Wedding Ceremony Vs Wedding Reception: How The Two Events Are Distinct From Each Other?

They say that marriages are made in heaven. While that might be true, there is no denying the fact that weddings are made on the earth. By definition, a wedding is a ceremony to get married or to get a man and a woman united for life. As per the tradition, the wedding can be divided into two important events – the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception. The wedding ceremony is the ritual part of the wedding where the bride and the groom go through a traditionally followed process of making promises to each other, taking vows and seeking blessings from the elders and the Supreme Lord to be accepted by the society as a man and wife. And the wedding reception is the celebration part of the wedding that follows the wedding ceremony consisting of events such as treating the guests with good food and respect and celebrating the occasion with them.

Although rituals and traditions vary across cultures, races and ethnicities, the basic concepts of a wedding ceremony and wedding reception remain more or less the same. In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between the wedding ceremony and wedding reception in detail so that you are able to distinguish between the two. 

6 differences between a wedding ceremony and a wedding reception

Although both the events together constitute a wedding, they are so different in terms of purpose, structure and many other social parameters. In the following section, we will discuss each one of them in detail and understand how a wedding ceremony is different from a wedding reception.

Structural Difference: 

Structurally the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception are very different from each other. Brushing aside minor cultural differences across regions, a typical Indian wedding ceremony starts with paying respect to the ancestors in the morning in the form of pujas and offerings followed by the haldi or the pithi ceremony where the bride and the groom are given a holy bath after applying turmeric pastes all over their bodies. The evening rituals include the bride walking down the aisle with her family members or being carried lovingly to the sacred mandap by her uncles and brothers, where she joins her future husband who has already arrived at the location with his friends and family members for the occasion. The final part of the wedding ceremony includes rituals such as taking vows in front of the fire and the family elders from both sides, making promises to each other in the name of God and finally offering sacrifices to the fire to make lifelong commitments. The whole ceremony is performed in the presence of guests who are like a witness to the entire event.

On the other hand, a wedding reception starts with the bride and groom, who are now husband and wife, making a grand appearance in front of the guests. The man introduces his wife to his friends, colleagues and acquaintances who have been invited to the occasion. Then they celebrate the occasion together with music, food, drinks and lots of fun. 

The difference in Purpose: 

Evidently, the purpose of both events is not the same. While the purpose of the wedding ceremony is to unite the man and woman in the presence of family members and society and make them promise to each other to take each other’s responsibility till the day they die, the purpose of the wedding reception is to formally introduce the married couple to the society and celebrate the occasion together with food, drink and music.

The difference in duration:

As per Indian traditions, a Hindu wedding ceremony may take hours to complete. The wedding ceremony is performed in small ritualistic events throughout the day till it is completed with a haavan usually late at night. The wedding reception, on the other hand, usually starts in the evening and stretches maximum to the midnight. 

The difference in Timeline:

There is a difference in terms of the timeline or the schedule of the two events too. As per Christian practices, a wedding ceremony is a short event spanning not more than 30 minutes to an hour. And the wedding reception is usually held the same day after the ceremony gets over preferably in the evening. But as per Hindu traditions, the wedding reception is usually held a day or two later at the groom’s place. Since the wedding ceremony takes hours to complete depending on the muhurath, and the bride and groom stay on a fast till the ceremony is over, the celebrations are kept for another day. Although the bride and groom’s family may prefer to hold both the events on the same day, if they are planning a one-day event, it is a standard practice to hold the two events on two separate dates.

The difference in venue:

As per the Christian practices, the venue for the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception may be different as well as the same depending on the choice of the two parties. But in the case of Indian weddings, the two events are held on two different days and at two different venues most of the time. Banquet halls for ceremony are hired by the bride’s family. And banquet halls for cocktail party and reception are booked by the groom’s side. Most of the time, the wedding receptions are large events with live music, loud dance parties, grand feasts and cocktail parties. Wedding banquet halls in West Delhi have adequate arrangements to hold such wedding reception parties where the newly wedded couple can enjoy with their friends, family members and other invited guests. 

The difference in Setup:

The setup for the wedding ceremony is very much different from the setup for the reception. For the wedding ceremony, there needs to be a mandap, a haavan-kund and enough sitting arrangements for friends and family members so that they can watch the marriage rituals in progress. Even the small party halls in Delhi have enough space to handle a typical Indian wedding ceremony. 

But a wedding reception needs a different kind of setup. It needs a stage, a dance floor and a dining hall. Most of the wedding banquet halls in North Delhi are spacious enough to hold such parties.  

A wedding ceremony and wedding reception are both an integral part of a wedding. A couple may, however, choose to minimize focus on one of them and emphasize the other.  Even though they are not obligatory practices forced upon a man and a woman who are willing to get married and that a couple can get married without following these rituals and practices as well, they are part of our traditions since time immemorial and there must be some reasons why they are still into practice today. 

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