(Closed) Dealing with telling family our wedding will not be religious (vent-long)

posted 8 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
141 posts
Blushing bee

It may not be hurt, but fear. I have known religious people to get very upset over other family members beliefs (or lack thereof) not because they are offended, but often because they are scared that their loved one “will not go where I go when I die”. They often also feel fear that their church society may look down on them or think they have done something wrong for raising someone who became an atheist. This is probably very confusing for your Grandma. She may feel a lot of mixed, upsetting emotions, but this IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I would keep things simple and every time your Grandma makes religious suggestions, just say that you love her and appreciate her concern, but that your beliefs are non-negotiable. You could also try assigning her tasks which have no way of becoming religious (like helping research flowers or helping make centrepieces) so that she feels important, without giving her an oppportunity to spout her beliefs.

More than anything I would be IRATE if my mother trivialised my education and said that I had been “brainwashed”. I would have some very strong, direct words about that as it is totally not on, no matter what her justification may be.

My only concern would be that family could try and use your Grandmas generous gift as a means to bully you into having their dream religious ceremony.

Post # 4
803 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I honestly probably would have lied.  I’m not quite as strong as you are, and I would rather say, “I’m not religious, and my wedding ceremony will reflect that, but if my beliefs change someday I will probably have a vow renewal with religious elements.”  It leaves me open to someone thinking my beliefs are something I’ll “grow out of” but honestly I’m so used to that condescension from both sides.  My parents think I’ll grow into being an actual practicing Catholic (instead of a Catholic who is in bad standing because she believes in it but doesn’t get around to going to church or confession), the rest of my family thinks that as soon as I’m away from my parents’ “ignorant” brainwashing I will fall in line and be a good atheist because I’m intelligent.  I know that’s a really weird situation and usually families pressure their kids to be Christian because “liberal colleges brainwash kids into being atheists,” but my family is weird.

Long story short, if we don’t have a Catholic wedding, we will bring Christian elements in and tick off both sides of the coin, but I will be diplomatic with older family members because they’re more likely to worry that I will become a slave whose sole purpose is to pop out babies (and one elderly relative who thinks I will burn in hell if I don’t get married in a church).

I don’t think what you did was wrong (do people not deserve the truth just because they’re old?  They’re not children), but I think your mom was trying to calm your grandmother down.  Though it was condescending to you, it was probably a signal that you were really upsetting her.  I understand where your sister is coming from, but I think you need to say to them, “I was asked a question and I respect my grandmother too much to lie to her.  I feel like it’s wrong to lie, even to protect someone’s feelings.  I’m sorry I upset her, but I was in a really bad position and was faced with telling an upsetting truth or lying.  You were the ones who taught me not to lie.”

Post # 5
1433 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012 - Historic Lougheed House

I study evolutionary development. I am also atheist. My grandma is upset that I’m marrying a woman moreso than the fact that it isn’t going to be religious… But, the thing I’ve learned is that I can’t please everyone. We both know there isn’t a heaven. Your gramma is concerned you won’t get there – so let her be concerned. In the mean time, spend time with her. Show her that you and your Fiance are good people… Religious or not. You only have this life with her, so enjoy it!! This is your wedding. Don’t give into the pressure. 


Post # 6
515 posts
Busy bee

(A quick note for my story: Fiance and I are not planning our wedding. Our families (mostly mine) are planning it. It’s easier because Fiance is stationed in a separate state than our hometown which is where we’re getting married and I’m stationed in another country. We just have been telling them what we want/like.)

Well, neither of our parents know that Fiance and I are atheist. Our parents attend the same church in our hometown. For a hot minute, they were under the impression that we’d have our ceremony at their church. I’m not sure where on earth they got that impression. So I quickly picked out a venue and let them all know where the ceremony would be held. For good measure, I also asked that they find a JoP or similar to perform our non-religious ceremony.

I felt like by that point, they should have just realized that we’re not religious, at all, considering I did say it would be a non-religious ceremony. However, that wasn’t quite the case and both of our moms had been mentioned random religious things to be included in the ceremony. I just ended up putting my foot down. I said we were having absolutely no religious aspects to our ceremony. It would be about us and our committment to each other, which does not involve any church or supreme being, because we are not religious. There will be no religious readings, songs, prayers etc. We would rather the day be about us and spending time with our families and friends. Since laying all that out for our parents, they have taken the ‘hint’ and not brought any religious things up again.

I didn’t flat out say we’re atheist, because I know they think atheists are ‘devil worshippers’ and all that nonsense. I did end up having to be quite blunt about it being non-religious, so they probably have some idea that we aren’t believers. I just feel like there’s no reason to “hurt their feelings” or start some huge crap between everyone. We all get along and they’re nice people, we just differ in opinion on some big issues, so Fiance and I feel it’s just best to not bring it up around them. Other family members won’t find out until the ceremony is actually happening that we’re not including anything religious in it. So, it was a little rough in the first few weeks, but now everything is going pretty smoothly. That’s my story.


