Are Mixed-Faith Ceremonies like Icebergs?

May 2, 2023
Civil celebrant at mixed-faith wedding

Need I say it, but religion can be the cause of considerable tension, and even worse, among families! I have met many a couple whose relationship has been strained because they’re of different religions.

Because of the potential for conflict, I have heard mixed-faith ceremonies compared to icebergs, with their hidden, submerged dangers!

It needn’t be so threatening.

If one of the couple is religious and the other not so, it normally takes only a little compromise to secure a happy medium. Then the service will possibly contain just a modicum of religion.

If the ceremony is more religious, though, the atheist tends to keep quiet during those bits.

One of the advantages of a civil celebrant-led ceremony is that compromise is possible. I have conducted quite a number that have included the essential element(s) of each religion. That way the couple is satisfied and, often, the whole family is kept happy.

I have had to lead what was a 95% traditional Jewish wedding (under a chuppah) between a practising Jew and a Christian, who was happy attending synagogue, but didn’t want to convert. Rather dauntingly for me, their rabbi attended (but he later congratulated me on the service!).

Another time, I conducted an almost traditional Christian service. I presume the couple had issues with their vicar, but were happy to use me, even knowing that I am not ordained.

Most times, it’ll be a secular, spiritual service with a couple of elements from one religion thrown in. People enjoy the Loving Cup ceremony or treading a glass underfoot, among other rituals.

Pagan can be mixed in with conventional religious elements.

In fact, the choices are very wide.

Obviously, couples need to get together beforehand and decide what is important to them and how they are going to put that into practice. Their celebrant can help with ideas and advice.

It is worth considering the parents (though, ultimately, it is your day and you shouldn’t be bullied into doing what you don’t want to do!) and also the guests. If you are including something obscure, either explain it in a booklet or let the celebrant do so.

Once you have given the matter some thought, it may be a question of a little give-and-take. Hopefully, you will come to a satisfactory conclusion that should be highly successful at all levels.

I’d be happy to have a chat with you about this, and we can navigate together past those icebergs.

Photo: Philippa Gedge