Navigating an interfaith wedding

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Faith plays an important role in many people’s lives, perhaps even more so when it comes time to celebrate a wedding. However, couples who do not share the same faith may have to make some compromises.

Although romantic feelings may transcend faith, heritage and other factors that make people so different, individuals who are quite religious often find that there are some challenges to getting married to someone outside their own faith.

Depending on the faith, some religions will not honor a wedding that does not conform to their strict guidelines for a wedding within the faith. Oftentimes, this means that both participants need to have been raised according to the faith, including meeting certain religious milestones throughout their lives. For example, Catholics must have been baptised, received communion and been confirmed under the auspices of the Catholic church before being allowed to marry. They must present official certificates of these sacraments in order to receive a religious Catholic wedding.

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Those of the Jewish faith may believe in a “bashert,” a belief that everyone has a soul mate. According to the Talmud, 40 days before a male child is conceived a voice from heaven announces whose daughter he is going to marry. In Yiddish, this perfect match is called “bashert,” a word meaning fate or destiny. The bashert is typically one who is also Jewish.

To handle the intricacies of an interfaith marriage, it is wise to speak to clergy in your respective religions to see what will be required of you as a couple. There could be workarounds, depending on what the couple decide.

Some couples feel it is in their best interest if either one of them converts to the other’s religion so that the ceremony is easier. Others choose to hold two distinct religious ceremonies if the officiants are lenient in their rules to allow it to happen. In other cases, couples feel it is better to have a non-denominational wedding to avoid any obstacles. Even though this ceremony will not be sanctioned by either church, the couple can still choose to include prayers and customs specific to their faiths in the ceremony.

Many couples decide that their mutual love and happiness is reason enough for an interfaith wedding, even if that means sacrificing acceptance by their clergy and church. Interfaith couples should begin wedding planning early to discover what will be expected of them to have the wedding they desire.

– Rev. Jeff Harris