Joining Right HandsAs we saw in the blood covenant, the two individuals would join together the bleeding palms of their right hands. As their blood mixed, they would exchange a vow, forever promising all of their rights and resources to the other. In a wedding, as the bride and groom face one another to say their vows, they join right hands and publicly commit everything they are, and everything they possess, in a covenant relationship. They leave their families, forsake all others, and become one with their spouse.
Exchanging of the Rings
While the wedding ring is an outward symbol of the couple's inward bond, illustrating with an unending circle the eternal quality of love, it signifies so much more in light of the blood covenant. A ring was used as a seal of authority. When pressed into hot wax, the impression of the ring left an official seal on legal documents. Therefore, when the couple wears a wedding ring, they demonstrate their submission to God's authority over their marriage. The couple recognizes that God brought them together and that he is intricately involved in every part of their covenant relationship.
A ring also represents resources. When the couple exchanges wedding rings, it symbolizes the giving of all their resources—their wealth, possessions, talents, and emotions—to the other in marriage. Remember, in the blood covenant, the two parties exchanged belts, which form a circle when worn. Thus, the exchanging of the rings is another sign of their covenant relationship. Similarly, God chose a rainbow, which forms a circle, as a sign of his covenant with Noah. (Genesis 9:12-16)
Bridal VeilNot only does the bridal veil show the modesty and purity of the bride and her reverence for God, it reminds us of the Temple veil which was torn in two when Christ died on the cross. The removing of the veil took away the separation between God and man, giving believers access into the very presence of God. Since Christian marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, we see another reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now has full access to one another. (1 Corinthians 7:4)
Pronouncement of Husband and WifeThe pronouncement officially declares that the bride and groom are now husband and wife. This moment establishes the exact beginning of their covenant. The two are now one in the eyes of God.
Presentation of the CoupleWhen the minister introduces the couple to the wedding guests, he is drawing attention to their new identity and the name change brought about through the marriage. Similarly, in the blood covenant, the two parties would exchange some part of their names. In Genesis 15, God gave Abram a new name, Abraham, by adding letters from his own name, Yahweh.
The ReceptionA ceremonial meal was often a part of the blood covenant. At a wedding reception, guests are invited to share with the couple in the blessings of the covenant. The reception also illustrates the wedding supper of the Lamb described in Revelation 19.
Cutting and Feeding of the CakeThe cutting of the cake is another picture of the cutting of the covenant. When the bride and groom take pieces of the cake and feed it to each other, once again, they are showing how they have given their all to one another, and will care for the other as one flesh. At a Christian wedding, the cutting and feeding of the cake can be done joyfully, but should also be done lovingly and reverently, in a way that honors the covenant relationship.
Throwing of Rice
The rice throwing tradition at weddings originated with the throwing of seed. It was meant to remind couples of one of the primary purposes in marriage—to create a family that will serve and honor the Lord. Therefore, guests symbolically throw rice as a gesture of blessing for the spiritual and physical fruitfulness of the marriage.
Many Christian couples don't fully understand their wedding ceremony as a holy act of worship, nor do they realize the solemnness of their oath or the expressions of reverence that are represented by Christian wedding customs and traditions. By learning the biblical significance of today's wedding customs, your special day is certain to be more meaningful. For a complete description, consider purchasing The Wedding Covenant from the Institute in Basic Life Principles.