I have only been to two religious weddings, and both were a little alien to me. What to wear, what to do, how to act, what to give, what to say… questions questions!
If you’re worried about attending a ceremony in a different religion or culture than your own, don’t worry. These days, a religious wedding ceremony is generally open for those of other faiths to attend, and you can participate in as much or as little as you choose. Religious leaders are accustomed to the fact that there will be people of many faiths attending; thus they generally tend to explain what is happening, and what the congregation is expected to do.
Catholic: Most weddings include communion, which is offered only to those who have received their First Holy Communion in the Catholic Church. If you aren’t Catholic, stand so that any Catholics in your row may pass, then sit back down and wait quietly. Read more here.
Jewish: The wedding service is often in Hebrew, but if you don’t understand the language, try to enjoy the spirit, music, and company around you. Men, no matter what their faith, are generally expected to wear skull caps or yarmulkes inside the synagogue. You’ll most likely find them being given out just outside of the doors. Read more on Jewish weddings here.
Muslim: The marriage ceremony itself is called the Nikah. The bride and groom are separated, either in different parts of the hall, or in different rooms. Guests are traditionally also separated by gender, although in Western cultures they may be mixed. Read more on Muslim weddings here.
Mormon: Most Mormon wedding ceremonies are restricted to only practicing Mormons. Don’t be offended if you aren’t invited to the ceremony. Read more on Mormon weddings here.
Protestant: The Protestant wedding differs from that of other religions in that it is a worship service through which the will of God is served and the Lordship of Jesus is proclaimed. The wedding guests are participants in the service by sharing in hymns, scriptural readings and responses to the couple’s exchange of vows. Read more about Protestant weddings here.
Chinese: Unlike nuptials in other parts of the world, guests at a wedding in China don’t usually attend the actual ceremony. This is conducted in private, with just the family of the bride and groom in attendance. So when you receive the invitation, it will just be to the banquet. When you arrive, the happy couple will already be man and wife, after various rituals stretching back months. Read more about Chinese weddings here.
Hindu: Hindu ceremonies are usually conducted totally or at least partially in Sanskrit, the language of the Hindu scriptures. The wedding celebrations may last for several days (see the previous sub-section on Indian customs) and they can be extremely diverse, depending upon the region, denomination and caste. Read more on Hindu weddings here.
Sikh: As a general rule the morning and early afternoon are taken up by the religious ceremony at the Sikh temple called the Gurdwara. While, these days the afternoon lunch is held at a different venue away from the Gurdwara. Read more about Sikh weddings here.
To read more about wedding traditions and customs, click here.