(Closed) Already dealing with backlash on my secular ceremony. I need support, bees!

posted 8 years ago in Secular
Post # 3
427 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Neither myself nor my Fiance are religious and some members of our family like to think they are, but they aren’t 🙂 We really didn’t discuss our planning with anyone (since we’re only having 6 witnesses with us).  We actually got our officiant through an elopement package offerred by a local Inn, but there are a lot of officiants on the internet, the Knot has a list of some in different areas. There are priests that will marry you and will give you a secular service, just have to make sure they are comfortable doing one.

I think no matter what, a secular ceremony will be much shorter than a religious.  I have seen people do the sand ceremony to lengthen it. You could have people read poetry, can’t think of one of the top of my head but there is plenty to choose from.


Post # 4
278 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Fi and I both attend church regularly and believe in God – but we too have opted for a secular ceremony, apart from one prayer 🙂

We want a short ceremony – as it will be an outdoor wedding in the middle of July, so have cut out the readings and anything “religious”. I’ve heard of people reading poems, or a special paragraph from a book/play etc in place of religious readings. Perhaps have certain people come up and saying something about you and the groom instead?

Thankfully there is a company in our province where you can hire an officient without jumping through hoops / being preached at, etc. They don’t judge – they just marry whoever wants to get married 😉

We are not trying to please the religious people we’ve invited, so I’m not going to be much help there : I personally do not feel anyone has the right to be offended because I don’t want religion in my wedding?

I hope you can figure something out for yourself that will please everyone – but most importantly, you!

Post # 5
9916 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

My uncle, who is a minister, is marrying us, but we have asked to take the god out of it.  Instead of the prayer, we’re going to have a moment of silence.  Instead of “in front of God” we’re going to have “in front of friends and family”.  You could probably find a minister/priest/whatever who would marry you.  My uncle said that since we’re getting married outside, and not in a place of worship, he has no problem with us taking the god out.  


Also, I don’t know what time you need to fill for the ceremony.  Make it short and sweet!  Everyone is looking forward to eating and drinking!  =)

Post # 6
2605 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Readings are definitly an option, you can use poems, or romantic passages from novels instead of religious ones.  You could also have the officiant tell “your story” to your guests before starting the vows, and/or you could say a few words to eachother before starting the vows.  We planned on doing that, but were both bawling too hard at the time, so he took pity on us and skipped over it 🙂

We also had a wine ceremony where the officiant poured some wine, and we shared it, he read something about the giving and receiving of love etc…  it took about 5 minutes or so, so not a huge time filler, but we eloped so that was fine by us.

Post # 7
1460 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

A wedding can still be spiritual without being religious.

Our celebrant has most of our ceremony penned and it includes a short talk about what defines a marriage, the marriage intent, our vows (which we’re not writing) and exchange of rings, a Native American wedding blessing, pronouncement and a marriage blessing.

It looks like this will take about 10 minutes.  We’re eloping so I’m fine with that.  You can always add music and a candle, sand, wine box, or handfasting ceremony.  I really like the handfasting.  🙂

Since we’re eloping out-of-state, I found our celebrant online but you can go to the courthouse of the county/city in which you’re getting married and they can provide a list of celebrants/officiants.

Good luck to you and do what makes you happy.  It’s your day.  🙂

Post # 8
33 posts
  • Wedding: October 2012

I wouldn’t call our wedding “secular”, I would say it is contemporary. I wrote our ceremony from stratch, included a quote from a book about love called “Two,” our own personal vows, then a ring ceremony.

During the planning process, never forget that it is your wedding. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

However, we did decide to include a very short, very non-descript “blessing” at the beginning of our ceremony to appease the older more conservative family members. If you’re totally opposed to it, then no big deal. You’ll just have to deal with the backlash that may or may not come after.

Post # 9
2780 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

If your Fiance wants to at least be married by a priest you have to compromise on this. You state that he is catholic, and while you are not religious and may not want anything god-related mentioned at your wedding, it’s his wedding too and he clearly wants the priest, otherwise he wouldn’t have mentioned it.

Post # 10
333 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

I googled “secular wedding ceremony” and have been gathering various poems and readings I might use. We are writing our own vows and specifically attending to the language used in the ceremony so it is clear we plan to have an egalitarian marriage. We’re having a close friend of ours get ordained online and marry us. And most imporantly, I have had to stand my ground and repeatedly tell my parents politely, but firmly, that getting married in a church would not reflect our beliefs as a couple, and assure them that it will still be a beautiful and joyous occasion.

As far as pleasing my parents, I have considered asking my dad if he would like to say a prayer before the rehearsal dinner, but even that would make me uncomfortable. However, I don’t want to be completely dismissive of the beliefs that are so important to them, so it’s something I’m continuing to reflect on.

