Getting Married without God

Of all the posts I’ve done on this site, the ones that talk about atheist weddings and secular wedding vows still get hits long after they’ve been published. People are always looking for examples of how to have a non-religious ceremony and there just aren’t a lot of great resources out there.

Amanda Greene of Wilmington Faith & Values picked up on that and wrote an article about the rise in secular wedding ceremonies and Secular/Humanist celebrants:

With the rise of the “nones”… more couples are looking for wedding celebrants who don’t mind skipping God’s blessing of the ceremony altogether.

More national atheist and humanist agencies such as the Humanist Society and the Center for Inquiry are developing ordaining programs to establish nontheist ministers in most states to perform weddings and funerals. CFI began its certification program in 2009.

There are currently 138 celebrants listed as ordained through the Humanist Society, and some perform weddings in multiple states. The Center for Inquiry has 23 celebrants.

That number’s small, but it’s on the rise, as are the resources available for people who want to have a non-religious wedding ceremony.

If you had a secular ceremony without using a celebrant, what alternative(s) did you use?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • bamcintyre

    One good solution is to look for a Unitarian-Universalist minister.. UUs are a secular humanist congregation. Check it out. A great community without the dogma.

    • GCT

      Note of warning, the UUs do have an anti-atheist streak in their upper hierarchy.

      • Erp

        Are you sure? They did have one person a while back but since the hierarchy is elected and only for a term things change. Also it is the congregation that has ultimate authority in the UUA so one congregation can be very humanistic and another pagan and a third unitarian (or universalist) christian and a fourth mixed.

        • GCT

          Yes. There were a number of posts about this very topic on Daylight Atheism not too long ago. I don’t have a Disqus account, so I can’t post links, but searching for “Buehrens” on Adam’s blog brings up the relevant posts, albeit without the comments. The comments can be found at Adam’s old digs (under the same titles) at BigThink.

    • Stev84

      Googling for “non-denominational celebrant/officiant” is also good. A lot of them also do non-religious ceremonies or other things that are out of the norm like pagan rituals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.gunn.902 Andy Gunn

    My sister had a hUmanist ceremony in oUr local cinema. it was the best wedding ever :) theyd jUst had a wee boy too so it was also a vagUely titled naming ceremony too. it was very heartfelt and personal :)

  • Hykuw

    I got married in Colorado last year. Our state laws allow us to marry ourselves. We still wanted a ceremony, so we asked his mother, a minister in the Christian Science church, to marry us. (I know nothing about this particular religion, but it appears to be rather liberal.) She and my husband wrote the ceremony together. There was not one mention of God, Jesus, or higher being. It was beautiful and perfect.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      The only thing I know about Christian Scientists is they abstain from modern medical treatment. I don’t know about their views on most of the issues of the day, but I do know that CS parents are some of those who have watched their children die from treatable illnesses and ailments because they refused to see doctors or go to a hospital.

      Of course, not all of them are that extreme, but that is the official doctrine.

      • Hykuw

        Ok, then I have it wrong, because her church is not of the no-modern medicine camp. There is Science in the name and they are very liberal. I don’t ask a lot of questions about the religion, but from what I understand, they believe Jesus was more of an historical figure, believe in a higher power, not necessarily GOD, and study more than just the bible. Sounds more Universalist than anything.

        • allein

          Could it be Religious Science? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Science
          From skimming the wikipedia page, they seem to be a Christian-esque sort of religion with lots of other woo thrown in…

          • Hykuw

            That’s it! Thanks! Kinda reminds me of Scientology.

