Wedding Vows & Ceremony Discussions

Non-religious Ceremony Rituals?

We booked our officiant! (If you remember I posted about how hard it is to find one and how to even start, we got pretty lucky with her). She gave us some forms on what sort of ceremony we would like to start off with, but we're both extremely new to weddings, we've never been to one in our adult life so we don't know what seems like a good idea or not. Our wedding is very far off so she's not rushing us so she gave a list of ritual ideas and an option to add additional ones to start off with.

For some background information we're atheists, I came from a Roman Catholic Dominican family and he came from a non-religious Chinese (Hong Kong) family where only his mom is Buddhist. If we were to include any rituals from our family backgrounds they would have to be able to blend well with non-religious beliefs.
We want the officiant to say a few words about our parents and grandparents and loved ones who have died, but we don't want specific parent rituals (Like passing a rose to our mothers) because his parents won't be there. But as an option, we would like a ritual that includes our guests without them feeling weird (We thought the stone ceremony was too much and the passing the sign of peace seems like a nice idea but it felt too much like Catholic mass).

From the list we really like the memory box ceremony (Adding love letters and a bottle of wine in a box to open later), sand ceremony (In an hourglass), tree planting ceremony (We don't have a house yet though so it would have to be slow growing in a pot for a year or two), wine ceremony.

Do you guys know of any other ideas (Even made up ones) for non-religious weddings? Or ones that can include guests somehow? Even in a small way. Maybe this will help other Atheist brides here with a list.
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Re: Non-religious Ceremony Rituals?

  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    edited June 2016
    This is where we found the blessings we're considering using. They have secular resources, too:

    http://www.weddingsbyashleigh.com/ceremonies-vows-rituals-poems-and-prayers.html


    Here's another possibility. I found a few humanist blessings before meals on this site.

    http://secularseasons.org/celebrations/weddings.html

    ETA: Unitarian Universalist congregation web sites have tons of non-religious ceremony ideas. I developed our ceremony script from a UU officiant's web site.
  • MCmeowMCmeow member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    This is where we found the blessings we're considering using. They have secular resources, too:

    http://www.weddingsbyashleigh.com/ceremonies-vows-rituals-poems-and-prayers.html


    Here's another possibility. I found a few humanist blessings before meals on this site.

    http://secularseasons.org/celebrations/weddings.html

    ETA: Unitarian Universalist congregation web sites have tons of non-religious ceremony ideas. I developed our ceremony script from a UU officiant's web site.
    Ooh that's helpful, thanks!
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  • SP29SP29 member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    We chose a fully secular ceremony. DH and I are not religious and our families widely vary in what they practice (from Atheist to Catholic to Jehovah's Witness), so we chose not to include any religious aspects because they would not be meaningful to us nor would we be able to include our all family members.

    Our officiant was willing to do whatever we wanted (religious or secular) and provided us with an overview of the ceremony. For example: Welcome, Vows, Giving of the Rings, Readings, Proclamation of marriage, Recessional, etc... He then gave us a booklet that had examples of wording for each part, but told us we could choose anything we liked.

    We ended up choosing most of our own wording, and much of that I found online by googling the titles he gave us for each section of the ceremony.

    We searched our own readings and chose our own music.

    We didn't have any special "ceremonies" (not our thing), but I really enjoyed our readings. Our officiant also gave what he calls a "Motivational Moment", which is his thing, but he kept it secular.
    OurWildKingdom
  • MobKaz said:

    @MCmeow, It is nice that you want to make your guests feel included, but their invitation has already made that point for you.  Don't do anything that feels forced or foreign to who you are as a couple.
    Ditto this.

    From the perspective of a religious person, I don't think non-religious people should feel like they have to add more rituals or traditions to their basic wedding ceremony.  I have been to some really short secular weddings, and I didn't think it was any less special or solemn of an occasion!  

    Of course, if there's some tradition that speaks to you as a couple or has meaning for you, then by all means, include it!  But not having all the extra stuff typical of a religious ceremony is ok too.  Don't feel like you have to add something.

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    MairePoppyMCmeowSP29CMGragain
  • MCmeowMCmeow member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    Yeah I agree with you guys. We'll stick to what we know we'll feel comfortable with, like the ones I listed, we won't try to force it :P I think the memory box idea and tree planting are our favorites.
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  • How about a tea ceremony? They're traditional at Chinese weddings, and it should be a good match since your fiance is Chinese
  • I'm always a fan of keeping things simple. The ceremony is the unity and all the extras you've suggested are just extras. I would discourage adding something that requires guest participation.
    Jen4948100yroldblinddog
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited July 2016
    ernursej said:
    I'm always a fan of keeping things simple. The ceremony is the unity and all the extras you've suggested are just extras. I would discourage adding something that requires guest participation.
    I agree. There's no need to add extra rituals to a non-religious ceremony to make it more "meaningful" or to "include" anyone. The fact that at the end of the ceremony, you'll be married makes the whole ceremony "meaningful" and just by being in attendance, guests are "included."
    ernursejSP29
  • One that I really like is tying a physical knot.  I love it because it reminds me of the Scottish tradition of hand-fasting, which essentially marries a couple for a year and a day, so that they could live together until they came across a priest (rare in the highlands at the time).  You could just tie it as a physical embodiment of the bond you're creating with your marriage, and it's a great conversation piece in your home. 
    OurWildKingdomMCmeow
  • We are in the same boat as you. Neither of us are religious, so we are kind of crafting our own ceremony. We just found our officiant this weekend and she said she'll do whatever we want. She is going to sort of interview us to get to know us better and then she's going to create a short speech about us, which I think is nice. She said she did a baseball themed one for a couple who are huge Tiger's fans. I'm looking for something a little extra for our ceremony too. Not sure what yet, but I like the memory box idea.
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