(Closed) Scared I'm going to regret not getting married in a church

posted 7 years ago in Emotional
Post # 3
2103 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

I guess I don’t understand what is limiting you from having the song and reflection in your ceremony? If it’s your officiant, perhaps you just need to find a different officiant. My Brother-In-Law officiated for our wedding (internet ordained) and I wrote the entire ceremony myself, to include whatever the heck we wanted to include.

Post # 5
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

If you don’t go to church regularly and don’t consider yourself particularly religious, then a church wedding seems like a poor fit. I would find ways to incorporate some other traditions into my civil ceremony or into my reception rather than trying to force myself into a church, knowing that I don’t fully believe or practice, just to get the pomp and circumstance.

I saw your other post asking for suggestions on sing-along songs that were not religious and meant to comment but couldn’t come up with any good suggestions; but they are most definitely out there. The best I could come up wiht was “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles but I know there’s more.  Putting more of a focus on those non-religious things you can do will likely get you the right amount of tradition.

Some other suggestions would be to have someone other than the reader choose the reading. So if your close friend will deliver the reading, have your grandmother choose; this helps involve more people in the ceremony plus reminds me of the tradition of stories being handed down from generation to generation; having a rose ceremony or other special recognition of the mothers; you can also consider a wine box ceremony (basically you and your groom write love letters to one another but seal them before reading, and select a nice bottle of wine, then pack the wine and the letters into a nice box before sealing it at the ceremony, and you’re not to open it for 5 years) and so forth.

I think it’s better to find rituals and even traditions that truly are your own, and “feel” like you, than to take the traditional church wedding when you are not a particularly religious person.  

Post # 6
5427 posts
Bee Keeper

@RainbowHope:  Then I would get a religious minister/priest to officiate at the venue of your choice, can you do that? Then you can have what you want. I would talk to him/her when you find one to see what the rules are in the UK!

Post # 7
4192 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry

Two questions: 1. Can you have a religious ceremony in a secular setting? Our wedding was outdoors, but my minister performed the ceremony, straight from my church’s hymnal.

2. Can you modify the religious ceremony? (google wasn’t much help in answering this question)

Another option: a blessing after the ceremony??


Post # 8
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@rebwana:  The UK is very strict about separating church and state, so if you are having a civil ceremony, it will in most cases be officiated by a government employee and therefore there can be no trace of religion.  Blessings are off-limits too.

Post # 10
246 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

First off, I’m from the US, so I’m afraid I don’t know much about how it’s done in the UK.

However, do you have a Church there called Unitarian Universalists? They are a religious denomination here, and well known for marrying atheists/gays/lesbians, etc. whom otherwise would have to have a civil ceremony. I should say that I’ve never been to one of their services, but from what I’ve heard, they are very open to doing whatever you want to do. It might be a way to have a mostly non-religious service that still has the religious elements you want.

Some more mainstream denominations can be quite flexible as well- Darling Husband and I were married by a Baptist minister who wrote our ceremony with us, despite the fact that neither of us were Baptists!

If all else fails, can you sort of wait until the government employee leaves and have a friend or family member do the blessing/reflection/sing song?

Hope this helps!

Post # 11
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@NowMarriedNotHarried:  Waiting for the government official to leave won’t work in most places in the UK. In the UK, your venue has to be approved by the local council (I think that’s who approves it) or you have to get married in an actual registry office. Your local council is kind of a mini-government. The venue has to apply, be inspected, and be granted a license. Being an approved venue is worth a fortune to a business and they are unlikely to turn a blind eye to everyone “just waiting till the registrar leaves before we start singing church songs” because that license is their bread and butter. They are not going to put it at risk. It’s a bad idea to try and sneak a little god in there.

To give you a frame of reference, the county where my husband’s family lives (Leicestershire) has about 1,100,000 people, and only 85 approved venues. Hence venues in the UK tend to book up 2+ years in advance in some cases!

In the UK you are allowed to write your own vows for a civil ceremony BUT you are also required to recite the legal vows which (last I checked) cannot be changed.  The brides at the few UK weddings I’ve been to all said they opted not to add their own vows because they felt their ceremony was getting kind of long.  Also you’re not allowed to get married outside (again last time I checked; things may have changed), or under a tent, or on a boat.  So I can understand why the OP is missing some of the pageantry of a church wedding; however, I still feel that incorporating tradition either into the ceremony or into the reception would be a better fit than trying to have a church wedding if she’s not particularly religious.

Post # 12
13563 posts
Honey Beekeeper

@rebwana:  Those were my questions exactly! Good thoughts. 🙂

Post # 14
267 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@RainbowHope:  I know this is kind of late, but is there a way to include the things you want BEFORE the ceremony — perhaps at a different location?  for instance, can your closest friends, family meet at someone’s house or at a hotel prior to your ceremony for the songs and blessings in preparation for your marriage? a PRE-Ceremony where no one is “officiating” but it does have an order to the service if you’d like?

Post # 15
329 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I have been religious all my life (not devoutly by any means) and so has my family. I have always pictured my wedding in a church up until a wedding was actually in my future. Now every time I picture it, it is an outdoors ceremony (trees, flowers, moutnains, etc). Each of these ceremonies is very possible for me to do, but I am torn. I really think I will regret not having it in a church, and lately I have been seriously looking into churches. I think it depends on you, but personally I would want my wedding to have elements I’ve always imaginedd, and for you that includes music. I also couldnt imagine a wedding without music…how boring would that be!

Post # 16
47 posts
  • Wedding: August 2013

Hi, realise this is late, but Im in the UK and had the same decision to make as you – although slightly different – Im Christian, my Fiance is atheist. 

You can make civil ceremonies special – there are extra “rituals” you can add – for example each of you giving a rose to each others mothers, there is a candle one, one with sand – some of them sounded quite poetic. You can add readings and songs although as you have said religious ones are off limits even non religious ones which mention “angels” or “God” are off limits too eg Angels by Robbie Williams. Non-religious songs are also not designed for “sing-along”! Its also worth bearing in mind that in many venues – you have to be “interviewed” on the wedding day to check details etc. That might be fine, but at my venue it meant me having to go up the back stairs so the guests (and more importantly my FI) didnt see me. Unless your happy to see each other in which case they will interview you together. You can also have professional singers/string quartets/music playing in the background – all this will lengthen the service!  

As for church ceremonies my Fiance struggled with him being an atheist and the hypocrisy of it – but then we went to a friends church wedding and he remembered he feels relaxed and brings back happy memories in a church. He also wanted to sing the good old fashioned hymns and was shocked when i told him you couldnt do that ina  civil ceremony.  This was enough for him and the tradition/for me to get married in front of God/the church itself outweighed the option of a civil ceremony so we are now having a church wedding. Church of England are very accomodating providing you arent related or divorced. 

You can have both – get legally married in a civil ceremony and then have a blessing – however this is really for those who one of them is a Christian. 

For the US posters:- In the UK you cant:-

Get married outside (although this may be changing – you can get married with your guests outside and your under a licensed canopy!)

Have a religious officiant in a civil venue

Have ANYTHING remotely relating to religion in a civil ceremony even down to a word which may be associated with religion. Angel, God, etc

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