The word wedding has come to refer to the ceremonial or official beginning of a marriage. Marriage implies the marrying or mixing together of two family lines or lineages, usually for the purpose of combining property or other resources, and most often, for the raising of children.
What Constitutes a Buddhist Wedding?
The Mangala Sutra [Pali: sutta] is the selection from Buddhist scripture that is often read aloud by the officiating person or preceptor. (A mangala [auspicious necklace] is the triple-knotted cord placed around an Indian bride's neck by the groom. ) Mangalam is a Sanskrit word meaning blessing; it also carries the associated idea of auspiciousness.
Suggestions for a ceremony from a Theravada Buddhist site.
There is no standardized Buddhist marriage ceremony, Tibetan or Western, since marriage is not generally considered a religious matter. Therefore, every Buddhist community has its own wedding tradition that is more tied to culture than religion.
For example, in Japan, the traditional wedding is a Shinto ritual, since
fertility and marriage are considered the province of nature and the local kami
-- spirits or deities. Buddhism, there, plays a more important role at the
time of a death. That is the way things are done, too, in Korea and China
where there is not thought to be any conflict among the three systems: Taoist,
Confucian and Buddhist.
The rituals of marriage, such as the exchange of rings, the lavish use of flowers and the throwing of grain all stem from the customs of the Romans. The white gown is a fairly new idea; it was a fashion started by Queen Victoria in the early nineteenth century.
It is still too early to determine whether Buddhism has found a home in Western societies. If/when it does, then it will be integrated into the culture the way it was in China, Japan, Thailand and Tibet and people will undoubtedly want wedding ceremonies to accommodate it.
In Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and so on, it was not uncommon for a man to have more than one wife (polygyny,) sometimes women who are sisters. It is not at all unheard of for one woman to be married to more than one man (polyandry,) usually brothers.
Both types of polygamy appear in the traditional literature of India and Tibet, but today monogamy is the most usual form of marriage.
Then you may want to go for contrast, to 1st century weddings or those even earlier:
Buddhist monastics do not perform marriage ceremonies, but they can bless the people. In the USA, there is rarely a distinction between these two functions:
Buddhism does not address sexuality as long as it causes no disharmony, harm to others or to those participating in it. Some orders of monks and nuns are celibate [avoid sexual contact,] but many Buddhist practitioners, teachers and others, are not. Briefly, celibacy is encouraged by many religious institutions because it seeks to cut the ties that people naturally feel for their own bodies and for physical existence. For people believing in rebirth, sex is to be avoided because it is the lure by which beings are enticed to take rebirth in physical form into the round of incessant suffering that is samsara.
Among Tibetans, the status of consort is an acknowledged one, and there is no shame attached to it. In a social context, the person may be referred to as the lama's "mandala," and the woman may have the honorary title of "dakini" (Tib.: kha'dro.) (Within the context of ritual practice, the partner is referred to as "mudra.") As in every society, sometimes the uncertainty of a relationship gives rise to gossip; it can also lead to social conflict - - in that case, the parties may do well to marry.
Different individuals have their own opinions as to homosexual relations. Besides the page on homosexuality at this site, there are links in the General Links page and also in the Tibetan Culture pages that may shed some light on that topic.