviting guests to the wedding. In some cases a small group of family and/or friends may be present, while in others, the engaged couple may marry without the consent and/or knowledge of parents or others. While the couple may or may not be widely known to be engaged prior to the elopement, the wedding itself is generally a surprise to those who are later informed of its occurrence.
A weekend wedding is a wedding in which couples and their guests celebrate over the course of an entire weekend. Special activities, such as spa treatments and golf tournaments may be scheduled into the wedding itinerary. Lodging usually is at the same facility as the wedding and couples often host a Sunday brunch for the weekend’s finale.
Not to be confused with an elopement, a destination wedding is one in which a wedding is hosted, often in a vacation-like setting, at a location to which most of the invited guests must travel and often stay for several days. This could be a beach ceremony in the tropics, a lavish event in a metropolitan resort, or a simple ceremony at the home of a geographically distant friend or relative. During the recession of 2009, destination weddings continued to see growth compared to traditional weddings, as the typically smaller size results in lower costs.
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A white wedding is a term for a traditional formal or semi-formal Western wedding. This term refers to the color of the wedding dress, which became popular after Queen Victoria wore a pure white gown when she married Prince Albert, and many were quick to copy her choice. At the time, the color white symbolized both extravagance and sexual purity, and had become the color for use by girls of the royal court.
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A double wedding is a single ceremony where two affianced couples rendezvous for two simultaneous or consecutive weddings. Typically, a fiancé with a sibling who is also engaged, or four close friends in which both couples within the friendship are engaged might plan a double wedding where both couples legally marry. A mass wedding is a single ceremony where numerous couples are married simultaneously.
Wedding ceremony participants, also referred to as the wedding party, are the people that participate directly in the wedding ceremony itself.
Depending on the location, religion, and style of the wedding, this group may include only the individual people that are marrying, or it may include one or more brides, grooms persons of honor, bride’s persons, best persons, groomsmen, flower girls, pages and ring bearers. A woman’s wedding party consists of only those on her side of the wedding party. Those on a groom’s side are called his groom’s party.
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- Bride: A woman about to be married.
- Maid, Matron or Man of Honor: The title and position held by a bride’s chief attendant, typically her closest friend or sibling.
- Bridesmaids: The female attendants to a bride. Males in this role may be called honor attendants or sometimes bride’s men, but that term has a different traditional meaning.
- Page(s): Young attendants may carry the bride’s train. In a formal wedding, the ring bearer is a special page who carries the rings down the aisle. The coin bearer is similar page who marches on the wedding aisle to bring the wedding coins.
- Flower girl(s): In some traditions, one or more children carry bouquets or drop rose petals in front of the bride in the wedding procession.
- Groom: A man who is about to be married.
- Groomsmen or Ushers: The attendants, usually male, to a bridegroom in a wedding ceremony. Female attendants, such as a sister of the groom, are typically called honor attendants.
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- Best Man, Woman, or Person: The chief assistant to a bridegroom at a wedding, typically a sibling or friend of special significance in his life. Often holds the wedding rings until their exchange.
- Marriage officiates: the person who officiates at the wedding, validating the wedding from a legal or religious standpoint. This person may be a judge, justice of the peace, or a member of clergy.