Having a Pagan Wedding While Not Offending Those of Other Religions...? (Please Come In If You're... - Page 3
I agree with the pp who suggested having a little note or something in the invitation indicating something of what to expect. My aunt wasn't pagan so much as just woodsy/hippie, but she and her DH were married outside, barefoot, and wrote their own vows which included being married 'for this life and future lives'. The invitation said "no ties, no alcohol, bare feet encouraged" I've never seen another wedding like it, but I wasn't uncomfortable there! When I planned my own it was nothing like it, but again, her wedding didn't make me uncomfortable.
I'm Christian (LDS), and I wouldn't find anything innately offensive in attending a Pagan wedding. I would not feel comfortable being asked to directly participate in any of the rituals (by word or action), but I don't think most weddings call on the guests to do more than just sit and watch.
If I was invited to a wedding for a Jewish couple I would expect a Jewish wedding. I wouldn't expect them to cater to Christian friends or family. Same thing goes for any other religion. I just can't imagine being offended at someone else getting married in a manner that's spiritually significant to them. I might feel a little confused but I'd actually welcome the opportunity to explore traditions of another faith. BTW - I'm LDS.
I also agree with all the pp's who have suggested having a separate reception...even if it's just that it says 'wedding begins at 2, reception begins at 3 (same location)' or whatever...if people are uncomfortable with being at the ceremony part, they can come for just the reception.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, and enjoy the discussion!
I just texted my Christian cousin to see how she thought the family (my mother's side) would feel about it. She said there may be some complaining, but they'd be hurt if they weren't invited. I think this will be ok.
I am lucky because the very large majority of my close family is pagan or pagan leaning so it wont be a big deal for nearly anyone except my mother's family (my mother passed 13 years ago so I don't see them very often aside from my cousin).
And while I was not a member of my church when I got married (i will be next time - long story) when I invited people to my kids baptism even the Christians I had to explan quite a bit to. and if I get married I know I will have a lot of prepping for my Protestant friends and will be assuring them if they do not feel comfortable at the wedding (much different from other Christian weddings) they are still welcome at the reception. i would rather have them participate on their terms than get all wigged out at what I consider a very sacred serious sacrement.
I'm so glad this got returned. So I suppose what I've gathered is that I should have some sort of an out for those who would be uncomfortable...and so I do basically need to clarify in an invitation. I would prefer not to because it seems awkward, and I know my fellow Christian friends wouldn't have to do something like that so it makes me slightly sad- but it is what it is and I certainly want no one to feel uncomfortable.
Please forgive me if I'm getting terminology wrong, but one of my pagan friends did a handfasting...if you're doing something like that as a central part of the wedding, perhaps word the invitation to invite people to your 'handfasting' instead of your 'wedding' and that would make it pretty clear I would think...
As for the note that your Christian friends wouldn't have to say anything because Christian weddings are sortof the default...well, the US is a predominantly Christian country. Even if a lot of people are not currently involved with a church, the founders of the country were and it's sortof 'in our blood' as a country (imo). In the middle east a Muslim wedding would be the default...in China I'd expect the default to be Buddhist. I appreciate that it must be difficult to have a 'non-traditional' wedding, but the more our world diversifies the more it happens everywhere, and I think it's a healthy thing. I'd love to attend a pagan wedding for the experience and the education, even if I don't agree with all the beliefs.
I have NEVER gotten an invitation to a Christian (or other "recognized religion") wedding that said "please note this is a Christian/Jewish/Protestant/Catholic/etc. wedding." And the invites were not obvious in terms of what type of religion the people were.
So, I really don't see why you should have to point out what type of ceremony you're having. I come from a VERY Catholic family. I mean hardcore, European Roman Catholicism. (I'm not of that religion any more, btw.) And in 18 years of Catholic teaching, I never stumbled across something that says I would burn in hell or some other drastic event for attending a pagan ceremony (or other ceremony). So, it's not like your ceremony is hurting anyone. Truly. It's a joyous occasion, meant for happiness and celebration.
Plan your ceremony, have it the way you want it, and enjoy yourself. The wedding is about verbalizing and cementing your commitment to your partner. It's not about creating a ceremony around others, especially distant others - but around YOU and your partner. This is an important event in your life, and I think you should have the freedom to enjoy yourself without changing things for the benefit of others.
For the record, my extremely Catholic grandmother who goes to Church to pray for my soul daily would attend a pagan wedding. She'd pray for your soul later in church, but she'd attend and be respectful.
I guess, I'm having a hard time seeing why you have to accommodate these family members when most other religions don't think twice about their ceremonies.
