According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center (a U.S.-based nonpartisan fact tank), about 39 percent of couples who have married since 2010 have a spouse of another faith or religion. When falling in love, this may not be a big deal, but when it comes to planning a wedding, it can be a nightmare. Interfaith unions are the new normal. If you’re trying to bring two faiths together in a marriage ceremony, here are some tips to help you navigate the pitfalls.
Interfaith Bride and Groom Need to Be on the Same Page
Once you’ve set the date, before you bring in the family, the bride and groom need to talk about the ceremony. Determine what’s important to each of you. This discussion is going to set the stage for future issues. Someday, you may have children and have to decide which religion to celebrate with them.
Working together lets you present your ideas in unison to your parents, who are going to have their own ideas, and you can stand behind the decisions. Your family may have some culture shock, and you’re going to have to be assertive and firm. Decide which traditions of the ceremony and reception you want to include and which ones you can pass on. If there is one aspect of the day that your mom or spouse’s mom just can’t live without, ask for help in working it into your plans. Don’t alienate family, but don’t give in to all their demands. Think about it for a while before saying that it just isn’t you.
Explain the importance of a particular tradition to the family to help them move past the unknown. Give the family time to process information. Just because they are shocked doesn’t mean they won’t support you. It just means they need to understand and remember that you are an adult making a decision for your future.
Finding the Officiant
Finding someone to perform the interfaith ceremony may be the most difficult part of the planning. This is one area where weddings have not kept up with the norm. One of the most common things is to ask the pastor/leader from each tradition to work together to hold the ceremony. Some faiths will not acquiesce to this request. Another option is to hold two different ceremonies.
One option gaining in popularity would be to consider an ordained minister from the Universal Life Church. It could be a family member or friend who is willing to get ordained and perform an interfaith ceremony. It is extremely easy to do and would allow you to find the perfect fit for your wedding.
Just remember, this is your day. Be honest with your officiant. Don’t make promises about raising children in the faith or attending services if you don’t intend to follow through.
Holding the Ceremony
On the day of your wedding, you may want to include information about your ceremony in the program or have the officiant explain. Your guests may not be from your faith, and it helps them embrace your togetherness when they understand the reason behind doing something. Your guests may not know what to expect, but you want them to think that it was the best wedding ever. Give them a chance to appreciate your interfaith bond with your new spouse.
Remember Your Goal
What is it you want your wedding to say? Keep this in mind as you move forward. The goal is to bring two people together for life. This includes welding your religion and faith in a meaningful way. You have the right to choose your own meaningful traditions to remember your wedding. It’s going to take time to choose the elements that make your day special, but it will be worth it in the end. Working together to plan your interfaith ceremony is a way to build skills that will last you far into your marriage.