She Had an Atheist Wedding

My friend Maressa Brown has a wonderful story at Lemondrop about how an atheist named Jaclyn Johnston got married and left god out of the proceedings.

Jaclyn tells her story to Maressa like this:

When I got married this past weekend, there was no mention of God, faith or heaven. My husband and I were married in upstate New York by a family friend who happens to be a judge, in a beautiful banquet center in Skaneateles, the town where I grew up. Why? A church was the last place we would want to commit to be with each other for the rest of our lives.

We purposely excluded religion on our special day, and that’s why I guess you could say that we had an atheist wedding. What surprised me the most, in the end, is how hard that is to do.

On our wedding day, in front of our family and friends, what we did wind up speaking about was love — recognizing our parents for helping us to know what the meaning of it was, and remembering family members we cared about who had passed on. We promised one another that we would do our best to fulfill our lives together.

Read the whole piece here.

Isn’t is great to read stories like this?

If you know anyone who wouldn’t mind sharing their (atheist wedding) vows, I would love to compile them for a future post. Feel free to send them to me :)

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    This is one of the best stories I’ve heard in a while. Alas, my girlfriend is Catholic, so I have no idea what our wedding will be like (if we ever decide to get married).

  • Val

    We had an atheist wedding, too! I was worried at first that my family would say something about it afterwards, but no one did. And there was no b.s. about “love, honor, and obey”. We just promised to be respectful of each other! I’ll look up our vows and send them to you. I’m sure I have them somewhere…

  • Matto the Hun

    We eloped to Jamaica. A priest married us, but there were topless people at the beach behind us.

    That’s pretty close to being an atheist wedding :P

  • Sarah TX.

    We had a humanist wedding that I think was pretty awesome. Some of my partner’s family don’t speak to us any more, though… probably because our “Officiant Reading” included the affirmation “Civil marriage is a civil right”.

    I’d like to send it to you, but your contact form doesn’t seem to be working for me.

  • http://adoubtersramblings.wordpress.com/ cj

    I’m a wedding photographer and in my 5 years of doing this, I have YET to have a single ‘secular wedding’ sadly! :( I would eat this up as a photographer. Not only because of my own beliefs, but for something different! I’m sure the service was filled with tons of emotion!

    Congrats to them!

  • noodly1

    My husband and I had a religion-less wedding. We have a friend who is an ordained minister but who is now agnostic and had no problems whatsoever with our lack of religious belief. We wrote our own vows and his being there made it all legal.

    Oh, and ours was a “surprise” wedding. We invited the family and some close friends to join us at at a picnic where my husband was scheduled already to play music with some of his friends. Once everyone was there we said, “Oh, by the way, we’re getting married today” and we did. Yours truly was resplendent in cut off jeans and an off-white blouse. The groom wore khaki shorts and a polo-styled shirt.

    Best wedding ever!

  • David H.

    I didn’t realize that having a nonreligious wedding was apparently so hard to do (according to the author of that article).

    My wife and I had an easy time of it. We rented a venue, paid the local justice of the peace, who then officiated our wedding with the standard religion-free vows that the state had.

    No one said anything about not having God at our wedding, didn’t even come up.

    And oh yeah–this was in Texas. :)

  • Amber

    My husband and I eloped at the courthouse in front of the Justice of the Peace window for $10. :D
    It was fun and secular, and took all of five minutes at the most. There was no mention of any religion or gods, and it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg like what it would have been if we’d married in a church.

    We were both way too young, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

  • Rubbs

    My fiancée and I are going to have a completely secular wedding next summer. I will post back how it went.

    So far we are doing it outdoors (her parents own quite a bit of land). And we are having a magistrate come out.

    Also we are having it in Iowa for a few reasons. First, we are doing it there because that’s where we are originally from. Second, and just as important for me, is that Iowa is a state that supports equality in marriage.

    I too am interested in this post as I need some ideas. I’m the one planning our wedding too. (Just one more way our wedding isn’t going to be traditional)

    Rubbs

  • A Johnson

    In the UK you can have a religious wedding ceremony or a civil wedding ceremony. In the civil ceremony it’s forbidden by law to mention *anything* religious at all.

