Steal These Beautiful Thoughts to Use at Your Atheist Wedding


AKA, how to make sure your partner leads a feminist Girl Scouts troop for forever

bride and groom standing together in doorway

When I told people I was writing an article about atheist weddings, a lot of them responded, “We did that! We had a totally non-religious ceremony!” And I was like, that’s totally great! But it’s not exactly what I’m talking about here.

No one says, “We had a pagan wedding, we just took out all the Christian stuff.” Because that’s not what a pagan wedding is. A pagan wedding actually talks about paganism. It might even give you the idea that the people involved in it think paganism is kind of the best. Because… it’s their wedding. They can do that!

An atheist wedding isn’t just a secular wedding. My initial Google searches for “atheist weddings” brought up a number of weddings that were science-themed, which is great for people who are really into science, but it’s still not the same thing as an atheist wedding. When I say “atheist wedding” I’m talking about a wedding in which the word “atheism” is actually spoken in the ceremony in some kind of meaningful way.

Now, I can certainly see being an atheist and not caring about having an atheist wedding. That’s kind of the point of not joining something, right? You don’t have to go to meetings, or even think about it at all. I spend my Sundays at brunch, not holding meetings about not believing in a god.

If you do want to hold an atheist wedding, however, I’m here to help.

I’ve always been good at Tell Us What You Really Feel. And by that I mean that while this was a major problem in my childhood… it’s now basically my career. So I’m pretty much exactly the sort of person who would be like, “In a world in which none of the many gods people have believed in throughout human existence actually exist, loving each other for the short time we are actually here is very important.” Because, hello: it is.

I had an atheist wedding (officiated by Jessie Blum of Eclectic Unions), and I once officiated an atheist wedding myself. I wrote some stuff for both of these that I’m about to share. I can’t vouch for your family members’ potential reactions, but I personally found that the atheist sentiments presented in both weddings were surprisingly subtle, and received plenty of compliments, including from my husband’s (Jewish but not very religious) relatives.

In my search for text for atheist weddings, I came across a lot of readings… most of which were not what I was looking for. The majority were not very serious. For instance, “How Falling in Love Is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. It’s a nice poem, but I’m not a dog person. There was also “Foxtrot from a Play” by W.H. Auden, which ends with the lines, “And dogs love most an old lamp-post / But you’re my cup of tea.” Dogs again! Haha, but no. There were also lots of quotes from The Princess Bride and The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. Hilarious! But not what I wanted.

What I wanted was an actual ceremony, not some quirky shit for my aunt to read. So I wrote it myself. And now I’ve got two big ideas for you to steal and incorporate into your atheist wedding.

Big idea: Marrying someone “for life” means more when you actually believe that life is all there is

Now let’s say that in a pretty way! Here’s a paragraph I wrote for my own wedding that you can steal:

As atheists, [Name] and [Name] don’t believe that there’s an eternity for them after this life. There is only this life. Thus, to give oneself in marriage for this lifetime isn’t a waystation on the way to some other heavenly eternity—it is all there is. It is a commitment to be together until they no longer exist, until they are nowhere and nothing.

Not long enough? No problem! Here’s an opening I wrote for an atheist wedding I officiated. You can steal this too:

Welcome. We have come here today to celebrate the union of [Name] and [Name].

Mark Twain once said that “a marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it. It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living. It brings a new gladness to the sunshine, and a new fragrance to the flowers, and new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life.”

We are called here today to celebrate the joining of two people who possess these questioning natures. Today we celebrate the union of two people, of two hearts, but also of two minds making a conscious and deliberate choice to experience the great joys, and commit to the great sacrifices, of lifelong marriage.

When no edicts are handed down from the skies, and no promises from the universe are expected, each decision a person makes for his or her life bears more weight and consequence; two such people who make a decision to love one another until death have made a momentous commitment, fully of their own volition, with all the importance that an individual life can hold.

Today we celebrate the union of two people who know fully that human life is finite, and that therefore we should waste no time in spending those precious years with those we have chosen to love. Only two people who know that life is lived here on earth, and only on earth, can fully offer each other their own eternities.

Mark Twain also said, “After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.” Let no one turn down the tree of knowledge; let us all, and let [Name] and [Name], enter into our decisions fully responsible, fully adult, and with the full commitment of vigorous minds, and unencumbered hearts.

You might have a family member who would be offended to read that, but when it’s spoken aloud, it’s all just happening too fast. “Let no one turn down the tree of knowledge. Eat that apple! Knowledge is good! Women aren’t actually cursed with the pains of childbirth as punishment for original sin! There is no original sin! We’re just people, so try to do a good job with that!” See, that’s all kind of implied in the above. But your relatives will probably be distracted by the fact that you’re getting married, yay!

