Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Looking for Traditions to Involve/Observe in Our Wedding

My fiance and I have been together for 10 years. Both of us are not religeous, I should say that we do not follow any specific faith or religion. I would like to find some world traditions for us to partake in at our ceremony/reception to bring in different cultures/traditions. Even if they are religeous I am interested. I just want to make it something more than a civil ceremony or a Catholic ceremony which his family would love. We live near the Navojo Nation Reservation and are open to Native American Traditions as well. I just do not want to include traditions that could/would offend the culture it came from. Please no knocking me. Ladies can be mean on here! This is my first post, be kind!

Re: Looking for Traditions to Involve/Observe in Our Wedding

  • Well, I really do mean this kindly, but I would avoid this idea.  I think people from most cultures are offended by the idea of someone not of that culture appropriating their traditions just to seem more "interesting," when the traditions don't actually mean anything to the people in question.  Now, if you start googling, and find a list of cultural traditions, and one of them seems really meaningful to you, then I don't think that's a problem- but trying to incorporate a bunch of different traditions just to seem worldly- that I think is where you're treading on offensive ground.

    I do want to note that trying to incorporate religious traditions if you don't believe in the religion in question is absolutely, unequivocally disrespectful- it's taking something sacred and turning it into an empty performance.  (Imagine, for instance, how your Catholic in-laws would feel if you had a fake priest perform a fake Mass, or something like that.)

    I also want to urge you to be a little bit more sensitive to your own language- calling people's ceremonies "just a civil ceremony" or "just a Catholic ceremony" sounds really dismissive, and I don't think folks on this board would be wrong to take insult at it.  Many of the ladies here had beautiful and unique civil or Catholic ceremonies, and there's plenty you can do to make either type of ceremony completely your own without incorporating random traditions you don't believe in just to seem interesting.  If, for instance, you want a civil ceremony, why don't you take some time to think about what civil marriage means to you, and find some philosophical or political readings that address that- or write your own! 
    japrincess24
  • I agree with Calli.  I know that you don't mean it to come off this way, but these traditions from other cultures are sacred to other cultures - I wouldn't just do them if you don't believe in them. 

    I also find it interesting that you are willing to do traditions from ANY other culture except the one to which the two of you have ties: Catholicism. 

    The wedding ceremony itself is quite ritualistic.  The vows, the exchange of rings, the pledge to spend your life with another person.  We didn't do anything else (no silly candles or sand ceremonies) and I felt our service was beautiful.
  • SKPMSKPM member
    250 Love Its 100 Comments Second Anniversary First Answer
    edited September 2012
    We had "just a civil ceremony" because neither of us is particularly religious. In addition to our vows which we wrote, the exchange of rings which included a short reading, and an address from our officiant who was a close family friend ordained for the day, we included a secular reading done by a friend, a wedding prayer near the beginning to incorporate our Christian families, and a Native American wedding blessing near the end because it really spoke to us. I could not have been happier with our ceremony, and several guests commented later that it was really sweet and really "us". ETA: I suggest you work with your officiant while planning your ceremony. Even though ours had never done a wedding before and probably won't again, he was a great help in setting the tone for the event and helping us make the ceremony reflect our personalities and values. That is more special, in my opinion, than using an assortment of rituals that are meaningless to us.

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  • My husband and I were in a similar situation (come from different religions but we choose not to belong to any church). We decided to research traditions from our heritage. The one thing we have in common is we are both a little bit Irish so we went with an Irish tradition of ringing a "make-up" bell after our vows.

    My brother is getting married next month and they too decided to go with their heritage so they will be making a mixed drink using liquors and juices from their ethnic origins. This also perfect for them because they are bartenders.

    I guess my advice to you is do something meaningful. Make your own tradition.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_looking-for-traditions-to-involveobserve-in-our-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:7ab2babf-b96a-495a-95dc-948ef8daeda3Post:b8630476-a1c4-45b9-8d05-6635bee198cd">Re: Looking for Traditions to Involve/Observe in Our Wedding</a>:
    [QUOTE]My husband and I were in a similar situation (come from different religions but we choose not to belong to any church). We decided to research traditions from our heritage. The one thing we have in common is we are both a little bit Irish so we went with an Irish tradition of ringing a "make-up" bell after our vows. My brother is getting married next month and they too decided to go with their heritage so they will be making a mixed drink using liquors and juices from their ethnic origins. This also perfect for them because they are bartenders. I guess my advice to you is do something meaningful. Make your own tradition.
    Posted by lpprudence[/QUOTE]

    I agree with lpprudence to go with something from your heritage vs trying to be worldly. My best friend's dad is a priest in the Old American Catholic Church and I will ask him to do our ceremony. It will have the religious parts our moms want(neither of us go to Church regularly and he was raised WELS and I was raised Catholic) but with our own flare and personality. I want to incorporate a handfasting because of my Irish heritage, so look into our heritage and see what traditions they have. My friend did a "civil ceremony" and had a wedding poem read, did a rose ceremony where she and her H exchanged roses with each other and that throughout their marriage if they ever want to say, "I'm sorry" "I love you" or "Just because" they leave a rose (in a predermined spot, ie coffee table, counter in bathroom) and the other will know. They also did sand vs unity candle(outside) and they used vows that meant something to them.
    You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. - Barbara DeAngelis
  • I agree with lpprudence. Make it something unique to speak to you, but don't do something just because it might be expected.

