Post # 1
R and I are both atheists as a result of fairly recent (in the last three or four years) thought processes and soul searching. Our beliefs are very important to us, but in order to not step on toes (we both come from VERY religious Lutheran families where church was an important part of our lives growing up, went to Lutheran schools, etc) we have not made a fuss about our beliefs. I know personally that it would crush my mom and my Future Mother-In-Law to know, so we have stayed quiet for the most part.
This works in day to day life. We respect their faith, and go along with the prayers, Christmas rituals, etc. But when we stop and think about the wedding, it gets more difficult. We don’t want to be married in a religious ceremony when that is not what we believe.
Has anyone gone through this? Are there any passages that reflect our beliefs, while not insulting theirs? Anyone have tips on broaching this formidable topic? I know that to our family, this is potentially heartbreaking.
Post # 3
There are tons of readings that do not deal with God. Our ceremony is a secular one and it focuses on our love for each other and does not mention religion. Many readings, secular and not, can be found here:
Get a friend to perform the ceremony. They may have to get ordained online to make the ceremony legal in your state, but your ceremony still won’t have to include God at all.
Post # 4
Check this out:
also, there is an officiant through weddingbee pro that has covered this a bit, too, I think:
My fiance and I are both atheists/humanists and knew from the beginning that we would be having a non-religious ceremony. Our parents are not religious, so they aren’t an issue, but when our grandparents asked us what pastor would be performing our ceremony, it opened the door for us to reply that we would be having a non-religious ceremony and that a celebrant would be officiating our ceremony.
Our ceremony will be pretty traditional, just no mention of God, no prayer, no reading of scripture. There are a lot of readings out there that are great, one idea that I really like and may use is the reading of lyrics from a song significant to you.
To further insure that we were getting what we wanted out of an officiant, I emailed the celebrant foundation and listed specifically what I was looking for, including the request that the celebrant not wear gowns or robes or clothing that resembled that of a religious figure (always a little creapy to me) and that they be fine with performing a ceremony with no religious incusions. They were great and I received a response the next day, and booked one of their celebrants a week later.
Post # 5
My husband and I are both atheist as well. My dad is a Presbyterian minister and he performed our ceremony. The difference is that my dad knows we are not religious, and he fully believes no one can be forced into faith, so he was okay with us making our ceremony fairly free of references to God. However, I also wanted to respect his point of view so I essentially took his normal wedding ceremony format and substituted a few readings. I kept the prayer and the blessing, but I found ones that focused on community and family. If you would like I can PM you our ceremony so you can see how it all came together.
Post # 6
Thank you all so much, I’m loving the links!
I really like the idea of a “plain clothes” officiant… now to think of who to ask. 🙂
@mhrni – your dad sounds like a wonderful person, you’re lucky to have him! I would love it if you would PM me the ceremony. I think a traditional structure will be a nice guideline to everything else.
How did you deal with relatives being unsupportive? We’ve already had quite a bit of trouble with relatives’ reactions to the announcement that we had moved in together before getting engaged, although they did warm up to that in time. I can’t imagine how this will go over.
Post # 7
We hired a former judge… he was great! And he wore his robes too, I think.
Overall, he did a great job and everyone liked him… but then again, all four of our parents are atheists or agnostics.
Post # 8
Thanks Mr. Bee! Did you already know the former judge, or did you find him through an association, friend, etc?
Post # 9
@lilyfaith – I just sent over the ceremony! You are right that I am so lucky to have my Dad! He really is a wonderful person.
Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with unsupportive relatives. Any that may have been annoyed by our choices kept it to themselves, but I am also older (late 30s) so I think I am a little too old to have people try to tell me what is right and what is wrong! There are advantages to being old!!
Post # 10
My Fiance and I are atheist/humanist as well and we found an amazing spiritual humanist minister to do our wedding. This website may give you a few leads, http://www.interfaithofficiants.com/.
We both grew up in Catholic families. I found that “coming out” to my family was fairly easy…maybe because they thought it would be a phase 🙂 A key to helping your family understand your belief system is to let them know what you DO believe in. Just because we are Atheist does not mean that we think the world is a meaningless void. I am comforted by my scientific humanist beliefs and have never felt that being an Atheist devoids me of any connection or hope. Perhapes you could use your ceramony to show the values that you honor.
