Post # 1
I’ll cut to the chase. My fiance and I are agnostic non-theists/humanists (there is an endless list of words that apply). My parents are Anglican, yet relatively reasonable. My extended family is Roman Catholic. His family is Roman Catholic, but not very active. His dad/brother are agnostic.
The problem is this: several months ago I “came out” of the closet and told my parents about my beliefs. They acted reasonable, and then said all sorts of dreadful things, the least of which were “you are just being selfish” “your marriage is no longer a celebration” and my personal favourite, “I’m glad grandma and grandpa aren’t around to see this”.
Now I know my parents well, and sure enough they calmed down after they realized they could not talk me out of it. They respect my beliefs, but obviously prefer not to talk about it too much. They are paying for the wedding in full, and are still very much excited. They slowly wrapped their head around the idea that just because I do not believe in God, doesn’t mean I don’t have something to celebrate. Which is great.
Here comes the part where I need advice. My fiance and I want to have a secular ceremony. We want to have a lovely ceremony which I will write, complete with readings and vows that express us as a couple. I would like to include a prayer (which I will write) at the end of the ceremony, as a nod to those in the room who are religious.
How can I express my desires to my parents with the least amount of backlack possible? It means a lot to FI and I that we have a secular ceremony. We are very much against religion, and so having a ceremony in a church would be against what we believe.
I tried to convince myself that I could get over the church aspect, but I can’t. We can’t.
What do I do Bees?
Post # 3
@VictoriaK1990: I am agnostic, FI’s parents are christian and very actively so. We’re having a secular service and it is perfectly us, it’s genuine and it celebrates our love. It is true to us.
You need to tell them as soon as possible that you are having a secular service to give them time to wrap their heads around the idea. Especially as they are paying for the wedding I think you need to tell them out of respect for them prior to them paying for everything.Like you said, they lashed out when you first told them your beliefs and now are respectful of them. Expect the same in regards to this.
Espally as they are paying for the wedding I think you need to tell them out of respect for them prior to them paying for everything.
The day is about you and your Fi and your love for one another. You will have people telling you to do it their way, remember to stick to your guns and have the day you want. If a secular service is what you want DO IT, the ceremony needs to be true to you and true to your love.
Post # 4
Who is performing the ceremony? Could you just let your parents know that it’s not a priest/minister, and see what they say from there? If it’s not a priest, I would think it would be clear to them that it will not be a religious ceremony.
Post # 5
My husband and I are the same way and did not want to be married in a church. Our compromise to my VERY religious mother (your wedding isn’t real if you are not married by a minister) was that I promised our garden wedding would be officiated by a ‘man of god’ i.e. one that works as a pastor, priest, minister, ect in an actual church (there are a lot of Internet ‘reverends’ by us). I did not let her choose beyond that. We were lucky to find a pastor that was very progressive and respected that my husband and I wanted a neutral ceremony with a prayer/blessing at the end and litle to no mention of God outside of that prayer. Our vows, readings, etc were what my husband and I wanted/selected.
You could try to offer something similar: “I will find an officiant tied to a church and you can pick one reading/bible verse/prayer that will be from you to us”
Post # 6
My dad wasn’t thrilled when we decided on an outdoor wedding instead of a church. But I simply reminded him that God is everywhere and in everything, not just in a church. And that was the last I heard about that. I think you could use that approach even if you don’t believe in God yourself. And who do you want to officiate? That will direct a lot of things. I was actually pleasantly surprised at the lack of flack we received for the unusual parts of our ceremony, much of which we wrote ourselves.
Post # 7
@VictoriaK1990: Me and Fi are agnostic with religious parents/extended family. The way we’ve handled differences of opinion is to let our families in on the details and allow them to make requests. If it’s important enough for them to ask we like to honor their opinions. While religion isn’t important at all to us, we still recognize that it means a lot to our families, so as long as we’re on a neutral ground about something we let it slide. For example, if his parents wanted a prayer to be said we’d just throw it into the ceremony for their sake. If they wanted us to have a ceremony in a church, we would have to disagree. Thankfully there haven’t been many disagreements. Hopefully you and yours will be able to work it out as well.
