Should You Have a Religious Wedding?

The Pros and Cons of Religious Weddings, Interfaith and Secular Ceremonies

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.

  • Interfaith weddings
    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. Here's a great guide to what happens during an interfaith Jewish and Catholic ceremony. Also read this article on finding the important person or persons who will lead your wedding. You could also decide to be married by a Justice of the Peace, or other 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. I recommend talking 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 chose 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


    If you and/or your spouse’s family has religious roots, but you don’t currently practice a faith, you may wonder if its appropriate to have a wedding in a place of worship. First, consider if you feel comfortable in places of worship. In my case, I never thought I could get married in a church because they didn’t seem particularly welcoming to outsiders. But recently, I found myself in a church whose values closely align with mine, and where I feel welcomed. Although I’m still non-practicing, I am now considering that church as a place for my wedding which will delight my devoutly Christian father. You’ll also want to talk to the priest, rabbi, or religious leader and ask about their views on the matter. They may require religious counseling, regular worship attendance, or other programs. Lastly, talk with your families and discuss having a non-religious wedding. Ultimately, do what feels right to you and your future spouse.