Post # 11
288 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

We had a secular ceremony. A family friend married us, and we didn’t do anything to fill up time — no readings, no songs, etc. Our officiant interviewed us and wrote the entire ceremony without our help (it was a surprise the day of!), and it came to about 15 minutes or so. It was a PERFECT length for us… and our guests raved about how personal and touching it was!

I can’t be much help on the “pleasing others” bit. We didn’t worry about it, but then again, no one expresses any concerns. Most of our friends and family are spiritual but not religious, or agnostic or atheist. Our devout people, including my grandma, are all incredibly non-judgemental. We were very lucky in this way!

Sometimes I think some of the concern about secular weddings is that they could be seem as flippant or less solemn than a religious ceremony. While they could but, I suppose, I’ve never seen it happen! 

Post # 12
7309 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

Mr. LK and I match you and your Fiance in history and current views. We wrote our own ceremony so that we could choose the exact words that felt right to us, and we had a friend get ordained online to perform our ceremony. While I know that Mr. Lk’s Gramma would have loved to see us get married in a church, it just wasn’t going to happen. And since we paid for everything ourselves, no one had a right to speak up and say a darn thing. 🙂 Here’s a link to our full ceremony text: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/our-ceremony-full-text

Post # 13
11231 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

  1. How do you fill time in a secular ceremony? Readings? Anything else?
    We’re doing a reading or two and a handfasting ceremony, but all performed by the officiant(s). You can have a really short ceremony.
  2. How did you find an officiant? Online? Friend?
    Online, the Bee, actually. I Googled and the page on here for officiant reviews came up. They have great reviews, and lots of raves from brides who wanted civil ceremonies (and their ceremony packet that gives you all of the options/suggestions is awesome).
  3. How did you please the religious people in your and FI’s families?
    We aren’t. It’s not their wedding, it’s ours. We have a large number of religious family members and a few VERY religious family members. They can suck it up; I could not care less what they think. I’m sure a few people (grandparents and at least one of the uncles) will have an issue, but I don’t want to hear it. 

Post # 14
1621 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

Last year I attended a secular wedding performed by a minister! The couple just asked her to make it secular, she said fine, so they hired her.  She gave the regular speech about the couple and love and marriage, then they did some poetry readings and did vows. It was great!

My sister is getting married next year and is having a friend get ordained online to officiate.

If your Fiance however is feeling like maybe he wants some elements that remind him of weddings he grew up with, maybe you can incorporate some readings that are from religious sources but don’t actually talk about G-d or the church, or do something like a unity candle which I’ve seen in a few Catholic weddings.  There’s probably something out there that will make him happy but not conflict with your needs.

Post # 15
2183 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2011 - Florida Aquarium

I wrote our ceremony, and my brother officiated, adding in his bits as well, and it was perfect. We did have a reading (Adam Sandler’s “I Wanna Grow Old With You”) by DH’s grandmother. We also did a sand ceremony. Honestly, writing the ceremony made it SO special because it was so about us and specifically for us. And having my brother officiate (he’s not ordained in anything but awesome brotherness) was the only thing I -knew- would be included in my wedding since I was little. 

Do what’s best for you. Even the most reglious people will still tear up at your ceremony and be happy for you.


Post # 16
1626 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

We had a non-church wedding.  We do use the word God in it once or twice mostly because we both believe in some kind of higher purpose/power, but we strongly dislike religion.  My parents were initially really dissappointed/upset that we weren’t getting married in a church.  They got over it though.  We really just had one conversation about it that involved tears.  Some time after they came back and said we love you and while we are disappointed, we want you to do what you think is best.  (They’re amazing parents.)  We used a combination of pagan (native american) blessings, one christian prayer that we like and has meaning to us and a lot of our friends, some secular readings and a handfasting.  Our ceremony lasted about 12ish minutes, which is a good amount of time.  I found our officiant online through a google search I think.  She did a great job.  Here’s the ceremony we came up with in case anyone cares to read it.  Most of it is pieced together from things I found online and then edited in a few spots:


Wedding Ceremony




Love is one of the highest experiences that we as humans can have, as it adds depth & meaning to our lives.


Marriage is the joining of two people – the union of two hearts.  It lives on the love given to each other & thrives on the joy of each new day. The day to day companionship, the pleasure in doing things together & the delight in exchanging experiences are a continuous & central part of what a man & a woman that love each other can share.


And so we are gathered here today because we love and support Emily & Erik & their decision to become husband & wife.  We rejoice that they have found each other and that through each other, they have come to know the power of love.  We celebrate this union of their hearts, minds, bodies & souls and wish them great joy.