Okay, on to the next idea.

Big idea: When your values aren’t decided for you by a religious authority, they’re an especially important part of who you are

If you marry someone, you commit to those values. And values can last longer than a human life. For a vow that really means something, pledge that whoever lives longer has to further the other person’s values until their own death. One important part of being an atheist is that you get to define your own values. (Or is that an important part of being an existentialist? My philosophy degree happened a long time ago.) The point is, if you’re going to construct your own belief system plank by plank, isn’t it worth fighting for? And if you’re marrying someone, doesn’t it imply that you hold many of those values in common?

Here’s a nice vow:

If you should live longer than [Name], do you promise to promote [Name’s] values to the best of your power until your own death?

Say “I do” to that, motherfuckers. Seriously, that’s a real thing you can actually follow through on and others can hold you to. When people pledge to “always be there for you” or “cherish you for all time,” well, that’s very pretty, and we had some stuff like that in our ceremony too because it’s nice stuff to say at a wedding. But it’s hardly quantifiable or verifiable. (See what I did there, with atheism and the scientific method?)

Promising that whoever dies last has to promote the other person’s value system until they die is a set of effing chores. It’s a real to-do list. It doesn’t prevent you from marrying other people if your spouse dies, and it doesn’t obligate you to generate feelings forever. It’s a vow you can be held to.

If my husband dies before me, I have to figure out how to do something to get you all to switch to solar energy. Or wind power, because he also likes wind power. This is homework I could really spend decades on. And if I die first, my husband, who is a less public person, will be obliged to lead a neighborhood feminist Girl Scout troop (or Boy Scout troop, which would actually be a much better use of male privilege) or something, forever. He can marry another woman anytime, but he is never released from his vow to promote my values until he dies.

Take that, afterlife!

As an atheist, it’s particularly sobering to acknowledge that marriage isn’t “forever”—at best, it’s until one of you dies first. Let’s be serious about that. Atheists like sobering truths. And then, after your sobering truths, you celebrate. You open the champagne, you dance. You can even quote The Princess Bride… if you want.

Jennifer Dziura

Jennifer Dziura is the founder of GetBullish.com and the annual Bullish Conference, taking place September 18-21, 2016 in Palm Springs, California. She believes in risk-taking, negotiating better by being genuinely willing to walk away, gentlewomanly living, gravitas, espresso, prosecco, and helping other women.

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  • Christina McPants

    As someone who was at the atheist wedding Jen officiated, it was delightful. It’s funny actually, that you mention pagan weddings. My wedding was at least somewhat pagan (I’m pagan, my wife is not), but we pulled out a lot of pagan references for the sake of family. (It’s amazing what we do for the sake of family and not rocking the boat, right?) You can be as quiet or as loud as you want, as long as it’s meaningful to you.

    • OMG!

      • Christina McPants

        That was my reaction when you put your first post up here!

  • Ashlah

    We had a secular ceremony, not an atheist one, and I can’t say for sure whether we would use any of this language if we were getting married now, but…I love this. I am way in love with this. I want to attend an atheist wedding and high five the shit out of the couple as they recess back down the aisle. I will definitely be taking some inspiration from this post next time I sit down to write my guy a mushy card.

    • idkmybffjill

      ugh RIGHT. At first I found myself getting a little peeved at the assumptions that atheism means you’re living life more fully etc etc, until I realized that that’s TOTALLY something that’s alluded to in Christian weddings. That your marriage is more powerful because of God, etc.

      Loved this!

      • stephanie

        YES. Thank you for pointing this out and realizing it and saying it here, because I think that… a lot of people don’t realize that.

      • Ashlah

        Exactly!! That’s both the reason I love this, and the reason I’m not sure I’d necessarily use it myself. I hate feeling judged at weddings, like my marriage is deemed less-than because we don’t share the same beliefs. An atheist ceremony like this could potentially make some of my guests feel the same way. So while I’m right and they’re wrong (kidding, kidding!), I’m not sure I’d go for it. Perhaps I’d tone down the language a tad, so it still makes it clear why atheism makes these things more meaningful to us, but without suggesting other marriages have less meaning (like the “Only two people…” part)? But it sure is nice to see unapologetic atheist wedding language, and I sort of wish I was the kind of person who would go for it.

        • idkmybffjill

          Same!!! I’m also not an atheist (agnostic), so it wouldn’t count for me. And alot of the reason I left christianity was because I just couldn’t get behind the “We are right and others are wrong” that is very intrinsic (in my opinion).

