Given the increased connectedness of our globe, it’s no surprise that interfaith, also called mixed faith, marriages are becoming more common.
According to findings shared by the Pew Research Center, “One-quarter of married adults say their spouse does not share their religion. Nearly one-in-ten married adults (9%) are religiously affiliated and say their spouse identifies with a different religion, while 15% are in marriages pairing one religiously affiliated spouse with another who is religiously unaffiliated.”
We have experience supporting photo and video needs for interfaith weddings and have seen some very special ways that couples have incorporated both of their religions.
If you find yourself in love with someone of another faith background and are planning to marry them, here are some things to consider when wedding planning for an interfaith relationship.
First, determine if one of your faith traditions should be more prominently showcased on your wedding day.
It’s likely that you have already discussed your different faith backgrounds throughout varied seasons of your relationship.
Since a wedding day showcases your love story for the world to see, your differences in religion may be highlighted.
When wedding planning for an interfaith relationship, ask yourselves:
Do one of you take your religion more seriously? For example, maybe the bride grew up going to Catholic Mass every Sunday, while the groom only attended a Christian church on Easter and Christmas. You may find that you would naturally lean towards faith traditions for one over the other. (Especially if one of you consider yourselves to be non-religious or agnostic.)
Are there things that either one of you feel are mandatory? There may be non-negotiables as you enter your upcoming union. For example, there may be a Christian pastor who is an important member of the family that is planning to officiate. This may mean that more Christian traditions would be woven throughout your ceremony. Or maybe, you both want to have an officiant from each of your religions. If this is the case, then you would need to work with both religious representatives to find the best way to share responsibilities during the ceremony.
Do either of your families have ‘requirements’ or (strong) suggestions that should be part of the plans? While this could appear in the case of religious specific needs, there may also be traditions which are closely tied to culture which could both complement or contradict with the other religion. Make sure you consider these in your wedding planning and then make final decisions with your spouse based on what best meets both of your needs.
Find out if there are legal or institution-based requirements that could change your approach.
When wedding planning for an interfaith relationship, guidelines could vary from one religion to the next and it’s important to do your research.
We recommend seeking out guidance from each of your religious institutions (like the church you may already be a member of) or asking clergy or other religious leaders from your faith background if there are guidelines that are non-negotiable. These requirements could bring changes to your wedding planning.
Be aware that you will find that some religions may be less flexible than others, like Mormon or Muslim. There may be required pre-marital planning, unique legal documentation (or traditions for completing them), and even requirements for guests in attendance, or number of witnesses. Some religions, like Mormon for example, will only allow those who are Mormon to enter into the temple for a traditional wedding ceremony.
Make sure to do this research early in the process because it could help guide you down specific decision-making paths. Don’t make assumptions based on what you believe to be true based on your past experiences with this religion.
See if there are similarities in your belief systems that can be combined and integrated into the wedding details.
Depending on individual beliefs, there may be similar faith traditions or activities which could be combined for the big day. For example, most religions incorporate prayer or a religious text.
If you are an evangelical Christian marrying someone who is Jewish, for example, you could use readings from the Old Testament of the Bible during the ceremony.
You may find a neutral wedding poem that alludes to faith or spiritual connection, or your wedding officiant could share stories from both of your faith traditions which are important to you.
You could also make a more apparent statement that resembles the bringing together of unique backgrounds, like a unity candle or pouring of sand.
There could be a simple nod to your religions, like symbolism woven throughout key parts of your wedding vows, a ceremony toast, or even your wedding décor (like a cake topper or wedding favors). There may be cultural dances or religious songs that could be incorporated throughout your playlist, too.
When you plan beyond your wedding towards your future marriage, think about what faith traditions which will become engrained into your relationship.
Do you plan to become members of a specific church or religious institution? Are there aspects of one of your religions, like prayer or a specific scripture verse, that you will set as a cornerstone of your marriage?
If you start thinking about the faith traditions that will be carried into your future marriage then you may find organic ways to incorporate those into your wedding.
We hope these tips helped with wedding planning for an interfaith relationship.
While it may take some extra time to make decide a thoughtful approach that pleases the both of you, the outcome will be a beautiful spiritual representation of your upcoming marriage and two unique people coming together as one team.
[Photoshoot in the spotlight: Wedding Photos of Various Couples in Austin, Texas by Ila.]
The Joy Team