The Interfaith Wedding
Respectful, elegant, and totally you
By Natalie Tsang
October 5, 2011
Shes Jewish and hes Catholic. The priest who is officiating the wedding is an old family friend. Theyre at the altar and the priest asks the couple in front of all of the guests, Will you raise your children in the Catholic faith? Awkwardness ensues. Does she say yes to get the ceremony over with? Or does she stick to her faith and drive the ceremony to a screeching halt?
While wedding hiccups happen to every couple, ones of a religious nature can often be more sensitive. Religion and spirituality take up a large space in many peoples lives and often make an appearance at weddings. If you and your fiancé are from different religious backgrounds, the wedding ceremony can often be a place of friction.
However, interfaith marriages are on the rise. Love knows no boundaries, after all. Many pastors, rabbis, and other religious officials and increasingly open to officiating interfaith marriages. If one partner is non-practicing, the ceremony is often done in the religion of the practicing partner. Other weddings have two officiants who share responsibilities. This can be slightly more difficult to find but well worth the search. A third option is having an officiant of another faith or denomination who is open to interfaith marriages.
In every case, its necessary to have a conversation between all involved parties. This typically includes the couple, the officiant or officiants, and the parents, if theyre contributing to the wedding. Discuss what you want included or not included in the ceremony. Even if its awkward be sure to mention sensitive issues such as what should and shouldnt be in the vows. Invite close family and friends to the rehearsal wedding so they know what to expect for the real deal.
One way to get guests on your side is to include wedding traditions from both sides from the beginning. For instance, in Jewish wedding, it is traditional to list both sets of parents on the wedding invitation, while traditional Christian weddings only include the brides parents. This can cause hurt feelings if one party feels deliberately snub. Do your research beforehand.
Ideally, a wedding is a chance to celebrate the differences and similarities of the couple. Long gone are the days when religion would drive are Romeo and Juliet-esque rift between families. Ask your officiants and friends for ideas. You can find sample vows, ceremony schedules, and true stories online.