How do you have a wedding ceremony without a Bible? #Ceremony Advice#ceremony#religion#traditions#writing vows August 25 2009 | Ariel offbeatbride Photo by Di Bezi I'm in the extremely early stages of a wedding (pre-engagement early). I like to plan things ahead of time. I've never been to a non-religious wedding. What is said for the wedding part? That is what I'm trying to figure out. All I know is the Bible related stuff with a priest or preacher. I've thought about potentially asking law/political science/sociology friends to officiate the wedding, but I'm afraid of them being in the same boat as me. -Andy Andy, kudos to you for doing your research with plenty of time to spare. The joy of a secular wedding ceremony is that pretty much anything goes! The pain of a secular wedding ceremony is that all that freedom can be overwhelming. Some couples who have traditional religious ceremonies decide to do so not because they're especially religious but because, well, following a ceremony template is way, WAY easier. (To clarify, I'm ALL for couples having Bible-based ceremonies … if the folks getting married are practicing Christians. But I think it's disrespectful to smile and nod your way through a religious service you don't actually believe in, so I vote for secular couples going for secular ceremonies.) That said, I've got lots of ideas for you. Related Post The challenges of having a Humanist wedding in the UK (from an officiant's perspective!) In the UK, it isn't easy to have a secular wedding. Religious weddings have a section focusing on the couple, but there's also a big... Read more First, take a look at my archive of guidance posts about ceremonies. You'll find everything from vows referencing zombies to how to build a ceremony for a shy couple, to ideas for great secular readings to include in your service. If you read only one post, make it this one: Wedding Ceremony 101: Crafting your own wedding ceremonies from scratch. I've recently featured several modern ceremony components like unity candles, unity cocktails, sand ceremonies, and ring warmings. Between Offbeat Bride and the rest of the web, there are a bazillion secular ceremony ideas out there, and no shortage of books! Perhaps the best advice, however, is to find a truly great officiant/celebrant who can help you with this process. I've featured several celebrants and officiant stories on Offbeat Bride, and you might get some inspiration there. A good officiant will be the perfect combo of thoughtful adviser, skilled writer, and excellent public speaker. Don't be afraid to ask around with your law/political science/sociology friends — you may be surprised to find that some of them are already internet ordained and have helped with other friends' weddings! Also, be sure to check out our post on how to write your own ceremony: Wedding Ceremony 101 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 Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, 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, chances are good that she's dancing and happy-crying. PREVIOUS Shablis & Devin's Jaunty Homespun, Anachronist-Punk, Hodgepodge Wedding NEXT Amy & Steve's San Francisco Burner Double Wedding Show/Hide comments [ 55 ] My fiance comes from a Catholic family and I from a Jewish and Catholic family, but neither of us is particularly religious. We hired an officiant (for those of you in the NY area, Rev. Sheila Gay – she's fantastic!) who will be using some elements of each religion to pay respect to our parents and families (and because my mom HAD to have the glass breaking!) and will also be using some Buddhist readings (FI was a philosphy/religion major and we spent a year in Japan) to make it really personalized. We didn't want to do any rituals that didn't feel authentic – if we feel silly doing them, then what's the point? I'm excited to have a ceremony so tailored to us. 7 agree Reply I know this comment is from a long time ago but we also hired Sheila for our wedding (in a few weeks). She's pretty awesome. We met with her yesterday and both me and my uber shy fiance felt comfortable enough to step outside the box and do a few things we normally wouldn't do. She put us at ease and and it's totally worth finding someone who can help sculpt your ceremony into one you are comfortable with!! Reply Ariel, this is a fabulous post – I often get questions when I meet people and explain what I do that are just like this – sometimes, when the only weddings you've seen are in a church, it's hard to figure out how to REMOVE religion from the wedding, and still have a very relevant, personal, emotional, and special ceremony. But we do exist, and we create ceremonies that are based on love, marriage, relationships, commitment, and all of the awesome things that go into a wedding and a marriage, with as much or as little God or religion as you see fit. 5 agree Reply I highly recommend "The Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day" by Judith Johnson. It has the ceremony structure laid out with passages to select for both religious and non-religious ceremonies. I am Wiccan and my fiance is Agnostic, so we are completely leaving religion out of the ceremony and putting more emphasis on family ties and love. I was able to put together the perfect ceremony for us, piece by piece. It's a great read, and you can find it at any bookstore or on Amazon. 