A marriage ceremony is not just the union of two humans but is a sacred and solemn occasion that is founded on faith and ties two families together.
Since ancient times, people of faith have upheld that wedlock is holy in nature and should be respected.
Every culture and ethnicity has its own wedding-time traditions to honor the Divine and seek His acknowledgment of the lifelong bond between a husband and wife: a commitment that lasts until death.
Sacred Wedding Customs
In Western culture, sacred vows form the foundation and center of wedding ceremonies; the recitation of the vows signifies the moment when the bride and groom become husband and wife.
These special words, holy by virtue, are spoken by a couple to each other in the presence of an officiant to express the promise, love, and lifelong intent of being there for each other regardless of the life circumstances—richness, poverty, sickness, or health.
After the declaration of their solemn consent, the couple exchange rings to seal those promises for eternity. The rings signify not only their true love for each other but also their heartfelt devotion to honor God—the Lord Creator—with the sanctity of their marriage.
Moving to the East, the wedding rituals differ greatly, but their essence is the same: to honor the sacred relationship in their own special way.
Per ancient Chinese culture, marriages are predestined ties arranged by the divines. Thus, in traditional Chinese culture, a marriage must conform to arrangements made by heaven and earth.
The newlyweds, therefore, must first bow to heaven and Earth and then bow to their parents before bowing to each other. They acknowledge that if one betrays the other, they would be punished by the Divine.
For the Chinese, the tea serving ceremony is another important wedding ritual that signifies filial piety. The ceremony revolves around the virtuous couple honoring their parents, elders, and ancestors and seeking their blessings.
In Japanese culture, there is a special ceremony where the bride and groom drink sake, three times each from three different-sized cups called sakazuki. After the couple, the parents of both the bride and the groom also take sips, signifying that the bond between both families has been sealed.
According to the custom, the sips have their own special meanings.
The first three sips represent the three couples; the second set of sips represents the human ills of hate, passion, and ignorance; and the last set of sips signify freedom from those three flaws.
In Vietnamese culture, traditional wedding ceremonies are rooted in the Buddhist and Confucian ideologies and honor the bond between two soulmates by seeking the blessings of ancestors.
It begins with a formal meeting to ask for the bride’s hand in the marriage. Apart from bearing gifts, the groom’s parents pray in front of the bride’s ancestors, seeking permission for their children to be together. The would-be couple bow to their parents to express their gratitude for raising them; the couple then bow to each other, showing their respect for one another as future husband and wife.
After the engagement and wedding ceremony, a tea and candle ceremony is held to celebrate the coming together of the couple. The newlyweds also bow at their ancestors’ altars to pray for happiness and good luck in marriage.
Though Indian weddings have many rituals, they are similarly centered around sealing the nuptial knot in a faith-based ceremony, reflecting the nation’s rich cultural heritage.
In a traditional Indian wedding, the couple takes seven vows along with going around the holy fire that signifies the presence of the Divine. Each vow serves as a sacred anchor to keep the couple going through all the good and tough times together.
After the vows, the newlyweds touch the feet of their parents and elders to seek blessing and express gratitude. The gesture of touching feet symbolizes surrendering one’s ego in order to excel in life by bowing to elders and respecting their wisdom and honoring their selfless parental love.
An Ancient Tale of Predestiny
The following story from ancient China, as recorded by Minghui.org, cites a historical incident that hints at wedding ties are determined by heaven.
Zheng Huangu, a scholar at the Imperial College during the reign of Emperor Wenzong in the Tang Dynasty, was engaged to the daughter of Minister of Justice Liu.
However, just before the wedding, Zheng had seen a dream where he was in a carriage that passed three small bridges before arriving at a house behind a temple, where he married a young woman. Apparently, the host of the wedding was surnamed Fang.
After waking up, Zheng told his dream to a Taoist named Kou Zhang. Later on, Zheng married his betrothed, Liu’s daughter, but she passed away shortly afterward.
As a few years passed by, Zheng then married a woman from a Li family in Dongluo. Surprisingly the wedding took place in a house just behind a temple in Zhaoying County, and Zheng indeed passed by three small bridges. The host of the wedding was Fang Zhiwen, the deputy head of Dongluo, who was also an old friend of Zheng’s late wife’s family
Zheng then realized that the woman he saw in his dream turned out to be his wife.