Weddings are often designed with customization and personalization in mind, to showcase who the couple is on their first day as a married couple. With the abundance of options to make a wedding unique, couples are less likely to choose the super traditional religious wedding that our parents' generation often experienced. But that doesn't mean those traditions can't be incorporated! We millennials in particular love putting our own modern twist on tradition, and important elements of a couple's faith can be worked into the wedding day without feeling stuffy.
And remember, if you and your partner are from different religious backgrounds, you will want to have discussions about how each faith will be represented so that each partner (and their family's traditions) feel respected.
Host Your Ceremony in a House of Worship
Selecting the venue is the first step for planning any wedding, and if you want a wedding that incorporates your faith, the first consideration may be a house of worship for the ceremony. Depending on the couple's faith, they may consider a mosque, church or synagogue, and it might be the house of worship they grew up in, or simply one they find beautiful for the wedding.
For couples who want to have the ceremony and reception at the same location, they may choose to bring elements of the house of worship to their ceremony space. The simplest (but also most beautiful) way to incorporate your faith into your ceremony decor is in the backdrop: a cross for a Christian wedding, a chuppah canopy for a Jewish celebration, and a mandap for a Hindu wedding are all viable options.
Once you've figured out the location and look for your ceremony, you'll want to shift focus to the actual words that are said. With each faith, there is a written and oral tradition to pull from for beautiful words to represent your love and commitment, as well as instructions for how to have a good marriage. If you and your partner don't share the same faith, you are still likely to find scriptures that you both agree with, and you can each share readings that you relate to, or a recent quote about faith and love that isn't pulled from a religious text. And for those of mixed beliefs, we love when couples pull readings from religious texts as well as non-religious to balance out the couple's personalities, beliefs and interests.
If you both share the same faith (or are choosing to have the ceremony lean one direction), bringing in an officiant from that religion is a great way to make sure your beliefs about marriage are well represented throughout the ceremony. If you don't have a regular house of worship to pull from, you can always ask your friends, families and neighbors about any preachers, rabbis or imams that perform wedding ceremonies.
Traditions and Unity Ceremonies
Whether or not your hired officiant is familiar with your religious traditions, you can feel free to add any traditions to your ceremony that are important to you - even if they come from different religions or cultures. Rather than doing research on "Hindu wedding ceremony traditions," avoid pulling in elements that don't truly matter to you; instead, include traditions you love, and speak with your family about traditions that matter to them. If you include elements that a good number of your guests might be unfamiliar with, have your officiant share briefly about the meaning so that everyone can enjoy the tradition (like we did! Click the photo to see how we explained a Christian foot washing for our Jewish guests).
Unity ceremonies and traditional activities are a special way to show your commitment to your relationship while still showcasing your faith and how that ties into the marriage. Feel free to tweak the activity to make it your own, creating a modern play on a tradition. The way you display the unity ceremony or explain it can feel very personal, while still highlighting the reasons you chose to include that specific tradition from your faith.
Whether or not the ceremony backdrop and location represent your faith, you can always add special elements to your decor to surround yourself and guests with images and signs that represent love, marriage and how faith ties into that. You might include signs with special verses of scripture or poems that speak to you, as well as symbols of your faith.
A Jewish couple might choose to incorporate the Star of David, or have place cards with Hebrew blessings. Muslim weddings may incorporate the color green, which is associated with paradise in the Quran, and the couple might choose to recline on green cushions at their sweetheart table. A Catholic wedding may include prayer candles alongside a memorial table or guest book for guests say a special prayer of the couple. Whatever your religious tradition, you have the opportunity to decide if you want the symbols to be displayed subtly or be a focal point, in a way that blends cohesively into the rest of your wedding decor.
Activities During the Reception
Even if your guests don't all practice the same faith as you, your reception is a great time to tie in a few special elements from your religion, and you don't have to worry about your guests feeling like the entire wedding is religious. A blessing over the meal is a great time for your officiant or a parent to bless your marriage, as well as the meal. You might consider having light worship music during your dinner time, while still packing out the dance floor afterwards with top 40 hits. And just as you might choose to do a bouquet toss, take a few minutes to celebrate in a way fitting your faith. For example, in Jewish and Muslim faiths, the couple or bride is lifted up like royalty for all to celebrate! Across faiths, a special song, dance or group activity is both festive and a special moment for the couple to celebrate.
As with all parts of planning your wedding, it's important to remember that it's your day! You only want to include elements that truly represent who you are as a couple, and every word, decor element and activity should have special meaning to you.
Want more tips and tricks to plan the perfect wedding? We'd love to help! Let's chat.