With that being said, I really hope your family just lets this ‘blow over’ so to speak. I don’t feel like you should have to lie. I think you were right to be honest, as she did ask you. I also hope your father doesn’t get upset with you, considering he told her to ask you when she asked him. I can’t say I have much in the way of advice. Just reiterate how you believe the day should be about celebrating you as a couple and sharing your joy with your family.

Post # 8
750 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I totally you think you were right to tell the truth! Religion/spirituality is a personal matter and should have no effect on anyone else…I have never understood people who care so much about someone else’s religious affiliation. If it makes that person happy, then you should be happy! Now I understand that the older generations generally have a tougher time with this, but I am honestly irritated that your family would make you feel bad about your beliefs, and the fact that you want to incoroporate them on YOUR wedding day!

The fact that your mom told your grandma that you were brainwashed from college was so hilariously ironic haha. I was mad but couldn’t help but giggle at that part. 

From what you said it sounds like you spoke about it politely, and contrary to what your sister said you weren’t trying to “upset an old woman!” I don’t think you should feel bad for simply following your beliefs.  And your mother needs to stop undermining you and belittling your opinions…you were not brainwashed, and you will not “come around”…believe it or not people can actually research and come to their own genuine beliefs.

I got really angry for you when I wrote this post and went back and made it nicer haha I just get really upset when people undermine others and make them feel bad for no reason! It’s cruel.

Post # 9
2819 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2013

Wow…your sister sounds like she is completely off-base here. You were asked a direct question, and you answered honestly. Don’t feel bad, Grandma will get over it.

I am sorry you’re dealing with this. : / As a fellow athiest, I totally sympathize.

Post # 10
2638 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2006

Your honesty is refreshing. Please keep us posted on how things progress. I know I’m going to have some uncomfortable talks in my future when we choose not to baptize or raise our future children in Christianity. We avoided it with the wedding by going to Vegas.

Post # 11
4802 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I don’t see anything wrong with what you did.  This is your wedding and you have every right to have it reflect your beliefs.  You explained what you are doing in reasonable way.  Your Grandma has a right to be upset about it I suppose, but that is not your fault.  If she doesn’t want to give you the money anymore that’s her right too I suppose. 


Post # 12
7977 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

I’m a firm believer that sometimes people need to hear the truth, no matter how much it hurts. You were not trying to upset your grandmother, and I’m sure that over time your family will realise this and it will all blow over. Your sister is just having an emotional reaction to seeing someone she cares about be upset… she is not thiinking clearly. Once she has time to settle down, she will realise that her instincts were not entirely correct. You did the right thing being honest, especially if you tried to do it tactfully (often I feel that the delivery is more important than the message, in some cases).

On a different note: “I study evolutionary development. I am also atheist.” Does anyone else who is religious find the supposed link between Christianity and Creationism rather bizarre? I only knew one Creationist until I was about 19… but lots of Christians. Now it seems like there are more and more people who are both… or is that just me?

Post # 13
3 posts
  • Wedding: November 2012

I feel a lot of sympathy for you because it sounds like you really tried your best in a very difficult situation. Also, it sounds as if your sister should butt out. She is stirring the pot so to speak. I have relatives who do that as well. I was raised Catholic but have not gone to church regularly in a long time. My fiance is the same. We still identify with being Catholic despite this, and have chosen to have our wedding ceremony in a church. There are several reasons for this including that it is a sacrament, that we want to be married by a priest and also that it is important to our elderly parents. This is very different from your situation I understand but the similarity is in people trying to influence what we want to do.

The undertone from certain family members is some sort of weird ‘oh, so you’re getting married in church” vibe, especially from those who think of themselves as devout. I’ve got news for them- a) it is our choice and not theirs. Their only choice is whether or not to support our choice and b) If they are so devout, they should really work on treating people better in their daily life than they do on a quite regular basis today,  as in the whole “People In Glass Houses” business. I’m doing things the way I think is best and since we are paying for everything no one can really sway me otherwise. If after speaking with your grandmother you feel that you should not accept her money then that will surely be your perogative as well. Best of luck.

Post # 14
24 posts

When I ceased to be a member of a church I had the same problem. I told my brothers and my parents. They don’t go to church regularly, but still believe in some way. I did not tell my grandmother because she is religious and would not have taken it well. Unfortunately, my mom told my grandmother… I could see that she was really upset. This happened a couple of years ago. She’s over 90 and has gotten dementia, so now it really does not matter because she does not remember everything.

I try to be polite when I can, but sometimes people get angry even if you are polite. People assume so often that a pair would be married in a church. We will be married (once he proposes) in the registry office or in the court.

I don’t

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