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Sep 10, 2008

Saying “I do” to an interfaith relationship may involve much more than you’ve bargained for. FLYP’s Sarah Bernier explores.

By Sarah Bernier

Your Temple or Mine?
Jewish & Catholic – Perhaps the bride and groom could be married under the traditional Jewish chuppa (canopy) but with a Catholic priest performing the ceremony. Or, you could have both a rabbi and a priest present to make the blessings.

Protestant & Catholic – Since these ceremonies are typically quite similar in style, you won’t need to make a lot of compromises. The bride and groom could recite traditional vows from their respective religions, just to cover the bases in both faiths.

Evangelical & Catholic – When you get right down to it, these two religions are cut from a similar cloth, though there are a few key differences. So when tying the knot, one option is to have a nonreligious civil ceremony with a pastor from each faith present to deliver the requisite blessings both before and after the service.
Protestant & Hindu – To satisfy the Protestant side, the father of the bride could be present to ceremonially “give away” his daughter. And to honor Hindu tradition, the bride could dress in bright, colorful garb or paint her hands and feet with henna.

Jewish & Muslim – To please the Jewish side of the family, the bride and groom could be brought to the customary private room (yichud) directly following the wedding ceremony, where they are left alone to get to know one another. As for the Muslim faction, the elder women could perform the required traditional rites in blessing the groom.

Buddhist & Catholic – For the Catholic side, make sure to hold the formal processional, during which the bride and wedding party walk down the aisle at the start of the ceremony. In Buddhism, marriage services are pretty laidback, so perhaps incorporating a white scarf (which carries considerable significance in the courting process) could prove both romantic and culturally significant.

Notes from Sarah

As more people from more places come into contact with one another than ever before, it’s easy to see why interfaith marriages are on the rise.
Couples that have married across faiths are reporting high degrees of success. They revel in the unexpected challenges and rejoice in the differences that these unions bridge.
Many couples have found interfaith marriages to be great learning experiences, opening their eyes to their own religions that they might have previously taken for granted, and introducing them in an intimate way to cultures they never would have discovered otherwise.
To work, an interfaith marriage must be based on respect, love, understanding and a willingness to compromise—the same components that drive any successful partnership. So if your core beliefs are compatible, don’t be afraid to venture outside your faith. If it’s in the cards, love will find a way.

Ask Sarah
Confused about interfaith marriage, readers seek advice from Sarah.

Dear Sarah,
I am a 33-year-old woman and am engaged to be married. I was brought up Southern Baptist but haven’t stepped foot in a church since I was 16.
My fiancé was raised in an open, nonreligious household and told me he doesn’t feel comfortable getting married in a church. My parents, who are paying for the affair, are pushing hard for a traditional Baptist wedding.
I feel torn: I don’t mind getting married in church, but I want to respect my fiancé’s wishes.
Any ideas that might help?
Sincerely,
Stressed in the South

Dear Stressed,
The first thing you need to do is take some time alone to think long and hard about what it is that YOU really want for your wedding. Then, sit down with your fiancé and ask him to do the same. This type of communication is a good skill for your entire relationship.
Maybe you can suggest a compromise by getting married outdoors by a Baptist minister—even better, one who is close to your family.
Once you and your fiancé have decided what is best, you’ll be ready to sit down with both sets of parents and discuss how to proceed with the preparations. If you can bend on certain issues, bend. Chances are, compromises are going to need to be made by everyone.
In the end, though, remember that this is your wedding, and one of the most important days of your life. So don’t be afraid to stand up for the issues that are really important to you.

Do interfaith marriages and weddings work? Sarah investigates what you think in this on-the-street video.


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