Finding a way to incorporate two (or more!) religions into your wedding ceremony can feel overwhelming, but it's worth it if you're interested in celebrating two family histories and their traditions. If you're at a loss for how to plan a meaningful multi-religious ceremony, consider these simple, helpful tips from Susan Cordogan, owner of Big City Bride, who regularly works with couples on interfaith celebrations. Her practical suggestions and insightful ideas will help you navigate this process with ease.
Your future in-laws might be insisting on a traditional Hindu wedding when all they really want is for you two to tie the knot beneath a mandap. Your parents are pushing for a full Catholic ceremony, but they're hoping that you'll incorporate scripture into the ceremony. Planning an interfaith wedding is definitely an occasion where honest, clear communication is vital, and Cordogan has a strategy to start the dialogue. "I often ask clients to rank the rituals by importance as to help them determine their most cherished customs," she says. You can then use this list as a blueprint for planning a ceremony that doesn't leave anyone out, but is still true to what you and your future husband or wife want.
Do Your Research
Even more valuable than knowing what's most important to your family is finding meaning in the rituals yourselves. Research the symbolism and customs of the religions in play, and choose the ones that are meaningful to you and your future spouse. Once you've identified which rites feel authentic to you, next comes planning how to incorporate them in a seamless way. And don't forget about the reception—many religious customs can easily be included as a post-ceremony celebration.
Find Common Ground
While it might initially feel like there's no way to blend such different backgrounds, take a moment to focus on the things that bring them together. What you find might surprise you, says Cordogan. "Within all cultural wedding customs there's a common theme, message, or purpose," she explains "Many cultural customs feature the hands of the couple. Some religious marriage rituals call for hand washing, hand tying, hand-binding, or hand blessing. 'Panigrahana' is a hand-holding ritual that takes part during a Hindu wedding. Celtic traditions tell of a hand-fasting ceremony where the couple's hands are literally tied together. These customs can be made modified into meaningful signs of commitment that link both religions." Other examples, like the signing of a contract or exchange of jewelry, are also found in many religions, so do your homework! You might be surprised to find overlapping customs that can make everyone happy, including (and most importantly!) yourselves.