Great WaPo article about nontraditional religious weddings: #Philosophizing#religion January 10 2007 | Ariel arielmstallings "These are people who don't really fit into a regular traditional church, but they still have a sense of spirituality." Catholic priests are performing half as many marriages today as in 1970, the year Cynthia Gonzalez was born. And she is part of the reason. Gonzalez is a sales manager who lives in Columbia Heights. She grew up Catholic. But when the time came to marry, she chose a ceremony that reconciled her faith to that of her fiance, Vasu Muthyala, an Indian American federal prosecutor. The wedding, held June 24 on the grounds of Glenview Mansion in Rockville, became a mostly Hindu affair with sprinklings of American nuptial tradition — bridesmaids and groomsmen wedding costumes cut to Western tastes from Indian fabrics. Daddy walked her down the aisle, following her custom. The groom rode in on a horse, following his. "My family has been amazing," Gonzalez said, speaking a few days before the ceremony. "They're kind of rolling with the punches, wearing outfits that they wouldn't otherwise wear, sitting through a ceremony in Sanskrit that they won't understand." While clergy still perform most weddings, the ceremonies are straying ever farther from tradition, reflecting a "do-it-yourself" attitude toward religious nuptials. The minister may be an old friend, a professor or Dad, ordained online for the occasion. The setting may be a picturesque church chosen purely for aesthetics, a beach on the Eastern Shore or a mountaintop. The religious heritage may be the bride's, the groom's or some interfaith stew cooked up by both families. Related Post I'm Jewish, he's an atheist: Intermarriage, and what I have to leave behind I'm the daughter of a rabbi and a cantor (and the stepdaughter of yet another rabbi!), sent to Jewish day school as a child, raised... Read more John Zielke and Jessica Briddle of Alexandria asked the groom's father to read the vows at their wedding, held June 24 at Top of the Town in Arlington. She's a public relations consultant. He's launching a bicycle taxi service. Like many couples today, they are only vaguely religious. "I think he's a Lutheran, and I'm a Baptist, technically," Briddle said before the ceremony. "We don't attend church, so we don't have a minister, and we didn't want to be married by someone who wasn't connected to us in some way." Because the groom's father is neither a minister nor a justice of the peace, the couple plans to visit a magistrate at some point, in their jeans, to make it legal. They chose a ceremony without religious content. But they arranged for an uncle to bless the food at the reception, mostly for the sake of relatives who otherwise might have taken offense. Briddle thinks the concession "took the air out of the issue." Decades of statistics point to a societal retreat from the church wedding. Catholic marriage ceremonies have been in decline for 35 years — from 426,000 marriages nationwide in 1970 to 212,456 in 2005, according to church data — even as the number of Catholics continues to grow. Many states, including Maryland and Virginia, have tracked a shift from religious to civil marriages. And a growing network of interfaith and nondenominational ministers offers couples the freedom to wed on their own terms. In response, some clergy in mainline denominations are trying to accommodate a more expansive view of the marriage ritual: conducting weddings outside of church, catering to interfaith couples, even permitting subtle changes in centuries-old vows. Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Author of the Offbeat Bride book, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives in Seattle with her son, and if she's not reading or writing books, chances are good that she's dancing or happy-crying. You can get to know her better on her Insta stories. PREVIOUS Eco-chic weddings NEXT Great wedsite: Show/Hide comments [ 0 ] Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Sign me up for your offbeat awesomeness newsletter! 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.