    Best of all: over two thirds of marriages conducted in the UK are civil ceremonies–so the vast majority of people in the UK have atheist weddings :)

    (However, a few years ago the General Register Office relaxed some of the rules around music mentioning certain religious things (so “Say A Little Prayer for You” is now allowed): http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4443988.stm)

  • http://kitchenfallout.blogspot.com DianaG

    Sent my ceremony to what’s probably an old E-mail address. If that’s the case, where should I send the .doc file?

  • http://mile73.com Heather

    I’m having an atheist wedding later this summer! We’re still working on our vows. They may include sharing kitty litter duties and him vowing to learn how to drive a stick shift in case I ever get half eaten by a bear and he needs to drive me to the hospital. His catholic mom will be very proud.

  • Will

    My wife is Catholic whereas I’m a freethinking agnostic atheist and I am proud that my wife supported my concept of a secular wedding. We even went as far as swearing to a secular oath when we registered for our license. At the last minute, the judge had an emergency and a church pastor filled in. He respected our wishes and kept the ceremony secular. I’m so happy that my wife stood up to her family (which wanted a Catholic ceremony in the Church) and appealed to my ideas. She’s a great wife and we live harmoniously despite our opposing views on theistic beliefs.

  • Bill

    We just signed the forms and got married – partly so we could avoid ANY religious overtones (wife’s family is Catholic). On a slight tangent, I attended a triathlon last week in Florida and they had a prayer over the tannoy before the start (a particularly syrupy prayer at that), and was pleased that when it was announced a woman (participant) near me, actually booed loudly and muttered ‘keep god out of my damn swim!’ or something – was pleased I wasn’t the only atheist in it.

  • Brandon

    We had a pretty secular wedding at my parent’s house here in Vermont, with a nice outdoor ceremony.

    We noticed that the vows and the ceremony went by really fast without all the pleading to and invoking of a deity :)

  • eruvande

    I had a secular wedding–our officiant, although an ordained minister, included lovely poetry and scripture from all kinds of world traditions and omitted mentions of God, which did not sit well with my very Southern Baptist family. My mom invited people from her church and one of them confronted the poor man about how he couldn’t possibly have the authority to marry if he didn’t mention God. :(

    I will see if I can find a copy of the service and send it along.

  • http://writtenmagic.ca Paige

    My secular wedding is in just over a month, and we’re pretty excited.

    My fiancé would loosely be termed a “deist”, but wanted a secular ceremony anyways, and it’s being performed at a beautiful outdoor location near a teahouse, with a semi-permanent tent for the reception. Natural flowers everywhere. My aunt got her Marriage Commissioner’s license in order to marry us (she wanted to do it permanently anyways), and aside from certain legalities, we can write the ceremony as we wish.

    I don’t know how things work in the US, but it’s been very easy to plan an atheist ceremony here in Canada. All the choices we made, we probably would have made anyways.

  • Dave B.

    My wife and I had a secular ceremony. We booked a nice outdoor space at a hotel, and got a flexible minister to perform the ceremony. He showed us some written examples of what the ceremony could be like, and my wife (who considered herself Catholic at the time) didn’t want any god stuff in there because it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t a problem and no one, including her Catholic parents who paid for everything, complained. We also had a very short ceremony, so maybe everyone was too happy about getting right to the food and drink to care.

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    A licensed minister performed my second ceremony. He knew I am an atheist and we’d discussed religion enough for me to know that he had many doubts. I asked him, “Could you perform a ceremony without mentioning God?” He replied, “Sure.” No big deal.

  • Carlos

    Very interesting story. Nearly ten years ago, my now-wife and I had an non-religious ceremony. Luckily, both our families were not church-goers, so there was no pressure to, or even any expectation of, holding the ceremony in a church. It was by pure chance that the event director at the reception location told us about The Old Church in Portland. It was originally a Presbyterian Church, built in the 1880′s, but by the late 1960′s had become the headquarters of a historical society dedicated to preserving the building. It was (still is, I suppose) a beautiful location to hold the ceremony – the architect in me just can’t deny that.
    Beyond the building, however, there were precious few other elements that had anything to do with religion. It was a fairly traditional ceremony. Our vows were pretty standard, just without any reference to any supernatural beings. We promised to love, cherish, and honor each other for better or worse, through sickness and health, till death do us part – all that good stuff. My father-in-law’s good friend read Shakespeare’s Sonnet #116, my father later read Pablo Neruda’s Soneta #18 in Spanish (during which, regardless of what my wife might tell you, I DID NOT cry), and my wife’s good friend read an original poem of hers.