3 agree Reply I second this. The entire structure of our ceremony was pulled from this book and our officiant (my Mom, who is religious) was able to craft a very meaningful ceremony without the slightest hint of a higher power. 1 agrees Reply We had a spiritual, nonsectarian ceremony (we are Christian and pagan, both with Buddhist leanings). We found a great celebrant who gave us sample ceremonies and let us change then however we wanted. The freedom can be daunting, but I got a lot of ideas here and on indiebride. We also incorporated a ring-warming, which was lovely. Have fun! Reply We had our good friend, a physicist, officiate our wedding, and for his "sermon" (really his affirmation), he read text from the Massachusetts court case affirming that civil marriages were a civil right. It was actually really moving. The rest of the ceremony was readings and our vows (which we just wrote ourselves). Funny story: I hadn't written my vows before the rehearsal, so when we walked through the ceremony to measure how long it took, I just made something up off the top of my head. I think I said, "I vow to keep the whiskey warm and the beer cold…" After the ceremony, a bunch of people who had been at the rehearsal said they were disappointed that I didn't leave that part in my vows! 2 agree Reply Since the state of Alaska allows you to appoint anyone as your marriage commissioner for a day, we asked a close friend to perform our nonreligious ceremony. She and I scoured the internet for interesting and relevant pieces and parts and came up with something that highlighted our beliefs as a couple. We wrote our own vows and ended the ceremony with "The Art of Marriage" by Wilferd Arlan Peterson. It was short, sweet, and perfect for us. As long as it feels appropriate for you and your partner, run with it and make it your own. =) Reply Some states will let you use *anyone* to officiate a wedding. They have to go to the county building, get a day pass deputization, and follow a general script for it to be official. We had a non-religious ceremony (agnostics/deists represent!) and our officiant felt awkward holding *nothing*, so instead of a bible he brought his ancient, well-worn copy of "Lord of The Rings". No one noticed except us! 8 agree Reply I'm agnostic and my fiancee is Catholic, but we decided we didn't want it to be a preachy ceremony. Since I am not Catholic, we obviously couldn't have a priest officiate (as is tradition for Catholics) and I did not want to convert just because of that, because I simply do not share those beliefs and felt I would be dishonoring his religion, him and myself were I to lie and pretend to be something I am not. Futhermore, I would have felt horribly uncomfortable having religion in my ceremony since I am not religious, so we decided on a great officiant who is a justic of the peace. It was nice that he had his own vows pre written too, because I found the task of writing my own a bit daunting with all the other things I am doing for the big day. It would have been just one more thing and would have overwhealmed me (even though I'm usually very creative). We're having a very basic ceremony, which focuses on the bond of love rather than the role of religion. It fits us perfectly and we're very pleased with it. I think you might want to look at Justice of the Peace's in your area as an alternative. Good luck on your big day! 🙂 1 agrees Reply I highly recommend finding a certified celebrant. I'm getting married in May in a non-religious ceremony officiated by a celebrant. She is tailoring our wedding to our personalities, desires, and vision. It is nice to be able to hand over the responsibility while still feeling intimately connected to the content. If you're in or near Chicago check her out: http://www.meaningfulmarguerite.com/ Reply We both work in the courts, so a friend who is a justice of the peace will be marrying us. She gave us lots of examples to work with, but just googling "Secular Wedding Ceremonies" went a long way too! For the record, I'm Christian, but don't believe that I need to be married in a church for my marriage to be accepted or recognized and my fiance is an atheist. It meant a lot more to him that we be married by someone secular than it meant to me to be married in a church. Compromise is everything! 