BRACCIANO, Italy – Some marital advice Tom Cruise and his bride-to-be could receive Saturday: Never go to bed angry at each other. Or they may be told that newlywed "girls" expect "frills" and maybe a cat, and young men are prone to "forget" their promises.
It's part of the guidance that Cruise and fiancee Katie Holmes may get from a Church of Scientology minister at their planned wedding in Italy — a ceremony that's drawn attention to the marriage rituals of the church that counts the groom as one of its most famous and ardent followers.
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Scientology nuptials have many familiar elements — such as a bridal procession, rings and a presiding minister — while also adding the promise to clear the air before bed. The most traditional vows include "poetic" insights into men and women, including the frills and forgetfulness, that are meant to signify the need to "stand by each other," said a church minister who has performed weddings for 30 years.
"It is a poetic way of elaborating on the typical `for better or worse' clause," said the Rev. Janet Kenyon Laveau.
There has been no official confirmation of what type of ceremony has been chosen by the couple, who celebrity watchers believe will tie the knot at a 15th-century castle overlooking Lake Bracciano, northwest of Rome. Italy's ANSA news agency reported Thursday that the ceremony would be performed by a U.S.-based member of the church, founded more than 50 years ago by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
Laveau said the ceremony has many common aspects with other Western denominations, such as traditional wedding dresses and tuxedos, music, flowers and guests tossing rice at the new couple.
"The same brides' magazines are being used," said Laveau, a Canadian who now lives in Britain.
The minister typically wears a clerical collar — but in some cases dons formal robes — and displays the church's "eight-pointed cross" that represents the eight parts, or "dynamics," of existence.
Marriage is part of the second dynamic of "creativity," which includes raising children and family life. The first dynamic is "self" and personal growth. The others go in ever-expanding steps from "group survival" to "infinity."
Laveau said there are "no issues" about marriage between a church member and a nonmember. The 27-year-old Holmes was raised Roman Catholic, but Cruise in an April interview on ABC's "Primetime" suggested she switched to Scientology. Cruise also said the couple's 7-month-old daughter, Suri — who was born shortly after the interview — would not have a Catholic baptism.
"We are also no strangers to interfaith weddings," wrote Laveau in response to questions posed by The Associated Press.
There are five different possible ceremonies, each with different wording and length: the traditional ceremony, the informal, the single ring, double ring and concise double ring.
The traditional ceremony includes passages in which the groom is told that "girls" have needs such as "frills" and "a pan, a comb, perhaps a cat." The bride is told that "young men are free" and can stray from their promises.
The concise double ring uses a more "modern" tone, Laveau said.
Some couples choose to fashion rings with the church's ARC triangle, referring to affinity, reality and communication, she said.
There are specific marriage vows for the couple, but it's possible to substitute a personal text. The actual marriage rite takes about 15 minutes, Laveau said, but the entire ceremony can take longer because of musical selections and other portions added by the couple.
The vows include a pledge never to go to sleep angry or upset with one's spouse, said Laveau.
The ceremony begins with a request from the minister about whether any guest has reason to oppose the marriage. But, near the end, the guests are asked to "acknowledge" the newlyweds. The minister says: "And I will ask these witnesses present to join me in blessing this ceremony with the postulate that the trust and love of the present shall become ever stronger with each passing year."
Laveau said "they can respond with a `yes' or applause."
But if the future turns rocky for the couple, the church offers marriage counseling and the assistance of a chaplain.
"If at the end of the counseling the couple decides to divorce, they would follow the same legal procedure as anyone else and the church recognizes a legal divorce," Laveau wrote.
A Scientology Web site on marriage offers some suggestions on finding martial bliss. But, indirectly, it also summed up the staggering media buildup for the so-called TomKat nuptials:
"Perhaps no two words in our language have apparently fueled more hysteria, general hubbub and all-round pandemonium as these two: `I do.'"
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