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Jennifer
Frequent user February 2024 Ontario

Interfaith ceremony woes

Jennifer, on May 19, 2020 at 13:08 Posted in Wedding ceremony 0 26
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To my other scientist and/or non religious brides out there, how are you doing the ceremony without any mention of religion? My FH knew who I was when we got together and has always been accepting of the fact that I don't want any mentions of faith at my wedding. I didn't see any issues with this as most officiants we've spoke with say they have a non demonination schpeel so I figured that's the end of it.


Well I told his sister this and now I'm facing some backlash from his family (Italian Catholics) on not having anything from their religion and that I should at least have someone do "a reading" (read what, I do not know and they have not said but act as if I should know what this means and since they only ask about this "reading" when I mention a non denominational ceremony, I have to assume this is a religious thing). I dont feel it's right to include any religious stuff from his family's culture or from my family's culture bc neither represent my beliefs. His family is aware I come from a family of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds and it was never a problem before but now Covid has people getting deeper into their faith and I'm starting to get push back.
FH has always agreed with me on having the non- demoninational wedding and doesn't consider himself a Catholic. He has always defended me against them but since Covid they are starting to get more extreme and pushy.

Please tell me about your experiences and any advice you may have on how to deal with interfaith unions, multicultural families and how to craft a ceremony that stays true to your own beliefs while still being respectful of the other faiths in attendance.

26 Comments

Latest activity by Jennifer, on May 24, 2020 at 08:11
  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    I absolutely love this quote!! How sweet to include this. After another poster here mentioned books and movie quotes for a reading I've been making a list of possibilities and this one will be on it for sure.


    But actually I think your best idea is the one about not telling people details beforehand. I'm going to talk to him about this and see if we can do that. I love the idea of they can experience it when they get there!! Best thing I've heard yet!!
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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    For me it's actually very important to not have religion at our wedding. I'm not just a non-believer, I'm a scientist and an athiest and my beliefs are very important to me. FH is back in touch with his family now but he was on his own after they kicked him out at 15 so he doesn't feel the same connection as the rest of his fam with religion and doesn't consider himself a Catholic at all. He doesn't care either way, it's me that it matters to and he has always known this about me from the beginning. We just didn't expect it to matter so much to other people.

    As far as his cultural background, I'm having a big Italian wedding with all the classic Italian foods and drinks, including opera singers during dinner, a homemade gelato stand at late night and a guy playing the theme from the godfather on a mandolin at some point. I think it's safe to say he will not be missing out on anything important to him from his culture. Also I wanted a small elopement on a beach and now I'm having a big Italian hall wedding for him. All I'm asking is that the ceremony reflect my beliefs.
    Personally I feel like I have to live in this world of religiosity everyday where people of faith feel it's ok to disrespect my beliefs whenever they want. I know it's OUR wedding but I still feel on this one special day I should be able to have the secular experience I want.
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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    That sounds wonderful and very personal. I'm glad you were able to have a ceremony that stayed true to you and I'm sure it was beautiful ❤️
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  • Lynne
    Curious June 2022 Quebec
    Lynne ·
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    Jennifer,
    I heard you saying that it’s not important to you and you fiancé is very supportive. But what about him? Would he like something from his cultural background?
    His culture background is who he is. It’s part of the man you feel in love with. It’s what made him different from the others.My bride is Catholic and it’s important to her. So I have no issues with it. I am not religious at all. If you don’t believe in religion that fine but you should draw the line there.That being said if it’s not important to you and your fiancé, well then others shouldn’t have a say in the matter.Just remember it’s not your day. It’s BOTH of your day.
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  • M
    Curious June 2019 Ontario
    Michelle ·
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    We were Handfasted so there was no religion involved. Just a smattering of Celtic and Norse beliefs. Our officiant was well versed in these categories so the wording was perfect. There were absolutely no reference to Christianity anywhere within our ceremony or otherwise. ☮
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  • Alissa
    Frequent user September 2020 British Columbia
    Alissa ·
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    This is such a difficult subject I'm so sorry you have to experience this!
    My parents are catholic, I maintain a "relationship" with god, but don't appreciate the parameters of religion, my FH is a non-believer.
    My family has made many jabs that we are having a non-religious ceremony. I maintain if they believe that god is with us always, the wedding will be no different no matter where we are. We did end up choosing one bible reading because we liked the message (love is patient, love is kind etc etc) but the other reading is a quote from our favourite tv show, the office (image below). It wont be credited and no one needs to know where it came from. It's for us. As excited as we are, I just decided not to bring up the wedding to any family members beforehand, they can experience it when they get there. And if they dont like it, they can leave🤣Interfaith ceremony woes 1

