Weddings in the United States vary as much as the people do. There are church weddings with a great deal of fanfare; there are weddings on mountain-tops with guests barefooted; and there have been weddings on the ocean floor with oxygen tanks for the guests. But many weddings, no matter where or how they are performed, include certain traditional customs.
Before a couple is married, they become engaged. And then invitations are sent to those who live nearby, their close friends and their relatives who live far away. When everything is ready, then comes the most exciting moment.
The wedding itself usually lasts between 20 and 40 minutes. The wedding party enters the church while the wedding march is played. The bride carrying a bouquet enters last with her father who will "give her away". The groom enters the church from a side door. When the wedding party is gathered by the altar, the bride and groom exchange vows. It is traditional to use the words "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part". Following the vows, the couple exchange rings. Wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is an old custom.
After the ceremony there is often a party, called a "reception" which gives the wedding guests an opportunity to congratulate the newlyweds.
The car in which the couple leaves the church is decorated with balloons, streamers and shaving cream. The words "Just Married" are painted on the trunk or back window. The bride and groom run to the car under a shower of rice thrown by the wedding guests. When the couple drives away from the church, friends often chase them in cars, honking and drawing attention to them. And then the couple go on their honeymoon.