  • Sven2547

    A friend of mine got married in New York State a few years ago, and they didn’t want a stuffy religious ceremony. The brother of the bride got ordained as a minister in a quickie online course, which is apparently good enough for NY State’s standards.
    Although the guy was not technically a secular/Humanist celebrant, it certainly was a fairly secular wedding, haha

  • Anonymous

    On the morning of our wedding day, my husband and I were officially married by the town mayor in his office, with just our witnesses present. There were brief, secular vows and documents to be signed, and it took all of five minutes. Then, that afternoon, a good friend of ours led a traditional (albeit unofficial) twenty-minute ceremony in a room at our reception site, with all of our family and friends present. We had a wedding party, exchange of rings, candle lighting, the works – but kept everything secular. We loosely followed the ceremony guidelines from the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa (http://www.firstunitarianottawa.ca/pdf/WeddingBooklet-20070822web.pdf) when writing our ceremony, and chose secular readings and music.

  • MsC

    My husband and I were married in a restaurant, by the mayor. Just our closest family there. We then sat down to dinner and cake. No God-talk, no bridal-industrial complex. Just a happy day. My brother-in-law said it was one of the nicest weddings he’d ever been to outside of his own.

    • TheAnti-Coconut

      “bridal-industrial complex”–thank you for giving a snappy name to this abomination. Will be stealing this.

  • kthondragon

    I got married in March, we used a Justice of the Peace in Connecticut: Dan Brookshire. He sent us an example set of vows for the ceremony.. I just went through and edited out anything referring to god, spirituality or belief. Sent it back to him that way and he said, “Ok, looks good.” During the ceremony he refrained from anything relating to spirituality or god or anything else. We were very happy with him.

  • eonL5

    Not being interested in pomp and sentimentality, we married in front of the town’s Justice of the Peace (and Notary Public) at a B&B which we booked for the weekend, and whose owners were our friends as well as our caterers. The JP read the default words in her JP manual, and that was that. We didn’t feel a need to write 10 minute treatises on the glories of married love. Just said maybe 2 sentences each (maybe? I can’t remember), then “I do,” and turned around and started the “reception” (which was in the same room). All-in-all very low-key, but still a fun celebration. Our background music was PDQ Bach. No wedding dress. No engagement rings. Just nice outfits. Roughly 20 people. My spouse is a “recovered Catholic” as he likes to say — who I don’t think ever believed any of it. I was raised with no religion. We didn’t want or need any kind of “minister” — UU or otherwise. And we didn’t need to go into debt, nor even ask our parents for any money. Of course, we weren’t 19, either. We both had careers.

    So (off-topic), we’re not good candidates for “secular church” attendance, as you might guess.

  • http://mittenatheist.blogspot.com/ Kari Lynn

    I got married on Saturday(5/18/13)! One of my friends from work was ordained online. He is also a practicing Catholic. I find that it is a true testament to our friendship that he, a Catholic, would agree to marry a couple of atheists in a secular, gender-neutral ceremony that took place in a secular wedding chapel!

    Also, we used our wedding to raise money for The Human Rights Campaign and Camp Quest! We did a dollar dance (I think this is a regional thing, it’s where guests give the bride and groom cash for a dance) we raised a total of $22 for the charities. It wasn’t much, but we also put HRC and Camp Quest on our registry page.

    • allein

      Congratulations! :)
      Good month for a wedding…My best friend’s first anniversary was on Sunday (hers was religious, or done by a minister, at least, though she and her husband are not particularly so. I know she’s only having her daughter baptised because of her mother, and I have a feeling the minister at the wedding was for much the same reasons. Or possibly just convenience.)

  • Brea

    We got married in Hawaii by a Hawaiian Priest and we just asked for no mentions of god. He obeyed our wishes and we had a beautiful ceremony that focused on our relationship and the natural beauty of our surroundings.

  • JET

    Since it was a second marriage for both of us, we didn’t feel a need for a big ritual. We invited all our family and close friends over to our house for a barbecue well ahead of time to assure attendance. On the morning of the barbecue, we went and got married by a justice of the peace with just my sister and her husband as witnesses. At the barbecue, we announced that we had gotten married that morning. Then we had a big party.

    My nephew got married a couple of years ago using an officiant which is something like a notary public. It was a beautiful outdoor setting. The bride walked down the grassy aisle to a version of “their song.” My nephew joined her while the band played Darth Vader’s theme song. Since he’s quite possibly the biggest Star Wars geek on the planet, it was perfect. The officiant talked about how they met, how perfect they were for one another, and read a couple of mushy poems about love and commitment. Then we had a big party.

