A few weeks ago I read this post on A Practical Wedding. Whilst the post itself is interesting the comments are what piqued my interest. I have wanted to write a post ever since but haven't quite been able to explain myself. That was until I skipped through my drafts (all 195 of them, crumbs I think I have a lot to say but don't quite get around to saying it) and found what I think to be a good starting point.
The line between a secular and religious wedding ceremony* in England and Wales is defined by law. That is a registry office or a ceremony presided over by a registrar is allowed to have no religious element, from the words to the music. So it is rather different from the US and even Scotland. In the US seemingly you are able to integrate different parts a religious ceremony into your day. Now at first glance I can see why this is a good idea. Surely, to be able to include certain aspects which interest and excite you is what life is all about? Yet cherry picking in this way, even to an outsider like me, almost certainly devalues what is meant by these core tenets of religion. Yes the Chuppah is a beautiful aspect of a Jewish wedding but to use for aesthetic reasons and call it a Chuppah surely negates these features and is essentially a gazebo? (I in no way mean to denigrate what a Chuppah means to a Jew). Why call it a Chuppah if you are not Jewish? It completely baffles me. I know even less about the customs which surround other religious weddings so I shall not even attempt to comment!
I agree that Christians cherry picked the best pagan traditions to allow followers to grow accustomed to the way of God (as you may have guessed I am not religious although not preachy with it. I just don't happen to have faith. If you do, that it your prerogative and I do not fear you!) I think I have made clear my thoughts on those who choose to marry in church just for the aesthetics or even because they think it means more. To marry because it is pretty belies the entire point of marrying in church. Indeed I shall not be any less married. If there is a god, he/she/it will know I have married and been "good" and at "Judgement Day" I would hope an all knowing and all forgiving God would understand my scepticism and still acknowledge my contribution to the world. Gosh we are getting a little to deep and off the point here!
Perhaps as an outsider I can see more clearly? It seems that it is perfectly acceptable to cannibalise different religions and customs. I am not saying one should blindly accept anachronisms (if they are indeed true anachronisms) of religion but if you are to believe in the good you have to believe in the bad. Or perhaps more interesting if you believe in evil, one must also believe in a god? To pick and choose a wedding ceremony seems sacrilegious and at odds with what you want to do. I am sure many would be offended by your actions and whilst this is true of many situations, to offend someone, indeed one who has no religious beliefs, with your actions is surely indicative of a certain level of disregard.
Now this would make feel like a queen on my wedding day. I mean how entirely fabulous, I simply adore the pomposity of the headpiece. Yet I am most certainly not a Cameroonian King and thus it would be complteely inappropriate on my head. Whilst I have to admit I do bang on about my Welsh and Polish heritage (Welsh is helpful for rugby supporting and Polish, well, I am proud of how my Grandfather acted during the war, he was a great, grumpy man!) I think that I am still in close enough touch with my roots to acknowledge my heritage. However I shall be unlikely to engage in any country specific rituals during the wedding because I am British, well English and that is who I am. To continue to perpetuate a tenuous link with one's past when one is looking to the future appears to be conflicted. I digress.
What do I want to say? I guess you have to take the good with the bad. To marry in church you shouldn't grumble and moan about attending once a week. If you want a Jewish wedding ceremony, learn about the religion and think why this particular service enthrals you so? If you are not born in Ireland, you aren't really Irish. I though I would add that just in case I am yet to offend you. Please just take your celebratory cues from your current life and values and not what you think you should or are expected to do.
*I almost wrote marriage but if you do believe in an all powerful god (purposely lowercase g) surely even at a secular ceremony he/she would be present? Furthermore would god not be with you everyday in your life and marriage? I admit to my limited knowledge of Christinity and very limited knowledge of other religions so I do not know if this is the same with respect to Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Buddism, Baha'i or Zoroastrianism (please do enlighten me - I would be a very interested wedding observer/participant!)