Marriage between people of two different religions has increased significantly within the past couple of decades. Many people are now looking beyond their particular faith when choosing a spouse. For some, religion isn’t even a consideration.
According to an article by Naomi Schaefer Riley, “Forty-two percent of marriages in the U.S. are interfaith ones. Marriages between people of two different religions are becoming more common in every area of the country, and for men and women regardless of educational status or income level.”
With this increase in interfaith marriages, one may question how exactly a couple who are members of two different faiths will hold a ceremony at their wedding. As religion is often somewhat of a sticky subject, the same applies when discussing which route to take for a wedding ceremony. Many couples will go through a phase of disagreement when figuring out where to hold their ceremony and who to ask to officiate. Fortunately, there are multiple options for interfaith couples, such as having a joint-wedding ceremony, or choosing to be completely neutral by having a non-denominational ceremony. Either way, couples are able to find a compromise that either honors their different religions or leaves religion out completely.
Choosing to feature both religions in a ceremony is a thoughtful compromise for many interfaith couples. Some brides and grooms choose to have one wedding ceremony version first, and then the other religious ceremony immediately thereafter. This is often done to appease families of the couples who are more traditionally religious. In this case, each person and family is able to honor their specific religion.
If having two whole ceremonies doesn’t appeal, a co-officiated ceremony is a great option. For example, for a couple with one person who practices Judaism and another who is Christian, finding a rabbi and a minister who will agree to officiate the ceremony together would be a great way to feature both religions. It is important to remember that not all rabbis, priests, ministers etc. are always willing to collaborate for a ceremony so make the request carefully. However, there are plenty of people who are more than happy to co-officiate to make for a uniting ceremony – and even have past examples to share and help the couple with ceremony planning ideas.
Another extremely popular option for interfaith brides and grooms is to have a completely non-denominational ceremony. In this case, the couple will have more decisions to make as far as the venue, officiant, and ceremony program since there won’t be a pre-set ceremony plan for the officiant to follow. Many engaged couples having a non-denominational ceremony will choose venues that do not have religious affiliation, but rather potential meaning to the couple’s past, such as family estate or a favorite vacation spot.
Creating new traditions is another option. Some interfaith couples choose to follow a different type of ritual, rather than stomping on a glass or lighting a unity candle as you might see in a religious ceremony. There is an intimate and meaningful rose ceremony wherein the bride and groom exchange roses. These roses symbolize the gift of their love throughout their married life. Sand blending ceremonies are very popular for beach weddings.
Planning a wedding will always have stressful elements, and choosing which religion to honor can often be one of them. What it really comes down to is choosing if religion must be a key aspect of the ceremony. It is important to remember that the bride’s religion and faith is just as important as the groom’s religion and faith. Listening to each other’s ideas and feelings about the different types of ceremonies is a must when deciding which route to take.
Remember, there is always a way to accommodate and find a way to honor both religions. Using co-officiants or having a non-denominational wedding are not only great compromises, but a great way to have a memorable and personalized wedding. And let’s face it, if the bride and groom cannot figure out a way to compromise on the religious aspects of their wedding ceremony, they’re going to be in for a real nightmare in sorting out religion in their married life.
Liz Cooney, Intern at Weddings in Vieques