    Unlike the writer of the article, we found it quite easy to have a non-religious wedding. This is likely due to our collective family backgrounds, and living in the greater Portland area. The officiant, who was an ordained minister, had originally proposed to open the ceremony with a prayer, but we told him we didn’t want to, and he was fine with it.

    All in all, in my completely honest, objective, and unbiased opinion, it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to or been a part of.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “Skaneateles” – believe it or not, that is pronounced ‘skanny-atlas’

  • Jonas

    eruvande: “…how he couldn’t possibly have the authority to marry if he didn’t mention God. :(

    Sometime before our wedding, my fiancee and I came up with the term: “mine!” for each of us. We kept using it so much, we didn’t say “I Do” at the Wedding, but: “She is Mine” and “He is Mine”

    The wedding was very secular, with only a nod toward our parents traditions.

    I’m sure my wife will be eager to show the videos to all at the Freethought Advance, and TAM in the coming weeks.

  • sc0tt

    Friend of mine (non-religious from Christian family married non-religious from Jewish family in a non-religious wedding) said her mom asked her afterwards… “Would it have KILLED you to say one prayer?”

    DW and I got married in a community theater. The officiant came from the Yellow Pages and she had a list of things we checked for her to say… we just didn’t check the religious ones.

  • Nora

    I was planning to have an atheist wedding–my fiance was nominally Catholic at the time, but we wouldn’t have been allowed to wed in a Catholic church due to my atheism and the fact that neither of us wanted to obey their rules. I knew that I didn’t want to get married in a church at all, as that goes against everything I believe. So we were planning a little outdoor wedding with a civil officiant, but then we realized that we’re poor, so we just went down to the local courthouse one weekend that I had off from work. Our parents came out, the ceremony had no mention of god, and I was happy as hell cause I was married, even if it was in a pink sundress in a room with dingy carpet and sappy decorations.

  • Alt+3

    I’ve only ever been to one wedding in my life. It was my brothers and it convinced me I will definitely be having a secular wedding if I get married. The minister (priest? pastor? Whatever) took a full fifteen minutes to spell out AT LENGTH that my sister in law was inferior to, less than, and to be submissive to my brother. He actually used the word ‘subordinate’. He spelled out her role as a woman as PROPERTY and stopped just shy of actually using the words ‘marital rape’. The only thing that kept me from walking out in disgust was knowing that my brother is much more egalitarian than that and that it would have ruined the service. However, during the reception I stressed equality more during my speech to try and counteract the earlier sexism.

  • Sarah

    Bill, I am so jealous of you being able to sign forms. We’ve got parents who want to be there so we’re trying to figure out how to do it as simply as possible but still have enough to please the crowd. I’m almost ready to go the Space Balls route: “Do you? Do you?”
    Hemant, please don’t delay the post on vows! I could really use the help!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com The First Beth

    I will be having a secular wedding next summer. We mentioned to the person marrying us that religion will have no part in the ceremony, and we are keeping it very short. I have yet to finalize the actual vows, but we are writing them ourselves and they will include no religious or sexist wording. We are also avoiding other traditional (sexist) wedding nonsense–no one is going to give me away, we will walk down the aisle together, no veil, etc. And we are getting married outdoors at a big park that has columns and an auditorium for the reception.

    You can see the columns in the link below.

    http://www.ganzelgroup.com/media/ph16.jpg

    The current draft of the actual vows is as follows: “(name), I love you. You are my best friend. Today I take you to be my wife/husband and equal partner in life, to have and to hold, to love and respect, to honor and to cherish, in joy and in sorrow, from this day forward.” We are currently thinking that I, the female, will be addressed first and say my vows first, which is unusual.

