If it’s true that a secular wedding is by definition an alternative to a religious setting, it is not necessarily devoid of codes or references to religion. Secularism does not mean atheism. Among couples I meet, many are believers but would rather have a secular ceremony for their wedding. So, why is that? Can there still be religious codes in a secular wedding?
Here are some elements of response:
Spirituality in a secular wedding
Some couples have beliefs, but those are not necessarily associated with God or the Church teachings: as such, they’d rather opt for a secular wedding with a more personalized setting. They want their union to be based on spiritual elements which revolve around values that are their own, such as nature, family, common passions and of course Love.
Picking a secular wedding when you are a believer
This choice can come about for different reasons: one of the partners has already been married in Church and therefore cannot remarry, but still wants to bring a solemn and ceremonial touch to his or her wedding. One partner may be more religious than the other. This also applies to couples from different religions and cultures, as well as same-gender couples. A secular wedding ceremony is therefore an alternative that can allow the love birds to have a celebration build around their shared story, without having to renounce to the ceremonial aspect of such a commitment.
How can I include religious codes in a secular wedding?
If you pick a traditional secular wedding, some religious codes are generally reproduced: the entrance of the bride (sometimes following a procession), the exchange of vows and rings, the exit of the newlyweds. For couples whose beliefs are stronger, it is also possible to include a prayer, a blessing, read by the officiant, the newlyweds or a loved one during a participation. Some rituals can also give more of a “religious” dimension to the ceremony, such as lighting a candle together. Having a moment of contemplation, in thoughts or with a prayer, is another lovely option, with music on the background to send a lot of positive energy to the newlyweds but also to think of those who couldn’t be here.
And for couples with different religions or cultures?
A secular wedding is ideal for couples who have different religions: as such, the partners can bring specific elements of their respective religion in the ceremony, by joining their beliefs in this union. Rituals can also be created in accordance with the culture of each of the spouses, specific readings can be read by the family of the newlyweds, and some multicultural elements can be included in the decoration of the ceremony for instance.
The role of the officiant to help you choose
The role of a wedding officiant is very important. By discussing with your officiant and sharing your wishes as best as you can, you will be able to live the wedding of your dreams, with or without religious connotations. The officiant should be open-minded to be able to perfectly fit the spiritual elements you want in the ceremony. Remember that during a secular wedding, everything is possible: that’s what makes this type of ceremony unique and completely customizable, depending on your convictions and your definition.