Regardless, I’m sure your ceramony will be a beautiful and loving event 🙂 Good luck!
Post # 11
Someone mentioned some of the posts I wrote on WeddingbeePRO – you may want to check them out, too. There are non-religious wedding officiants out there (I was trained through the Celebrant Foundation, you may want to check if there are Celebrants in your area, too – we work with you to create a custom ceremony that is really based on what you want to or don’t want to include – it’s kind of cool: http://www.CelebrantInstitute.org)
Anyway, I wanted to chime in because my fiance is a card-carrying atheist – like, if he could be an atheist missionary, he would be. I lean more towards agnostic atheist, personally (I don’t believe in God, but I don’t deny the existence of God), but I have a great respect for people’s spiritual beliefs and various religions. For our wedding ceremony, we are aiming for some nice, neutral territory.
I think, when trying not to offend people with a wedidng ceremony, that, in the end, the people who are going to be offended will be offended no matter what – unless you get married in a church according to their spiritual beliefs. The best that you can do is create an awesome wedding ceremony that really reflects who you are and your spiritual beliefs (or lack there of). You may also want to follow a basic wedding ceremony guide to get all of the elements in there. Sometimes, guests have never even SEEN a wedding not in a church, so they are unsure of how you are even going to be married.
You can also learn more about Celebrants and how we work to create wedding ceremonies on my website – http://www.Eclectic-Unions.com
If you need any help with creating your cereomony or your officiant search, feel free to reach out to me!! Good luck!!
Post # 12
This is a huge issue for us as well. FI’s mom is born again fundamental pentacostal. He and I are atheist. Though Fiance is 100% in agreement on the religious beliefs, his church attendance was tied up in his familiar responsibilities (as you can imagine with his mother). He lived at home until this past August when we moved in together, and he said that while under her roof, he lived by her rules/went to her church. So I went to their church (we “ran the projector” aka played computer games in the back). Long story short (too late), this was a major, major rift for us, the likes of which we are still dealing with. He wants a pastor and has somewhere along the line decided that a wedding is inherently religious in nature. I don’t know where that came from, especially since he has flat out told me that he doesn’t believe in God. I want a secular ceremony performed by a secular officiant of whatever sort. To appease the family, I am willing to have Bible readings (like Corinthians) that focus on love or family and less on God. I think finding the right celebrant will be key so that you can modify aspects of the ceremony so that you are comfortable with them. I got a new computer over Christmas, but I’d had saved a beautiful non-denomination ceremony as inspiration. If I find it again, I’ll let you know.
Edit — I found it. I can message you if you’d like to see it.
Post # 13
Thank you all so much.
@Rosiebear – I’m about to look at the website, thanks for sharing it! I didn’t even know where to begin before.
@jessieblum – I’ll definitely get to reading your posts, I’m so glad there are resources on here for non-religious ceremonies. I’ve never been to a non-religious wedding, so I suppose mine will be my first? I think you hit the nail on the head with offending people. I know that the people who will be offended will be upset no matter what for various reasons (we lived together first, we’re doing some things nontraditionally, etc) so there is a point where we can be respectful of others and ourselves.
I think I’m getting to where your fiance is – the more I dig deeply into science and psychology, the more at peace with and confident in my beliefs I become. I really do feel it’s an important part of me, and I think it’d be a shame to hide that, especially on a day as important as my wedding. When we begin working on our ceremony more, I may just contact you. Thank you!
@Amaryllis – I relate to your story so much. R’s mom and my mom both encouraged us (even guilted us) into being active in the church throughout high school. I didn’t stop going to church until college, and even every now and then if we’re visiting they’ll request we go to church. When R and I were first coming to terms with the fact that neither of us believed in a God anymore, we had a few fights. It’s such a difficult subject to broach, and deeply personal, but luckily we worked through it well. I wish you luck with your wedding, and I hope you can find a good balance between making others happy and putting yourself into your ceremony. I’d love to see the ceremony you have, and if you ever feel like venting about these issues feel free to PM me. It’s something I definitely feel passionately about.