    @Alt+3: That’s exactly what we won’t allow. It sucks your new sister-in-law had to deal with that bullshit. I would seriously walk away from my own wedding if that happened, I think!

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    I wish I could have had a secular wedding and I might divorce my wife just so we can get remarried secularly because we had two preachers on account of neither one being a big enough man to step aside for the other… clusterf#$% all the way around.

  • http://thebodylogic.wordpress.com Maressa

    Thanks so much for the lovely post about Jackie’s story, Hemant. :) I hope that your many followers – - ha ha, how ironic, you have disciples! ;) — head on over to Lemondrop and leave some open-minded love to combat some of the icky ignorant vitriol!

  • Regina

    I didn’t realize that having a god-free wedding was so tough.

    I was married in my parent’s backyard by my parent’s neighbor who was a notary. No religion mentioned anywhere. This didn’t seem unusual to me and no one said anything to me about it.

    A friend of mine was married a few months ago too and I don’t remember any religion there. It was in a garden of an art museum and a friend of theirs officiated. There was a passage read about love from a book they liked (not any kind of bible), a story about how they met and then standard state-issued non-religious vows.

    If it’s not hard to eliminate god in your daily life, why the struggle over doing it for a wedding? Or maybe I live in a really progressive area and just don’t give a damn what people think. Either way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/meiselke K(awa)

    Husband and I had a secular wedding ceremony. The ceremony was officiated by a family friend who happens to be an episcopal priest (and, I suspect, an agnostic). The priest worked with us to create a ceremony script which would satisfy our religious family members without actually mentioning a god or creator. The priest talked about our faith in each other and our relationship as being most important. He talked about the importance of honesty and enduring love.

    There were no holy books involved and we recited the standard vows, “I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

    We were married in my parents garden at 10:30 in the morning on a Wednesday in June, four years ago. It was a small, casual wedding. I didn’t wear a formal gown, just a lacy sundress in ivory. Husband and his friends (all cooks/chefs/caterers) made copious amounts of food and we spent the rest of the day drinking, eating, napping, and having a joyous time.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    Friend of mine (non-religious from Christian family married non-religious from Jewish family in a non-religious wedding) said her mom asked her afterwards… “Would it have KILLED you to say one prayer?”

    This is Dennet’s notion of “belief in belief” in action.

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and only two of them had anything to do with a church or religion in any way. I’d say that most weddings are not religious ones nowadays. Marriage has nothing to do with religion, really.

  • Blair T

    You have lost me. “Atheist Wedding?” My wife and I got married with no mention of god or religion – but we were not having an atheist wedding – it was just a wedding.

    When our children were born we did not baptize them – does that make them ‘atheist babies’. At dinner, I didn’t say grace – is that an atheist dinner?

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    We had a secular wedding. I wouldn’t call it an atheist wedding — it’s not like we did readings from “The God Delusion” — but there was no mention of God, and our officiant was not a religious official.

    And it wasn’t hard at all. I’m a little puzzled as to what would be hard about it (other than ruffling feathers of religious family and friends, which fortunately wasn’t an issue for us). We just didn’t include religion. It’s not a part of our lives, and it never came up. The only conscious effort we had to make was making sure none of the incidental/ background music we played during the party had any religious lyrics. (In English, anyway.)

    I’m with Blair. It wasn’t an atheist wedding. It was just a wedding.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingfreeftw gettingfree

    My husband and I were both Xians when we married. Thankfully, not one, but both of us became atheist during the marriage (I don’t know what I would have done if he had remained Xian…*shudder*). Recently, I started to think about the religious cr4p I put into our ceremony / vows, and eyeroll at the thought. I have been contemplating renewing our vows in a secular way, even though we aren’t at a milestone anniversary. I look forward to seeing the vow ideas!