1 agrees Reply I was just in my friends wedding (which was very "onbeat'). I felt this way during their ceremony, that is just wasn't for them at all and since I am also planning our very different wedding this whole thing was perfect for us! Thanks Reply We had the town's mayor officiate, and he said a generic "Do you promise to X, Y, and Z?" But the bulk of the ceremony was taken up by Hubby's sister reading Edward Monkton's "A Lovely Love Story". The whole thing took about 10 minutes, in and out and adorable all at the same time 🙂 Reply Some states have a basic legal requirement that looks something like this: Officiant to bride: Do you? Bride:Yes Officiant to groom: Do you? Groom: Yes. Officiant: I now proclaim you are married. Everything added beyond that is just frosting on the cake. 1 agrees Reply I was honored to officiate at my sister's wedding – I put all the vows in a Curious George binder – everyone loved it! 🙂 Reply Crystal- actually you could have a priest officiate, but you couldn't do a Mass (or it's discouraged, don't remember exactly). We did the Catholic thing, and I remember seeing that in a lot of places. We tried really hard to make the readings reflect us-not easy in a Catholic ceremony! But we picked one from the Song of Songs (which is a poem about lovers), the Corinthians bit which, while very very common, meant a lot to us (Love is patient, love is kind…), and, my favorite, the story of the wedding at Canaan- the water to wine bit (husband and I enjoy a good drink…or several). Sorry, I think I got off-topic. I love all of the non-religious readings, though. Some I've seen on the site are beautiful. Hooray for meangful passages! Reply We used a magistrate from the courthouse & he was nice enough to come over to our venue. Agreeing with Danielle, we had to agree to it and that was about it. Here's a link to our vows, if you're interested in it. http://tinyurl.com/n5t3hu Reply My fiance and I are going the easy route: civil ceremony at the courthouse downtown, party the next day. We love each other but don't love planning and ceremony. The civil ceremony will be just us and our parents and will be elegant and to the point. We'll probably have some speechy toasts at the party, but I don't particularly want to do my marrying in front of a crowd, and as it turns out, I don't have to. Reply I haven't fully decided on the setup of our ceremony but I do like the words of Susan B. Anthony, originally written by Lucretia Mott: "May your independence be equal, your dependence mutual, your obligations reciprocal." 7 agree Reply "I think it's disrespectful to smile and nod your way through a religious service you don't actually believe in, so I vote for secular couples going for secular ceremonies"<—Such a GREAT point. I am a practicing Christian, so obviously a lot of the rituals mean something to me, but I would much rather see a couple who isn't Christian pick something that is relevant and close to their hearts. I love ceremonies that seem to really represent the couple. My advice for planning a secular ceremony is to be creative… are there song lyrics that mean something to you? a poem? a story? a line from a movie? 2 agree Reply Agreed, that it is a great point not to just smile and nod your way through something because that is what others expect!! I'm an ordained Christian minister and have married a few folks who I know aren't practicing Christians and have basically said, "You're making these promises, don't fake any part of it" so we've reworked things to respect where the bride and groom are at in their faith walk or lack-thereo-of. That said, I am a Christian minister so if I work with a couple who want a totally secular ceremony I just refer them out to a judge (we have 2 in our congregation). 2 agree Reply We were lucky to find a retired Unitarian Universalist minister who married us– none of the judges would come out on a Saturday! (Unitarian Universalists do not subscribe to a particular creed, but have an open mind about religion– it is not a Christian church). She emailed us the ceremony in advance and edited it when we met with her. She had one reference to the G-word that we omitted. UU ministers are probably a good resource. We definitely lucked out! 1 agrees Reply Just to clarify, some UUs consider themselves Christian, and many UU ministers are happy to incorporate Christian elements in their ceremonies. But I wholeheartedly agree that UU churches/ministers are a great resources for building an individualized ceremony. Reply I too am glad that this issue has been addressed. As a practicing Christian, I find it disrespectful when one uses such ideals within their wedding ceremony for the sake of convenience rather than reverence. Major props for showing secular couples that there is a way to have a meaningful wedding ceremony without making a mockery of one's beliefs. 