In this new age of wedding ceremonies, anything goes!
Unless a couple chooses to be married in a religious ceremony that will follow a time-honored religious protocol, they can be as creative as they like. The range of options is vast.
Finding your personal style is a matter of deciding the type of ceremony most suited to you and getting a sense of which rituals, blessings, prayers, readings, and cultural or religious aspects are personally meaningful.
As an interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant, I find it is all about blending. The first task is to assess the general type of ceremony that is right for each couple. The second is to seek ways to blend in the traditions they do like, with creativity, romance and personal touches.
These personal touches can be anything from aspects of their religions or cultures, to honoring and involving family, to including a humorous story about how they met or a poignant poem that captures their feelings. Or all of the above!
As a reference point, there are several types of weddings to choose from.
Traditional. These are typically faith-based and culled from the tradition the bride and groom were born into.
Non-denominational. A spiritual ceremony that includes reference to God, but does not adhere to any particular religious protocol.
Non-religious. Usually includes no reference to faith and typically does not mention God. (Some people call it a civil ceremony, but in fact a civil ceremony often mentions God).
Interfaith. This is a blending of two or more faiths, by including aspect of religion or religious rituals or readings that are symbolic of each faith.
Intercultural. This is a blending of cultures -- such as a Filipino veil ceremony with a Chinese red string ritual -- and yet can certainly also blend religious aspects.
Pop culture theme. This is usually a ceremony adapted from something that is part of popular culture and close to the hearts of the bride and groom. It may be a full ceremony dress as a knight and lady of the court, to including lines from Star Wars or Disney, to creating a ceremony based on a favorite romance novel or movie.
That said, from my perspective, you can do all of the above in one specially tailored ceremony. The biggest issue is deciding if you want to reference God at all -- some couples clearly do, but would rather not have religion, or clearly don't, and want to have something that is more about their love and relationship.
Here are some questions to consider about creating a personalized wedding:
1. Where does religion fit in -- or does it? Would you like to include an aspect of the faiths you were born into without the dogma? Do you want to include mention of God -- or would you prefer blessing upon your union without mention of Divine presence?
2. What kind of ceremony would be most suited to the two of you? Would you like something personal yet that includes aspects of your traditions? Would something romantic and offbeat be more your style?
3. What are your special needs? Think about the requirements you each may have. If you are of the same faith, is one of you more religious than the other? Since you hail from different cultures, how much do you want to honor your heritage and the traditions of your parents and family, etc?
4. What do you two truly want? Most importantly, be completely honest with one another (and then, your officiant). Make sure you are creating this ceremony for the two of you -- not just to please others.
Whichever path you follow, here's a mantra to help you create a ceremony that is all you own: "We will create our wedding ceremony our way!"
Follow Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway on Twitter: www.twitter.com/revlauriesue