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Real Wedding Challenges: An Interfaith Wedding

We have two things we love to find here at the Savvy Scoop: interesting stories and inspiring ideas to help you make your wedding special. Our new monthly feature Real Wedding Challenges combines both of these loves. On the last Friday of every month we’ll introduce you to a real married couple who worked through a challenge in planning their wedding. Since these couples are no longer in the midst of planning a wedding, we think you’ll find their solutions and perspectives refreshing. April can be a challenging month for a lot of interfaith couples, so we’re ending March by featuring a couple who found a way to combine two different religious traditions to create a wonderful wedding. As always we’d love to hear from you, what types of wedding challenges are you facing? What types of couples would you like to hear about? Couple: Debbie and Mark Ages and Jobs: Debbie: 30, Deputy Chief Information Officer for the City of Chicago Mark: 29, Financial Analyst for Chicago Housing Authority Location: Chicago, IL Wedding Date: May 6, 2000 How we met: Although Debbie was essentially “the girl next door,” Mark and Debbie were set up on a blind date. Here’s how Mark tells the story: “I was very close friends with a girl from college. Deb was a very close friend to that girl's older sister, also a student at NU. I knew the sister of my friend (a bit). Deb knew my friend (a bit.) Six years pass. I visit my friend in California (2,000 miles away). We go out to dinner with the older sister and her husband. Over a great dinner, we discuss my interest in public policy, city planning, love of Chicago, my apartment on George Street in Lakeview, etc. The older sister says ‘I know someone you should meet.’ I didn't even think of it too romantically at the time. Our first date was great. So, I think it is neat that I traveled 2,000 miles away to hear about my future wife, who was living only two blocks away." The biggest challenge: Thankfully, it was not dealing with crazy in-laws. Alas, other interfaith weddings face much more drama than ours, particularly from parents and extended family. We were lucky. Though we were not on a tight budget, we worked to spend money on what would be value-added...not something that wouldn't add too much to our enjoyment. Our wedding: Mark says: “It was awesome! A thoughtful blend of Jewish and Catholic traditions grounded in the spirituality of both of our faiths, but without too significant a feeling of keeping score.” When asked what traditions they included, Debbie says: “We used an interfaith ketubah (wedding contract), which we found online. We did it as part of the ceremony, not before (as is traditional in a Jewish wedding). We basically followed the order of a Catholic Mass, but did not include communion. We did the “sign of peace” and the “statement of intentions.” We used an adapted version of the traditional Jewish seven blessings, we had old and new testament readings, a unity candle ceremony (common in Catholic weddings), and Mark broke a glass at the end (traditional in Jewish ceremonies). A rabbi and a priest co-officiated. Best advice we were given: The bride and groom each get to pick five things that they are willing to "fight" about: Five specific things (not "the reception") that they really care about. If it is not on one of the two lists, you aren’t allowed to fight about it. Make a decision and move on. You really won't remember what napkins, flavor the second layer of cake is, which groomsman walked which bridesmaid down the aisle, etc. We joined a group for Catholic/Jewish couples. That was helpful in giving us ideas, and helping us find a rabbi and a priest who would co-officiate. What we might do differently: Mark says: I would probably do it a bit smaller. Some resources Debbie recommends: Jewish Catholic Dialogue Group Interfaith Union Interfaith ketubah Just google “interfaith ketubah” and there are tons We used Follow up: Today, Mark and Debbie are happily married with two children. They still find ways to incorporate both religious traditions into their lives. Thanks to Mark and Debbie for sharing their story.
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