Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Totally Secular Weddings

This weekend I attended my friend Oliver’s beautiful wedding in mid-state New York. At the end of a ceremony that left most of us in tears (the bride cried as she read her vows to provide him shelter in her heart), my boyfriend turned to me, glowing. “That was amazing,” he said. “That was the first completely secular wedding ceremony I’ve ever seen!” I had noticed too. Instead of asking for God as a witness, the Justice of the Peace officiant called on humanity and nature. Later, when I asked the groom about it, he said, “Yeah, we managed to scrub out all those words like God and blessings and sacred.”


It’s at these times when I feel sort of left out not being agnostic or atheist. Their ceremony was lovely and perfect and moving. I just wish I could join my boyfriend’s enthusiasm. I wish I could join 99 percent of my friends in their belief that we’re all there is. I’m not sure how this happened, really, how I ended up in such a secular pocket when so much of the country believes in God (96 percent, right?). Maybe it’s partly because I was raised in the United States of New York City, or because I have a master’s degree (the higher the degree, the less likely a belief in God), or because if I was surrounded by people thumping bibles and using the G-word at every turn, I might have to run screaming. But still. Maybe the real question is how I ended up believing in a greater presence at all.


But there are, apparently, many options for those seeking secular unions. Here’s a column on what to do if you and yours have divergent ideas of the perfect wedding, and another on atheists and weddings in general. Humanist and other secular ministers abound, plus there’s this guide on creating an ideal atheist wedding ceremony.

How do you feel about secular weddings? Was yours?

–by Valerie Reiss (Amy’s on vacation)

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posted June 20, 2006 at 1:57 pm

You can not have a true marriage without God being a part of it. He is the glue that keeps it all together.>

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Victoria M. Mc.

posted June 20, 2006 at 2:53 pm

To think that if someone doesn’t believes in “God” by a Higher Power and that their marriage isn’t going to last is so narrow minded least to say judgemental (which is a “sin”). It is so ridiculous to get your feathers in a ruffle because two people who truly love each other and want to share this with others don’t use the word “God” in their ceremony. Don’t you think that “God” would be looking down on you and shaking “it’s” head saying shame on you for not accepting differences in others and loving them just as “His Son” did. How narrow minded you are!>

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doris day

posted June 20, 2006 at 2:55 pm

Marriage is a sacrament of the Church and God given. You invite people and leave God out? Wonder why there are so many divorces, illlegimate children, no family structure. I often wonder why all the pomp and circumstance when so many are disconnected from God and is direction for marriage. So many people twist thingsa. God’s words can never be changed, no matter what man wishes.>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 3:21 pm

What on Earth does having a “secular” marriage ceremony have to do with divorces, lack of family structure, etc. After all, most wedding ceremonies–certainly most odf the ones I have been to–invoke the divine, but that does no more to predict whether that marriage will succeed or fail than trying to predict earthquakes. Furthermore, look at where all the divorces take place–in the so-called “Bible Belt”. You’re right about one thing, dd. So many people DO twist things.>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Wow–what a way to look at the world (or at least New York City). All the people I know from New York (which includes some rabbis) believe in G-d and “despite” (as you’d see it) my PhD, I have a strong belief in G-d and am a layleader at my synagogue. I’d guess, though, that my conceptualization of G-d is probably quite different from yours–and that’s okay because we’re all different. Cherish uniqueness :~}>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 4:13 pm


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posted June 20, 2006 at 5:33 pm

my wedding was secular — no God or higher power, etc — and we still managed to get everyone (including religious parents) to cry! hopefully they were crying for joy, and not in despair for the fate of our eternal souls, or something like that…>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 7:24 pm

I too believe that God is the glue that holds a marraige together, mine anyways. Without God in Our lives I don’t know what I would do. He gives me joy everyday and happiness, but by no means does that mean that a marraige without God won’t work. I think that by making God a part of your union that He will bless you that way. Don’t look for blessings from God in a marraige that chooses not to include Him. Another thing to throw out, Victoria, is that God is not proud of those who rejest Him or as you say “differences in others”. He loves us all the same and I don’t believe that we should shun those who choose not to include Him in their lives, because yes, that is a sin. But to say that my God is shaking His head at us because we don’t agree with those who choose to reject God in thier marraige, If anyone, He would be shaking His head at those who have rejected Him. In my opinion, Marriage is a gift FROM God, why wouldn’t you INCLUDE God?>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 7:26 pm

Christian…marriage is difficult enough…without the LORD it will be impossible!!! I’ll be praying…>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 8:16 pm

Marriage is a sacred union, or a sacrament, or a legal union, or any combination. You can have one without the other. And you can have marriage without anything sacred, Godly or G-dly; it’s called City Hall and it’s legal. We’re all so wrapped up in romantic-religious definitions of marriage we fail to open our minds, let alone our hearts. After reading some of the comments posted here I understand how/why Christianity gives itself a black eye. How about a little love… a little tolerance… a little of that largesse that makes one’s God or G-d so worthy of devotion?>

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posted June 20, 2006 at 8:50 pm

Hypatia, you are correct. But could you explain a little more about “how Christianity gives itself a black eye”. No hostility at all here, just curiosity. I’m a little confused on what you are trying to get across…thanks>

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Roy Meeks

posted June 20, 2006 at 10:37 pm

I attend 40 to 50 weddings per year as the photographer and I do not see how anyone can think that Mother Nature will bless and guide a couple through those next (hopefully) 40+ year. Marriage is difficult enough with God at the center. I hate to think how terribly difficult it must be with trees, bears, raccoons, etc, blessing it.The biggest trouble with marriage now is that many couples enter into it for sensual relationships and not for the “sacrament” involved in it.>

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posted June 21, 2006 at 9:19 pm

In this throw away society people have worked very hard at getting rid of God. This is why we have all the problems facing us these days. As many have mentioned marriage is a “sacrament”. Why bother to have a “WEDDING”? Why not just continue to live together? Perhaps there will be those who think having God in your life as being closed minded. Do I have a point, I thought so when I started writing. But, well maybe now I’m not so sure. For me God is real and I want him in every aspect of my life. So, who am I to critize those who don’t. My they must be really lonley. Marti>

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Allen Dobrynin

posted June 22, 2006 at 10:07 am

My life partner and I also had a completely secular wedding, and it was literally so beautiful and heart warming, there wasn’t a dry eye in the entire crowded arboritum where it was held – especially our own. Btw, “marriage” is a government instiutuion, not a religious one – a license that gives two people equal power of attorney with each other. To “wed” is a the spiritual aspect of the union. Don’t mix the two – it gets way too confusing. The aspect of our humanity that still requires the presence of a higher being looking over us and watching us, and guiding us, is clearly indicative that we have not yet evolved as a species to fully understand that we can stand on our own, that our volitional nature gives us all that we need to be the sole makers of our destiny, and to rejoice in the wonder of all of nature and that which it provides to us in abundance, as long as we give back in like kind. Most humans still need a religious “God”, just as they still need a political “God”, as they no more feel adequate to be responsible for their own destiny and thus need something else to dictate it to them, they also feel inadequate to know how to live in harmony with their own neighbor and need someone else to dictate to them how they must do so. Until we, as a species, intellectually and emotionally evolve to a place where we can stand upright and take full responsibility for who we are and what we do, so many will need a “God” in some form or fashion. —Allen>

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