9.21.2011

the wedding diaries: the ceremony.

(Photo by me. Words, my vow-inspiration, by lovely Jane Austen.)

Neither Gabe nor I feel particularly bound by religious wedding-ceremony traditions. A few years ago I got all wild and left the very conservative Lutheran church of my youth*. Gabe was raised Catholic, but doesn't feel strongly about incorporating those traditions on our big day. We want our ceremony to be godly, loving and reflective of who we are...all told, our ceremony should be the easiest piece of the wedding puzzle.

And yet even with this freedom, the ceremony is one piece that I'd rather not plan. At all. I'd like to hot potato that sucker on to someone else and call "Not it!!" in the event that a guest take offense at our less-conservative ceremony. Don't get me wrong: We love God. But, we're not the preachy type. Not the buttoned-up 10 minute prayer, lengthy Bible-reading, formal 30 minute wedding sermon and seven hymns type. While we want to incorporate some religious pieces, we'd like to use quotes, passages from literature and secular songs to supplement other parts of the ceremony.

Label me a pessimist, but I just feel an incident headed my way if I don't plan our ceremony carefully. A handful of people I know would likely be offended by our incorporating of secular readings + music. And truth be told: It's my biggest wedding stress. While I want to avoid incident, I also refuse to mold our ceremony into a buttoned up conservative church service...something that isn't us, solely to pacify others.

So, I'm in need of some help: Are there any wise ways to plan a ceremony that reflects you as a couple...while still appeasing guests who might have strong religious opinions?

Additionally, I'm a long-time fan of writing personal vows...something I didn't see at weddings I attended prior to leaving my church. Any stellar resources, quotes or passages for vow inspiration?

*This is the ultra-abbreviated version. I don't mean to be flippant, but it's a long, emotionally-exhausting tale. We'll leave it short and sweet.

22 comments:

  1. ahhh Bethany, Matthew and I are in the same boat. I've been back and forth and my mind spins with the stress of pleasing others! I'm trying my best to stick to us and what is close to our hearts and our beliefs. We love God and we want him incorporated in our big day but I don't feel the need for a history lesson like most weddings around my area tend to do. Ugh.........It's hard, it really is. It's easier said than done to say "it's your day - do what you want" because you want others to think it's fabulous as well. Happy-mediums are hard to find but you'll get there and you'll feel "right" about it when you have got it all how it's supposed to be! :)

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  2. I totally believe it's possible to blend secular and religious readings and music into your ceremony- and it can be really lovely and God pleasing. And I sincerely doubt that if the ceremony is truly a reflection of who you are as a couple that anywone is going to be "offended." And even if they are, on the day of the big day, their opionos are not the ones that matter.

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  3. Hi! I just met your blog, and couldn't help myself of leaving a comment. I believe God is the most important part of that day, because I'm sure He is the one who prepared it for the two of you, regurlarly attending to church or not, He is still the God of your life, the one that saved you and that will be in your eternal life, the one full of love -so much, to make your dream of getting married TRUE! So, even if you don't want pastors and etc, God will be there anyway, if you let him to! Your blog is beautiful and I sure wish all the very best for you :) God bless!

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  4. Me and my husband both come from pretty conservative religious backgrounds and I did not want a cliche ceramony. So I had 2 readings, one from a poem that was secular and one from the bible that wasn't your typical wedding reading {aka the love chapter lol} it was from the book of Ruth but I can't remember the exact verse but it was sweet and short and to the point. I also had our wedding singer sing Moon River- not a hymn- and for music to incorporate myself but not to offend the very religious that would most certainly be attending I used instrumental music from all the classic chick flicks I watched as a single girl waiting to meet mr. right. I used songs from Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and many more. People LOVED it!

    My father in law, who is ultra conservative and doesn't like change couldnt believe how many people told him they actually enjoyed the ceramony and how unique it was. I have a whole list of the songs I used if you want to look it over and listen to them.

    I was like you in planning the ceramony- didn't want to do it but it ended up being my favorite part!

