Great News! My article on planning an Interfaith wedding was published today on Ezine!
You might be thinking that planning your Jewish/Interfaith wedding will be all about the conflict – but you can create a ceremony that everyone will love. By focusing on the relationship, and choosing traditions and readings to honor both sides, your family and guests will love what you create.
Many of my clients begin their Interfaith wedding plans with strong feelings of fear and trepidation. They often fear their family members will not approve, and they are overwhelmed with fear of offending a single guest by their ceremony choices. But today’s Interfaith weddings can be crafted so that everyone not only feels comfortable, but honored, by your commitment to be fair and inclusive to both parties’ faith and heritage.
When a couple comes to me, most often, one of them is Jewish. They are afraid that if they include Jewish traditions, they will offend the non Jewish partner’s family. Likewise, a mention of Jesus could be just enough to send that Yiddeshe bubbe flying for the nearest exit! You CAN create balance, but in order to do so, it requires a lot of open communication and a little strategy.
The first thing I recommend is keep everything as close to neutral as you can. Keep the foreign language to a minimum, and try not to “name” your spiritual reference. If you can agree that you both believe in G-d, then that will suffice when invoking a spiritual presence.
There are a few major components of a Jewish wedding that most people want to include. The chuppa, the ketubah, the wine, and breaking the glass, are all traditional rituals that are meaningful. Incorporate these into your ceremony, and ask your officiant to go into detail to explain what those rituals are, and why we include them. The more you explain, the less alienated your non-Jewish guests will feel, and everyone will appreciate the time you took to make them feel comfortable.
For every ritual or tradition from the Jewish faith you choose – choose another from your other faith. A song, or a reading that invokes spiritual presence provides a beautiful balance. Incorporate a unification ceremony, such as a sand ceremony or unity candle. Readings such as the Apache Wedding Poem, or readings from Kalil Gibran also invoke spirituality, without isolating.
Choose an officiant who is highly experienced in crafting wedding ceremonies that reflect your backgrounds. Ask to see samples of ceremonies that the officiant has written, to see exactly how he or she blended the rituals of past clients, and imagine yourself sitting in the room listening to the wedding you are reading. Was it fair? Did it honor both sides? Did you feel embraced and included, rather than out of place? Most people don’t mind hearing something new – if you deliver it in just the right way.
I have found that the more I explain in a service, the more appreciative the non-Jewish guests are, and even the Jewish guests often learn something they didn’t know. Your parents will appreciate that you took the time to balance each side, and so will your guests. In the end, you will have a ceremony that focuses on your love, not your differences. Focus on the aspects that bring you together, and your guests will feel honored that they were asked to be a part of that. Stay true to who each of you are, and recognize that it is also your differences, as well as your similarities that make each one interesting to the other. When both are honored, conflict cannot exist.
Your wedding then becomes a celebration of your individuality, and the commitment you are making to come together as one. With tolerance, understanding, patience and communication, your Jewish/Interfaith wedding ceremony will be absolutely beautiful.