    • allein

      My friend surprised her Star Wars-loving husband by having two of her family members dress in Star Wars costumes so the bride and groom entered the reception to the theme song, walking under their crossed light sabers.

  • Sarah

    My husband and I were married in Canada by a Marriage Commissioner, who was not legally allowed to reference religion in the ceremony – and that suited us just fine.

  • David

    Hej!
    Greetings from the most religious part of Germany.
    In Germany there has been a increasing demand for secular weddings.
    As a former Theologian, now an atheist, I started to give speeches at weddings – the feedback regarding my work has been positive. People really appreciate this alternative to the clercial ceremonies.
    So, just do it – without God(s).

    • TheAnti-Coconut

      Is that Bayern or some other place? If yes, how do you respond to all the “Gruess Gott”-ing that goes on in that region?

      • David

        Haha :-D Thank you for asking this: -”Grüß Gott!” -”Wenn ich ihn
        seh’.” I’ll try to translate this: -”Hail/Greetings(?) to God!” – “If I
        ‘ll see him, I’ll do so.” Sometimes I forget to answer in this way, but
        sometimes I do. Quite often we have a little chat then about God and if
        he/she/it really exits. I’m from Baden-Württemberg, some people here are
        really pious and e.g. teachers have to pledge/to vow(?) before they
        were allowed to teach, that they will teach the children how tfear God.
        It’s a writen law. Unbelieveable. But it’s true.

  • Chelsea

    I’ve followed the secular weddings posts on here for a while and as a result I thought it would be quite hard to do. But now my mom is getting married and I’m helping her plan. She wants a nonreligious ceremony, and I thought it might be hard to find a secular officiant. Maybe it’s different here in Canada, but I found a ton of government-employed marriage commissioners who ONLY do civil ceremonies. One of their sites said that if you wanted to incorporate religion, you could have someone else do a Bible reading at the ceremony or incorporate it into your own vows, but she was “not qualified” to incorporate religion herself as she is a civil commissioner. Most of these officiants let you plan your own ceremony and do it exactly as you want. I’m glad I was able to find so many options and this thing has been very easy to plan!

  • Hat Stealer

    Want to get married in style? Have an ordained minister of the almighty FSM do it.

    http://www.venganza.org/ordination/

    • TheAnti-Coconut

      Meh. I’m all for having a good chuckle at organized religion but not in this context.

  • CraftLass

    I was the maid of honor in a secular wedding in the Painted Desert in Arizona. The officiant was the first female Hopi justice of the peace (at least, that’s what the couple told me) and it was beautiful. No readings, no pomp, no music, no religion at all, just about 20-30 people on a scenic overlook at sunset for a short ceremony followed by dinner in a private room at a restaurant.

    My also-atheist partner is an ordained minister of the quickie internet variety just so he could officiate at our other friends’ wedding. I like saying that I’m “living in sin” with a minister, it always gets a funny reaction. The ceremony was utterly without religion, though, if I remember correctly. He wrote their whole ceremony around what is legally required in New Jersey, including the vows, and had everyone laughing and crying, including him. It was wonderful! In most ways it was a very traditional wedding (lots of people, big hotel ballroom, fancy gowns, etc.), but the vows included lines like, “Will you take her to be your partner in mischief?” as well as the lines the law dictates. Every state is different on those requirements. Another neat thing was the couple decided that their main wedding picture should be of everyone attending, not just them. That’s really cool, as weddings are really about joining family and friends, not just two people, and I love how they honored that fact.

    Weddings are a wonderful opportunity to express who you are as a couple, so I think everyone should get as creative as they can. It makes weddings far more enjoyable than just the traditional stuff we’ve all experienced over and over.