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  • Amelia
    Super September 2020 Ontario
    Amelia ·
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    You're very welcome! I hope it works as well for you as it has for me. Good luck! Smiley heart

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    If they're that stubborn about their religion, what would they do if you said yes but also demand that Islam elements being peppered throughout the wedding events. Imagine pushing to read from the Quaran if they demand a bible reading. In my experience, people who follow a very strict adherence to their religion tend to also not be very accepting of other religious practices, regardless of how similar the teachings are so many that will be enough to deter them from pushing further. The flip side to this, though slim in chance but still there, is that they'll call your bluff and actually accept the compromise, forcing you to add more religion to the mix.


    Hope it works out for you.

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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    Amelia I absolutely love your response!! How can anyone argue with a bride saying she doesn't want to feel uncomfortable on her own wedding day!? I'll have to steal this one for sure when they come at me again (and I know they will). Unfortunately no matter how many times I'm clear and my FH is clear about our wishes there's always push back, especially with Covid making people crazy. A clear statement like yours should shut it right down, thank you!!
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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    Thanks for this response Hank, seriously I've always tried to be accommodating and make everyone happy but I expected people to respect the fact it's my wedding and we're paying for it all ourselves so no one should have any say but us. I was honestly surprised by his sister's push back against me despite knowing me and who I am for 11 years now.


    I'm lucky my FH is on the same page as me but now it's become this thing where when he puts his foot down they get on his case about how it must be my fault he doesn't read the Bible anymore and why does he let me influence him and take him away from Jesus and all that. Mind you none of this was ever an issue in 11 years together and all of a sudden Covid has these people freaking out, reading the bible and talking about the end of the world. Now it's an issue that he's marrying a non-believer and they've repeatedly tried to give me the hard sell on joining their religion these last few months. Personally I find it insulting but I am still polite and courteous with them so as not to start them hating on me but still it's starting to drive a wedge between him and his family. I don't want to come between them but what can I do? I'm the first non-white/Italian/Catholic to marry into his family and I thought they were ok with that but it turns out maybe they're not. But there's nothing I can do about being born this way and the more they pressure me to include their white religion the less I want to be accommodating to them in any way.
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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    I do like the prayer before the meal idea, that seems like a good way to appease the very religious and still stay true to your own wishes for a secular ceremony. I am not sure that I would be willing to allow this though as it's very important to me to have no religion at all. Also even though including something for the Catholics will make them feel better, I would feel it's disrespectful to my mother's famiy to include something from his family's religious traditions and basically cut out any reference to my family's. also giving in to his family will make it seem as if my mother can push for her faith to be included and then it will be harder to deny her. She is Muslim and I absolutely cannot have anything from her faith at my wedding (but I also don't want to be outright disrespectful to my own people) so I just feel it's best to have nothing from either side to be more fair. So far my mom has been ok with respecting my wishes bc she knows me but as the first non-white/Italian/Catholic person to marry into his family, they are really struggling with it. I just want to make everyone happy but from talking to the ladies here I think I'll have to give up on that!!
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  • Beatriz
    Frequent user September 2020 Ontario
    Beatriz ·
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    I really don’t have any advice how to deal with family, family dynamics can be tricky.
    We are also having a non religious wedding and have included two readings. They are not religious but of significance to us (we selected them for our “readers”). One talks about family and love and my FH included a small section of his favorite childhood book.The officiant we are working with has a pretty healthy selection of readings from romantic to religious. I think that if you wanted to include the readings you could pick them yourself and give it to your family to read? That’s if you’d like.


