Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Photo: Matt Blum Photography
Deciding on what type of wedding ceremony you'll have can be challenging, especially when one of your families is much more religious than the other, or practices a religion with strict rules about marriage requirements. Some faiths require that you convert in order to marry, while others are much more open to interfaith marriages or performing a religious ceremony even if one spouse isn't a member of the religion. So how can you find the balance if your fiancé or his family wants a religious wedding, but that would mean you have to convert? Here's how our experts recommend you handle it.
Before deciding against a religious ceremony at all, the two of you should have a serious conversation about your religious beliefs and the role you anticipate those beliefs will have in your life as a couple. Will you raise your children with a particular faith? Do you envision attending services every weekend? Just on holidays? Do you celebrate all of the religion's holidays, or just the biggest ones? You probably discussed most of this before you got engaged, but now is a good time to get into more of the specifics, especially if there's a chance one of you will be converting to a new religion before your marriage.
If you've decided to practice two different religions, or to not give religion too much of a role in your life together, you should have a conversation with a priest, rabbi, or other leader in your religious institution to get a more clear picture of any marriage requirements, as well as ways in which those requirements might be flexible. For example, some Catholic churches will perform a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic, but it won't be recognized as a sacramental marriage, while others that are more orthodox will not perform the marriage at all.
If you find yourself in a position where you've decided against converting and your fiancé's religious leader won't perform the ceremony, you have a few options. First, you can seek out a more liberal officiant who would be willing to create a ceremony that acknowledges his religious beliefs without requiring that you convert. Second, you could opt for a secular or civil ceremony, incorporating things like meaningful readings or rituals without having a full-on religious ceremony. By highlighting the most important parts of one, or both, of your religious traditions, you'll be able to incorporate what really matters without sacrificing your own beliefs.