    I never realized it could be difficult to do a secular wedding, I’ve been to so many. The trouble seems to arise when very religious parents get involved. My sister’s wedding was supposed to be secular but she gave in on having a Bible reading and a prayer and it really just left everyone unsatisfied. The couple didn’t like being forced into that and the parents didn’t like that it wasn’t completely Catholic. Otherwise, though, it was the best wedding I’ve ever been to, incorporating many traditions from different cultures and full of the couple’s personalities. If only religion hadn’t been an issue of contention it would have been perfect.

  • JH42

    My wife and I just went to a JP in the local courthouse with two witnesses and her son.

  • BobaFuct

    My wife and I had a non-religious ceremony (much to the consternation of her parents, but that’s a different story.) Our officiant was a close friend who had gotten his license or whatever online (we were married in Maryland, which seems to be relatively lax)…we basically told him what we wanted him to say, specifically mentioning that there would be no prayer or scripture readings. So he basically did the standard vows, and told some of the stories about when we were dating and such. And instead of reading bible verses, I pulled some sayings about love/relationships from secular sources and weaved it into a couple of coherent paragraphs for my sisters to read.

    The only “religious” element in the wedding was my wife carried an heirloom bible down the aisle to appease her mom (who was paying for it, after all), who had also carried it down the aisle at her wedding, but it wasn’t part of the ceremony or anything…I fought with my wife to get even that part cut out, but I lost that battle.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Gehrls/1445160340 Bob Gehrls

      Sorry Bob, but I’m glad you lost (didn’t fight to win) that one. Some battles are worth fighting, some are best to make a good story. You have a good story.

  • Keljopy

    We got married twice. Because of immigration and having a time limit yet wanting time to plan we got married with just immediate family and grandparents by a magistrate in the courthouse and then a couple of months later we had a ceremony with everyone where there was no celebrant of any sort, we just had each person in the wedding party read something short and said our vows. It was great because the immigration thing gave us an excuse for why we didn’t have a minister at our wedding (I’m not really “out” to any of my very religious extended family). The only religion involved was one maid of honor praying before the reception dinner, which she suggested and I allowed for the comfort of my guests (although anyone peeking would have seen me with my head up and eyes wide open, I wasn’t going to bow my head in deference at my own wedding).

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      i was wondering if i’d be the only “twice married” here. when i was (foolishly) married to a man, we did it twice. the first time: drove down to a nearby state with “instant marriage” (no paperwork waiting time to file with the state) we signed the papers (“are you first cousins?” etc) and walked out the door, where a huckster of some religion was waiting for people just like us- “we need got get married, NOW. we gave him $20, he mumbled some stuff, and we were “married.”

      the second time, to please family, we did a whole big ceremony, pig out with food and booze, music deal. i wore a purple dress, but other than that it was pretty ‘traditional.’ used a friend of the family, a judge. also: a woman.

      too bad i was so oppressed by the straight marriage industrial complex to realize what a shit ass loser my ex was, or that i was fooling myself with a ceremony still denied me as a lesbian today, into thinking “get married. be happy forever! just marry a man.”

    • Nicole Schrand

      Nope, you’re definitely not the only one! We got married twice, too: once in Canada for the legal stuff, and once in Virginia for our family. The immigration business was part of our reasoning, but our biggest motivation was the difficulty we had finding a secular celebrant in western Virginia. Pretty much everyone we called had some kind of scheduling conflict, and the local Unitarian… priest? chaplain? whatever?… wouldn’t marry us without meeting us well beforehand for counselling or whatever, and we were only coming into town a few days before our day. And, of course, Virginia doesn’t recognize internet churches, so even though we have a friend who is ordained, he couldn’t marry us legally. He did marry us extralegally, though! (In that he led us through our same vows, which were the standard ones for British Columbia and are quite nice and godless, AND pretty gender-neutral, in front of our family and friends.)

