How is a non religious wedding ceremony different from a nondenominational wedding ceremony? It’s a question that I’m asked every now and then.
Nondenominational still implies that the ceremony is Christian in some way, without adhering to a particular sect of Christianity. There are many sects, with 30 or so main denominations.
A nonreligious wedding ceremony will have no mention of God or anything religious. It might still have spiritual elements, like stopping to breathe and soak in the moment, or acknowledging nature during the ceremony or by blessing the couple’s hands. Religious and spiritual are not the same thing and lots of people are spiritual, without necessarily being religious.
Nondenominational ceremonies mention God and are faith-based, but with so many different faiths and spiritual beliefs, I find it’s best to mention God as everyone’s homeboy.
I am not a Christian minister, so wedding attendees may have knowledge of the bible that’s far superior to my own. I only mention Jesus when specifically instructed to by my couple and usually ask if they have a religious family member who would like to come up to read it, or perhaps lead a prayer.
Every now and then I’ll meet a religious grandparent while at the wedding and receive 20 questions about my religious training. I tell that grandparent that I’m a nondenominational minister who honors the truth in all faiths and that the couple’s ceremony is fairly laid-back, but still honors God. That answer usually suffices. I understand that they’re only giving me the 3rd degree because they care.
Nonreligious wedding ceremonies are my specialty. They’re not religious in any sense, nor are they generally spiritual. There are quite a few religious ministers in my town, but few who will officiate a wedding that brings a gay couple together, or couples from two different faiths, or atheists. When two different faiths are present it can be best to have a ceremony totally free of anything spiritual, but can also include elements from each faith and honor both. The trick I’ve learned, is not to make anyone in attendance feel alienated.
Nonreligious wedding ceremonies are becoming more and more common. Perhaps because the lack of rules or defined way of doing things. They’re flexible. Sometimes a couple will have their dog as their ring bearer, a grandparent acting as flower girl, or even a surprise wedding. I’ve been fortunate enough to officiate three surprise weddings. One of those surprise weddings was a play in the couple’s backyard that turned out to be their wedding. The play was Roman themed and I dressed up as Julius Ceasar! Everyone in attendance was so surprised and it was one of my favorite wedding ceremonies.
Remember, your wedding is a presentation of YOUR TRUTH and no one else’s.
It’s important to know which type of ceremony is best for you, and it can easily be a blend. It’s tough when religious family members are paying for the celebration, and so a blended ceremony might please everyone involved. I often tell nonreligious couples who have religious family members that it might make sense to close their ceremony with something like, An Old Irish Blessing. It’s a great reading that anyone can appreciate and mentions God, so everyone wins. Check it out below.
An Old Irish Blessing: May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall soft upon your fields. May God hold you in the palm of his hand. May God be with you and bless you. May you see your children’s children. May you be rich in blessing and may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward, with the saddest day of your future being no worse than the happiest day of your past. May warm rays of sun fall upon your home and may the hand of a friend always be near. May green be the grass you walk on. May blue be the skies above you. May pure be the joys that surround you and may true be the hearts that love you…
… “You are now, as your hearts have always known you to be, husband and wife. Groom, kiss your beautiful bride!” Then there’s a big smooch and the party begins.
So how does one officiate a wedding ceremony? Click here to find out!
Matt T. Nathanson, 1st Officiant
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