As long as you don't purposefully hurt others (which you're not doing), I say create the ceremony the way you want it to unfold.
I would not put anything in the invitation. That seems like excusing your faith as to not offend others....if someone is offended, its on them....sorry. I have never gotten an invitation that says "well, this will be a christian ceremony, so if you are uncomfortable with that, please just attend the reception". I do believe in making the ceremony comfortable for all, which is why I excluded naming gods and goddesses, etc. The circle casting was actually a poem that my bridesmaids each said a line of as they entered. The was the room was set up, everyone was in a circle surrounding us, so it was very natural for them to each go to a quarter to say their lines.
I did put some explanations in the program, as I felt this was the appropriate place to do so...the jumping of the broom was explanined as well as the tying of hands. Again, I didnt neccessarily use the term pagan or witch, but gave traditional meanings.
I had many, many people come up to me afterwards of all faiths and tell me it was the most beautiful ceremony they had seen. I totally catered it to fit DH and myself, and it showed.
PM me if you are interested in more detail. I am sure I have it all saved somewhere
She told me that while the note itself was totally true (weddings last hours and days, they did have a quiet space planned for little ones who wanted to nap or needed diaper changes or whatever) it was also a sort of gentle reminder for her extended family that this ceremony wouldn't necessarily be the kind of wedding they had attended in the past.
We've had SO many people come to us after officiating very pagan weddings, in tears because of how "beautiful" and unique they thought the ceremony was and how it touched their hearts and minds (one very Christian father of a bride comes to mind but he is not the only one by a long shot who felt touched by a ceremony we've officiated.) I think the reason for our success is that my husband and I do the weddings and handfastings together and we have been together for over 31 years. We view our role as officiants very seriously and bring to it our strong and deep belief in the joining of lives and fortunes for the long haul.
I was raised Christian; baptized and grew up and married within the United Methodist Church. Jesus was a great teacher and I view him as my wise brother. I'm grateful for all the gifts I received through his teachings and through Christianity. It taught me alot about community and about love.
I am also a hereditary Jew- my mother is Jewish and the tradition is matrilineal. I really LOVE that part of my spiritual heritage. My Jewishness also made Christianity even more accessible to me, believe it or not, and often guides me, just as Christianity does, upon the path I walk as a pagan. I am truly humbled by all the spiritual gifts I have been so generously given.
So I can tell you, that a pagan wedding can be meaningful to everyone who attends if the officiant is careful-by that, I mean full of care, while fully honoring the pagan path of the couple.
It CAN be done! I've done it (many times)!
Good luck with your wedding. I hope this helped and maybe gave you some ideas on how to merge the different beliefs.
Sometimes Christians forget that their religion isn't supposed to be about exclusion.
I chose to have my bridesmaid and groomsman who are married preset a very simple altar, we chose due to complexness to not cut a circle, we did invite the God and Goddess with candles. We included a handfasting cord and cake and wine into the ceremony but over all it was well blended to make everyone comfortable, especially DH. We did not invite guests or anyone else to particpate during the ceremony, since it didn't work for the ceremony we wanted, though we did think about our guests too.
Saying all this, only one person was a little irked (but she came to the wedding irked and lives her life irked so big flipp'n surprise she was irked, though she couldn't say why to my Grandmother). Many of the people at the wedding know I am pagan, many did not, over all they all loved the ceremony!! In fact many of the guests still tell us and others that it was one of their favorite weddings ever, the main reason they loved our unique ceremony. Not one of my Christian guests were made uncomfortable at all by the ceremony and in fact many of them were the most impressed. So it can be done
I think a wedding is for the couple to be happy and share their day with their guests, I hope guests of other faiths can understand and be sharing and welcoming to that fact. I know you will find the perfect ceremony for the both of you!
I don't understand the idea that just because the ceremony is from another tradition that someone cannot go. You're not being asked to convert, or even to practice that faith for so much as a minute. You're only there to share the couple's joy at getting married. I've been to Catholic, Protestant (I think it was a Methodist church), and mixed weddings for my family. I would have no more expected them to not follow their own beliefs than they expected me to not follow mine.
I don't think you should change your personal religious ceremony to suit whoever may or may not be in attendance. I'm Christian, and I certainly didn't. We invited people of all religious affiliations to our wedding, and although they may not have shared our particular flavor or Christianity - and many were not Christian - all have said it was a beautiful wedding.
You don't have to share someone's religion to be happy for them that they are beginning a marriage.