      We didn’t have much in the way of religion getting in the way of our day, even though we both have quite Catholic families. In my case, I just didn’t care too much what my relatives thought, and my husband’s family only speaks Italian, so given that most of the ceremony was in English (it was just beyond our capabilities to put together a fully bilingual thing), they couldn’t really tell. We did compromise a bit by having that stereotypical reading from Corinthians, but it’s not too unpalatable a bit when taken out of context, and it doesn’t mention god at all. We didn’t have any prayers, but we did pass the rings around everyone there for a “ring-warming,” and I expect a lot of prayers got said rather silently, which was nice because people got the praying out of their system and also I didn’t have to listen to it, haha.

      All in all, both of our weddings were pretty great. Now we just have to decide when to celebrate our anniversary…

  • ortcutt

    My wife and I got married in Massachusetts. We looked into getting married in the Greek Orthodox church here, but we would have needed to become members of the congregation ($$$), I would have needed to take classes (time), and we would both have to lie about being religious (icky). You can hire a Justice of the Peace, but we didn’t want a stranger at our wedding. Massachusetts doesn’t recognize internet churches, so that option was out. Luckily, Massachusetts allows people to apply for a one-day marriage registration, allowing basically anyone to solemnize a marriage on one day. So, we did that and had a simple secular ceremony. It’s better to put your time into the socializing and eating that goes on at weddings over the short ceremony.

  • cary_w

    We got married in a fancy garden by a judge. It looked a lot like a “traditional” wedding with about 200 people in attendance and a fancy cake and all that, but we wrote our own vows and the judge said what we told him to, so there was no mention of God. The funny thing is, no one seemed to notice the lack of God.

    We also, unintentionally, had no alcohol because there was some confusion on who was supposed to buy it and we got married on Sunday so all the stupid liquor stores were closed! Luckily, no one seemed to care about that either since it started to rain right about the time the champagne would have come out!

    No one ever said anything to us except that it was a lovely wedding, but I sure it must have seemed very strange to some of our guests to be at a dry wedding in Utah with no mention of God!

  • Katie

    My fiance and I are getting married in Florida, where you can be legally married by a notary public. The notary we went with does atheist ceremonies as well as the usual non-denominational religious ones.

  • AMKrahulec

    It is your wedding day!
    As a Unitarian Minister in Omaha, Nebraska,my job is to simply focus my attention on the couple and what kind of ceremony they like to have. Whether God, Goddess,Gods, no God mentioned at all or the Happy Bunny in the sky; that should be the preference of the couple getting married, since, hey, by this point, the couple respects and understands each other’s belief systems. Just be upfront and honest with your officiant. Tell them what kind of ceremony you want and ask for samples of previous work. They should also be able to provide
    references as needed. This is your day, your way and they are there to sign the papers, not cast judgment on you.

  • TGAP Dad

    My wedding was officiated by the mayor of the city where it was held, in 1988. My wife was raised as a catholic, but never batted an eye at that

  • LarsCB

    Had a secular ceremony in a wolf pen (the first and for the foreseeable future last ceremony of its kind in Sweden). Only 15 of the closest family. Eminently fantastic :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/HeyItsClio Tracy Canavan Dallmeyer

    My husband and I were married almost nine years ago at the Will County Court House. There was only a JOP and my family present. It was a very “bare bones” ceremony, with no mention of any God.

  • Lillynyx

    When we were planning on getting married in 1987, the question of where to have it held came up. With both of us being antitheists, we absolutely did not want any mention of any gods. My sweet mother-in-law to be, although she never spoke religion, did hold quite deep beliefs. We were able to find a minister in the United Church, in Toronto, who agreed to do our wedding service without any mention of any gods or religion. It worked out well. Non believers didn’t get subjected to any prayers and my mother-in-law was so pleased that it was actually in a church. I don’t know if we were just lucky to find a man who was just happy we wanted to be married, or if he hoped we might suddenly “see the light”, but it worked out well.

