ONE LOVE -TWO FAITHS
PLANNING AN INTERFAITH WEDDING CEREMONY
Let’s face it – the world just isn’t as big as it used to be. As a testament to the earth’s seemingly shrinking waistline, more and more young men and women are finding true love outside their faiths – and making it work. Yet no matter how progressive you and your families may be, the peaceful merging of two religions can prove an ambitious undertaking. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that love is the end goal, and get ready to celebrate a marriage made in heaven, er, make that two heavens.
Interfaith wedding ceremonies pose a few planning challenges. Here is some advice to get you started:
Do Some Soul Searching
If you’ve been neglecting your spiritual side, it’s time to get reacquainted. Assess your beliefs and the role you see them playing in your life. How important to you is it that your wedding ceremony reflects your religious background? How willing are you to compromise for your fiancé’s beliefs or family? Know your personal stance on faith and religion, so you can speak candidly with your fiancé and your families and make decisions accordingly.
Talk it Over
After you’ve come to terms with your own spirituality, you and your fiancé need to have an honest discussion about religion. Although you should have broached the topic at some point during your relationship, now a wedding ceremony and marriage loom, adding a sense of urgency. During your internal reflection, you may have discovered your own views altering a bit, and he may feel the same. Discuss together your values, and identify what traditions are most meaningful for each of you to incorporate into your wedding ceremony and marriage.
Invite the Families
Combining two sets of traditions while keeping the peace with both families can be tricky. Invite both sides to listen to your ideas and contribute their expectations for your wedding day. You’d be surprised how an honest group discussion can bring about solutions once deemed elusive. As the happy couple, you and your fiancé should be prepared to discuss openly your choices, but you should also be receptive to their viewpoints. Be honest, open and supportive, and make sure that your ceremony plans are agreeable (or at least livable) for everyone.
Get the Right Officiant(s)
While many officiants do not perform interfaith weddings – or only do so with restrictions – just as many specialize in interfaith wedding ceremonies. If either of you has a relationship with the clergy at your respective place of worship, consult with that him or her first. Even if your clergy is unable to perform the service, he or she should be able to evaluate your situation with an open mind and make suggestions and recommendations. Many religious and interfaith organizations maintain lists of clergy who will officiate at interfaith ceremonies. You will also find a valuable resource in your local newspaper’s wedding announcements. Search for the names of officiants who have conducted interfaith ceremonies.
Counseling sessions, often recommended before a wedding regardless of the couple’s religion, offer a good opportunity for a bride and groom to not only learn about the other's faith, but also to consider ways to merge traditions or celebrations during the ceremony. Since religion won’t disappear after your wedding day, counseling sessions also offer insight to other situations that may arise in your marriage, including raising children.
Plan a Fusion Ceremony
Consult your officiant(s) and families for advice in designing a ceremony that incorporates both faiths and cultures. Determine which customs are personally significant, and select rituals and readings together. Continue this blending of cultures into the reception, and design a menu of personalized fusion cuisine – think egg rolls with a side of Spanakopita.
Reassure the Family
As your wedding plans unfold, remember to pause from time to time and check in with your families, especially if the news of an interfaith wedding was an initial shock for either side. Continue to keep them involved and informed throughout the planning process. Spend quality time together, and, if logistics allow, plan some group get-togethers.
Along those lines – don’t forget to reassure each other along the way, as uncertainty can creep in with potential roadblocks and planning challenges. Don’t stress that you’re losing your religion, because your not. Remember to always keep the focus on the marriage of two people in love, and rejoice that you now have two great traditions from which to draw your spiritual inspiration. Delight in a spiritually rich life and future to come!