    My FI and I are not religious. We'll be working with our officiant to make something unique to us. Might write our own vows. One thing we are doing to make it special to us, is a ring warming. We have 20 people attending our wedding; only our closest friends and family. So the ring warming means a lot to us. (A ring warming is where the rings are passed through the guests before the exchange of rings. Each person holds it and says a prayer of good luck/fortune/warm wishes. Then the rings are "warmed with the love of family and friends" by the time the exchange of rings happens) Depending on your guest list size, you could explore this idea. Or the unity sands/candles or similar traditions.
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  • Keep in mind that including religious aspects in a secular or nondenominational wedding can be seen as offensive.  DH immediately nixed having Greek Orthodox crowns at our non-denominational ceremony because it would be offensive to about half of our guests.
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  • Like PP have said about talking to your officiant and see about writing your own ceremony. Than your personalities will shine through and not just some words that have no special meaning to you.
    You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. - Barbara DeAngelis
  • Hy husband and I are also not religious, and we had "just" a civil ceremony. It was beautiful IMHO. Here is what was included:

    -Welcome by the officiant
    -2 readings
    -More words from the officiant
    -Exchange of Vows
    -Ring Ceremony
    -Unity Ceremony
    -1 Reading, which was a sort of non-religious blessing
    -Pronouncement of Marriage

    All of these things were made unique and personal to us by what was included in each. If you do even a google search of "non-religious wedding readings" or "secular wedding ceremony readings" you will get hundreds of results, but you don't even have to get your readings from there. Take any passage from any book or speech or poem that speaks to you as a couple and use it. 

    The same went for our vows and ring ceremony. We didn't want to write our own vows so we used a poem, "I Promise" by Dorothy Colgan. We switched off saying the lines from the poem as our vows. The ring ceremony was made up by combining portions of ring ceremonies that I found online and making sound the way I liked it.

    The welcome and the address from the officiant were made up by looking at the sample ceremonies that she sent us (most officiants have a bunch of sample ceremonies that you can customize) and taking portions that we liked and putting it together so that it was meaningful to us.

    If you want I can even copy/paste my entire ceremony script if it would be helpful for you. I can guarantee though that if you put some thought and a bit of research into it, EVEN "just a civil ceremony" will be beautiful and unique to you as a couple.
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  • I don't suggest observing traditions from a culture that you don't plan on partaking with ever again, as PP's said, its rude and offensive.

    I suggest going through readings/books/poetry from all different cultures. Don't just choose one, but find one that you find truly, personally meaningful. Like ACTUALLY meaningful, not just "nice" or "pretty" or you "lke it" This will incorporate some other traditions without "putting on a show" and possibley offending anyone.
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  • I would suggest the book "Joining Hands and Hearts".  It's geared specifically toward interfaith couples, but there are lots of ideas in it for nonreligious ceremonies.

    As others have said, please don't appropriate a tradition from another culture just to make your ceremony more interesting.  Do some research about traditions from your own heritage.

    I'm an atheist, and my husband was a Christian when we got married, so we did include some religious elements in our ceremony, but we also used a few secular readings, including an excerpt from John Stuart Mill's "The Subjection of Women" about how a marriage is a partnership of equals and the family is the school of democracy.  I know a few couples who have included a reading from Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, explaining the importance of civil marriage to society.  (http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/440/440mass309.html).

    At the secular ceremonies I've been to, there was a lot of personal stuff about the couple where the religious content would be in a religious ceremony- stories about how they met, how they got engaged, etc.  Your officiant should be able to help you with a lot of this stuff.  If you are not atheists, you can also have a ceremony that refers to God in a general sense but isn't identifiable with any particular faith.
  • edited September 2012
    Please please don't use traditions and rituals from cultures that are not your own! It's in essence stealing from those people, and it's incredibly disrespectful in every way. Think of how native American people feel when they see items like headdresses and other sacred garments that are so intimately weaved into their heritage on someone who knew nothing about those thingslike hipsters. It's not okay. I'm sure you have a wonderful heritage with many of its own traditions! Look into those! Or even make up your own! Don't steal someone else's.
    cotku
  • ginadogginadog member
    1000 Comments 5 Love Its
    edited October 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_looking-for-traditions-to-involveobserve-in-our-wedding?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:7ab2babf-b96a-495a-95dc-948ef8daeda3Post:688c284b-b678-4c59-ab6a-541e2752c8b0">Looking for Traditions to Involve/Observe in Our Wedding</a>:
    [QUOTE]My fiance and I have been together for 10 years. Both of us are not religeous, I should say that we do not follow any specific faith or religion. I would like to find some world traditions for us to partake in at our ceremony/reception to bring in different cultures/traditions. Even if they are religeous I am interested. I just want to make it something more than a civil ceremony or a Catholic ceremony which his family would love. We live near the Navojo Nation Reservation and are open to Native American Traditions as well. I just do not want to include traditions that could/would offend the culture it came from. Please no knocking me. Ladies can be mean on here! This is my first post, be kind!
    Posted by hopefullysomeday[/QUOTE]

    I also wanted to incorporate something that was meaningful and represented us somehow.  This is what I came up with:

    H's family is very Scandinavian.  His dad 100% Norwegian an dhis mom 90% Swedish.  I discovered that it's a Swedish custom for the B&G to walk into the ceremony together.  So we had our first look and then moment after, we walked into the ceremony together.  I don't think his mom was aware that this is a Swedish thing, but I liked it and it was Swedish and it worked so well for our ceremony.

    I tried to get a <em>kransekakke </em>(Norwegian wedding cake) but alas that was too hard (and our elopement came with a cake already).

    Since I am of Irish decent, I had the officiant read an Irish blessing that I selected.  I found one that was perfect and <strong>not </strong>religious.  Irish blessings are typically said on my dad's side.

    I almost did a handfasting which is of Celtic decent (still up for debate) but we opted not to.

    We also had a ring exchange.  I helped write the script for the ceremony as well.
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