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← Secular wedding ceremonies - Canada

reckoner's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by reckoner

I was on here asking the same questions just about a year ago and have since had my secular wedding. It went great.

My wife and I were married in the capital building in downtown Madison, WI. Hopefully, you’ll find some of what I have to say to be helpful.

The biggest thing that helped us is that while both our families are religious, they’re more of the go to church on Christmas and Easter sorts. That made a big difference. Now if we had some extremely religious parents, it might have been a bit uncomfortable if they were insistent about a religious ceremony or something crazy.

Although, when I came out as an atheist to my folks, things were pretty unpleasant. My parents even said they’d never attend a secular wedding! At the time however, they didn’t even know what the term ‘secular’ meant and as years went by and we made an unspoken agreement to not discuss religion, all went well.

Since becoming an atheist, I’ve found myself to be particularly anti-theistic. In the many weddings I attended prior to my own, I was sickened by the amount of ridiculous and almost profane ceremonial religious tripe. The following makes me feel a bit embarrassed to say, but going to all these religious weddings made me want mine to be anti-theistic, almost to the extent of wanting the ceremony to give the vibe of, “hey religion – fuck you!” I very quickly deduced that this is not what a wedding should be about.

So, putting together a secular wedding was easy once I realized it simply meant having a great time, making sure everyone enjoyed themselves, and simply not including god in it.

My great uncle officiated our wedding. While he is a lawyer in California, he didn’t qualify under WI laws to technically officiate our wedding. Because he wasn’t religious, and because one can easily become an online pastor and technically officiate a wedding, I nearly went that route with him.

However, I decided I wanted religion to play zero part in my wedding and we decided to simply get officially married in the downtown Madison court the evening before we would have our ‘ceremonial’ wedding. My uncle, our parents and siblings attended the official wedding the evening before and it actually turned out to be great!

So, my uncle unofficially officiated our wedding ceremony in the big assembly chamber in the capital building. My wife and I used a standard wedding ceremony template and just modified it to suit our needs. We had two readings – one was a poem about love and the other was an awesome blend of Sagan, Dawkins, etc. on life, love, knowledge, and so forth. Anyhow, the ceremony went great. We received tons of compliments on where we held it and how nice it was. Many people found it very refreshing not having to sit through a 1.5 hour mass/ceremony.

Then we had the good ole’ ‘standard’ reception and the rest is history! If you’d like I can send you the reading we put together. I could even send you the full format our wedding – I think I have it as a Word file somewhere…

Let me know if you have any questions – I know just how you feel! Just remember, wedding are supposed to be about family and friends getting together to celebrate life and love. I seriously doubt anyone will have any gripes because you didn’t mention god. I worried so much about this prior to my own, and my worries couldn’t have been more misplaced. I don’t even think anyone went away from our wedding knowing I was an atheist – we just simply didn’t bring god into the matter.

Sorry for the long rant, so I’ll end after just one more note. When we started planning out our secular wedding, we felt pretty unsure of it all. There’s almost no info to be found online. Whereas having a religious wedding is so simple, as all you have to do is tell your church and badda-boom, they roll out the old standard wedding format. So, while it might seem daunting at first, all you really have to worry about is how you’ll get ‘officially’ married and what the format of our ceremony will be. The rest is standard wedding stuff.

Good luck. I’m sure all will go well for you!

Mon, 16 Jul 2012 20:41:53 UTC | #949345