  • Darrell Ross

    My wife and I were married in a meadow in the middle of a redwood forest by a friend of ours who had the ULC ordainment. We observed a brief moment of silence to honor the one or two family members we knew were religious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amber.johnson.7374 Amber Curry

    Got married on the beach in Florida (free) by a relative who is a registered clerk of the court (free). We wrote our own vows, I wore a bridal dress, and had a simple ceremony. Very little expense, small attendance; it was our day. This is coming from a woman who didn’t “need” to be married on a personal level to feel happy and lead good life and relationship. It was good to see religious family members come out and enjoy our day with us, god free.

  • http://mutableeupfhoria.wordpress.com/ Nichole

    When I got married in January, we went to a local wedding chapel (The Hitchin’ Post in Coeur d’Alene ID) with our parents, siblings & grandparents. They offered a streaming web cam for any of our friends and relatives who couldn’t make it, which was nice since my grantparents in CA couldn’t be there. I found a short, mostly non-religious wording online that I liked which mostly talked about how marriage should be based on friendship, and removed any reference to religion or god. The officiant asked if we wanted a prayer and we said no. The ceremony took all of about 5 minutes. Then we went to dinner with all our family who came. The next day we had a big casual party for all our friends and family.

  • Jo Brooks

    Our wedding planner was also our officiant and as we are Oregonians it wasn’t even a discussion that we didn’t want a religious ceremony. We just “opted out” and he sent us examples of non-religious weddings he had done. I think he may have actually been religious or spiritual or what-not, but he never brought it up. He was great!

  • Kendra Leonard

    My spouse and I had a secular ceremony. We wrote our own vows, using texts from various non-religious traditions we liked, and my father read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. It was short but sweet, as my mom likes to say. We followed it with a cake and champagne reception and hosted a brunch at our house the next morning for people traveling that day.

  • Christine

    I think that the idea of atheist wedding ceremonies is wonderful. I say this largely because my married atheist friends haven’t really done the whole wedding thing. I think that at least one couple did have a small ceremony, but generally there’s just a reception, no wedding.

  • Zugswang

    My wife and I were married last year at an outdoor ceremony Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY by an officiant who was more than willing to do a secular wedding ceremony for us. The county website had a list of officiants in the area who were registered, so we just had to call a few until we reached one who would do a non-religious ceremony for us, and she did a wonderful job. I’m sure it’s more difficult to find officiants in certain parts of the country,

    Although we lived in Tennessee at the time, we both said we would only be married somewhere that was a marriage equality state, and my wife’s alma mater just happened to be Cornell, and it just happened that our wedding was on the same weekend as her class reunion, so a lot of her friends were already in from out of town.

    We had a relatively small wedding; we planned the entire thing in about 3 months, only about 30-40 people were in attendance, and we spent roughly $6000-7000 on the everything from rings, dresses, lodging, (we stayed with friends in Ithaca) catering, photography, etc. My grandmother baked our wedding cake, we made origami flowers for the bouquets, Wegman’s catered the reception, and the rental cost for the outdoor pavilion at the park was really inexpensive. But even though we didn’t spend a lot (compared to a lot of other weddings), everything about that ceremony was special and unique to both of us. We hit some snags leading up to everything, but our wedding day couldn’t have been more perfect.

  • Bob Becker

    My wife and I began our 34 year marriage ( ended by cancer 8 months ago) in a brief civil ceremony in a JP’s office. Pretty much the traditional brief version ( “do you Robert take…”) with minor variations ( no “obey”). Didn’t see the need to make a creative statement about our un-belief. JP pronounced us husband and wife by the power vested in him by the state of Louisiana, we signed the papers and that was that. Eight others there, family and close friends ( believers and non alike), to witness. Do it ourselves reception at friends house for other larger group of family, friends, colleagues (believers and non alike). Worked for us.

    • Ella Warnock

      I’m sorry for your loss, Bob.

  • duke_of_omnium

    I was married by a notary public (they’re permitted to do so under state law in Florida, Maine and South Carolina). The wedding was in the Hemingway House in Key West, on a gorgeous December day. We spoke our own (secular) vows, and the notary said something legally binding, but not religious.