2 agree Reply I sort of agree with you. My wedding will be completely devoid of references to the supernatural because my fiancée and I are physicalists. I would regard anything less as disrespectful toward us and toward the believers of the supernatural beliefs that we were faking. My parents will not be attending my wedding because, to them, a non-religious wedding is not a "real" wedding. I hope that my siblings will be attending, but I'm not sure yet. Fortunately, this is a relatively minor price to pay for integrity, and they will still be part of our lives before and after the wedding. That is not the case for everyone. My sister hears what my parents say when I'm not around and, consequently, she has decided to never reveal to them that she is also not religious. As a young single mother, she needs their support in a visceral way that I do not. She may someday have a religious wedding ceremony, and I trust that she has very good reasons for that. I agree that there are many very bad reasons for a non-religious person to have a religious ceremony, and I also give props to anyone who refuses to participate in an untruth, but I really don't feel that you or I are in a place to judge whether someone else's "convenience" is worth faking a religious ceremony. 12 agree Reply I like the book, "Weddings From the Heart" by Daphne Rose Kingma – it has many ideas for ceremonies, including vows & readings. another one I really like is "Handfasting and Wedding Rituals" by Raven Kaldera & Tannin Schwartzstein. Intended as a guide for pagan weddings, this book has lovely rituals that can be incorporated into any non-religious ceremony. I've used it as a reference several times when planning ceremonies for couples who wanted secular weddings. Hope that helps! Reply We found this book really helpful, too. It has an outline of the typical protestant ceremony, with explanations of what each section is. We took that outline and built our own secular ceremony around it. 1 agrees Reply Great question! I've been wondering the same. I can't wait to look into everyone's ideas! Reply Are non-religious weddings not that common in the US? I'm in Australia, and all the weddings I've been to, plus 99% of the ones I've heard about second-hand, have been non-religious. I would regard non-religious weddings as the norm and religious ones as out of the ordinary – but that could just be down to my family and peer group I suppose. Reply Bonnie, that's a great question. 75% of Americans identify as Christian, so if you want to extrapolate from there (some Christians won't have a religious service, but then there are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc weddings as well) I would say it's safe to assume that at least 3/4ths of American weddings are religious. That sounds about right to me in terms of the weddings I've attended, too. 2 agree Reply In the UK, civil (non-religious) marriages are pretty rigid. They can have NO religious wording, songs or readings at all and have to be performed by a registrar at an approved premises. You can add readings and music and other bits and pieces to personalise it, but they are all checked for mention of gods/religion first. Also there are two legal requirements, one that you say you are free to marry and one that you agree to marry and these must be said in English. None of these factors bother me as I'm not religious and speak English, but I am always so envious of those in the US who can have a friend officiate, and hold the ceremony wherever they want, rather than an "Approved Premises" as we do here. @Bonnie – I guess I've been to about 50/50 religious and civil weddings – not sure if that's the norm here though… Reply We're both Christian, but she's MtF transgender and I'm bisexual, and we both have been on the boards for educational kinky groups and have lived together for a few years, so we needed a ceremony that fit us and our own community, and didn't squick out the vanillas or family who don't know about that part of our lives. Our welcome mentioned that our love had grown and deepened in our time together and we had decided to live our lives together in marriage. We got an officiant who is prominent in our lifestyle who is also able to do weddings, and she was Fabulous! She had enough force of personality to make sure some of my twitchy family didn't say a word when it came to objections. 1 agrees Reply We asked our town's mayor to conduct our ceremony. We gave him a few things to say about us and then my wife and I recited our vows. The wedding was short and simple and our guests got to enjoy and extended party. Reply Thank you SOOO much for this post! I am a non-practicing Catholic and my Fiance is Athiest. Interesting yes indeed!! I have been wondering how we were going to do this. I am having one of our closest friends to marry us as she knows us and our views. I will share more after halloween (our wedding date) on how it goes! Reply Ineed some advice. My fiance and my families are SUPER religious – his is devout Catholic and my family is so religious that there are four generations of ministers in front of me. That being said, neither of us are religious and feel like we would be hypocrites to stand up there and go along with someone else's beliefs. I actually am ordained online so i could officiate my best friend's wedding. When i had done this, my Episcopalian minister father