Today's Ask the Officiant comes from Maya of Loving with Chronic Illness

Question:My fiance was raised in a Christian household and I was raised Jewish. Religion is definitely more important to our families than it is to us, so we'd still like to include small touches from both traditions to make everyone feel included. Have you ever married a couple in this situation? Do you have any ideas about how we might pull this off in a subtle, but meaningful way?

Answer: Inter-faith weddings are one of the reasons I started studying religion at all! What a great chance to get creative. I have never married a couple who is inter-faith and interested in incorporating it into their wedding- but I know a lot of weddings where religions are blended beautifully. My cousin and her husband got married by his families Catholic priest and her families rabbi- they worked together in writing the ceremony, stood together and presided over the entire ceremony as a team effort. Beyond that, they hadn't even met before!

I'd go through some Christian wedding traditions and some Jewish wedding traditions, decide which ones you like and fit them into your ceremony. The Christian tradition of lighting a unity candle is not only a nice ritual- but also could be doubly used to honor loved ones who are not present. My personal favorite Jewish tradition is the breaking of the glass- what a great celebratory moment! After I wrote these each down and did some research I found that these two particular traditions are actually often used in interfaith ceremonies. Check out this message board with ideas on just this issue! Apparently the father walking his daughter to her partner is Christian, in Judaism both parents walk their child to the top of the aisle. Have both your parents walk you to your beloved and wham-o, traditions combined. Have readings from both the Torah (or some Kabbalist texts, got to love the mysticism!) and the New Testament.
Also check out this book which seems to be right up this exact alley! 

Question: Do you have any ideas for honoring loved ones who have passed away or people who may be too sick to attend the wedding?

Answer: I have lots of ideas for incorporating loved ones and those who cannot attend.
1. Have you officiant mention them, either by name or not. That is your call. A simple statement as:
___ and ___  would like to acknowledge those loved ones who are not here with us today (their aunt/grandpa/etc). Although not physically present, they remain forever with us, both in spirit and in our hearts. 
2. Use a quote your loved one loved, aspired to, mentioned often, etc- from a song, the bible, a book, even a movie. Mention that this quote or excerpt reminds you of them, or that they often said it.
And now a reading from Lord of the Rings, which was ____'s grandpa's favorite. 
As _____'s uncle always said "If it's not a happy ending, it's not over" and this, my friends is a happy ending- ____ and ____'s search for their one is over.
3. Have a moment of silence to think of those passed (Maya, I know you'll like this one, my fellow FA-er!). Take a nod from the Quakers and have a few moments of silent reflection. I've done weddings where they have an extended moment/ a short meeting for worship- people actually got up and spoke. If you have the time and emotional stability you might be able to handle a family member standing and mentioning those who cannot be with you that day.

4. Have someone do a reading about those who are not present. Anything, a biblical reading, lyrics from a song, a poem. It may be very unconventional but if I were honoring my Poppop I'd have someone read Buffalo Bill by ee cummings.

Have a question? Feel free to email me at, or use the email button on the side.

One Comment

  1. Thank you sooooooooo much for taking the time to write this! What awesome suggestions, Jenny. I especially love your ideas about honoring our loved ones. I threw the question out to the Facebook community today, but I really think I might go with a combination of #1 and #3 (woo hoo moments of silence!).

    Thanks again - you were obviously made for this job!