How I'm using my wedding website to explain my mixed-faith wedding to dubious family members

April 16 | Guest post by spaceviking
Remember when Alison and Matt were married by an Icelandic Asatru priestess?

Recently I tackled our wedsite's FAQ page. I pulled up this post and started filling out whatever I know (or can reasonably guess) right this minute, and then added a section to cover what is arguably the most important bit of information regarding our wedding day.

This page will be how 80% of my (very Catholic) family will have the "Surprise! I've converted to a different religion!" news broken to them, so it's important. I think I've covered all the serious points and details clearly, addressed concerns respectfully, and peppered in enough humor, so it's not a total srs bns snore-fest that has a completely different tone from the rest of the FAQs. Plus, I'm hoping I really nailed "polite but firm."

Overall, it turned out a ton better than I anticipated, so I figured I'd share the wording we used, in case someone was in a similar situation and wanted some wording ideas…

The invitation said it's going to be a "mixed-faith" wedding. What does that mean? What can I expect from the ceremony?
We will be combining elements from Catholic and Ásatrú traditions to create a ceremony that is both unique and representative of us and our families. It will be co-officiated by [InternetMinister GamingBuddy] and Father [FamilyFriend MarriedMyParents]. During the ceremony, there will be prayers, short readings, and music led by a cantor. Vows, rings, and symbolic gifts will be exchanged, and a toast will be raised to those who have gone before us. At the close of the ceremony, we will ask everyone to extend their blessings and well-wishes over us, while we swear an oath of fidelity to one another. We will try very hard not to cry, but will have copious tissues available, just in case.

Wait, Ásatrú? What's that? Why is it being included in your wedding?
Both Dave and Sarah were raised as Catholics but came to disagree with the church's stance on certain social issues. Sarah converted to Ásatrú about three years ago, while Dave remains agnostic. Ásatrú is the religion that was prominent in northern Europe and Scandinavia before the spread of Christianity, and it has grown again in popularity in the last 50 years. Ásatrú's focus is on the family and community, leading by example, and being true to oneself. In many ways, it is similar to Christianity, but its stance on social issues is more aligned with our own. While the word "Ásatrú" might be unfamiliar to you, you've no doubt heard of the Gods that are honored — Odin, Thor, Freya, Loki, and the like. If you are interested in more information, we've put together [this click-to-download packet] for you. It's not required reading and there will not be a test.

I see. If you've converted from Catholicism, why are you including it in your wedding?
The church plays an important role in the lives of our family members, and was a part of our formative years. We do not want to alienate anyone, or have those closest to us consider our marriage to be "illegitimate" because our beliefs now differ slightly from theirs. We know that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding "new age" and pagan religions, so we hope that the information packet we've compiled will alleviate any doubts or fears you may have. There won't be any blood sacrifices, violent or lewd imagery, or anything too "out there". We hope that our wedding will seem only slightly unusual, and that you will find it as moving and spiritual as we will.

So, what does this mean for life after the wedding?
Life will go on as normal, and we will be legally married. We will still attend and celebrate Catholic holidays like Christmas and Easter with you, but we will not take communion at any masses. If any of you are interested in celebrating some of the Asatru holidays with us, you are more than welcome to. There is a brief overview of the main holidays in the information packet.

I am appalled and disgusted by this news. How dare you!
It is with our sincerest regrets that we will not see you at our wedding.

But enough of this — let's get back to the wedding!
[And then the rest of the FAQs will pick up again.]

Anyone else facing the issue of explaining your religious choices to your family and friends? How are YOU breaking the news?

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  1. This is lovely!
    I come from a Hindu background, but am Secular Humanist. My partner's family includes Evangelical Christian, Jehova's Witness, and Atheist – all of the staunch variety. I can see needing a section like this when we create our site.
    I love your balance of information with humor and honesty. Bookmarking this for inspiration 🙂

    6 agree
  2. "I am appalled and disgusted by this news. How dare you!
    It is with our sincerest regrets that we will not see you at our wedding."

    Hehe, brilliant, especially after the very thoughtful wording of the previous questions!

    61 agree
  3. I was raised catholic and have since become an atheist, but we're both very close to what one would call "secular humanists" but sort of detest most of the larger figure heads of that movement (aka dawkins, hitchens etc). So we're getting married in a Unitarian Church. I'm not like "rolling that out like cancer" as dan savage would say. It's just happening. If anyone seriously wants to take me aside on my wedding day and say "we noticed you aren't getting married in the church you were raised in what's up with that??" well that will be awkward but I'll just be honest if it comes up. I'm just kind of hoping it doesn't. It's great that you have this courage to put this on your website up front like this. For me I'm just kind of hoping people don't care.

    7 agree
  4. " am appalled and disgusted by this news. How dare you!
    It is with our sincerest regrets that we will not see you at our wedding."

    That, right there, is perfection. Well done on all of it!

    11 agree
  5. Hey there! I think most of what you wrote is quite good 🙂 But I have a thought on saying that your new religion "differs slightly" or "is similar to" Christianity – if your family are staunch Catholics, I'd consider rephrasing that. Chances are if they are very serious about their beliefs, they will perceive the differences as much larger than "slight", and it could backfire on you :/ It's a good idea to emphasize that the values overlap a lot, and that your ceremony won't be too "out there", lol 🙂 But the religions themselves have some rather significant differences that probably matter a lot to your family – so if you describe them as being generally similar, that probably won't go over too well with them, you know?

    13 agree
    • Instead of "slightly" perhaps try "somewhat"? The ethics behind our noble virtues are really not all that different from the ethics requested of Christians (in the red letters in their Bible, but not necessarily each individual church's dogma). So while I see Sheila's point that conflating the two may not go over well with grandmas, etc., it will likely ease some peoples' acceptance of the change if that similarity is still presented openly.

      2 agree
  6. My fiancé and I are having a pagan-based spiritual wedding. I am a nature-based pagan and he is a lapsed Catholic. We told our families that we are having a handfasting. We made it clear that those were our plans, and that we wouldn't be doing any Catholic things. Our families were fine with it, and we asked them to pass along the information to other Catholics on my fiancé's side of the family. That they could accept it and help us celebrate or just stay home. I used our website to help explain some of the traditions we will be incorporating into our ceremony. Since I'm of a historical mindset, I wanted to include a lot of the old traditions I've read about (most of which have modern equivalents). But we will also be calling the corners, so I wanted to make sure everyone knew what that meant and why it was included. Our officiant is helping us develop a ceremony that is true to our wishes too.

    I don't want to be confrontational on our website, so I wouldn't include "I'm appalled and disgusted…" It just seems inappropriate for our happy celebration.

    1 agrees
  7. Oh, you guys make a good point. My family is very church-oriented but my fiance and I are not. We're planning to do a 6 cord handfasting with calling the quarters, cakes and ale, etc. I figured enough people would be involved in the rehearsal that they would get the hang of it plus ceremony booklet would explain. However, now I'm thinking people may need to have some warning ahead of time in case the 'different' ceremony makes them wonder whether or not they want to even be there. Hm. I'll have to give this some more thought.

  8. Hadn't considered this, I'm somewhere between pagan and agnostic (my family is a mix of Catholic, baptist, and nondenominational Christian, plus one atheist sister), my fiance is a lapsed southern baptist, (his family is mostly practicing). A friend is performing a non religious ceremony.
    My family has mostly accepted my religious difference but I'm not sure about his. Something like this may be the way to handle it.

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