I hope it isn't uncouth for me to be resurrecting this thread But I'm actually planning a Pagan wedding for this Oct. I found this thread through google and then joined the board (cant believe I didn't happen upon it sooner!)
I'm actually the only Pagan I know. My family is a smattering of religions, my father and sister both eclectic jumblings of many. My mother and brother are christian as is most of moms family. My fiance is...well he's been baptized, schooled in a Lutheran church, been to mass....but hes closer to being a Pagan as well. We're implementing lot's of Pagan things but in a subtle way. The bridal party will subtly stand in a circle around me us, four of them will each hold a representation of one of the elements while I hold a representation of the Goddess, he holds one for the God. We're also adding a few "rituals" (like handfasting and maybe the marriage vessel and the rose).
I wouldn't send a note, only because words read can be misinterpreted, they can ask you about anything later. If you've had your wedding by now I'd be curious to know how it went :)
I guess I think this is a non-issue. Would your family refuse to go to a Jewish friend's wedding ceremony? To me, a wedding ceremony is a joyous occasion and the faith of the couple being married is not - or shouldn't be - relevant to the guests, who are there to support the couple, not to endorse or participate in their religion.
(Or, going by the pp, maybe I'm wrong. lilyka, would you not go to a friend's Jewish wedding - or Muslim or whathaveyou?).
I'm agnostic with pagan leanings. I don't mind the wedding and funerals of other people's religions but I do draw the line at a bris. I won't go watch a baby be cut that way. That hurts me as a person.. not to mention the poor little fellow on the table.
To the Op, are you prepared to alienate your family? If not, you are going to have to stick with those ritual things that are more mainstream. I think you can get away with the unity candle and maybe the sips of wine or water. Not much else.
Whoops, I didn't realize this thread was so old...... maybe the Op will come back and tell us about her wedding!
The thing that gets me about this whole discussion is that many Christian people would NEVER worry about offending others with their ceremony, it is just expected that it is the norm and the basis off which we all plan ours. I've sat through MANY christian marriages and have not felt threatened by it. I would hope that others would be able to enjoy ours without feeling threatened as well. Our ceremony was seen by most people as non-religious, as it seems in many peoples' minds, it's in a church or it's not religious at all.
I pretty much expect my protestant friends and family to be offended at my religious sacraments. my kids baptism was a nightmare. But I have come to a place of mutual respect and understanding. I invite them because I don't want them to feel left out. And they know I will not be offended if they do not come. I understand my faith makes some people uncomfortable. The Church used to make me very uncomfortable and the icons etc were highly offensive to me. If they will be offended by the religion aspect of it I would rather they celebrated with us only in the ways they were comfortable (be it coming to the reception or if that was not acceptable just sending us a card congratulating us or whatever, or just pretending nothing happened if that is the best they can do.) BUT I would not go out of my way to tell them what kind of wedding I was having or give them the idea they may be offended. I would hope they would know enough about me to know if this might be a holy moment for me that they would prefer to sit out on or arrive fashionably late to.
And honestly, I think most Christians would not recognize pagan elements unless you made a point of pointing them out. They would probably just pass it off as some new trend in weddings or whatever. So they may not be offended as you think.
Didn't make it through all the comments, but I'm going to break from most of the PP and say I wouldn't put a note in the invitation or anything explaining it as a pagan ceremony. I'm Catholic, if I got an invitation that explicit said that a wedding would be in X faith tradition it would make me way over think it. I'd be wondering how strange and uncomfortable the ceremony has the potential to be for there to be a need for a disclaimer up front. It would make it into way to much of a big, uncomfortable deal.
I like the idea of a PP to just have pagan symbolism or wording in the invitation if that is applicable. In my family I'd just make sure the family gossips know it will be a Pagan ceremony and the rest would take care of itself. Many people who are non-Catholic dislike attending a Catholic ceremony with a full mass. I verbally let a few Friends and family members know that it would be a full mass (as I married a non Catholic I could have opted for the shorter version, but chose not to). They passed it along to those who needed to know and everyone knew what they were in for before they came. The dove and the bible verse on the invitation hinted pretty hard that it was Christian, and the location made it pretty clear it was in a Catholic Church. So there are indicators in a Christian wedding that often let other know what to expect.
I do agree that it would be nice to have the invitation phrased in such a way that guests can be comfortable attending only the reception.
As a Catholic, I would attend and enjoy. I wouldn't participate, but more observe and wish you well.
But I don't think I'd find it that strange either. In my faith tradition God made the earth and all in it, so I would probably just perceive it as a ceremony that incorporates ways to honor what God has made.