4 ways to avoid interfaith wedding drama

July 13 | Guest post by Sarah Resnick
Dupatta
Photo by Charyssa Shippit, from Silpi & Shawn's handmade Indian-fusion cabaret wedding

You’re ready to marry the love of your life. They make you laugh. They challenge you to be your best self. They know exactly how you like your coffee when you’re too hungover to get out of bed. And it just so happens that you’re Christian and they’re Muslim. Or they’re Jewish and you’re Hindu. Or one of you is a steadfast atheist. Whatever.

The internet abounds with horror stories about the drama that can surround interfaith weddings. Families insisting on this or that, wedding officiants refusing to work with you… but the truth is that you can have the wedding of your dreams — a beautiful melding of your cultures — with minimal drama.

1. Involve your families in the planning, but don’t let them steamroll you or make the decisions

Early on in the planning process, spend time with both of your families, and let them know that you want to talk to them about the wedding ceremony. Explain to them that you want to have a wedding that celebrates both of you and the different faiths you come from, and that you are interested in hearing what is important to them for your wedding. Listen gratefully and let them know you hear them and appreciate their suggestions.

Then the two of you can decide together what is most important for YOUR wedding. If that fits everything your families want, great! But if not, you will still have an understanding of what they wanted and be able to incorporate pieces of it in ways that feel true to both of you.

2. Find a wedding officiant (or two!) who is thrilled to conduct your interfaith ceremony

I can’t tell you how many couples have told me that rabbi after rabbi have turned them down because they were having an interfaith marriage, or didn’t want to commit to raising their kids Jewish, or wanted a wedding to be co-officiated from someone of another faith. The list goes on and on…

What I say to all that: ignore and proceed! You know that you are marrying the love of your life, and that it is absolutely the right decision. And you should never be made to feel second best because of who you fell in love with. There are plenty of people who are thrilled to officiate interfaith marriages, and you should choose someone who affirms your choice and will work with you to create the wedding ceremony of your dreams.

3. Be creative!

Your wedding is the opportunity to create the perfect ceremony that celebrates YOUR love and the blending of your cultures. Ask your wedding officiant for ideas and explore them together with your partner.

Include poems that you like. Pick and choose from the religious traditions that are meaningful to you. Decide if you’d like to use any traditional ritual objects and find artists who can adapt them to reflect your aesthetics and your wedding. Or you can choose to DIY and create your own ritual objects or decorations that reflect your style and your love.

4. Have *all* the important conversations before your wedding

  • How would you want to raise kids, if you want to have them?
  • Which holidays do you want to celebrate and how?
  • How will you navigate difficult decisions and ensure that both of you feel heard and understood?
  • Who will you both turn to for advice and support when things get tough?
  • Do you have friends who have an interfaith relationship that you admire, who can give you any guidance?

After all, the wedding ceremony is just the beginning. What’s most important is that you navigate your lifetime of marriage with the sense that each of you respect the other's faith and tradition. A wedding ceremony that perfectly celebrates the blending of your faiths is a great foundation, but don’t forget to have the hard conversations before you tie the knot.

Hope these tips help you minimize the drama and maximize the fun and the love as you are planning your wedding. And hey, if your grandma is still kvetching about whether her unborn grandkids will be raised Jewish… you’ll still love her, and you’ll survive.

Looking for tons of interfaith wedding inspiration? We've got pages and pages right here!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME

  1. I needed this. We're going to visit a rabbi tomorrow and it's so stressful finding one who is close enough and will do an intermarriage ceremony. It's still nervewracking, I feel like I need to bring an essay: "Why You Should Officiate the Wedding of Me and My Goyishe Fiance" by Sarah Weissman. SO THANK YOU. This is seriously the only wedsite I need.

    2 agree
    • So glad this piece was helpful and good luck with finding a rabbi! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any trouble, I have some great networks that could help you out. Finding a rabbi shouldn't be stressful (though I know it is.)

  2. My dad's biggest regret about his wedding was doing a Catholic ceremony to appease my mom's family because they were still no-shows. He would've done dual officiants if he could do it over again. Despite all the predictions of failure from both sides they're going on 60 years of marriage. Moral – don't let others dictate your relationship with God.

    5 agree
    • Great article. I want to add from my experience how important choosing your venue can be! One of the first things H and I chose was our venue – his family's quaint old Catholic church in rural Ireland. But it wasn't until a few months before the wedding that I realized the venue we chose pretty much determined the nature of our ceremony, leaving little chance of intentionally creating a drama-free interfaith wedding. Partly because I'm American (H is Irish/English) and grew up Protestant (H is Catholic), I hadn't realized Catholic Church = Catholic Ceremony, which was a mystery to me. Sitting in my dress? Kneeling? Responsorial psalms and alleluias? Talk about a steep and unexpected learning curve a few months out from the wedding. Our early venue choice did lead to some drama over our ceremony, but in the end I think we managed to create a ceremony that blended our beliefs and wishes, although it was quite a lesson in learning to bend on issues that you feel in your backbone. And if anyone is looking for a groovy reading for Catholic (or whatever!) wedding, check out Song of Songs, 2:8-10.14.16; 8:6-7: Love is strong as Death. Sexy stuff!!

  3. Great article. I want to add from my experience how important choosing your venue can be! One of the first things H and I chose was our venue – his family's quaint old Catholic church in rural Ireland. But it wasn't until a few months before the wedding that I realized the venue we chose pretty much determined the nature of our ceremony, leaving little chance of intentionally creating a drama-free interfaith wedding. Partly because I'm American (H is Irish/English) and grew up Protestant/now agnostic (H is Catholic), I hadn't realized Catholic Church = Catholic Ceremony, which was a mystery to me. Sitting in my dress? Kneeling? Responsorial psalms and alleluias? Talk about a steep and unexpected learning curve a few months out from the wedding. Our early venue choice did lead to some drama over our ceremony, but in the end I think we managed to create a ceremony that blended our beliefs and wishes, although it was quite a lesson in learning to bend on issues that you feel in your backbone. And if anyone is looking for a groovy reading for Catholic (or whatever!) wedding, check out Song of Songs, 2:8-10.14.16; 8:6-7: Love is strong as Death. Sexy stuff!!

  4. Great article! We have a major blending of religions going on with our marriage. On my side we have one super Catholic family, one relaxed Protestant family, and a father of the bride who is a Catholic turned Atheist. On his side we just have a plethora of strict Catholicism BUT FH himself is an Atheist! As for me, was raised Protestant but currently identify as Agnostic.
    We basically didn't do any of the steps outlined in this article at all. We're having a friend officiate most of the ceremony with an ordained officiant stepping in to do the pronouncement. We have no religious symbols, no prayers, no readings, nothing at all about religion (unless you count the call and response from Monty Python and the Meaning of Life). Religion just isn't a part of our every day lives, isn't a part of our relationship, and we didn't want it to be a part of our wedding.
    I'm sure our families might feel a little uncomfortable about a totally secular ceremony, but we figure "Our day, our way."

    2 agree
  5. Less of a planning resource for weddings and more of "this is how someone else is making their inter-faith marriage work" — Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk by Dana Trent is a pretty awesome book for folks who are navigating that an interfaith relationship.

    2 agree
  6. This is exactly what I need right now! Currently planning a Christian/Pagan wedding with my partner. We both attend one another's religious rituals and we want to include both of our faiths and cultures in our (insert bridal store employee voice) *Big Day!*

    1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.