  • Melissa

    My husband and I wrote our vows ourselves, with help from the internet, and excluded all mention of religion and prayers from it. It wasn’t hard to do. It was mostly about how we promise to take care and respect each other, with nods to our families and all that as well. I was worried that someone from either of our families would say something, but no one did. We were married by a pastor, but only because he was a very good friend of my husband and a totally awesome guy. He didn’t pressure us to add any god-stuff either.
    Coincidentally, we went to a wedding 2 weeks ago (husband’s cousin) and the service was so full of god-stuff that my husband and I developed a hand squeeze for when we found a passage particularly amusing. Like the “man is in charge of the wife” kind of BS. The preacher spent most of the time talking about God and it was actually quite annoying because it’s not about God, it’s about 2 people getting married. Ugh. At least it wasn’t a Catholic wedding…

  • Joyfulbaby

    We got married at a UU fellowship. Totally secular. My husband and I both walked into the sanctuary at the same time down different aisles to his favorite hip hop samples. My uncle remarked afterward that he liked not hearing how the bride was “given” by anyone, thus showing that she has as much personhood as the husband.

  • http://infalliblefailure.blogspot.com Jeff Satterley

    Mine will be a godless wedding as well. My fiancee’s aunt is a Congregationalist minister, but she’s happy to perform a non-religious wedding. We’ve been working with her on the ceremony. When it finally happens (had to postpone once already), I’ll be sure to send you the ceremony!

  • http://bestlittlestudio.com James

    Blair T,
    Talk about splitting hairs.
    Marriage is defined in that oh so useless book the bible, its where marriage comes from, therefore it is intimately religious.

    Would it have made you feel better if he had said “Non-Religious wedding”?

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    I have an atheist friend and she is getting married in a church and jesus will be mentioned in the speech by the pastor or w/e. But her reasons are as follows. 1) Churches are beautiful architecturally (which I agree with; I LOVE churches, just not what they stand for); 2) she believes jesus was a real person, just not the son of any god; 3) she is secure enough in her atheism that religious aspects don’t bother her.

    But it is awesome that this couple did that. Unfortunate that it was so difficult.

  • Claudia

    I would love to do something like this, though I don’t know if its even possible where I live. I can imagine that planning a secular wedding is just as hard as a religious wedding and then some. Religion provides structure, a script, a schedule, a given set of roles and traditions. Without it, you have to do the legwork to make it a good ceremony without the crutch. Harder work, but you’ll probably end up with a much more deeply significant ceremony that actually reflects you and your future spouse.

  • Carol B

    We had a secular wedding too. Stood in a pretty garden, got married by a marriage commissioner (or something equally vague). Here are our vows:

    “(Name), I love you not only for who you are, but for who I am when I am with you. Not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. (Name), I promise to share with you all of my love and all of my life; to respect and to cherish you as my (husband/wife) from this day forward. I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness to you, and with this ring, I thee wed.”

    Our exit music was the Fort Battle song from The Last of the Mohicans. Very exciting and upbeat. Our parents were freaked out that we were “starting our married life with a war song.” They asked if we were “jinxing” our marriage. Oh brother!

    No mention of god, but both our families are nonreligious, so it wasn’t a problem… only one (christian) friend expressed unhappiness to my stepmom later that there wasn’t a single prayer or moment of silence. She didn’t have the balls to say it to me… Yet she knows I’m not christian!! Whatever, it was a great day. (Yes, she and I are still friends.)

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    Both my parents (my mother and my step dad in 1993) and my husband and I (in 2006) had completely secular weddings. In both cases a JP (justice of the peace) performed a brief, godless ceremony.
    At my parents wedding there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the JP (at my step dad’s request) had me step forward and he made vows to me “I promise to be a good father and to love you blah de blah blah” (I was 12, I was hungry I didn’t really pay much attention lol).

    The only remotely religious thing about my wedding was my husband and my first dance. I chose the song “Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts which has the line “god blessed the broken road which led me straight to you”.

  • Stephanie

    My husband and I got married in Pennsylvania, where we could legally marry ourselves using a self-uniting marriage license. Originally a provision for Quakers, after a lawsuit brought by an atheist couple in 2007, anyone can now apply for and use the self-uniting license for any reason.

    Our “wedding” consisted of us and two of our good friends who served as the required witnesses. We stood on a quiet stone bridge in the middle of a park in the city where we met and spent our first five years together. Instead of vows, we repeated our nightly, before-bed ritual, which is to say three things we love about each other. We pronounced ourselves husband and wife and ended with “… so long as we both feel like doing this.”

