Marriage is a union between a man and a woman, which is not a mere contract but an institution.
For Christians, marriage is a sacrament, a grace of God, a ‘Holy Matrimony”.
Tradition is usually followed while selecting the bride and groom to the rest of the rituals. Lots of preparations are done before the wedding is solemnized.
The bride and groom-to-be, have to undergo a mandatory preparatory programme where the basics of marriage as taught by scriptures, the duties of a husband and wife both as partners, as well as parents, are discussed. All doubts on the family life in its true values like commitment, love, patience, bringing up children etc will be clarified here. The groom and bride-to-be are asked to take this programme in a continuous stretch of three days and a certificate will be issued once they successfully complete this course. This marriage counseling is widely known as Pre-Cana, referring to the miracle done by Jesus Christ at Cana Wedding. In Kerala, some Hindu communities also have mandatory pre-marriage counselling.
The groom and the bride along with their family members approach their respective Parish priests and express their willingness to marry by producing their baptism certificate. This is compulsory to avoid child marriage and second marriage. Alongside, some paperwork is to be done as a preparation for writing the Banns. They also have to take an oath on the bible that the statements are given in their full consent and knowledge.
Once it is over, the priest will issue a letter of confirmation to the other Parish priest stating that the boy or girl is proposed to marry the other person of their parish and to get concern Announcement of the Banns- The next important step is announcing the Marriage Bann. This announcement of the proposed wedding is prepared and read in public on three consecutive Sundays during the Holy Mass. The public can file any objection to the proposed marriage as it is considered as the duty of the parishioners to report any impediments to the proposed marriage. If there are no impediments, the Parish priest will issue a no objection certificate to conduct the wedding.
Engagement and wedding dates are fixed according to the convenience of both the families; but not during the seasons of lent. Permission is given to conduct the wedding at any time from morning to evening.
The engagement ceremony is the official announcement of the wedding before the family and relatives. At many places, the engagement ceremony is conducted by the bride’s family and the wedding by the groom’s family. On the engagement day, the girl and boy have to publicly announce their consent for marriage and a ring exchange will also take place. A formal dinner, buffet lunch or a cocktail party will follow the function.
The wedding rehearsal is an old tradition, where the parents and their relatives come in association with their counterparts at respective houses to share their duties on the wedding day. But now a day this tradition has turned to grand and fun filled wedding eve.
The groom's relatives would welcome the bride and her family at the church with a kiss or a bouquet. In some areas, the bride will come to church in a car sent by the groom. Next, the bridegroom enters the church together walking slowly and gracefully through the church corridor as relatives from two sides follow them.
The priest commences the rituals by a Holy Mass and pauses in the middle to read special psalms from the Holy Bible. This will be followed by a sermon on the sanctity of wedlock. This is followed by a Solemn Promise to each other by the bride and groom. The groom vows to take care of his wife and to stay together both in good and bad times. This will be followed by a formal ring exchange. In a more Westernised society, the ritual ends with this, but in traditional societies, this will be followed by a mangal sutra tying (as per Indian tradition) and the groom covers the bride’s head with a saree as she kneels. All the exchanging things will be handed over by the priest to the concerned after blessing. The young couple is proclaimed as Man and Wife to the community after this.
The priest thereafter prays for them as the couple renders thanksgiving to Almighty. The ceremony ends with a final blessing which will be followed by a signing the church register by the couple declaring that the marriage has been held.
The wedding function will be followed by a grand party. This too can be a formal dinner, buffet lunch or a cocktail party. The couple together cuts the wedding cake which will be a richly decorated one and exchanges the first bit along with a glass of wine. In Goan weddings, true to the Western traditions, the reception will be held in a merry-making ambience, with guests and couples dancing to classic tunes.