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“Where does religion fit into a wedding ceremony?”

submitted by Scott Phillips

Let’s start with a simple answer to an unasked question, marriage is not founded in religion. All around the world, in every area, in every religion, or absence of, there is some kind to joining of couples in a marriage like arrangement, so no one religion started or “owns” marriage.

That said it is undeniable that religion plays a part in marriage and is often included in a wedding ceremony.

Should you include your religious beliefs in your wedding ceremony? I believe that done properly there is definitely a place for your beliefs, or lack of them in your ceremony.

That might be including a verse or prayer from whatever book you believe in, it might also be a purposeful exclusion of a verse or prayer.

As a celebrant I am often asked if there is a need to include “religious stuff” and by that the subconscious New Zealander is likely to be thinking about Christianity generally, to which the answer is “no” there is no requirement to include any “God” stuff.

However, being true to your personal beliefs is both important and powerful. An Agonistic couple probably don’t feel strongly one way or the other. An Atheist might be appalled if there were any mentions of any “Gods”. A Buddhist couple might reference enlightenment, Christians include a bible verse, Muslims a verse from the Quran, a Satanist might include an invocation.

If religion (which ever it might be) plays an important role in your life then it makes sense to include it in your wedding ceremony.

The same is true if it doesn’t. The couple getting married are the ones that matter most on “their day”.

I wouldn’t suggest including a prayer to make a parent happy, the same as I wouldn’t suggest shouting “Hail Satan” to upset a parent either. Both are completely appropriate if that is your belief and it is done neither to placate nor to offend.

If religion is important to you, talk about it with your celebrant, your beliefs don’t have to be completely aligned with theirs, but everyone needs to be comfortable with each other. It is illegal for a celebrant to discriminate against anyone based on religious beliefs, so they are not going to refuse to perform the wedding, but you do want to make sure you are comfortable with each other also.

Back to the original question “Where does religion fit into a wedding ceremony?”

It fits wherever feels comfortable for you.

Want a prayer? Have a prayer.

Want to thank the God of Thunder, then raise a toast to Thor and “Skol”

A practicing Jedi, by all means walk down the aisle to the Imperial March.

Even when you want a completely non-religious ceremony, you might find that some of the interesting rituals you want to include, like handfasting, have links to cultural and religious practices. But don’t let that stop you. Embrace what feels right for you.

In New Zealand we are blessed (by the government not a religion) with a great level of freedom to celebrate our weddings however we want. There are practically no limits to what can be done, the main limit is your imagination. Bring religion to your wedding, or leave it completely out, it is up to you, either way being your authentic self will ensure your wedding is awesome.