Dear Wedding Maven,
I'm engaged to a wonderful guy, but I have an odd problem. His family is rather traditional, and his mother expects us to have a "normal" traditional, Christian wedding. I'm far more in favor of a gothic handfasting, but I know that my fiancé will be disowned if I do anything too outrageous. I really don't want to cause any problems, but it's my day, and I truly don't think it should be a big deal. Can you give me advice on how to subtly add elements of Wicca and Goth without getting anyone disowned? (or getting called the spawn of Satan. bleh.)
Not the Spawn of Satan
Dear Not Spawn
You know what’s interesting about your letter? You talk about what your fiancé’s family wants, and what you want, but you don’t say anything about what your fiancé wants. Given that he’s the one risking being disowned, don’t you think you should check with him before you check with me?
The way your letter is worded I’m assuming that you aren’t actually a practicing Wiccan, it’s just that you like the idea of a more alternative wedding. If that’s the case, then sure, there are ways to incorporate your tastes with a traditional wedding. On OneWed’s store we sell beautiful handfasting ribbons, and you can obviously incorporate the language of a handfasting with your wedding ceremony. If either you or your fiancé have any Irish heritage then you can easily get away with this by presenting it as “an ancient Celtic tradition.”
Steampunk fashions are a stunning way to take “traditional” visuals and mix them with a more “Goth” mentality. You can also always forgo the traditional white wedding dress and flowers for something a little more “Goth.” Wedding dress designers like Katrina Marie specialize in dresses that would not shock your in-laws but indulge your inner Pagan Goddess.
Now, if you’re talking less about fashion and more about deeply held religious beliefs, then things are a little more difficult. If you and your fiancé have different religious or spiritual beliefs then his parents, then your wedding should absolutely reflect those beliefs. Yes, it may cause trouble between your fiancé and his family, but if you’re serious about your faith, then you need to honor it.
If you and your fiancé are not Christian and do not want to pretend to be Christian, then you need to have an open and honest discussion with his parents. It is difficult for most parents to accept that their child has chosen a different faith, but usually they do come around.
The best way to avoid being called “Satan’s spawn” is to recognize that your wedding is not actually “my day,” as you call it. It’s a day to celebrate that you and your fiancé have chosen to join each other’s families. That means honoring and being respectful of those families. You do not have to engage in rituals or traditions that you don’t believe in, but you do need to be respectful and open-minded in discussing those traditions and rituals. Do some research into both his families beliefs, and your own and see if you can come up with something that works for everyone.
Do you need wedding advice? If you have a question about wedding traditions, etiquette or relationships write the Wedding Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org