A married couple

Andreas Karalus and his bride Angela pose during their wedding ceremony inside an Aquarium in Berlin. (REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rev. Terry McCloskey has a joke he sometimes tells when conducting weddings at Redemptorist Catholic Church in Kansas City, Mo.

"There was a wedding where the groom was extremely nervous. When the minister asked the bride if she promised to love, honor and obey her husband, she responded, 'Do you think I'm crazy!'

"The nervous groom promptly stated, 'I do.'"

Actually, at most churches, "obey" is not in the vows, not even in Kate Middleton's as she married Prince William. As we enter the wedding season, each faith has its own way to consecrate marriage.

Despite the levity, McCloskey emphasizes that the marriage ceremony is both a joyful and a serious ritual in the Roman Catholic Church as it is in the world's major faiths.

Redemptorist averages 65 to 70 weddings each year, and McCloskey performs his share of them.

It is like a service, with family and friends reading Scriptures and the priest reading from the Gospel and giving a homily.

"Then I ask the couple several questions: Are you coming freely without reservations and will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your life and will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church?"

Next, the two join their right hands and declare their consent before God and the church.

Both parties need not be Catholic, but during the counseling sessions the priest asks the Catholic person if they will do what they can to bring the children up in the Catholic church.

The church provides several formulas that the couple can use as their vows. Then, in some cases, Mass is celebrated. McClosky said, however, he discourages this if there will be a lot of non-Catholics attending the ceremony so they won't feel uncomfortable. Non-Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist in the Catholic church.

At the end of the ceremony, he said, "Sometimes the couple will take a bouquet of flowers to the Blessed Mary (statue) and say a prayer, asking for her blessing and help in their married life."


A Jewish wedding

In the Jewish tradition, the bride and groom are likened to a queen and king.

As a prelude to the ceremony, the groom greets his family and friends around a table. In another room, the bride is seated in a chair and greets guests.

Then the groom is danced from his room to the bride's room, and after looking at her, he puts the veil over her face, said Rabbi Daniel Rockoff of Beth Israel Abraham and Voliner, a modern orthodox congregation in Overland Park, Kan.

"This goes back to when Jacob was tricked into thinking he was marrying Rachel and it was Leah," he said. "The tradition is to make sure the groom is marrying the right woman."

The Jewish wedding is a celebration, he said.

"One feature that makes a Jewish marriage unique is that it focuses on various rituals that make the marriage go into effect," he said.