Sacred, But Not Religious

Even a simple, non-religious ceremony is a special occasion. Here’s how to set the tone and have your wedding stand out.

Avoid family friction, they say, by avoiding topics like sex, politics and religion. Your wedding isn’t the time to rehash the last election or tangle over funding for Planned Parenthood.

Many people grow up going to church—perhaps among generations of devout believers—but shed the faith as they matured or found another spiritual path. How, then, to honor your elders’ beliefs while remaining true to your own beliefs? Or, how to respect two families’ very different faiths?

You needn’t lose sleep over this. You’ve got several things going for you:

·  It’s your wedding! Everyone is happy for you and enjoying what is, in effect, a family reunion with a group of new friends on their best behavior.

·  They recognize that the ceremony is your expression of who you are and your love for each other. They’ll cut you quite a bit of slack. It is, after all, YOUR day…

·  Even a nod to tradition can be enough to scratch the itch. A reverential tone, a passage from scripture or perhaps a brief prayer reminds everyone of your religious roots.

Here’s how you can incorporate a spiritual feel into an otherwise secular wedding:

1.  Set the Tone: The very first words spoken—and how they’re delivered—signal what the ceremony is about. Your officiant begins by greeting those assembled and focusing on the very special business at hand. S/he should convey that this is a sacred moment (sacred with a small s, meaning of deep significance to those involved). Even without invoking God, your ceremony is, from the outset, a joyful rite.

2.  Rituals Have Power: Light a unity candle. Pour the sand together. Break the glass. These ceremonials are rich with meaning and, for many, are reminders of comforting religious rubrics. Have the officiant explain (or put in the printed program) what they mean to you so your guests understand why you chose these symbols for your wedding.

3.  Involve the Family: Is your uncle a minister? He may not be your choice to officiate, but he’d be pleased to say an invocation. Your parents can light a unity candle together. The longtime family pastor can do a reading—that’s right in his wheelhouse. Work with your aunt, who sings sacred music, to find a selection that speaks to you.

To sum up, it’s not the particulars of your ceremony that make it special. It’s the overall feel and effect. If you treat those you’ve invited with respect and give a nod to what tugs their heartstrings, they’ll remember your wedding as a special and sacred occasion.