The traditions of the chapel

With so many new trends cropping up in the wedding realm – from colours and themes to style of dress, the cake and everything else in between, it is almost too easy to forget about those traditions that make a wedding, a wedding, in the first place.

For all wedding couples committing to a life together in a religious ceremony, it is a tradition for most, to recite ones vows under a covering, as it symbolises the covenant of the marriage. In some countries, getting married in a building of some sort, is a legal requirement.

According to South African marital laws, a marriage ceremony, whether civil or customary, can take place in almost any setting, however the legal part of the ceremony has to be conducted in a church, chapel or building used for religious services, or in a public office used for marriage such as Home Affairs and performed by a qualified marriage officer who would normally follow African customary law.

The chapel which usually refers to a place of prayer and worship, a holy place, originates from the church and it has become a popular venue for many marriages, in modern times.

A marriage is a public declaration of a couple’s love and commitment to one another. For Christians, it is part of the religion to be married in a church or chapel, in front of God and the vows made in front of witnesses (family and friends) as a declaration.

For many hotels and wedding destinations, having a wedding chapel onsite, allows for a smoother transition between the marriage ceremony and the reception and convenience for the guests as they do not have to travel to different locations. It also assists with the fluidity of incorporating the legal aspects of a wedding in South Africa.

The chapel itself is seen as a place that should be respected, and there are some objects that are placed in and performed in a chapel that reflect the traditions of a white wedding that are interesting to note. Did you know?

The aisle: An aisle is the area that divides two seating areas where each of the family members sit, and is seen as the passageway that bonds the two families together. It is a representation of the meeting ground of the couple to be wed.

Seating: Tradition calls for the bride to stand on the left and the groom on the right, and likewise with the family seating – the bride’s family on the left and the groom’s family on the right. Unless the church/wedding couple is not strict about following traditions, open seating is the easiest option and only the first few rows are generally reserved for immediate family members.

Entrance procession: This tradition may not be significant to the chapel itself, but it is a common tradition used by bridal parties. The bride’s mother enter first and seats herself, signalling the start of the ceremony. Then, the groom enters (alone or with his parents) and stands at the altar, while they seats themselves. The best man would then enter and stand next to the groom, then the groomsmen would follow suit. Some bridal parties have the groom and groomsmen waiting at the aisle even before the mother of the bride enters.

The bridesmaids followed would then enter one by one and stand near the bride. The maid/ matron of honour would then enter and position herself accordingly, however if the bride has a massive train or long veil, the maid, matron of honour would assist with the dress whilst the bride walks down the aisle.

Then the flower girl and ring bearer will walk down the aisle.

Then the bride, accompanied by her father, walk down the aisle together and once they reach the end of the aisle, he would then hand her over to the groom and he would then seat himself beside the bride’s mother.

Upon the ceremony closure and the announcement of the bride and groom, it is tradition that the guests wait for the bride and groom to exit, before making their way out to wish them. In some cases, the bride and groom will exit and then re-enter through a side door, so that the guests can gather outside the chapel to throw petals, rice or confetti on the bridal couple when they make their final exit, which is seen as the “blessing” of the family and friends.

For more wedding tips and for any assistance with planning your wedding, contact Granny Mouse Country House & Spa who have a dedicated, experienced team that can give advice to any bridal couple planning their wedding at Granny Mouse. Contact 033 234 4071.