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A number of different types of wedding ceremonies are available to couples wishing to get married. In general, they can be grouped into religious and non-religious types. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Catholic ceremonies are examples of religious wedding ceremonies. The different beliefs and traditions of these religions are reflected in their wedding ceremonies. Non-religious ceremonies may have a variety of different components, but often still include the exchange of wedding vows.
For many people, marriage is a rite of passage that involves various holy elements. They often desire to have religious ceremonies that reflect their faith traditions. Depending on the religion of the couple, these weddings could take place in a church, a temple, a cathedral, or even outdoors. Interfaith ceremonies include elements from different religions, and may be a good option when the members of the couple have different faiths.
Christian weddings are one type of religious wedding ceremony. An important aspect is the bride's walk down the aisle with her father, after which she is "given away" to her groom. The ceremony often includes readings from the Bible, hymns, and a sermon by the minister. Perhaps most important is the exchange of marriage vows and rings between the couple. At the end of the ceremony, the new couple walks back down the aisle together.
Another religious wedding ceremony is the Jewish wedding. It takes place under a chuppah, which is a canopy that represents the home that the bride and groom will soon make together. Before the ceremony, the bride and groom sign a ketubah, which is a marriage contract. As in Christian weddings, the couple exchanges vows and rings. At the end the newly-married couple stomps on a glass to signal the beginning of the marriage.
The other types of religious wedding ceremonies are diverse, and reflect a variety of religious traditions. Muslim wedding ceremonies involve a payment made to the wife, and an official signing of a marriage contract by the couple. Hindu ceremonies can last hours, and include numerous rites, prayers, and songs. Catholic ceremonies are similar to other Christian weddings, but include lighting a unity candle and celebrating a Mass.
Non-religious ceremonies represent another category of weddings. Often these weddings are presided over by judges, clerks, or other public officials. They can occur at a court house, or at another location chosen by the couple. Many people choose to have an outdoor wedding in order to take advantage of a scenic backdrop. The content of these ceremonies differs according to the couple, but typically still includes the exchange of vows, meaningful readings, and music.