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A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage or a similar institution. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic
groups, religions, countries, and social classes. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of wedding vows by the couple, presentation of a gift (offering, ring(s),
symbolic item, flowers, money), and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or leader. Special wedding garments are often worn, and a wedding reception sometimes follows the ceremony. Music, poetry, prayers or readings from scripture or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony. Most religions recognize a life-long union with established ceremonies and rituals. Some religions permit polygamous marriages or same-sex marriages.
Many Christian faiths emphasize raising children as a priority in a marriage. In Judaism, marriage is so crucial that remaining unmarried is deemed unnatural.
Islam also highly recommends marriage; among other things, it helps pursue spiritual perfection. The Bahá'í Faith sees marriage as a foundation of the structure
of society and considers it both a physical and spiritual bond that endures into the afterlife. Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails religious and
social obligations. By contrast, Buddhism does not encourage or discourage marriage. However, it teaches how one might live a happily married life and emphasizes that marital vows should not be taken lightly.
Different religions have different beliefs as regards the breakup of marriage. For example, the Roman Catholic Church believes that marriage is a sacrament and a valid marriage between two baptized persons cannot be broken by any other means than death. This means that civil divorcés cannot remarry in a Catholic marriage while their spouse is alive. In nullity, religions and the state often apply different rules. A couple, for example, may begin having their marriage annulled by the Catholic Church only after they are no longer married in the eyes of the civil authority.
A same-sex or same-gender wedding is a ceremony in which two people of the same sex are married.
This event may be legally documented as a marriage or another legally recognized partnership, such as a civil union. Where such partnerships are not legally recognized, the wedding may be a religious or symbolic ceremony designed to provide an opportunity to make the same public declarations and celebrations with friends and family that any other type of wedding may afford. These are often referred to as "commitment ceremonies."
Officiants at same-sex weddings may be religiously ordained. Many religions and branches of religions, including Quakers, Unitarians, Ethical Culture, Reform and
Reconstructionist Jews, the Metropolitan Community Church, and the Reformed Catholic Church perform and recognize same-sex marriages, even if the government of their geographic area may not.