In Australia the marriage rate is generally stable, although there has been a decline over the past twenty years. In 2005, 109,000 marriages were registered in Australia, which is equivalent to 5.4 marriages for every 1,000 people. Couples are also marrying later with the average age of first-time brides being 27.5 years in 2004 and increase of 4.5 years since 1984.
In some countries, cultures and religions, the actual act of marriage begins during the wedding ceremony. In others, like Australia, the legal act of marriage occurs at the time of signing a marriage license or other legal document, and the wedding is then an opportunity to perform a traditional ceremony and celebrate with friends and family.
A woman being married is called a bride, a man called a bridegroom or groom, and after the ceremony they become a wife or a husband, respectively.
Most weddings contain wedding vows and a public proclamation of marriage, usually by a government approved celebrant. The Australian Marriage Celebrants Program was established in 1973. It enables the appointment of suitably qualified people to perform marriages and provides couples with a meaningful alternative to Government Registry Office and mainstream church weddings.
Most weddings also involve wearing traditional clothes (gowns, kilts, white gown, red sari and so on). A wedding is often followed or accompanied by a wedding reception. Some receptions are very expensive and elaborate affairs costing tens of thousands of dollars while other may just be a group of friends and family sharing a meal at a local restaurant.
Other elements during the wedding service may include music, poetry, prayer or scripture readings. Some elements of the traditional Western wedding ceremony symbolize the bride's departure from her father's control and entry into a new family with her husband.
A number of cultures utilize the western custom of a bride wearing a white dress. This tradition came to symbolize purity in the Victorian era. Within the 'white wedding' tradition, a white dress and veil would not have been considered appropriate for a second or third wedding of a widow or a divorcee.
The custom of exchanging rings may be the oldest and most universal symbol of marriage, but the origins are unclear. The ring's circular shape represents perfection and never-ending love. The rings are exchanged during the wedding ceremony and symbolize the love, faithfulness and commitment of the marriage union.
The common element in a wedding is the assumption of spousal roles by the primary participants. The wedding is a special moment that marks the beginning of a new life together. Often, it is also a precursor to parenthood, marking the promise of a new family and a new generation. This moment is recognized with traditions, ceremonies and rituals including engagement and wedding ceremonies.
When it comes to planning a wedding, people often honor traditions, even if they do not fully understand their origin or meaning. Every culture cherishes its own wedding traditions and superstitions. Some of those are closely followed even by those who are normally not superstitious.
Common western superstitions include the bride not wearing black or red, the groom not seeing the bride on the day of the wedding before the ceremony, and the throwing of rice as the couple leave the church.
The figure of a bride in white is an important element of the ritual of marriage in western culture. However, new designs of gown are available so brides today may find themselves attracted to designs that do not look traditional. The symbolism behind the wedding dress, however, has not changed.
In recent years, the "Western Style Wedding" (influenced by a Christian church wedding) has become an increasingly popular choice. An entire industry has sprung up, dedicated to providing couples with a ceremony modeled after Protestant church ceremonies.
The purpose of inviting guests was to have them witness a couple's marriage ceremony and vows and to share in the bride and groom's joy and celebration. Gifts for the bride and groom are optional, although most guests attempt to give at least a token gift of their best wishes. Some brides and grooms and families feel, contrary to proper etiquette, that for the expense and effort they put into showing their guests a good time and to wine and dine them, the guests should reciprocate by providing nice gifts or cash.
In some Eurpoean cultures it is traditional to pin money on the bride's dress. The amount of money obtained can be quite staggering, but people forget this money tends to circulate around very close-knit communities.
The couple often registers for gifts at a store well in advance of their wedding. This allows them to create a list of household items, usually including china, silverware and crystalware. More recently electrical goods, including the electric toaster of popular culture, appear on such registers.
With brides and grooms who might already be independent and have lived on their own, even owning their own homes jointly, they sometimes register at hardware or home improvement stores.
Registries are intended to make it easy for guests who wish to purchase gifts to feel comfortable that they are purchasing gifts that the newlyweds will truly appreciate. The registry information should, according to etiquette, be provided only to guests who request it. Some couples register with services that enable money gifts intended to fund items such as a honeymoon, home purchase or education fund.
Some guests may find bridal registries inappropriate. They can be seen as an anathema to traditional notions behind gift buying, such as contravening the belief that "one should be happy for what they receive", taking away the element of surprise, and leading to present buying as a type of competition, as the couple knows the costs of each individual item. It may also be seen by some as inappropriate to invite people who do not know either the bride or groom well enough to be able to pick out an appropriate gift.
By : Phie