Should I tell my Christian grandmother about my Pagan wedding?

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Your grandma might be more bad-ass than you're expecting. More photos from this wedding here.

I have a very close relationship with my Grandmother, however, in all my years of being so close with her, I, uh, “forgot” to mention that I am not Christian, but in fact Pagan. She is very religious and while it isn't overbearing — if anything it's wonderful that she has so much faith — this is very troubling to me because telling her than I'm Pagan would absolutely break her heart, and I really really really do not want to do that to her. Lying, yes, but with every good intention possible.

I've been dreaming of a hippie, backyard wedding, but now I am freaking out because even though I know no matter what that my Grandmother will always love me, but I know that she will feel directly responsible for me “straying from God.”

I've contemplated having two ceremonies, but do you had any advice on how I should approach this, and do you think there's any way I can really get away with this grand and terrible scheme I am trying to hatch? -Kei

Certainly having two weddings is a work-around to avoid confronting the situation, but alternately, this could be an amazing opportunity to deepen your already close relationship with your Grandmother. Do you really want to build your wedding around an elaborate scheme concocted to protect your grandmother from your true self? Or do you want to use your wedding as a chance to live your life with integrity and allow your grandmother to finally know the full and authentic you?

Of course only you can know the specifics of your particular relationship and your particular grandmother, but if you're close to her, it seems like you have been presented with a chance to really deepen your relationship with her. Potentially, you have the opportunity to act as an ambassador, giving your Grandma the chance to learn that Pagans aren't Devil-worshiping Hell-bound freaks… they're quite lovely, actually. She's loved and admired a Pagan for years, and not even known it.

You have the opportunity to act as an ambassador, giving your Grandma the chance to learn that Pagans aren't Devil-worshiping Hell-bound freaks… they're quite lovely, actually.

In keeping this secret from your Grandmother, you're also denying her the opportunity to surprise you with her acceptance. I have a friend in Seattle who, after months of agonizing over it, decided to come out to his Southern mother about his open marriage. “What a coincidence,” she responded. “Your step-father and I have an open marriage too!” I'm not saying your Grandmother is going to be all, “OMG, YES! I was JUST making plans for my Beltane celebration! Would you like to come?” But if you're as “very close” with her as you've described, she may be more accepting of her heathen granddaughter than you expect.

You've been given an invitation to stop protecting your grandmother from who you are — you're both people of faith, and I want to believe that people of faith can work to find the common ground. My mother was raised Catholic, and went Pagan in her 20s… and I know she's found a lot of similarities in the focus on ceremony, ritual, altars, and idolatry. I'd love to hear from Pagan readers about any specific first-hand experience they've got with finding common ground with Christian family members.

Alternately, it might not be worth it. You could have two ceremonies with an empty day in-between them, starting with the more traditional Grandma-friendly one. It'll be twice as hard to plan and more than a little sneaky, which begs the question of what's worse? Outing yourself to your grandmother and bracing for her to be upset who you truly are, or potentially fracturing the relationship by lying to her?


Kei, the original gal who asked us this the question wrote in via comments about how the situation turned out. It was such a powerful comment that we thought we'd post it here:

Hello, everyone. I know it's been a year or so since I asked this question, and I still appreciate all of the advice that was passed onto me. But in the event this thread is read all the way through, I just wanted to update everyone.Two months after this question was asked, it was discovered that my grandmother had stage 4 esophageal cancer, which is, as it turns out, one of the worst kinds of cancer to have if you want to attend your granddaughter's wedding the following year. The issue with my religion was a non-issue at that point – because bringing it up to her and risking bringing an additional weight on her already stressful situation was, in my opinion, not worth it.

She passed away that December, a week before Christmas.

In that time I learned that I should have really just told her before all of this happened. I do regret not saying anything, but I don't regret trying to make her last days as comfortable and loving as I could make them for her. Nothing was more important to us than to make sure we were there for her when she was ready to leave.

So, as the featured questioner of this article, to whoever has this problem and you are searching for an answer here: Life is so short, I hate the cliche, but you really have no idea how much time you'll have left to do something that you want to do. To be honest with my grandma about my beliefs was something I wanted to eventually come to terms with, but just that quick, she was taken from us. I had no time to decide if it was really the best idea, but regardless, I find myself wishing that I could have told her, because our relationship was strong and I know that she would have loved me regardless.

All the best,

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Comments on Should I tell my Christian grandmother about my Pagan wedding?

  1. I would. She can only go one of two ways…..either support you because it is your wedding and your choice…..or decide not to go because it is against what she believes in. If you are close then she will probably agree to disagree and go to support you and share your special day.

  2. When my (Christian fiance) proposed we were actaully at my Pagan campground celebrating Beltane 🙂 I immediately got excited that I could have my “dream pagan wedding” with the handfasting and jumping the broom. But with his side of the family not really knowing that I am pagan we got a little concerned. I am in the mind set that if you don’t like my religion you can look the other way 🙂 but I do not want to make anyone uncomfortable since our wedding will be a day of happiness and as little stress as possible (yea right..). So I found a book that has been extermely helpful in finding ways to “tone down” wedding rituals for people who may not understand/feel uncomfortable during the ceremony. The book is called “Inviting Hera’s Blessing Handfasting and Wedding Rituals” by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein

    • Thank you for recommending this! My county library system has a copy. I had thought I’d be stuck with only internet resources for this subject, but having a hardcopy will be a great convenience.

  3. So sorry to hear of the passing of your grandmother~

    Religion is a tough topic for many… I once read an email stating for those that don’t believe in my God, they are going to hell~ think about it??? What if all the different religions felt that way??? No one would arrive in Heaven… Life is short~ and if you study theology and the religions that precede Christian are many… I feel regardless of one’s religious belief~ as long as their intent is for the well being of HumanKind~ and the path the walk(not preach) is such~ God Bless, Blessed Be and Be Blessed.. The more true you are to yourself the more you will be to others!

  4. I am a Unitarian Universalist, and both my fiance and I have beliefs that lean heavily into the polytheistic side of things. Our plan is to have a (mostly) secular ceremony which will, yes, be true to who we are, but also be respectful of the community whose blessing we are asking for (family and friends with a wide range of beliefs). After the ceremony and the partying are finished, we will retreat to our home altar/god-space and have a quiet moment of prayer, just the two of us, before our chosen gods. Spirituality is a private thing for us, and we plan to mark the religious portion of our milestone privately.

  5. My own wedding was a subtle hint that I planned to join my husband’s church, as we used his (now our) pastor as the officiant along with my brother-in-law who grew up in the same congregation as my family.

    I did have my maternal grandmother fuss at me about a month ago (and on my 25th birthday to boot) about how upset she was that I “quit church,” despite the fact that I still attend church, just not the one from my childhood. All I could tell her was that I was happy with my decision.

    As for everyone else in my fam, they have either kept their mouth shut or asked politely about my experience at my new church home and then gave me supportive comments.

  6. Just a small note to the person who replied to this question- you wrote …”she may be more accepting of her heathen granddaughter than you expect…”

    Heathen means something different in the Pagan community. Heathen is a term used to describe followers of the Norse/Anglo Saxon gods and goddesses. It’s not really interchangeable with Pagan. There is a very vocal group of Heathens that would not like to be associated with Pagans. Just a kind FYI.

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