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  5. I could also bring the cds to Philly if you want listen to them without having to purchase anything from itunes- I have 3 full cds of pretty wedding tunes that I am not using anymore!

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  6. we can totally combine the religion and spiritual/emotional side of things to make your ceremony YOU, not cookie cutter or to fit anyone else's vision.

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  7. I feel the same way - while I am Catholic, I don't think that I want the traditional Catholic wedding (although, I'm still single and in college. Probably getting ahead of myself here). But I believe that unless you point out that you don't want the typical religious wedding (which I don't think you planned on doing) it's nobody's right to criticize your ceremony. It's not as though whatever you incorporate will be inappropriate. And in the end, it'll be you and Gabe who remember this day - not most of the guests.
    I hope that helps.
    <3 Kiersten

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  8. Beth~ I know alot of people have posted comments that say the same as what I am gonna say, but I know exactly what you're saying! I ain't engaged and not getting married anytime soon, but it's something I have thought about as well after leaving organized church. I have come to the conclusion that do your ceremony how you want it and don't think about the others...it's your and Gabe's wedding make it your own and significant to you and not how others want it to be. Add the small of touch of a bible verse, but do your songs, poems, etc. I don't know maybe it's just me, as I am a bit of a rebel, but I have learned over the years to think about yourself/and significant other, to make yourself happy. Not to listen and be judged by what everyone else says is the right way to do it! I don't know if that helps...hope it does a little.

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  9. Ok, I totally relate to this. We're Christians, my Mom's family is catholic, my Dad's some sort of Christian, and then family friends that are "super Christians". We made our service short and sweet (under thirty minutes), had a short opening and ending prayer (like 30 seconds long), no "message" from the pastor, did a reading from Ruth, vows, rings, sand ceremony rather than unity candle, and bam wham DONE! And everyone was thrilled with it---catholics, super christians, all. I think it's a wonderful idea to incorporate romantic secular readings (I tried but couldn't find anything I was in love with) along with secular music (the music in our ceremony was "The Ludlows" from Legends of the Fall). No hymns, no nothing. As long as you are honoring God in your hearts, that's all that matters--pleasing God matters, not pleasing people. I learned that through the wedding planning. Do what is true to you. There may be backlash, but in the end do what makes you happy!

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  10. My boyfriend and I have talked about this as well. Him growing up very strict Catholic, me growing up in a non-denominational church... neither of us attend church often anymore but God is still very important to us and we would want it to be part of our day - but not the whole ceremony. Now this gets sticky because my mom is the wedding coordinator at her church and I just know she will be heartbroken if we don't do the ceremony there... (we want outdoor wedding) and his parents are still very strict Catholic (a religion I have never really understood). I believe there is a way to incorporate it all without offending anyone - but it is something that you'll have to put a lot of thought and probably effort into. Best of Luck. I can't wait to hear about what you end up deciding to use for music and poems, lyrics, and quotes :) Happy Planning!!!

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  11. I agree with everything everyone has already said and think that your wedding should reflect your personality which includes how you best experience and connect with God. If your guests see you reflected in your wedding then I think they will love the experience because they love you! And if anyone makes a fuss over anything secular, you can always remind them that you can find God in anything even if it's not explicit. I will pray that nobody is offended and that they see all the beauty in your wedding and marriage! <3

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  12. Brandon and I tried to go for a similar feel with our wedding two years ago. I think the first step is finding someone to officiate who you are comfortable with and whom you feel will listen to your wants and needs. Once you've found your officiant, they can help you with all of those issues and save you a lot of stress and headache. Your officiant will most likely have done many weddings before and seen many different styles. They can guide you and you won't have to reinvent the wheel. Brandon and I included a Bible passage that we were both comfortable with, secular readings that didn't scream secular, and we found vows on TheKnot what we personalized with the help of our officiant.

    Good luck! You can do it!! The most important thing to remember about wedding planning is that is should be enjoyable. If it's not, take a steap back (and a breath) and reevaluate.

