Wedding Blessing Etiquette

Wedding party tossing petals on bride and groom

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It is often said that marriage is a blessed occasion, so it should come as no surprise that a couple is likely to receive many blessings as part of their wedding. Because a blessing is meant to celebrate, honor and support the couple on their special day and every day thereafter, it is important to avoid missteps by following proper etiquette.

Blessings During the Wedding

During the wedding, religious etiquette may dictate that certain blessings be delivered by a religious leader, but the couple may also wish to ask a relative -- such as a grandparent -- to offer blessings with a reading. At a Jewish wedding, friends or family members may be asked to read one of the traditional seven blessings. In a civil wedding ceremony, blessings are an appropriate way for a couple that does not share the same faith to incorporate a religious element. A special guest is also sometimes invited to bless the food at the wedding reception; etiquette suggests that this is a good role for a close friend or family member whom the couple was not able to include in the wedding party.

Religious Blessing after Civil Marriage

Couples who have been married in a civil ceremony may still wish to have their union blessed by a spiritual leader, such as a Catholic priest. Because the couple is already married at the time of the blessing, blessing etiquette usually differs from that of a religious wedding. Blessing etiquette will depend on the couple's beliefs, so they should ask the spiritual leader beforehand about proper conduct and the appropriate number of guests, types of decorations and attire for themselves and their guests. Guests should be informed of these expectations prior to the blessing and should ask in advance if they have further questions or are unfamiliar with proper etiquette.

Wedding Blessings in a Separate Ceremony

Some faiths have a tradition of blessing a couple before or after a religious wedding ceremony. In Jewish traditions, for instance, this may take the form of an Aufruf, which is when the groom is called to recite a blessing over the Torah at the synagogue and receive a blessing from the rabbi. Not all movements within Judaism celebrate on the same day or in the same way, so the rabbi should be consulted about proper etiquette. Aufruf etiquette does, however, encourage those present for the reading to toss nuts and fruits or candy at the couple.

Family Blessings

Not so long ago, etiquette demanded that suitors ask a woman's father for permission to marry her. Nowadays, most fathers and daughters would find this strange -- if not offensive. Instead, it is more appropriate for the couple to ask for their families' blessings, which also provides an opportunity to celebrate not only the couple's union but their families coming together as well!