Your wedding is a celebration of the love between you and your partner. For some couples, that can include various traditions and rituals that follow their religions. However, for secular couples who still want to have a meaningful wedding ceremony, finding new rituals to replace the religious ones can be tough. Here are some secrets behind the most heart-felt non-religious weddings we’ve seen:
#1 // The Officiant
In most faith-centered weddings, there is a person who represents the religion of the couple performing the marriage, like a pastor or a rabbi. But without that restriction, you can get anyone who is legally ordained to marry you. For some, that might mean going to City Hall and having The Justice of Peace marry you in a civil ceremony. For others, you can have someone important in your lives do it if they go through the process of being ordained. Just make sure you double check your state’s laws to ensure the person you choose to marry you is legally ordained.
If you do not want to have someone with no experience marry you, that’s fine too. Many officiants are now making inter-faith or secular weddings a part of their service offerings. Get a specialist in the category you want!
#2 // The Venue
Long gone are the required days of marrying in your community’s church or temple; it’s 2018 now! You can basically get married anywhere you want. From destination weddings to Disneyland, to your backyard, the options are endless. What matters is you and your partner feel comfortable and happy, and your guests can celebrate your love.
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It’s important to consider the size of your wedding and how many guests will be there. For close-knit weddings, backyards, parks, and special event rooms in hotels can be perfect for smaller guest-lists. For larger lists, you could rent a banquet hall, or specific wedding-designated locations (hello gorgeous barn for a rustic wedding!). Regardless of where you choose, remember that choosing a non-religious location for your ceremony doesn’t make the event any less meaningful.
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#3 // The Readings
In traditionally religious weddings, the officiant will read a passage from a religious text to the guests. These are usually parts of scripture that unify the couples’ love with their love for God. However, for non-religious couples, readings can be just as important and meaningful without the mention of a higher power. Here are some beautiful examples of secular wedding readings:
“It is not enough to love passionately: you must also love well.
A passionate love is good doubtless, but a beautiful love is better.
If compassion does not enter into the feelings you have for one another,
these feelings will not always befit all the circumstances of your life together;
they will be like festive robes that will not shield you from wind and rain.
We love truly only those we love even in their weakness and their poverty.
To forbear, to forgive, to console – that is the science of love.”
By Anatole France
“A good marriage must be created.
In the marriage, the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once each day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together and facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right person, it is being the right partner.”
By Wilfred Arlan Peterson
Whichever reading or sentiment you want the officiant to say, remember that it should be a testament to your love- that’s what the whole day is about!
#4 // The Vows
Like the readings, your vows can be as non-religious as you and your love are. Rather than giving credit to a divine being for bringing you two together, think about all the ways you choose this relationship every single day. Think about who you want beside you, bingeing Netflix all weekend. Who are you most excited to share good news with? When you’re not using traditional religious vows, you can make them as funny or sad, heart-felt or giddy, comedic or serious as you want. You are free to speak from the heart, so go with it!
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#5 // The Rituals
There are so many wonderful rituals you can use at your wedding that have no religious relevance. Here’s a list of some of our favorites:
Plant a Tree- Trees represent your growing love and life together. It’s about each of you putting effort into something so that it grows strong and everlasting, like a really old tree. If you aren’t having your ceremony outdoors, you could pot a plant together, or simply water a potted tree with the intention of planting it in your home together.
Pouring of Sand- You and your partner each have a glass of colored sand, and together you pour your individual sands into a communal glass. This represents the blending of families, and that once the sand is blended you can’t separate it back to individual colors again.
Unity Candle- This is a traditional ritual of two people using their candles to light one fire in unison. However, you can put a twist on this one by having your family members also add their candle-fires to represent your marriage creating a bond between two families.
Water Pouring- Like the Sand Pouring ritual, you and your partner each have a glass of colored water that gets poured into an empty glass, irreversibly mixing the colors together. This could be coordinated with the color scheme you choose for the wedding, or colors that have some significance to you.
Time Capsule- This is a sweet idea for you and your partner, and can also include people close to you. Both of you prepare a love letter for each of your decades of anniversaries. Seal them in envelopes with the date you are allowed to exchange them with each other. Then, place the envelope in a box (you can find some beautiful wedding boxes here) and store it away somewhere safe. To get your family involved, you can ask the older couples you admire to write letters of advice for each decade of marriage and include those in the box.
Wine Box- Like the time capsule, you purchase a bottle of wine to be opened on every decade anniversary of your marriage. As your marriage grows and ages, the wine becomes better and better.
Jumping the Broom- A broom is placed on the ground and together, the couple jumps or steps over it to represent leaving the past in the past and moving forward together. You could use a plain broomstick from home, or purchase a decorated broom designed for wedding ceremonies.
Warm the Rings- Allow your guests to pass around your rings effectively warming them up for you, and allowing them to put any good vibes (or blessings) towards your marriage. This can be a nice way of allowing your religious guests to give in a way they’re comfortable, and you can just interpret it as everyone wishing you well.
Petal Bar- When you leave the front of the aisle, it’s common for rice or confetti to be tossed over you and your beau. Why not make it a bit more romantic with flower petals? You can have a petal station where guests pick a selection of petals to save for the end. The choice of flower is completely up to you! You could even make a “petal buffet” where guests can pick the colors and flower-type they want.
Removing religion from your wedding ceremony doesn’t mean you’re taking out the meaningfulness of celebrating your marriage. Your special day is just as important when it’s set in Vegas as when it’s in a church. The best part is you can make it even more tailored to who you are as a couple. From the venue to the vows, and all the rituals in between, celebrating your secular wedding can be a beautiful and fun event.
Devon Funk is a writer at Broomstick! She's passionate about travel, learning, and petting dogs. When she's not glued to the keyboard, you can find her volunteering in her community and teaching others about saving money. Be like Devon & Apply to Become a Contributing Writer here.