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  • A
    Frequent user August 2020 Ontario
    Anna ·
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    This is a tough one. I personally lost the battle with this one for my wedding. We are both Catholic however I am non-practicing for 10+ years and do not hold any beliefs. Fiancé is a believer but not a strict follower, and his parents are very very religious. I pushed back against a Catholic wedding for a very, very long time and it caused long-lasting issues between myself and my in-laws. Essentially, they would not recognize our marriage if not a sacramental Catholic marriage and his mother would not attend. It was the most difficult thing we have been through as a couple. Ultimately, I agreed but chose the church and readings myself. The priest we are working with is pretty liberal and really flexible. The reason I backed down on this is because my fiance was also interested in a Catholic wedding. I know you don't want to be accommodating on this and I 100%%%%% respect that, and think if it makes you uncomfortable then I would stand your ground.

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  • Amelia
    Super September 2020 Ontario
    Amelia ·
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    Oh man don't get me started on this dilemma. It's so frustrating having the same conversation/argument over and over again. My FH's family is Greek and although he isn't religious, we've had to contend with his one grandma's strong opinions repeatedly and it's driven me absolutely insane. From the beginning we've been very firm that we don't want a religious wedding but what has been most effective has been me simply saying that I don't want to be uncomfortable on my wedding day. There's no way anyone can possibly argue with that.

    For a while we were considering asking said grandma if she would bless the rings as they would in a Greek Orthodox ceremony. It seemed like a nice gesture and nod to his family's background without being over-the-top. But FH doesn't really care one way or the other and with all the covid craziness, I'm 100% in the screw everything mindset lol.

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  • J
    Frequent user October 2020 Ontario
    Jess ·
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    Just reading through this, I think you have such a great idea... I'm sure that your dad will really appreciate this!

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  • Vinod
    Featured August 2017 Ontario
    Vinod ·
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    Active families as FH will react to what your saying and be against it because of their feelings. They don't need to be pushy or aggressive towards the way you two have settled on the decision of non-religious ceremony and follow through with your concept. Individuals have their mind set that can be different from the family and/or parents brought up. I'm glad to hear your FH is supporting your decision as he feels the same about the whole ceremony.

    We met our Officiant and he too didn't follow the tradition catholic ceremony, only non-religious with the words god/blessing not mentioned at all too. Keep it simple and short to enjoy what you both choose to have at your ceremony.

    The family wanting a reading can be taken as a suggestion though you get to pick what is going to be your pick and not theirs as a compromise. Its your day and your celebration of love. They need to be more understanding towards all your decisions.


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  • Amelia
    Master October 2020 New Brunswick
    Amelia ·
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    My parents are very active members of their church and I haven't followed that lifestyle for about ten years now. It was one of my friends who first brought up whether my parents would want some scripture or prayer and it was something I hadn't planned on needing to worry about. Our ceremony will be completely free of religion.


    My compromise is to ask my father to say a prayer before we eat. To me the prayer means nothing as I don't believe anyone is listening, but for my dad it's a way of including him in the day (plus he would be saying a quiet one anyway, so I might as well let him be heard. Seriously the man prays at Wendy's before we can touch our jr bacon cheeseburgers). Ultimately it's up to you, do you want to have no religious expression and potentially hurt feelings or can you allow a little (and be clear that it's a little) to keep them happy?
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  • Monika
    Newbie July 2022 Ontario
    Monika ·
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    I’m facing a similar situation with my parents and grandparents (Italian-Catholic as well). The officiant I got is only making on tiny mention of God at the beginning of the ceremony, something along the lines of “we’re gathered here in front of God, family and friends” just to appease the Catholics and then it’s a short 20 minute ceremony. No readings or any other mention of God. My FH is not religious at all and I was raised Catholic but do not want to get married through the church as it’s not at my core, and I don’t believe that getting married in a church makes the marriage any more valid and so on. Not sure if my situation is an option for you, but I understand what you’re going through. Hang in there!
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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank ·
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    Tell your FSIL, if she feels she has the right to make demands on how you go about your wedding, will she pay for it? You're lucky both you and your partner are on the same page about this.


    Depending on how his family gets, if you want to play nice and not strain the familial relationship, you can offer them the option of doing religious prior to the ceremony at his family's place while he's getting ready. They can bring in a pastor, conduct a prayer, have a hug-a-thon, whatever! It's all done in their own home prior to the wedding and you have no part of it. Make sure they understand that they are not to impose their religious activities on the masses at the wedding itself.


