While various regional steps are followed by different sects of Hindus across India, the following 13 steps form the core of a Vedic wedding ceremony:
Vara Satkaarah – Reception of the bridegroom and his kinsmen at the entrance gate of the wedding hall where the officiating priest chants a few mantras and the bride’s mother blesses the groom with rice and trefoil and applies tilak of vermilion and turmeric powder.
Madhuparka Ceremony – Reception of the bridegroom at the altar and bestowing of presents by the bride’s father.
Kanya Dan – The bride’s father gives away his daughter to the groom amidst the chanting of sacred mantras.
Vivah-Homa – The sacred fire ceremony ascertaining that all auspicious undertakings are begun in an atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
Pani-Grahan – The groom takes the right hand of the bride in his left hand and accepts her as his lawfully wedded wife.
Pratigna-Karan – The couple walk round the fire, the bride leading, and take solemn vows of loyalty, steadfast love and life-long fidelity to each other.
Shila Arohan – The mother of the bride assists her to step onto a stone slab and counsels her to prepare herself for a new life.
Laja-Homah – Puffed rice offered as oblations into the sacred fire by the bride while keeping the palms of her hands over those of the groom.
Parikrama or Pradakshina or Mangal Fera – The couple circles the sacred fire seven times. This aspect of the ceremony legalizes the marriage according to the Hindu Marriage Act as well custom.
Saptapadi – Marriage knot symbolized by tying one end of the groom’s scarf with the bride’s dress. Then they take seven steps representing nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony and understanding, respectively.
Abhishek – Sprinkling of water, meditating on the sun and the pole star.
Anna Praashan – The couple make food offerings into the fire then feed a morsel of food to each other expressing mutual love and affection.
Aashirvadah – Benediction by the elders.
By Subhamoy Das, About.com