Australian wedding

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Australia has many wedding traditions which have been developed and followed by many generations. Weddings have Ďrigidified and codified not just (the) marriage ritual, but notions of masculinity and femininity as wellí.

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The traditions which are known and loved in the western world are all present here - the wedding cake, the exchange of rings and the reception with friends and family. Australian weddings will often bring together extended family members, and a couple's marriage will provide a wonderful opportunity for everyone to celebrate the start of their new life together.

There are many interesting and colourful wedding customs observed in different ethnic and religious groups in Australia, such as stamping on a drinking glass (Jewish), linking ribbon coronets worn by bride and groom (Greek), the groom arriving at the wedding on horseback (Indian), and sugared almonds being given to wedding guests (Greek, Italian and many other ethnic groups).

Almost always, an Australian wedding ceremony is followed by a reception, supper or party for the newlyweds and their friends and families. Often held at a reception centre or other public facility hired for the purpose, wedding receptions may also take place in the home of the bride or groom.

Characteristic elements include music, dance, song, food and drink, and speeches and toasts by the father of the bride, best man and groom. It is the duty of the best man to read out telegrams, letters, cards and faxes from absent well-wishers on this occasion.

In the past, these messages may have been of a playfully suggestive nature, though this feature seems to have faded from the contemporary observance of the custom. The gifts to the newlyweds are usually displayed at the reception.

It is important to note the dramatic changes in marriage practices in Australia even in the last twenty years, and their consequent effect on wedding customs. These changes have been documented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the 2001 Census shows changes such as the rise in non-church weddings.

Civil celebrants performed 53% of marriages in 2001, and of all marriages, 32% of all marriages, church and celebrant, are estimated to end in divorce.

In the same census, 72% of couples stated that they had cohabited before marriage, although this does not stop many of these couples eventually celebrating a legal marriage, sometimes with their children present, in simple or elaborate ceremonies which may be devised by the bride and groom themselves.

Another marked change in Australian society is the high rate of intermarriage between couples of different ethnic origins. All of these changes suggest that social commentators, need to be cautious about making pronouncements about marriage, or weddings, in Australia.

Tips on Australian Wedding ceremony:

Aussies like to drink (which iím sure you already know) so if youíre able to import Victoria Bitter (aka: ďVBĒ which is a beer) and Carlton Draught (a beer) thereís also Penfold wines (I think you can get that in the states) thatíll go over very well.

A tropical fruit salad with paw paw, rock melon, pineapple, passionfruit, banana (from Queensland), macadamia nut pie or slice (once again Queensland), pavalova (the Kiwis like to think they invented this but Ö.)

Use gumnuts for table decorations - they are very versatile and come in all shapes and sizes - can be used to decorate candles, placecards etc. Otherwise you could go with aboriginal designs.

Colours - either go with the earthy terra cottas etc or with the tropical greens and blues.

Traditionally in pioneering days weddings were held in shearing sheds and there was always a big bush dance. You used hay bales for sitting on and decorated the hall with wattle. You would have to like this sort of thing though - maybe you are not the type.