Mixed Blessings

Continued (page 2 of 3)

Wanted: One Good Officiant

While you may have always dreamed of being married by your family minister, that may not be possible if your fiancé is of a different faith. Should your clergy member decline, try to find an alternate to take his place, or choose a neutral officiant who specializes in mixed ceremonies. "Personal recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals are best when this type of problem arises," says Rev. Macomb, who suggests having an extensive talk with the prospective officiant on the phone first. "During the conversation, find out things like how many services they have performed and if they have any experience with your specific situation. If you like what they have to say, and feel confident that they will be able to provide the type of ceremony you need, go ahead and arrange a meeting with them."

Often considered one of the most flexible of the clergy, an interfaith minister can blend whatever religions you specify during the ceremony (mentioning God or other deities), or can keep the service religiously neutral. A Unitarian Universalist minister performs a nondenominational service without specific theological significance. If you want to get away from religious references altogether, opt for a judge or a civil servant who will provide a secular ceremony—usually in the person's chambers. Another nonreligious option worth considering is having an Ethical Culture Society leader perform your wedding. Known for their warm, humanistic approach, these officiants focus on a couple's values and sentiments rather than prayer and theistic references.

Going To The Chapel?

So your usual house of worship isn't an option? Don't lose faith—there are plenty of romantic and inclusive locations that lend themselves to blended weddings. A few to consider include:

  • University chapels: On-campus houses of worship are usually open to all students, alumni, and members of the community. Most are nondenominational.
  • Unitarian Universalist chapels: Many of these sites allow interfaith ceremonies.
  • Quaker meeting houses: In these unadorned buildings without altars, civil and interfaith ceremonies are always welcome.
  • Hotels, wedding halls, botanical gardens: These are considered neutral sites, so anything goes.

Looking Down The Road

When it comes to setting up a home, cultural traditions can be very important. "For example, a non-Jewish person who falls in love with a Jew who's not particularly religious might think she is marrying someone like her. But down the line, she may find that her partner's Jewish identity manifests itself in different ways," says Rabbi Singer. Maybe he wants his baby boy to have a bris, a Jewish ritual circumcision ceremony; or perhaps the thought of having a Christmas tree in his house makes him cringe. Buddhists traditionally keep small shrines in their homes, which have a photo of their deity, plus food offerings and a lamp, explains Lama Pema Wangdak, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher at the Palden Sakya Center in New York City. "This cultural practice could be very uncomfortable for a nonpracticing partner," she says.

wedding ceremonies
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