What Happens at a Buddhist Wedding Blessing
In Buddhism there is no set wedding service, as marriage is not considered a sacred ceremony, though it is considered a social occasion. In Buddhist teachings, it is stated that marriage should be based on deep mutual respect between partners and that it should be a partnership of equals. Buddhists can intermarry with other religions with their union being a harmonious blend of the differing strengths and abilities of the man and woman.
Some couples choose to have a Buddhist blessing in a temple after their civil marriage ceremony which is necessary as Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments. With no set format, a Buddhist wedding blessing is usually influenced by the customs of the country in which it is taking place.
Whilst Buddhists have few rules when it comes to marriage, all Buddhists are expected to know the Buddha’s teachings on the mutual obligations and duties of a husband and a wife.
Booking the blessing ceremony
The Blessing Ceremony in the temple can take place at any time convenient for the venue. No notice is required for your blessing, other than to ask the temple if the proposed time is convenient. You do not need to attend any meetings with the monks prior to your blessing. There is no blessing rehearsal.
People of all religions are welcome to attend a Buddhist blessing service, as long as each guest respects the traditions of the Buddhist faith.
The blessing ceremony
The Blessing Ceremony takes place in the shrine room of the Buddhist temple. The ceremony lasts about half an hour, during which time ordained monks chant from Buddhist sacred texts in the Pali language. The style of chanting has been handed down since the time of the Buddha. The guests and wedding couple listen and observe, but do not participate. For this reason there are no service sheets.
As an example, a Buddhist Thai ceremonial blessing takes place in the presence of holy monks at a temple or resort. The blessing ceremony officially begins as the monks arrive. The guests are led in procession to the wedding venue by a long drum parade. The couple are offered floral neck garlands and the groom presents the bridal bouquet to the bride. The bride and groom are invited to light candles and incense sticks. Then, in this peaceful and serene atmosphere, the Buddhist monks commence the blessing ceremony
To symbolise the couple’s union, holy thread is placed over the bride and grooms’ heads while their forehead is marked with powder for good luck and lifelong prosperity. After ceremonial offerings are made to the Buddhist monks, the couple and all guests are blessed with a final sprinkling of holy water as the wedding ceremony comes to an end. As witnesses to the start of the couple’s new life, all attending guests pour scented holy water over the newly-weds’ hands and wish them well for their future together.
What to wear
The bride, groom and guests are free to wear whatever they like, as long as it is not too revealing. The bride usually wears a dress and the groom a suit. The bride may like to wear a floral headpiece and carry a floral bouquet.
Guests should be aware that they must behave respectfully towards the Buddhist monks in the temple and should remove their shoes before entering the shrine room.