almost literally had kittens about my decision and he is still quite miffed. So… how does one have a non-religious wedding to appease the religious in the family? My family would not be ok with us asking a friend to get ordained as they wouldn't see it as us taking it seriously. We are trying to work in customs from both sides of our heritage (inlcuding an Irish blessing) to make them happy but who do i ask to preside over the ceremony? Do i hire a lawyer or something? Any ideas would be fabulous!! Thank you!! Reply I had great luck googling "unitarian wedding ceremonies" and "secular wedding ceremonies" as others above have states. We also wanted a traditional format so I looked at several Christian formats but worked with the secular example to find appropriate replacements. (Ex. Instead of a priest leading a prayer, the officiant is offering a moment in silence for contemplation.) Our friend is officiating and just had to apply for a one-day license from the state governor's office (Massachusetts allows this, not all states do). He's crafting the welcome/intro around the Mass Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. In the early stages, I collected any and all passages and readings that spoke to me and then created a broad outline of the main components of the ceremony where I cut and paste them in, made edits, rewrote things, etc. It took some time to do the initial research, but actually putting it all together happened pretty quickly as by that time we had a good sense of what we really wanted to convey. Reply Great ideas – thank you Kate!! Reply My family is also super religious, and my mother was very upset about my brother getting married on the beach in Mexico by an internet ordained friend. Luckily, in the end they were able to appease her by asking her to do a reading for the wedding that meant something to her. Of course, she read something from the Bible, but it was sweet and she was happy and therefore…so was everyone else. Reply Lots of good things to think about here. Neither FI nor I are religious but our families are. Reply Just to follow up on my previous question – I've just read a news article saying that in Australia last year, 65% of wedding ceremonies were performed by civil celebrants (i.e. they weren't religious ceremonies). That's actually a fair bit lower than I would have estimated, but I guess you can put that down to me not hanging out with many religious folk. 1 agrees Reply I'd love to share my secular wedding. Today is my 1 year anniversary. Happy Fall Equinox! http://www.mywedding.com/TomAndRebecca We posted our entire ceremony script that we wrote ourselves using little bits we found around and a whole lot from our hearts. 1 agrees Reply My husband and I were married in a ceremony that was completely non-religious, never once named any God or god or Goddess, no one prayed and yet, it was one of the most meaningful weddings I've ever been to. Our guests agreed! We had our most amazing officiant to thank, she worked with us diligently with suggestions back and forth until we all came up with the perfect ceremony. Reply I whole heartedly agree. This is your day, why include something that means nothing to you or your intended spouse when there are so many ways to incorporate ideas that do mean something to you. Reply One thing that I discovered that we are doing to be inclusive of everyone is a stone blessing — we will have stones for each person in attendance and our officiant will ask everyone to silently say a blessing over their stone for my fiance and i. the stones will be collected so we can keep them in a vase in our home. This is a really diplomatic way to be super-inclusive of everyone! We both come from super-religious families who are gritting their teeth at the idea that we're having a secular service, and they all breathed a sigh of relief when they found out that they would, after all, be allowed to celebrate our marriage in their own way without causing us any grief. 1 agrees Reply I had no idea what to do either, but I got lucky and a pair of secular/pagan friends got married this last fall. They had different music, different readings, different unity ceremonies, it was so cool! The vows opened with "You cannot own me…" I was over the moon. Neatest ceremony I have ever been to. So I have employed this friend for her wise ceremony advice. She's so awesome to help me. 1 agrees Reply i do not mind either ceremony, really. There are many different types of religions and religious ceremonies other than Christian that I have to sit and listen to. I have been to Hindu weddings, Christian weddings, Muslim weddings, and they were all heavily religious. I just have respect and understand completely where they are coming from!!!! I do hope guests I invite to my wedding will do the same. 1 agrees Reply This is my ceremony (completely non-religious): Processional: I Will by the Beatles for bridesmaids, I Wanna Grow Old With You by Adam Sandler for bride) Greeting: Officiant: Thank you for coming together to support Ginny and Adam as they move into the next step of their lives together. They come here together of their own free will, to make their marriage lawful and sincere. Ginny and Adam will exchange rings as a physical symbol of the vows they are making to one another. As the ceremony procedes, will the families of Ginny and Adam please warm these rings by passing them down the row. As you hold them in your hands, pause for a moment, and make your wishes for the couple and for their future together before you pass them on to the next person. These rings will not only be a gift from one to another but will be given with the love, support and wisdom of their family and friends. (Officiant pass the rings in the dish to Sylvia, then to Ashley, who will take them to 1st family memberâ€¦ have last family member know to bring the ring to groomsman, or have groomsman waiting at end of row to collect the ring) Officiant: Weâ€™re all seeking that special person who is right for us, but if youâ€™ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect thereâ€™s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isnâ€™t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems â€“ the ones that make you truly who you are â€“ that youâ€™re ready to find a life-long mate. Youâ€™re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person â€“ someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, â€œThis is the problem I want to have.â€ Ginny and Adam, if you are certain that you have found the right wrong person, please speak your vows to one another. Adam: Ginny, I promise to be there when you need me. I promise to support you, comfort you, and encourage you. I promise to be patient with you and to put the spoons right-side-up in the dishwasher. I love you now, and promise to love you, forever and always. Ginny: Adam, I promise to be there when you need me. I promise to support you, comfort you, and encourage you. I promise to be patient with you and to make you coffee just the way you like it. I love you now, and promise to love you, forever and always. Officiant: To comply with the laws of the State of Alabama, will Ginny and Adam and their witnesses please step forward to sign the license of their marriage. (all sign) Adam, please take the ring and place it on Ginnyâ€™s finger as a symbol of your love and promises to her. Ginny, please take the ring and place it on Adamâ€™s finger as a symbol of your love and promises to him. I now pronounce you husband and wife. Please, kiss each other! (After kiss) Please welcome, Mr and Mrs Velazquez! Recessional: A Pedir Su Mano by Juan Luis Guerra Reply I'm stressing out over this big time. My family is religious and my parents hit the roof when I mentioned that I was looking for an officiant. They actually take offense to us not wanting a minister. I've tried talking to them about it, explaining how I see it as being disrespectful to practicing Christians as well as starting our marriage under a lie. I really can't stand the thought of it. My fiance's family is "culturally Catholic," but not practicing. He understands where I'm coming from, but thinks I need to be more flexible about my parents' beliefs. It's not like I'm out to destroy them or anything, I'm just extremely uncomfortable getting married by a minister when neither one of us truly believes! I don't know what to do. I feel like it's a no-win situation. Either go with the flow, make my parents happy, and be uncomfortable with my own ceremony, or do what I want and alienate them. Reply We also had concerns regarding how our Catholic / Christian families would view our secular ceremony. As my husband and I would describe ourselves as spritual, but not necessarily religious, we found a few ways to keep the "spririt" of a religious ceremony, while maintaining our own sensibilities. First of all, we asked my hunsband's very religious mother to give us a blessing, which was incorporated into the ceremony right before our vows. In that way, if God / Jesus was invoked it was clear that this was HER intent, and not ours, but it also allowed her to witness our marriage in a way that was meaningful to her. Second, a few days before the wedding, we had asked our wedding party to write well-wishes / words of wisdom / cherished memories on card stock we provided. During the ceremony, they placed these cards into a box we now have on our mantlepiece. We had the cardstock available at the wedding also, so that anyone could submit a card. Again, it gave deeply religious folk an outlet for their blessings (plus – they are SO much fun to read through time and time agin!). Lastly, we incorporated natural and traditional ancestral elements to the ceremony by, among other things, having a Celtic handfasting ceremony. The rest – the readings and music were purely our own choice and were read by two couples we admire and aspire to be in the future! Thinking about this makes me want to do it all over again!! Reply