  • Megan

    We went through several non-denominational clergy members who wouldn’t perform any ceremony without mention of a deity and the FSM didn’t cut it. Finally, we hired a local judge and had the ceremony we wanted. I love looking back six years and two children later and knowing there was nothing promised that we didn’t mean wholeheartedly, or would hesitate to reaffirm today. Oh, and rather than “Here Comes the Bride”, we walked down the aisle to “Imagine”, because we’re just a couple of hippies.
    We have come here today in the presence of friends and family to witness the marriage of S and M. For those of you who know S and M well, it is easy to see the love they share and the happiness that surrounds them. Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens, it must be created and nurtured. The little things must become the big things. It’s never being to old to hold hands, never taking each other for granted. Doing all things in the spirit of joy. It’s remembering to say “I love you” at least once per day. S and M, you must promise yourselves to treat each other with respect, remind yourselves of what brought you together, give the highest priority to the gentleness and kindness that your union deserves. Make your home a haven from all the confusion and craziness that the world will create. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they do all relationships from one time to another, remember to focus on what is right between you and not only the part that seems wrong. In this way you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives, remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. If each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your lives together, it will be marked by abundance and delight. M, do you have the ring? Place the ring on S finger and repeat after me. With this ring I make these promises to you. S, I promise to live fully and joyfully in the present, walking hand in hand with you toward a beautiful future that we create together day by day. I ask for nothing more from this life than that we may live out our days together. Take this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
    S repeat after me. With this ring I make these promises to you. M, I promise to live fully and joyfully in the present, walking hand in hand with you toward a beautiful future that we create together day by day. I promise to listen to you and keep an open mind. I promise to honestly share my feelings and find new ways to show you how much you mean to me. Take this ring as a sign of my love and commitment.
    M, do you take S to be your husband, to share all of your life together? I do.
    S, do you take M to be your wife, to share all of your life together? I do.
    Now you will be protected from rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. There will be no loneliness, for each of you will be the companion to one another. You are two persons but there is only one life before you. My beauty surround you, both in the journey ahead and throughout all the years. May happiness be your companion, and your days together be good and long upon the earth. It is my pleasure to present to you Mr. and Mrs. S and M Lastname, you may kiss the bride.

  • Bex

    In Germany, you must have a civil service when you get married. It is then your choice whether or not to also have a religious service too.

  • muggle

    I too am amazed that so many people have trouble having a nonreligious wedding. I was Agnostic and married a Christian in a totally non-religious ceremony 29 years ago. The marriage itself only lasted four years though so does that count?

    Got married in a town hall which coincidentally was a former church so I took a bit of ribbing but a secular ceremony in a former church of an Agnostic to a Christian seems fitting. His family grumbled a little and they did not approve of his marrying an Agnostic but, shrug, oh well…

    For the record, his being a Christian was the least of my problems with him.

  • Blair T

    James -

    I can understand your point of view if you believe that marriage comes from the Bible and that is in fact a Judeo-Christian invention. If that is your view you are plainly wrong and I cannot conceive how you could come to that conclusion unless you know little about what the Bible has to say about marriage, know nothing of the historical practice of marriage, and are ignorant about a wider world that has marriage without any Judeo-Christian antecedents.

    To answer your question – yes ‘non-religious’ is fine with me.

    Cheers

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    15 years ago (in Virginia) we had a non-religious wedding. My wife found an ad for a minister in the local “Style magazine” and we hired him for the service. He didn’t mind doing it secular and refraining from any “God talk”. We rented out a local mansion and had the service and reception all at the same place which was nice because no-one had to travel from one location to the next. It was quite easy.

    In retrospect, though, a couple of severed goat heads on spikes and some Christian baby appetizers would have been nice. Then it could have indeed been an atheist wedding. ;)

  • SickoftheUS

    Claudia wrote:

    Religion provides structure, a script, a schedule, a given set of roles and traditions. Without it, you have to do the legwork to make it a good ceremony without the crutch.

    That calls into question the worth of ceremonies to begin with. Having grown up in the ritual-ridden Catholic church and being an anti-tribalist all of my life, I have a hearty aversion to ceremonies. They’re like parades – people having a need to flaunt or show off something to a group of people, in a scripted, ritualized context. To what end? What and whose psychological needs are being served? Don’t we all have something better to do with our time? Isn’t marriage about you and your partner? Do we need to put on a Show for the friends and family? Why?

