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Customs and Traditions

Issues with a religious, pushy father...

My fiance and I are a younger couple relying on financial support from our families for our wedding. Everyone is more than happy to help, but we've run into some problems regarding religion and our ceremony.

I wasn't raised with any particular religious beliefs because for the first half of my life, my father was a steadfast atheist. While my mother is a Chrisitan, it was a touchy issue and we just never went to church. Anyway, when I was a preteen, my father found God and became a devout Christian and has been one ever since. I consider myself agnostic and my fiance is an atheist.

My father is...pushy when it comes to religion. You'd think he'd be understanding, seeing as he has a history of NOT being a Christian! Anyway, he really wants my fiance and I to have a religious ceremony and become members of a church. At first, I was fine with the idea of a mildly religious ceremony to please my father, but it's turned into a lot more than I had though it would. It feels disrespectful to become a member of a church when neither of us are praciting a religion and don't really plan to.

Do we just bite our tongues and go through with what my father wants, or do we abandon their help and opt for a courthouse wedding? Neither seem like good options, especially because I believe my father would be incredibly upset if we opted for a courthouse wedding. I really don't know what to do. He is an extremely difficult person to deal with and suffers from depression and mood swings- It's so hard to talk to him about anything. You never know how he's going to react! :(

That was crazy long, but I really hope someone out there can give me a little guidance. I'm really struggling with this.

Re: Issues with a religious, pushy father...

  • I agree that it's disrespectful. I would also think it would be disappointing or inauthentic to have a wedding ceremony that neither of the people actually getting married would connect to or agree with. My FI and I are atheists, my parents play at being religious Methodists, his are secular Jews. There was no question of having god mentioned in the ceremony and I was uncomfortable with having a believer perform our ceremony. There's plenty of ways to have an inexpensive wedding without just going to the courthouse.

    I think you need to have the atheist equivalent of a come to Jesus meeting with your parents and let them know they can't bribe you into praticing their faith. Another option is to agree to join a Unitarian church, at least it wouldn't be completely against your beliefs and your parents would get the religiony feel.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_issues-with-a-religious-pushy-father?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:7e0ab944-7155-4ad8-897e-955af4b43e6dPost:fb14d294-4458-4ad3-96bc-c8a946a33a19">Issues with a religious, pushy father...</a>:
    [QUOTE]My fiance and I are a younger couple relying on financial support from our families for our wedding. Everyone is more than happy to help, but we've run into some problems regarding religion and our ceremony. I wasn't raised with any particular religious beliefs because for the first half of my life, my father was a steadfast atheist. While my mother is a Chrisitan, it was a touchy issue and we just never went to church. Anyway, when I was a preteen, my father found God and became a devout Christian and has been one ever since. I consider myself agnostic and my fiance is an atheist. My father is...pushy when it comes to religion. You'd think he'd be understanding, seeing as he has a history of NOT being a Christian! Anyway, he really wants my fiance and I to have a religious ceremony and become members of a church. At first, I was fine with the idea of a mildly religious ceremony to please my father, but it's turned into a lot more than I had though it would.<strong><u> It feels disrespectful to become a member of a church when neither of us are praciting a religion and don't really plan to</u></strong>. Do we just bite our tongues and go through with what my father wants, or do we abandon their help and opt for a courthouse wedding? Neither seem like good options, especially because I believe my father would be incredibly upset if we opted for a courthouse wedding. I really don't know what to do. He is an extremely difficult person to deal with and suffers from depression and mood swings- It's so hard to talk to him about anything. You never know how he's going to react! :( That was crazy long, but I really hope someone out there can give me a little guidance. I'm really struggling with this.
    Posted by longlivestarbuck[/QUOTE]

    I would calmly sit your father down and explain the bolded part to him.
    Anniversary
  • So is this the sort of situation where you can compromise, and have, say, a non-demoninational officiant perform a ceremony in a non-denominational wedding chapel, or have a wedding in a UU church?  Or is your dad being totally hardline about it?  If compromise is possible obviously go with that- but if your options are truly to have a fully religious ceremony you don't believe in or turn down his financial help...well, only you know what your values are worth.  (I don't mean that in a judgemental way at all, even though I feel like it sounds like it.  I just mean that it's a very personal decision.)
  • Money often comes with strings. Why don't you wait to get married until you can save the money and pay for everything yourselves? That way you get to call all the shots.

