Pros and Cons of Religious Weddings

How to Decide Whether Faith Has a Place in Your Marriage Ceremony

Bride and groom standing at altar during wedding ceremony
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For those who regularly worship, having a religious wedding is probably without question. Yet for others, the pull of a traditional religious ceremony may be wrestling with your current beliefs. Here, how to decide whether or not religion has a place in your wedding ceremony. 

Religious Scenarios as They May Pertain to Your Relationship

  • Having an Interfaith Wedding
    If you and your future spouse don't share the same religion, you'll need to decide whether to have an interfaith wedding -- meaning that there is one officiant from each religion. Although in some areas, or some religions, finding an amenable officiant can be difficult, interfaith weddings are becoming increasingly more common. The key to a successful interfaith ceremony is finding the right person or persons who will lead your wedding. You could also decide to be married by a justice of the peace, or another civic leader, and then take a moment when you recite your vows to incorporate your personal beliefs.
     
  • One of You Is Atheist or Agnostic
    If one of you isn’t religious and the other is devout, you’ll need to compromise on what you want out of your wedding. Chiefly, you’ll want to communicate with each other. You’ll also want to talk to your families, counselors (including spiritual leaders) and friends. A solution might be to have a private religious ceremony, and a public civil one, or to closely customize your wedding incorporating religion delicately. Since religion won’t disappear after your wedding day, this is good practice for other situations that may arise in your married lives, including raising children.
     
  • Religious, but Want to Get Married in a Non-Religious Space
    If you’re religious, but your families aren’t, or if you’ve simply fallen in love with a secular site, you may feel torn about the laws of your religion. Talk to your religious leader to get suggestions and to see what the necessary steps are. For example, a Catholic priest will tell you that you need to get a dispensation of place to have a recognized Catholic wedding in a non-Catholic spot. You could choose to have an intimate religious ceremony and a larger secular one, or chose to have your religious leader co-lead the ceremony with a secular leader, such as a justice of the peace.
     
  • Non-Practicing but Still Spiritual
    If you and/or your spouse’s family has religious roots, but you don’t currently practice a faith, you may wonder if it's appropriate to have a wedding in a place of worship. First, consider if you feel comfortable in places of worship. You may feel you could never get married in a church because you feel like an "outsider". But you might discover a church whose values closely align with yours, and where you feel welcomed. You’ll also want to talk to the priest, rabbi, or religious leader of the place of worship in question and ask about their views on the matter. They may require religious counseling, regular worship attendance, or other programs before allowing a wedding to take place. Lastly, talk with your families and discuss having a non-religious wedding. Ultimately, you need to do what feels right for you and your future spouse.