Marriage and wedding ceremonies vary depending on the culture or religion of the participants. Depending on a couple’s background and religious affiliations, how items of meaning are exchanged and other formalities may be incorporated into a wedding ceremony. Although customs differ depending, the exchange of items using cultural traditions is alive and well and manifests in many different forms. In western culture, it’s tradition for the bride and the groom to exchange rings during a wedding ceremony. Wedding rings often vary in metals, styles, and gemstones to suite the preferences of the couple; however, gold and diamond rings popular choices. The following discusses several different cultural wedding traditions from around the world.
In addition to the use of wedding bands to symbolize the unity of marriage, the customs of western Christian weddings are dictated by the couple’s specific denomination. For example, the priest of a Mexican Catholic ceremony is handed thirteen small coins that have been placed in a small box, from a relative. The priest then hands the box to the groom and then the groom hands it to the bride. This of course is done after the vows have been spoken and the rings have been exchanged. It is an ancient practice which symbolizes a promise from the groom that he will care for the bride’s material needs and the bride promises to use that money to care for the household. This exchange is a reiteration of the commitment and responsibilities between the couple.
Eastern Orthodox Christian
During many Eastern and Greek Orthodox Christian weddings, the groom and bride exchange their “rings” a total number of three times. The number three is frequently used to represent the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit/Ghost. The best man, called a koumbaros holds crowns that have been tied with a common ribbon about the heads of the couple. The best man eventually takes the crowns and moves them in a criss-cross pattern over the couple’s heads three times; during which those who are not of this faith stay seated, while other attendees of this faith kneel. Traditional attire for attendees of these ceremonies is conservative and formal, and gifts given to the couple include household items and money.