  • Rachel

    My husband and I were married in a public building here in New Zealabd by the local mayor, who was also a celebrant. We pretty much wrote our own ceremony, based on a book of suggested vows etc that she loaned us. There was never any question of religion coming into it – our celebrant’s only concern was that the ceremony was so short – all over in 5 minutes!

  • benanov

    Got married by a reasonably liberal Presbyterian Celebrant, who cut his ceremony down to about 10-15 minutes because we were atheists. We got married in PA and the laws required regular meetings and a congregation. You couldn’t just use some guy who got ordained off the internet (I have a friend who did…but no regular meetings & no congregation means we could have the marriage declared void.)

    Then again, that might have been a nice trump card to pull if we chose to have it pulled, considering divorce laws in our current state of residence.

  • psykins

    When I got married about three years ago we used a very nice judge that we found via the internet. He let us write the ceremony ourselves, and we focused on friendship/companionship rather than any non-Earthly authority blessing our union or whatever. My husband’s Catholic parents paid for the wedding and didn’t have a problem with it. In fact, most people appreciated how simple and short the whole thing was – outside, at a park, no bridesmaids/groomsmen, and sandwiches for lunch :)

  • guest

    We were married by a friend/notary, under a gazebo in a park and had our reception on a yacht while we cruised the Intracoastal waterway. There were no gawds allowed.

  • manycolored

    Our friend is a celebrant, although I don’t know if she’s registered on that list. Here’s an outline of the ceremony we had:

    The celebrant started by telling the story of how we got together and got to the point of getting married. Then a friend gave a reading, another friend sang a song.

    Then we did a Pagan-derived cakes and wine ritual because we like the symbolism of caring/providing for each other and sharing enjoyment of simple things. We had a Rumi quotation for that:

    “May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
    May it be sweet milk, this marriage, like wine and halvah.
    May this marriage offer fruit and shade, like the desert palm.
    May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a day in paradise.

    May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
    a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
    May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
    an omen as welcomed as the moon in a clear blue sky.”

    Then we signed a secular ketubah, which said:

    “On the Numbereth day of the month of Monthinessin the
    year 2012, here in That Town, That State,
    in the presence of family and friends,

    Atheist 1 and Atheist 2

    affirmed their union of marriage and made
    these promises to each other:

    As we share daily life, we promise to love,
    honor, respect and cherish each other; to
    celebrate life’s joys together and comfort
    each other through life’s sorrows. We
    promise to help each other discover and
    follow our own true path in life; to try to
    appreciate our differences as a source of
    richness; and above all to do everything
    within our power to permit each of us to
    become the persons we are yet to be.

    We promise to appreciate our ancestors,
    families and all living beings; to treasure,
    enjoy and continue the traditions we have
    inherited; to create a home filled with love
    and peace, balance and freedom, generosity
    and compassion, healing tears and laughter.
    May our hearts be united in love and our
    lives be intertwined forever in tenderness
    and devotion and may we find a home
    everywhere on earth where we are together.

    Thus signed, and sworn; [signatures and witnesses’ signatures]”

    Then another friend did another reading.

    Then we exchanged rings as “a visible sign of the promises which you have made, and a reminder that you are together even when you are apart.”

    These are the vows we said as we exchanged rings:

    “I, Atheist Person, take you, Other Atheist Person,
    to be no one other than yourself.
    Loving what I know of you,
    trusting what I do not yet know.
    I will have faith in your abiding love for me,
    in all that life may bring us.”

    And then the I Do part!

    “Now, before your friends and all those gathered here, do you, Atheist Person, take That Other Atheist Person to be your wife, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and in bad, and above all else, be true to one another so long as you carry love in your hearts?”

    I do, repeat for the other spouse, etc.

    Then by the power vested in me by the State of That State, I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may kiss each other!

    Then my Jewish-descended spouse smashed a glass and we recessed to the joyous strains of the Futurama theme song. :)

  • Mighty Janice

    We were married by my dear friend, The Secular Buddhist, who is licensed to perform marriages in Minnesota. We married at the city park (free to residents) and took our wedding party out for lunch. We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary.


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