    If your fiance feels as strongly as you do about not including religious elements, then he'll need to be the one to explain to his family that he's not religious and it makes no sense to incorporate such elements into your wedding. It's unfair for you to be caught in that drama. And if you establish certain wedding events in a particular way, it could also deter their pushiness. No events taking place in any type of church or religious building, not adhering to the Catholic hour, finding a non-Christian based officiant and ensuring they're not dress in any religious garb, They'll likely still grumble and a worst case scenario be jerks about it but at least they can't change your stance. And like Kelcie said, this will help you set your precedence on future things with family.


    Good luck!

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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    To be perfectly honest I don't want to be accommodating at all, I've had people push religion at me my whole life and I'm not about to start now. I do love the idea of still having the reading but choosing something non religious and personally meaningful. I would never have thought of Dr Seuss but I was a huge fan as a child so I'll def look into that.
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  • Ashley
    VIP August 2020 Ontario
    Ashley ·
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    Your hubby needs to put his foot down and tell them no and that you both decided you dont want any religious things at your wedding. there are many officiants online that will do a generic wedding with no mention of religion at all.

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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    I've also been told this thing about how you're not actually married then bc it's not in a place of worship but I told her I can't enter their place of worship cause I would spontaneously combust and I'd hate to ruin the hair and dress. But all jokes aside, I don't understand this, if I get married at the courthouse I'm married, tons of people do that everyday so you're gonna say none of them are married either?
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  • Jennifer
    Frequent user February 2024 Ontario
    Jennifer ·
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    Thanks for the input, I definitely want to be true to myself and totally agree on not wanting to set a precedent for future. I found your take very helpful especially about the "co-opting" traditions that have no meaning to me. Your words here offer me a positive way to talk to his sister about it, I love the idea of I don't want to disrespect their thing and hope they can respect my thing.
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  • Marissa
    Expert August 2019 Ontario
    Marissa ·
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    My family is Italian Catholic and my husband's family is Irish Catholic; but we are both Atheist and had a non-religious wedding. It is true that readings are usually passages from the bible, but a reading can be any piece of writing you find meaningful that is read by a person who is special to you. We had one reading done by my sister-in-law, which was a traditional Irish blessing (May the road rise to meet you) where we traded the word "God" for "Universe". You can use any poem or dialogue you want for readings--I've seen people read Dr. Seuss poems, scripts from their favourite movies, passages from their favourite novels, etc. If you really want to be "accommodating", there may even be some bible readings out there that do not specifically reference religion or God (Love is patient and kind; it is never boastful nor arrogant...).

    Obviously, you can can and should do whatever feels best for you; but it is 100% possible to have a beautiful ceremony that is non-religious Smiley smile


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  • Samantha
    Super June 2021 Ontario
    Samantha ·
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    It's a tough situation for sure. Neither FH or I have any affiliations with either of our families faiths and they're aware of that. So it was never going to be a part of our ceremony. Which I'm sure FH's grandpa in particular will have some words for us, but in the end it's our day and we're doing what we feel most comfortable with and religion just has no place in our relationship.
    One co-worker even said to us that we won't be actually married because we're not having the ceremony in a church or place of worship. FH had some choice words with them about that... So it may rub some people the wrong way, but in the end you should do what you feel represents your relationship.
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  • K
    Devoted August 2021 Nova Scotia
    Kl ·
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    I think you should stand your ground here!! Secular wedding ceremonies can be just as beautiful and meaningful, and, like you’ve said, there’s no shortage of officiants willing to perform them. I’m not religious either and I can’t I imagine incorporating those elements into something as important as my wedding just to appease guests, even if they are immediate family members. It would feel completely inauthentic to me. I would almost feel disrespectful “co-opting” traditions that aren’t meaningful to me when those very same traditions do hold a lot of significance for others.


    If my fiancé was religious and wanted to incorporate traditions that had meaning to him personally, that would be a different discussion. But I wouldn’t cave solely to please family members. I also wouldn’t want to set a precedent whereby family members might feel comfortable imposing their beliefs on my fiancé and I in the future (with respect to the spiritual upbringing of children, for example). Anyway, that’s just my take! Good luck! This is tricky stuff for sure.
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