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marriage v wedding

Churches do not perform marriages. Churches perform weddings. A “wedding” is a ceremony and associated events to celebrate a marriage. These rituals are important for many reasons.

Marriage is a legal contract, a permit you pay for at your county or city clerk’s office. It is the legal union of two people. Once a couple is married, their rights and responsibilities toward one another concerning property and support are defined by the laws of the state in which they live.

We should not confuse the two. No matter who you love, you have a RIGHT to be married. But, you may not be allowed to have a wedding in the place (church, synagogue, mosque, etc.) of your choosing.


4 Comments

  1. This is an interesting concept to consider when talking about marriage. While a marriage doesn’t necessarily need a wedding, and a wedding doesn’t mean that there will be a solid marriage, I agree with Jeremy in that it would be too simple to separate the two concepts so easily. For many, a marriage cannot commence without a wedding; the wedding signifies the beginning of the marriage, and for many people, it isn’t simply an event to celebrate, but an event in which a union is made and for a lot of people, that’s sacred. I think it would be oversimplifying it to say that the two are mutually exclusive.

  2. I want to push back slightly on this in a technical sense. While yes, a marriage does not *require* a wedding, there are in fact still marriages performed at a church. A marriage in Illinois requires it to be solemnized after the license is issued. The license is issued by the clerk, but it is not valid until officiated by an approved officiant, such as a member of the clergy or a judge, and then registered with the state.

    I don’t deny that there is an alternative for same-sex couples (i.e. court), but as a non-religious person, it’s still a bit weird that clergy is basically one of two of the most feasible options (unless you know by chance know a mayor, village president, or other “public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages”). It again seems like a holdover that was based on the assumption that most people in Illinois belong to a religion that has a way to solemnize a marriage.

    In the end, I agree that it isn’t a requirement for a marriage to have a wedding, but I also think it’s an oversimplification to say that marriage is performed by the clerk’s office after you pay for the license. In fact, I believe the license is the keyword here – you only get permission to have one, not conferred with the rights of marriage until it is solemnized. Then you can get the certificate from the clerk after returning an officiated license, and have your official marriage validated.

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