  • It is disrespectful to have a religious wedding when neither of you practice that faith.  That said, money = strings so be prepared to tell your dad thanks but no thanks for his offered contribution and then figure out how to have a wedding and reception without it.
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  • This may not be the answer you seek, but your issues would be solved (largely, I'm guessing) if you and your groom would postpone the wedding until you can afford to finance exactly what the two of you want.  You'd be amazed at how much control you have when you're holding the purse strings.  Of course, this won't change anyone's opinions about religion, but then again ... nothing will.

    It's something to consider.
  • TheVirginiansTheVirginians member
    500 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited September 2012
    Can you hold the ceremony at your venue? Can either your dad's pastor officiate there or can you hire a pastor to officiate there? Perhaps this might please all 3 of you. Perhaps you should find a lay officiant to marry you at your venue.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Your ceremony should reflect your beliefs.  You shouldn't compromise on that.  Having a Christian ceremony when neither of you is a Christian undermines everything you do at your ceremony, including your vows.  You'll always regret that you did that, and you'll set a precedent that your father can push his views on you when he wants his way.

    Tell your dad that you aren't comfortable with the Christian ceremony and that you'll be having a secular ceremony.  If that means he pulls his funds, you'll either need to cut back to have the wedding you can afford or postpone the wedding until you are able to fund the wedding you want yourselves.  It may not be easy, but it's the respectable route.  
  • Giving into your dad would be a bad idea for a number of reasons.

    Your options aren't limited to big wedding with dad pulling the strings or going to the courthouse.  You can be patient and save up enough to have the wedding you want, just like other people do.
  • If you are old enough and mature enough, you are old and mature enough to stand firm in your relgious beliefs.

     Like PPs said, have a clam meeting with him and explain how to be non-religious and have a religious ceremony would be disrespectful not only to yourselves, but to the religious officiant and the members of the church. Its like saying what they beleive in is only pretend and even though your relgious views don't agree you respect those people too much to disrespect the whole congregation.

    if you have to postpone the wedding so you can afford it, simply do that. Sorry for your stinky situation :/
     Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • If you're old enough to get married, you're old enough to stand on your own to feet and #1.) Stand up to your father about your personal beliefs and #2.) pay for the things you want on your own. Don't blame being young for not being able to afford a wedding. Plenty of people (young and old) have long engagements to save up for the wedding. If you accept your dad's money it is obvious that it comes with some pretty heavy strings attached and what is worse; having your dad foot the bill for a wedding day you'd rather forget or saving up for the day of YOUR dreams?
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  • These vows that you and your fiance will exchange with eachother are the most meaningful promise that you will ever make. If your vows are full of god and religion and you are both athiest than the exchange is going to feel very fake to you. It will cheapen the whole experience and memory. I can't tell you what to do, but as a fellow athiest I can't tell you that I would much rather have a secular ceremony on a $1,000 budget than a religous one on a $30,000 budget. At the end of the day the ceremony is what matters not the fancy centerpieces that money can buy. Talk to your day. Explain to him that god is not inyour lives, that he is never going to be inyour lives and that you feel it would be disrespectful to everyone present to pretend otherwise on your wedding day. If he pulls his funds than so be it.
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  • What a lot of wonderful advice! I hope it goes smoothly for you, although from your post it seems that you might have a difficult talk ahead. My daughter is having an atheist ceremony as well...there is no real template for that, so they are kind of winging it.  They'll have a Celtic handfasting and readings from favorite poems and books, etc. Maybe try to design your own, the way you two would really love to have it, and let your father know what you would like to do?You never know....he might understand.  Good luck! 
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