Wedding Traditions from Various Destinations

Wedding customs vary widely across the many religions practiced by the people of America. Approximately 86 percent of all Americans profess to follow Christian traditions (Mordecai, 1999: 82). Despite this, there are several other cultures represented within this country’s population. These include Judaism, Buddhism, New Age, and Nondenominational followers. Even within the Christian ranks, there remains a wide variety of practices and traditions. This can be seen when one compares Greek Orthodox weddings to Quaker ceremonies for example. Peoples who tended to retain traditions were the Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Mennonites, and Quakers. Marriage customs of succeeding generations were increasingly influenced by the Christian majority for whom Western-style traditions were perpetuated by mass media (Mordecai, 1999: 82). Some of these religious ceremonies have remained relatively unchanged throughout the centuries. Other ceremonies have changed quite significantly or emerged as an altogether new form of celebration. As times changed, wedding ceremonies did not always include religious actions. Sometimes, they are secular events held within the courts and offices of the Justice of the Peace. In addition, changing laws have required changed approaches to a greater or lesser degree even within the churches. For example, greater women’s rights won in the early 1900s forced significant change. They required church ceremonies to begin recognizing the ability of the young woman to make her own decisions. This was because she became less the property of her family and husband and more of an autonomous being (Women’s History in America, 1995).Mainstream Christian weddings in America took their cues and traditions from those established in England. When the Puritans first arrived on American soil in the 1600s, they carried with them their own ideas.