Planning an interfaith wedding

An interfaith wedding can be a nightmare to plan. In addition to all the basic tasks that go hand in hand with planning any wedding, interfaith couples must deal with the challenges of coordinating their different religious beliefs and traditions.

Still, each year hundreds of interfaith couples find a way to make their weddings work, albeit with added stress.

The single biggest hurdle that most engaged interfaith couples face is finding an officiant for their ceremony. Getting someone to perform an appropriate religious ceremony can be so frustrating that many soon-to-be newlyweds opt to dispel religion from their marriages altogether. A justice of the peace doesn't care about religious and cultural backgrounds, so it's easy to go that route. But for many people, religion isn't something that can easily be ignored. Family pressure, personal beliefs, and an attachment to tradition draw couples to religious services, despite the work that is involved in planning them. Some couples choose to work with one religious official; others decide to use two. Either way, finding an officiant can be an uphill battle.

The hunt for an appropriate wedding officiant can be easier if only one religion is honored in the marriage ceremony. Many religions don't have a problem with interfaith marriage if it's done on their terms. Usually, sects will only perform interfaith marriage if future children are promised to that religion. That's the case with Catholicism. For the most part, interfaith marriages aren't a big deal for the Catholic church, as long as both partners agree to raise their children Catholic. This can be a stumbling block for the non-Catholic party, who might not want to commit to such a thing. The same can be said for most Jewish rabbis. Many rabbis won't perform interfaith marriages at all; those that do often require that children to be raised Jewish, although some don't have this prerequisite.

If one partner is considerably more religious than the other, agreeing on one religious tradition for the wedding can be a good choice. But when both people consider religion to be valuable, it can be difficult to leave one tradition out of the marriage ceremony. That's why many interfaith couples decide to have two officiants--one from either faith. It's hard to find religious officials from different sects willing to work together, however. Sometimes, holding two separate marriage ceremonies is the way to go. With two ceremonies, both religions can be represented equally.

Regardless of whether you choose to honor one religion or both, finding your wedding officiant might be difficult. Keep these tips in mind to make the process go as smoothly as possible:

1.) Be Honest
Tell any potential officiants about your plans for your wedding. If you're going to have two ceremonies, let them know immediately. It might not make them happy, but at least you'll know this sooner than later.

2.) Don't Make Promises You Don't Intend to Keep
It's tempting to promise your future children to both religions. After all, you don't know how you'll raise them yet, and telling your officiants that you'll raise your children in their religion will make them happy. But if your priest, minister, or rabbi were to find out about your dishonesty, your wedding-day plans could be ruined. And who knows if you'll feel bound by lightly given promises later in life. It's much better to only promise what you actually intend to do.

3.) Ask Around
Many religions have vague rules about intermarrying. It's up to the particular church or temple to interpret these rules. That means that some religious officials will be willing to do weddings that others wouldn't like to perform. Ask your friends and coworkers if they know any priests, ministers, rabbis, or other religious leaders who are lax about intermarrying. Contact these people and ask them to officiate at your wedding.