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  13. Just try not to worry so much about what other people think. Kevin and I had a judge marry us in a very non-religous, traditional ceremony, and it was beautiful. I'm sure I had PLENTY of family members that were less than thrilled with it. But, the point is that you're marrying the man you love! This is YOUR wedding!! Do what you and Gabe are happy with and forget the rest. You're never going to please everyone, so I say: Make yourself happy!!

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  14. Go with your heart. No one else will remember your ceremony like you and Gabe will. In the end, everyone who loves you will love your ceremony and a lot of people will find it refreshing and appreciate your thought and personalization. No one wants to sit through another cookie cutter wedding but people remember the special touches, the things that are unique.

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  15. God sees your heart and your desire to have Him bless your special day. I know the Holy Spirit will guide you with the wisdom you need to know how to seal your vows in the presence of God and man! Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is peace and freedom. As you plan this very special and sacred part of your day-I know He will guide in exactly what to say, what music to play and how to honor Him as you honor each other and your guests. And will help you have fun in the process! :)

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  16. This is a toughie and I would say go with your gut and make sure your ceremony is what you and Gabe want as it is 'your day'! I know this is easier said than done but maybe a good mix of both and one you feel comfortable with, which doesn't feel like a compromise is best.
    xx

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  17. Totally, you can mix. We had Moon River, Imogene Heap, Be Thou My Vision, A short scripture reading, prayer, and a song by The Postal Service in our ceremony. It was a perfect display of us.

    Be true to your heart and that will be the best ceremony.

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  18. My now husband (married on 9-24) is the son of a preacher who believes in God but we don't regularly attend church, but having a religious element was important to him. Equally important to me was NOT having God be the center of our wedding ceremony since it wouldn't have been true to me, or us, to pretend God is something to use that He isn't, but we also didn't want to overlook that element.

    The happy medium we found was to have his dad give a blessing at the beginning of the wedding which immediately addressed the question of God in our ceremony and our lives. It was probably more religious than I wanted, but it made those who wanted that element feel good and we got it into the ceremony at the beginning so we could have the rest of the ceremony more personal, including a non-religious reading and our own personalized vows.

    I worried about this more than I should have, but the ceremony is SO important. Good luck finding your balance and try to keep it true to you and Gabe - God will know how you both really feel inside anyway, right?

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  19. Girl, I'm not even engaged and this is already my biggest fear of a someday wedding!!

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  20. found your blog through a weave of web-pinterest/wedding sites - i literally think it started with pinterest but ended here as i was loving the Maid boxes!
    Any who - We are in the same boat but have started taking on the phrase - oh well - not don't let you think we are being rude about it - thats not the case at all - we were tip toeing like no others around it as my family is EXTREMLY conservative, while his is that "holiday" goers -
    We found that God brought us together, has changed our hearts and has lead us to get married - but we aren't having an wedding that is "holy-ier than thou" - I'm actually walking down the isle to "what a wonderful world/over the rainbow" (we are having a destination wedding), we are also having a sand ceremony to represent the families God is bringing together - followed by a reception that will have some "booty" shaking/bringing sexy back music that will be played operatically through out the night.
    stick to who you are as a couple and let God show you what he wants in that moment of time.

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  21. My fiance & I are on the same boat..we'd like to incorporate God without being insanely religious about it (because we're not). I grew up Catholic and my fiance grew up Lutheran...neither of us go to church and stopped going right before college. I've sat through many weddings where it was so obviously fake (because the couple truly isn't religious)...We're not sure of what to do, we just know we don't want what we've seen. What did you & Gabe do?

    by the way, i love love love your bridesmaids boxes...actually, i just finished making the boxes for my four girls and still working on the final touches (index cards, and other things to put in them)...i'm so excited!! it's such a unique idea and perfect for me to get all artsy before the planning of our special day....you are very daring to plan a wedding in 8 weeks! idk how you did it!

    ps..i <3 your blog!!

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  22. Adelaide wedding dj Mitchy Burnz located in Adelaide South Australia. A hospitality professional with over 10 years experience as an wedding dj.

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