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Ceremonies: Marriage

Wedding ceremonies are a public declaration of a couple's intent to continue religious family life. Children are seen as a gift from God.



In the Jewish tradition the bride and groom are married under a canopy. The groom gives the bride a ring and breaks a glass underfoot, said to be a reminder of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. The terms of the dowry are set down in a written contract known as a 'ketubah' which is signed by 2 witnesses.

Attitudes vary to the marriage of a Jew to a Gentile (non-Jew). The child of a Jewish mother is deemed Jewish, regardless of the father's status. Jewish law permits divorce.



A Muslim wedding may be a simple or a grand affair. The marriage ceremony does not have to be performed by an imam. It takes place in the home rather than the mosque. In the UK, a civil ceremony must also be held. The husband has to give the wife a dowry (a gift of money or assets which will remain hers).

Muslim men may marry non-Muslim women, because the child is considered to take the religion of the father. A Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man. The Qur'an suggests that a man may have up to four wives, but stresses the likelihood of problems, and recommends one only. Divorce is permitted, with great reluctance, after all reasonable attempts to save the situation have failed. Remarriage usually presents no special problems.



Weddings usually take place in the local church of the bride, perhaps announced publicly by a peal of bells. Traditionally the bride wears a white dress and the bride and groom exchange rings.

Attitudes to cross-denomination couples vary with the minister conducting the ceremony. Some may not be happy with the idea of a Catholic marrying a Protestant; others may permit a mixed-denomination church wedding. Attitudes to divorce also vary widely.

Rings for all faiths

Jewish wedding

Islamic ceremony

Christians marrying