This article has helped me so much. I was raised in an Orthodox Roman Catholic Household but never agreed with being married in the church. I am agnostic and my fiance is Wiccan but we decided to leave organized religion out of it. I am no longer communicating with my parents and his parents have passed on so we want an intimate gathering and ceremony with our closest friends to show how much we love each other. Reply Depending on what state you live in, you don't actually need to include an officiant at all. This will work in any of the states in which common-law marriage is allowed: Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. This worked out perfectly for my husband and me since we were philosophically not ok with someone else telling us we were married; we're kind of big on the whole sovereign entity thing. We had a simple variation on the Japanese sansankudo ceremony (an exchange of 3 sips each from 3 cups of sake), since we loved the math symbolism and Japanese culture. A close friend also folded 1,000 cranes for us that we hung on a tree in the clearing we held the ceremony in. We simple poured the sake for each other, and told everyone that that was it and we were married, explained quickly the symbolism of the ritual, and invited them up to share the sake and celebrate our bonds. No fancy entry, no vows, no celebrant, just a quick, meaningful ceremony, so we could get down to the business of feasting and listening to music. Reply I wish I had seen this post when we were planning our wedding (OBB and APW did give me the "support" I needed to make sure our wedding was the one that A and I wanted – this post would have just previded me with the words I needed for this situation). When we were looking for a venue my MIL asked us to get married in their church. A and I are both non-religious (A grew up going to church but I did not), and A was the first in his family to not have a religious ceremony so it was unfamiliar territory for his parents. I tried to politely decline by saying that I was not comfortable with getting married in a church because I did not go to church growing up (I was hoping that pulling the "bride being comfortable on her wedding day" card would get me out of this jam). Her response was that a church is "just" a place to get married. We left it at that (agree to disagree) and A and I found somewhere else to have the ceremony (an old train station that was converted into a community theatre – which worked out perfectly). I would not have been comfortable in a church because I don't want to disrespect the people that have those beliefs. My personal opinion is that I "think it's disrespectful to smile and nod [my] way through a religious service [I] don't actually believe in". (Note: Since religion/beliefs are very personal this only applies to me and I don't judge others for doing it.) Planning our civil ceremony was actually pretty easy. My friend recommended an awesome officiant (the woman who was officiating her ceremony and had officiated many of her friends' ceremonies also). The ceremony was personalized for us (we had say over every word in the ceremony – A and I sat down and "wrote" it over a weekend) and the goal was to make it so meaningful that people didn't realize it wasn't religious (I have sat through a few legal-to-the-point civil ceremonies and that's not what I wanted). We received tons of comments on how personal and how "us" the ceremony was so I'm pretty sure we achieved that goal – oh not to mention the number of people that commented on "our minister". I highly recommend finding a great officiant to help you with your ceremony. Reply I've been to loads of humanist weddings in England. They're non-religious, meaningful and totally personal. Wouldn't have mine any other way! You have to go to the register office to do the paperwork separately though as humanist weddings haven't (yet) got legal status in England & Wales – but they do in Scotland – but it's worth the inconvenience in my opinion if you want something that's really you and you're not religious. We found our celebrant on the British Humanist Association's website. https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/find-a-celebrant/ Reply I officiated a secular ceremony for my best friend about a year and a half ago. I told the story of how they met, they had a couple of secular readings ("A Lovely Love Story," and a poem), they read their vows, and I also wrote some bits to transition from each of these parts to the next, and finally I pronounced them. There were all sorts of nerdy jokes thrown in (like me wearing a flimsy homemade "bishop" hat and quoting the Princess Bride to open the ceremony) and a theme of storytelling and sharing the adventure of life–ideas my friend and I are both really passionate about. It was a fairly short ceremony held in a park. It was also very fitting for them. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *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.