We all come from different places and backgrounds. I often get asked if religious elements can be added to a ceremony. My answer is … of course!
It may be a difficult decision to not have your wedding ceremony in a church setting. There may be various reasons for this. Your fiancee may be of different cultural or religious background than you and it would not be right. You may not feel comfortable with the doctrines of your birth religion but still feel the need for religious representation. You may also be facing a wall of requirements from your church with which you don’t feel comfortable – because they don’t ring true with you. Or you are feeling pressure from the family about not doing your wedding in a church.
I talk to couples about this all the time and arrive at a solution that makes them feel comfortable. Personally, I will accommodate any religious inclusion in wedding ceremonies I perform. I’ve performed weddings with B’hai, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Wiccan and Buddhist elements – because that’s where the couple’s spirituality is.
Brides and grooms need to speak openly about this to a potential officiant. They need to find out if the officiant is willing and able to add the desired religious elements. For example, Humanist officiants can only have secular references in the wedding ceremony. Other officiants may have a person preference whether to include or exclude some. This is perfectly allowable under the Ontario Human Rights Code under freedom of religion. So be open about your desires.
As I said earlier, I go with whatever the couple want – because it is their wedding and their beliefs. Last weekend, I officiated two weddings where the couples wanted specific Christian references. In those cases, I usually find that a prayer and the inclusion of the Lord’s Prayer satisfies most needs. If they want more, then why not?
I was particularly touched with Jennifer and Michael’s wedding at the Courtyard Restaurant. I was teamed up with photographer, Andrew Van Beek, and pianist, Kimberley Dunn , and Courtyard’s Miranda Fleming, all of whom I’ve worked many fabulous weddings. A bilingual wedding, I switched from English to French in various sections. One reading was read directly from Jennifer’s birth Bible. Kimberley sang and played an inspiring Ave Maria between readings. The audience was invited to recite the Lord’s Prayer in the language of their choice.
But what really touched me was Jennifer asking me to sign her birth Bible on this special occasion. I tell folks that after 10 years and almost 1000 weddings, I still get things that are new and hit me in the heart. This one did. “Best Wishes on Your New Journey and Adventures In Married Life”… Amen