I can already picture the surprised look on your face as you read this title. Why should we distinguish between a secular ceremony and a wedding, while the former is meant to get us married?

Let me bring you on a thought journey that has been with me for a long time. It is quite meaningful to me. And I’m curious to know what it means to you.

A Secular Ceremony in A Marriage

If the ceremony, in whichever form, is the soul of marriage, it is often regarded as a part of it. Especially when it comes to wedding preparations.

Included in the wedding as every other part of it, the preparation of a secular ceremony is often lost amidst all this organization. And in this frenzy, we tend to forget its true meaning.

secular ceremony vs marriage

The Meaning of The Union

The ceremony is the very event that embodies all that a marriage symbolizes. It is during the ceremony that you share the meaning of your union, your desire to commit and the and reasons why, especially during a symbolic ceremony. And, most of all, it is the rite of passage from the status of engaged to married.

It is also the ceremony that gives the tone for the rest of the festivities, depending on its atmosphere and proceedings. The ceremony gives a synoptic view of the big day; it marks the joining of two lives into one and how the bride and groom perceive this commitment.

One Word, Two Meanings

I regularly ask couples I coach what their vision of marriage is. This is not a trick question as, in my mind, there is no trick question. It is first and foremost interesting to see what the question will awaken in them, and how confusing the word “marriage” can be. Some talk about their married life and what it represents, others talk about their big day.

I have been interested in linguistics for a while, and as I learned other languages and performed bilingual ceremonies, our European neighbors provided me with some highly educational food for thought.

First, I looked at the Anglo-Saxons. Have you ever noticed that for one French word, they have two over there? Indeed, marriage is both « wedding » and « marriage » in English, and both words have a very different meaning. “Wedding” refers to the day of the ceremony and the ensuing celebration. “Marriage” refers to its very core, the very meaning of the union and of the relationship.

The Germans and Spanish both use three words for “marriage”: the ceremony, the marital life, and the day of the celebration.

Italy shares our system: one word with yet two very different meanings.

secular ceremony versus marriage

Deep Thoughts

Preparing a secular ceremony requires a great deal of courage, investment and time. Away from the spotlight, couples can focus on the essence of the marriage that they are organizing.

While you’re swimming in the preparation frenzy of your big day, essential tasks can easily distract you from the very reason behind the union. The guest list and the seating chart are both essential to the preparations of the celebration. And yet, those are elements that can quickly ruin any romance and they ultimately do not even revolve around the reason why you are getting married (should you wish to avoid any undue stress and hassle, I strongly recommend that you hire a wedding planner).

I like to say that the organization of a secular ceremony gives some weight to the wedding preparations. It serves as a bubble in which the couple can think together and be close to each other, and as such, it makes space for loving moments, both deep and strong. And it gives them a space to share, giving them further joy after the engagement and some sort of pre honeymoon before the big journey.

A Conclusion or A Beginning?

You see your wedding as the perfect opportunity to put the right thoughts and words onto your union? You don’t consider it only as a waking dream but also and above all as the possibility to raise essential points before starting this incredibly meaningful and committed journey?

What if marriage marked a certain completion of all the hard work of the preparations? and, before that, the beginning of a life together by writing the new chapter birthed from all these thoughts?

Feel free to contact me if you want to know more.

I look forward to walking this promising infinity together…