  • Flail

    I just got married and we had a secular ceremony. We had a good mutual friend officiate, and had a few readings that my wife and I approved of.

    If anyone is looking for readings, we used “The Irrational Season” and the 2nd portion of an Apache Marriage Blessing. We really liked the message in each of them.

  • Dan W

    I’m glad Jaclyn and Eric made their wedding work for them, rather than do as some atheist couples do and let others add religious crap into it. Their wedding sounds like the kind of wedding I’d like to have. Of course, I’d have to have a girlfriend first…

    I was foolish enough to read the comments on their story. Some were good, but there were too many religious trolls. Ugh.

  • Jenn

    My upcoming wedding will be religion-free and my father will not be ‘giving’ me away, my fiancee and I plan to walk in together. It’ll be the first non-traditional wedding either of our families have seen.

  • Ryan

    We’d managed to avoid mentioning god anywhere in our ceremony… and then the officiant decided to ad-lib to “fix” that. *sigh*. And then both families decided that someone had to say grace at dinner that night. *sigh*. Oh well.

  • Brer Scientist

    Thinking back on it, 16 years ago we had a secular wedding. Neither of us intentionally made it secular, it was more that region wasn’t a part of our lives, so we never considered making it part of our wedding. We were married by a local magistrate. She provided some example vows, which I lightly edited.

    My wife grew up Catholic, but stopped going when she went off to college. I’ve never attended church. I don’t remember anyone from either of our families commenting on the lack of God in the ceremony. It was held outside in the garden of a local historic building, and the reception was inside.

    Now that I think about it, my brother’s wedding was the same way, outside on the beach. Must be a family thing.

  • http://onefuriousllama.wordpress.com/ Shawn

    My wife and I got married in a completely non-religious ceremony.

    Both of us are complete atheists and our families accept this so there were no issues from that side. On top of that we’re not big fans of conforming to… well, pretty much anything ;)

    This made us decide to have a picnic for out wedding and it turned out fantastically well.

    We hired a nice venue with a pool and a large lawn, got some chairs together for the ‘ceremony’. I wore a nice pair of jeans and a nice shirt and my wife-to-be a very pretty short dark grey dress.

    We had a civil ceremony with beautiful words and no mention of god anywhere in the proceedings.

    After the official bit, everybody put down blankets took out the snacks that they had packed and we had a great picnic. By 4pm in the afternoon the whole thing was done and everybody on their way home and my wife and I were away on our absolutely fantastic honeymoon to Amsterdam.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding and not only was there no superstition involved, it also cost us less than a thousand dollars which made our honeymoon even sweeter.

    RAmen.

  • Anne

    My husband and I had a non-theistic wedding officiated by a humanist officiant. We wrote our own vows and it was lovely.

    The only complaint we got was at the end when we were presented – I kept my own name so we were presented as Bill X and Anne Y. Afterwards Bill’s sisters all rushed up to me in horror, asking why I was keeping my own name.

    I told them I had offered to hyphenate if Bill would, but no go.

    I’ll look around and see if I can find the ceremony.

  • Tegan

    My fiance and I are planning an “atheist” wedding in Jan 2012 in Iowa. We’re nontraditional in many ways – like trying to have an outside ceremony….yes, in January…it will be short and mostly just consist of self-written vows to each other. The only real problem for us is thinking about the officiant. I don’t like the idea of a stranger marrying us, but I also don’t know what else we could do. I need to dig deeper to see what the specific laws are for Iowa…as far as I can tell it either needs to be religious or a justice of the peace :-/

  • LaDulceMusica

    I really appreciate this article! My fiance and I are getting married next summer, and although we do not identify as “atheist”, we certainly are not religious and do not wish for our ceremony to be dominated by religious language.

    I hope more people post their ceremonies! I know it’s pretty easy to have a generic ceremony with all the religious language simply taken out; however I am interested to learn more about creative secular ceremonies! Please share your ideas and thanks to everyone who has already!


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