Let me count the ways we enjoy the ever-expanding and increasingly diverse world! Day-to-day we meet people from all walks of life, with different religious beliefs, and varied backgrounds. If you fell in love with someone not exactly like you, how do you make sure that both faiths are represented in your marriage ceremony? With thoughtful wedding planning, lots of communication, and close attention to the steps below. That’s how!
First, sit down with your soon to be and talk about your individual religions; why religion is important to you, how you grew up practicing, and how you would like to include your faith in your future together. Put your final thoughts down on paper, and brainstorm on your own before meeting as a couple. Do whatever you are both most comfortable with! The important part here is to have a good conversation about your ideal ceremony.
Religion is also a wonderful topic to bring up in your pre-marital counseling sessions. Your counselor has probably had this conversation before, can act as neutral guide, and can point out things that should definitely be discussed.
Second, get in touch with your families and those involved in the wedding ceremony to find out what aspects of your religions are important to them. Since religion is a highly personal topic we suggest meeting with each side of the family separately, don’t make this an engagement dinner conversation.
Have each side write down the religious aspects of a wedding ceremony they hold most dear and compile each party’s thoughts into a master list. Then you can devote a small part of the ceremony to highlight each family’s faith.
You will not be able to please everyone, so set expectations properly. When the two of you sit down with the master list, identify the most important parts for each religion, discuss what will happen, and be willing to compromise so you can find a happy medium you are both comfortable with. Ultimately you and your soon-to-be are starting a new family, with new traditions, but you do want to respect both side’s beliefs.
Note, after meeting as a couple and receiving input from both sides of the family you may decide it is best to have two separate ceremonies. This can be done by performing two religious ceremonies back-to-back (at different locations) or by planning two ceremonies on separate days with separate guest lists. Having two separate ceremonies in two locations is ideal for couples that come from different countries or distant parts of the USA.
Third, meet with your officiant(s) and make sure they are comfortable including multiple religions. If you are having officiants from two different religions conduct a single ceremony together, arrange for a meeting ahead of time to make sure they can work together, and are comfortable with your ideas on what to include. This is a collaborative process, involving a good deal of give and take, and if done openly and honestly will result in a truly wonderful wedding ceremony. For helpful hints on how to choose your officiant read our “Choosing Your Wedding Officiant” article.
Fourth, keep your guests in the know! In your wedding programs briefly explain the religious traditions you are including in the ceremony. It will help you get the details down on paper so you can look back later and remember everything more clearly, and will also put your wedding guests at ease (as they won’t feel lost as the ceremony progresses).
Fifth, begin to enjoy your multi-faith life together. Fill your wedded future with communication, inclusion, and love!