Post # 8
Phew. It sounds like you already know that your parents overreacted first off. I’d give it some time to sink in, and at the end of the day, I think love is a very universal belief. It also sounds like they wouldn’t be the kind of parents to cut you out and not attend or something. Hopefully they will respect that you wish for your ceremony to reflect you as a couple as you say it’s important to you that the ceremony be secular. I don’t know how much them paying could complicate matters, but if it does, you should all four sit down and have a calm conversation about expectations, the function of marriage etc. This is not a matter of talking other people into how something is better or more right than something else, it’s about accepting and embracing what’s different – and you could say the same thing about marriage.
If worst comes to worst, do you really think they’d not show up unless you had a church wedding? If I have to be a little harsh/pragmatic this is your day, and I think the most important thing is that you feel at home in whatever is happening, not what your parents want. I’m sure you can sort this out somehow… I’m sorry, I don’t have any experience with these issues so maybe I’m totally off here.
Post # 9
I would bring this up with your parents soon by stating something along the lines of “we are looking at officiants and we decided (insert whatever your decision is here- having a friend officiate, justice of the peace, etc).” There are many ways you could go with this, but I feel like if you don’t tell them now it will be more unpleasant on the day of the wedding. I don’t know how anti-religion you are but if you wouldn’t mind one religious aspect you could always go the route of secular officiant with one of your parents doing a bible reading. They might get excited enough about the reading that they are more willing to overlook the abscence of religion in the rest of your ceremony.
If they give you an ultimatum (make it religious or we don’t pay) shop around for a minister if their money is required. I am fortunate to have found a laid backpartnered lesbian who is a lutheran minister (it was very important to my FMIL that we have a church leader officiate our ceremony, but we didn’t want a church wedding) who said that we could create the wedding we want as long as it isn’t physically in the church building.
Best of luck!
Post # 10
@VictoriaK1990: You tell them that you want a secular ceremony, with friendliness and a smile on your face. Then the chips will fall where they may, you CANNOT control their behavior. Stop trying.
But you pretty much relinquished control of the affair when you agreed to let them pay for it.
This would not be worth fighting about in my book, I’d have the wedding celebration that I want, funding it myself. Don’t be one of those women who forever regret their wedding event as inauthentic to their real selves.
Post # 11
Do they want you to get married in a Church?
If they don’t or have no opinion, you find a secular celebrant and don’t expressly tell them it’s not going to be God-focused.
You’re going to have a prayer in it, that’s a nod to them. I think specifically telling them that your ceremony is going to be secular is really just stirring the pot unnecessarily!
Post # 12
@VictoriaK1990: The ceremony needs to be true to who you are as a couple and meaningful to your relationship. No one can tell you that your beliefs are right or wrong. Just because they don’t agree with me doesn’t mean you are a terrible person.
Honestly, I’d do my best to ignore them. You are entering into a new life with your husband to be and you don’t need anyone’s approval. I’d say something like, “I respect that you don’t agree, and I’d appreciate your respect in my decision.”
Post # 13
Are they pressuring you to do things one way? Is there any reason you need to tell them about how your ceremony will actually be run? I would honestly just keep quiet about it if not. We did a secular ceremony but we didnt have family issues regarding it. But we also didnt tell our families the details other then the time to arrive for the ceremony to start. Our ceremony was just held at our reception venue.
Since they are paying one can argue they have some say, but I don’t think that gives them say in the amount of God in your wedding ceremony. Guest list- ok, ceremony, nope!
Post # 14
@VictoriaK1990: I would just plan the ceremony as you have in mind. I think it sounds nice, and very respectful of both your own and your parents beliefs. They can just witness it at the wedding, and (without knowing your family personally) I don’t think it should have any negative fallout.
DH and are are both atheist. This is no big deal where we’re from, in all fairness, but we didn’t hear a peep about it from anyone including my mom who is quite religious.
Post # 15
I wouldn’t make a big deal about it…just tell them that you’ve planned to have the ceremony (outdoors, at the venue, etc) but that you know that prayer is important to them so you will have a prayer included with the service to respect their beliefs as well. It’s easy to add a prayer that isn’t religious at the end and I like that idea!