And so it is only fitting & appropriate that you – the families & friends of Erik & Emily be here to witness & celebrate their marriage – for it is the ideals, understanding & mutual respect which they bring to their marriage that have their roots in the love, friendship & guidance you have given them.


They wish to thank you for joining them here today as each of you have been special to their lives.



Marriage is the voluntary & full commitment of two who will love each other for a lifetime.

It is a covenant of faith & love between a man & a woman requiring openness of life & thought, free from doubt & suspicion, & commitment to speak the truth to one another.

In marriage two lives are intimately shared and the blending of the two must not diminish either but rather enhance the individuality of each partner.


Marriage therefore should not be entered into lightly, but wisely, deliberately & with careful consideration for both oneself & the other person.

I, therefore, charge & require before these witnesses;


Erik, do you come here today of your own free will & without reservation to give yourself in marriage and have Emily  be your wife; to love & comfort her, for as long as you both shall live?


Do you Emily, come here today of your own free will & without reservation to give yourself in marriage and have Erik,  be your husband; to love & comfort him for as long as you both shall live?


Having made their intent known, who gives their blessing for this woman to be married to this man?


With the sky as the roof of your most sacred cathedral, and the earth at your feet to hold you , and the trees and plants to surround you and embrace you, Blessed be this union with the gifts of Air,

for openness and breath, communication of the heart,

and purity of the mind and body.

From the east you receive the gift of a new beginning

with the rising of each Sun, and the understanding

that each day is a new opportunity for growth.


Blessed be this union with the gifts of fire,

for energy, passion, creativity and the warmth of a loving home.

From the fire within you generate light, which you will share

with one another in even the darkest of times.


Blessed be this union with the gifts of water,

for your capacity to feel emotion.

In marriage you offer absolute trust to one another,

and vow to keep your hearts open in sorrow as well as joy.


Blessed be this union with the gifts of  earth,

which provides sustenance, fertility and security.

  The earth will feed and enrich you, and help you to build a stable home

to which you may always return.






Prayer:  Please turn to the back of your programs and let us say the Prayer of St. Francis together:

  Lord, make me a channel of thy peace –

that where there is hatred, I may bring love –

that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness –

that where there is discord, I may bring harmony –

that where there is error, I may bring truth –

that where there is doubt, I may bring faith –

that where there is despair, I may bring hope –

that where there are shadows, I may bring light.

that where there is sadness, I may bring joy –

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted –

to understand, than to be understood –

to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. Amen



Reading: Reader one comes up and says: A reading from The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Peterson

The little things are the big things.
  It is never being too old to hold hands.  
It is remembering to say, “I love you” at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.  
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
  the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
 it should continue through all the years.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. 
It is standing together facing the world. 
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.  
It is doing things for each other, 
not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, 
but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation ,
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
 It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo
 the wife to have the wings of an angel.  
It is not looking for perfection in each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, 
understanding and a sense of humor.  
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.  
It is giving each other an atmosphere 
in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the Spirit.  
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.  
It is establishing a relationship in which 
the independence is equal, dependence is mutual,
and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner,
it is BEING the right partner.
This is “The Art of Marriage”




The couple will now exchange vows


Vows: I, Erik, take you, Emily, to be my lawfully wedded wife, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. 
On this special day, I give to you in the presence of God and all those in attendance my promise to stay by your side as your faithful husband in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.

I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.  (Place ring on finger)


I, Emily, take you, Erik, to be my lawfully wedded husband, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. 
On this special day, I give to you in the presence of God and all those in attendance my promise to stay by your side as your faithful wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.

I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.  (Place ring on finger)



Ring Blessing: As circles have no beginning and no end, rings have naturally come to symbolize eternal love within the union of mind, body, and spirit that constitutes the sanctity of marriage. They are freely offered as gifts of faith and hope as visible signs of the promises given this day. May these rings be blessed and hold the dreams Erik and Emily share for their union. May the shiny metal mirror the sacred vows made between them, now and forever.  (Bride and groom take rings from moms)


“With this ring I thee wed with all that I have and all that I am.”




Reading: Reader 2 comes up and says:


 The Blessing of the Hands: These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and as in today, tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.




Closing Prayer: (apache Wedding Blessing) Now you will feel no rain, 
for each of you will be shelter to the other. 
Now you will feel no cold, 
for each of you will be warmth for the other. 
Now there is no room for loneliness, 
for each of you will be [a] companion to the other. 
Now you are two persons, but there is but one life before you. 
Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your togetherness. 
And may your days be good and long upon this earth


I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride.




I present to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Erik Lastname.



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