A wedding is a succession of memorable moments from the beginning to the end of the day. Whether civil or church, it does not matter if the ceremony is small or large; they are all unique and wonderful. The wedding ceremony is, however, also a sequence of protocol elements, with well-established roles for several people from the entourage of the two lovers.
Even if their symbolic role is primarily religious, many couples choose to have godparents by their side. Nowadays, godparents are usually dear friends of the bride and groom and are found in most cultures, regardless of religion. You will find out from this article how to choose your godparents, their attributes, and whether they are mandatory depending on traditions and religion.
1. Wedding godparents and their symbolic role for the bride and groom
Historically, godparents are the witness to the marriage, and the role of attestation is fundamental. If the church values this role, it is because there have been too many forced marriages in the past. Men and women can only commit themselves freely to each other. Marriage is not a swap but a “free union.” The witness attests that the bride and groom were free during the celebration.
In Christian cultures, the godmother figure is known to everyone, particularly for its symbolic function during the ceremony. The godfather is the one who accompanies the bride when she makes her appearance at the ceremony. But their symbolic roles may be more important than the planning ones.
Nowadays, there are more and more cultural weddings in which people of different denominations and nationalities choose to unite their destinies. Precisely for this reason, all the related traditions adapt to the times and conditions specific to each situation.
If in some cultural areas it was mandatory for the man to choose as his wedding godparents the couple who baptized him in the respective religion, nowadays couples choose other young couples who share the same values and interests with them.
1.1. Catholic wedding godparents
The religious wedding is the most emotional moment of the couple’s marriage, regardless of the confessional particularities. It represents the spiritual union between the bride and groom and the blessing they receive to start a new family and create a unique bond.
The differences between the religious wedding service of Orthodox Christians and Catholics are not very big. Still, they are insignificant, as there are different essential aspects that you need to consider before the big event.
At the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are accompanied by godparents. Godparents must be Christians and married and witness the declaration that the bride and groom solemnly made. They have to support the young family and have the duty to pray for their godparents.
1.2. Orthodox wedding godparents
Godparents are present in two crucial moments that an Orthodox Christian goes through baptism and marriage. They become spiritual parents of the baptized person or the bride and groom. However, the Orthodox Church has strict rules for someone to be a godparent.
Here are some of those conditions:
- They must be orthodox. The assistance of the bride and groom at the wedding by godparents of another religion is not allowed.
- The godparents should be older than the bride and groom. In that way, they can genuinely be soul parents, having a life experience they can share with the two young people.
- Godparents can also be close relatives: brothers, sisters, cousins, and brothers-in-law. Parents cannot be the godfathers of their children.
- They must be married and have an impeccable moral life to be examples for their community.
The church considers both baptism and marriage to be special services called Sacraments. Both represent a spiritual rebirth: the baptized person is born into the life of a Christian, and the couple into a new family life. That is why the church’s people, the spiritual parents or godparents, must assist with both Sacraments.
During the ceremony, the godparents, together with the officiating priest, put the rings on the bride and groom’s fingers and put on and take off the bride and groom’s wedding rings at the wedding. They also hold the candles on either side of the two young people who get married and participate in the ritual dance during the religious ceremony.
In some situations, the witnesses at the civil marriage are the same ones who fulfill the spiritual role of godparents at the religious ceremony. Also, when there is only a party without religious attachments, the brides are made, and the best man can have similar roles to the traditional godparents.
2. Wedding godparents attributions
In some cases, the godparents are the ones who assume the expenses of getting married in the church, and they are usually a couple. It can be a couple that the bride and groom admire who serve as an example for them and can also play the role of wedding witness.
Be a counselor for the couple. The chosen persons must keep up to date with the wedding details and, as far as possible, support the couple in some aspects that may get out of hand.
Here are some of the planning details for the wedding day:
- Pick up the bride and take her to the church. The godparents are not just guests; they must know the most important details of your wedding day. It will happen when the bride agrees to accompany her to the church.
- Escort the bride down the aisle and hand her over to the groom. Once in front of the church door, he will stand on her right side and escort her to the altar where she awaits her future husband. This tradition is specific to some countries; in others, this person does not have to coincide with the godfather.
- Another of the godfather’s roles is to dance with the bride, the first dance after the initial dance of the couple, an extraordinary moment.
- After the ceremony, the godfather may be in charge of signing in the civil registry and the witness book to attest to the marriage. A role of extreme importance that makes our wedding can be validated.
The role of the godparents means more than the wedding day – they have earned that title throughout their lives and have a spiritual role around the couple.
3. How to choose godparents for wedding
The most important thing is choosing people close to you and your fiance. Please consider how responsible they are and how close they have been during your relationship. Remember to make these decisions between you and your future husband, and don’t let anyone pressure you: even if you need the help, if you don’t feel comfortable with a prospect, don’t feel obligated to accept it.
The godparents could be your best friends, cousins, uncles, or siblings. They are not only much-loved guests: their participation will be significant in the ceremony, and at the party, so you must choose them carefully and organize them in advance.
It is essential to choose as godparents people whom you love and admire, whom you want by your side throughout the years you will spend together. Beyond the symbolic role they have at the wedding ceremony, the chosen godparents are also the ones who can baptize your children.
Choose people with whom you can have fun and feel you can rely on the difficult times that may arise. After all, it is said about godparents that they represent the family you choose.
If you are considering respecting the traditions of your family or culture, talk to your parents first and find out what they are. Then, discuss which of these resonate with your values and what you feel comfortable taking forward. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself regarding these aspects. In the end, you can make your traditions. All that matters on your wedding day and for the rest of your life is to be happy together.
Photo sources: Pexels.com; Unsplash.com.