The short answer is: You may not be able to, completely – but this list of tips and tricks for four different interfaith wedding celebration styles will give you the skills to satisfy families from any religious background.
Challenges for Interfaith Couples Getting Married
Interfaith couples have a lot of challenges, from deciding which religion they’ll raise their kids in, to whether one member of the couple will convert. It seems like the wedding ceremony should be easy compared to big issues like these, but wedding planning is often a powder keg, just waiting to be set off by an accidental slight by the couple to one set of traditions or the other. If both sides of the family are dead set on having their customs followed, some compromises will have to take place in order to have a single wedding. As the marrying couple, you two will have the final say on how you get married, but you both want your families to be happy with the ceremony.
There are several options for interfaith couples that either fuse their religions, or that honor the two faiths separately. If some wedding traditions are irreplaceable to you and your fiancé, whether or not they are compatible determines if you can create one blended ceremony. It’s true, even deciding on ceremony decor and traditional wedding gifts for guests can sometimes cause friction!
Two Ceremonies, One Reception
Many faiths have very different rituals for weddings, and you may feel that the beauty of each should be appreciated in itself without trying to bring in outside influences. It might also not be feasible to conduct both religious ceremonies simultaneously; for example, if you have to be in a Catholic church for one, and in a Buddhist temple for another. The two ceremonies can be on the same day and in the same venue if the priest, rabbi, or other officiant can travel to your location, or you can set them up for different days. In either case, they should be as close together as possible so that people aren’t inconvenienced or confused about what your “official” wedding day is. You can invite everyone to one single reception after the ceremonies, bringing your friends and families together for a final feast after the luxury of a multi-day wedding.
Two Entirely Separate Weddings
If you plan on getting married in two separate destinations as well as having two different religious ceremonies, it makes sense to have two entirely different weddings. It’s ideal to have them within the same month, if possible. Definitely make sure they’re scheduled within a year of each other; after that, you’re having an anniversary party. The most complicated option on the list, this is typically best if you can depend on a planner or a day-of coordinator. If you can’t, ask for help from local family members with planning or DIY, as it’s hard enough to plan one wedding without help, let alone two!
One Blended Wedding
The easiest option in terms of venue changes, a wedding that combines both faiths in one new ceremony is personal, romantic, and less hassle than the first two choices, as there’s only one event. However, blending two separate sets of wedding traditions into one single day is often difficult and takes a skilled pair of negotiators. You and your partner have to be gracious yet firm with your parents and in-laws about what you really want to see in your wedding, and what can go. If you set your mind to it, coordinating a dual faith ceremony is possible!
Courthouse Wedding with Reception Afterward
If you’re tired of the bickering, or if you simply anticipate your interfaith families being too much drama to deal with during this otherwise happy time, forget about trying to blend your religions during your wedding and have a courthouse ceremony instead. Your marriage is a promise between you and your spouse-to-be, and God will see you no matter where you make it. Your families can still attend your nuptials, but a secular wedding will eliminate any hurt feelings stemming from religious traditions that didn’t make it to your party. If you’re worried about it being a bad venue, many courthouses are very attractive marble buildings and they often make for dramatic pictures. If a courthouse feels too bureaucratic for you, the same neutrality can be achieved by having your wedding in a meadow, nightclub, or other non-religious setting. Celebrate with your families during the reception, when they’ll come together over dinner, dancing, and wine. (Or not, depending on the religion.)
Interfaith Weddings can be Tricky yet Combining Different Traditions is Priceless
Interfaith weddings are sometimes hard to plan, but the endless joy and interest you take in your different backgrounds is priceless. Your mixed traditions bless you with double the holidays and a marriage that is stronger due to the understanding you’ve built between you. Not even organizing two totally separate weddings could tear you apart – and just remember, if it gets to be too much, you can always elope! Just kidding, your mom would kill you.
We’d love to hear about your wedding planning ideas. If you’ve a story to share, please email us so our reader’s can learn how you handled an interfaith wedding (and how it works in marriage)!