I'm Jewish, but I'm not very observant. My fiancé is agnostic and was raised Christian. Before we got engaged, I didn't think much about the specifics of a ceremony. When we got engaged, I was surprised by how important it became to me to have at least some elements of a Jewish ceremony incorporated into our wedding.
My fiancé and I met with the rabbi from the synagogue my family has always gone to. It's a Reform congregation, so we knew he would be a lot more flexible than other rabbis, but we wanted to see where everyone's comfort levels were. I didn't expect him to officiate, but I figured he could still help me/us brainstorm a few ways to incorporate some Jewish elements into a civil ceremony. After getting coffee with the rabbi, though, my fiancé really liked him. So just like that we found our officiant and were doing a Jewish ceremony. I was happy, and my mom was very, very happy. My fiancé's family wasn't happy, but they are kind people and didn't try to make us feel bad about it or anything.
After that, I figured we had the ceremony settled and started thinking about other things. My mom ordered a copy of “The New Jewish Wedding” by Anita Diamanti and had it shipped to us. I'm sure many other Jewish brides on here can attest to the popularity of this book, but it's something I've been vaguely aware of for decades. My sister and each of my cousins had a copy while they were planning their weddings. I don't think I ever expected to have my own, but when I opened the box it felt like such a rite of passage.
I didn't expect to have such strong emotions about this book, but I devoured that thing. I read it in two days, highlighting and jotting down notes the whole time. Objectively, I find a lot of the traditions patriarchal and outdated. But still, I got incredibly sentimental, both about the religious/tradition aspect of the ceremony and about the fact that my gentile fiancé was going along with this.
I'm still not sure exactly what it was. I haven't been very religious since high school, but my identity as a Jew is still important to me. Reading about this made me feel like I'm participating in an important life milestone in the same way as my ancestors. We don't plan on having children, so getting to do a life-cycle ritual feels important. I may not get another chance.
Even though the initial burst of emotion has calmed down since I finished the book, I'm still really excited. The ceremony feels meaningful to me in two dimensions now: On a personal level because I am marrying the exact right person; and on a spiritual/cultural level because I am doing this in a way that honors my heritage, my upbringing, and my (admittedly limited) spirituality.
My fiancé is being really supportive about this. He's learning about the traditions and helping me choose a modern ketubah text that feels authentic to our relationship. We are talking about making our own chuppah out of a gift he gave me when we moved in together.
Anyone else felt a resurgence of interest in your religion while planning your wedding? How are other Jews figuring out the details of their ceremonies?