          BUT… honestly, if Christians getting married believe that having God as the center of their marriage is so important that they get to say it even if others present don’t believe that, then I think… damn straight atheists get to say that the fact that they don’t believe in god means to them that their life is more precious on earth, and therefore all the more precious with each other. It’s their wedding! They should get to share their beliefs about what it means.

          Also, I feel like this piece weirdly made me more empathetic to Christian weddings. People get to believe what they believe about their marriage and say so on their wedding day.

          • Amy March

            Yeah I’m pretty Christian, and I don’t love the “only two people who know that life is lived here on earth, and only on earth, can fully offer each other their own eternities” line, but not my day, not my beliefs. I wouldn’t find it offensive or feel like I needed to walk out or anything!

          • idkmybffjill

            Good perspective to add! I’m sure especially for couples who believe just this but are especially concerned about family members/friends.

          • Alexandra

            I’m pretty Christian and my wedding was pretty Christian, because those are my deepest beliefs, which I share with my husband. It made sense that our wedding was full of scripture, had the choir from the Baptist school where I teach singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, and took place in the church I attended for seven years. It was a day celebrating our primary relationship, and we believe that relationship centers around our faith in Jesus.

            My best friend (maid of honor) is an atheist, and my mom and brother are atheists. There are pictures from the ceremony in which my best friend is rolling her eyes, and I know my mom felt pretty awkward. I mean, it was a fairly religious ceremony, and my mom could have said most of the lines from the ceremony in this post. She’s not just meh on religion, she’s seriously atheist.

            None of that bothered me in the slightest. My wedding, my faith: not mad at anybody for not feelin’ it, but also not really willing to compromise. My brother’s wedding was extremely atheist (I memorized the Taylor Mali poem to recite for it!) and that was fine. They’re atheist! Their wedding should reflect that. What bothers me just a teensy bit is when people who are atheist/agnostic have Christian weddings. It’s the dominant cultural force when it comes to American weddings, so it makes sense that that’s what people use as the default. But 1 Corinthians 13 is a little deeper than the wedding default scripture. But whatever, not really got my panties in a bunch over it.

            One quick point on theology: Christian doctrine definitely does center around an idea of eternity, but Christian doctrine does not believe people are married to their spouses in eternity. Mormons believe that and it’s a pretty important tenant of their faith, but Jesus says there is not marriage in heaven. For Christians, marriage is an imperfect and finite relationship that ends at death.

          • idkmybffjill

            Thanks! I actually was at one point very devoutly Christian, so almost brought up that theology too!

            We felt similarly about having Christian elements in our wedding for the same reasons. It’s why we’re not having it in a church/with a minister, and why there’s no God mentioned in our wedding. It felt wrong to us to include those things in our wedding when we don’t practice them.

            Our wedding is very much themed around what civil marriage means to us and we’re excited about it!

          • Amy March

            Mormons are Christian, FYI. And claiming they are not has a pretty ugly history.

          • Alexandra

            I researched the hell out of Mormonism a couple of years ago. That’s all I’m going to say.

            As far as marriage goes–there is a difference (among many) in theology between Mormonism and mainline Christianity as to what marriage means for eternity. That’s pretty much the extent of what would be productive to talk about in this context.

        • Natasha Romanova

          This is a great point. I often feel uncomfortable when there’s a strong Christian undertone to a wedding ceremony. And I’d hate to inflict that feeling on my guests, or make them feel as though I believe their relationships are any less meaningful because they happen to believe in god and I don’t.

      • sofar

        I had the EXACT same reaction. Like, “Oh man, I dunno… would I really want to say that an atheist marriage has a meaning that religious weddings don’t have? Could I allow these things to be said out loud when so many of my loved ones are religious?

        And then I was like, “Um… how many Christian weddings have *I* sat through in which it is plainly said that the Christian marriage is superior to all other marriages? Tons. So many. Hooray for atheist wedding ceremonies! High five!”

        We had a decidedly *secular* wedding. Both our families were against that going in, but both ended up loving it. Seeing both sets of parents tear up and laugh during our Star Trek reading was the BEST.

      • Argentum

        People from most belief (or non-belief) systems approach comparisons between these with an attitude of My Way Is Best And You’re Doing It Wrong. On the flip side, people who hear others’ assumptions about their beliefs get very defensive. So I had the same initial reaction as you did, and almost wrote a comment “correcting” the apparent misconceptions about Christianity. But I found this article way less bothersome than the nails-on-chalkboard sentiments expressed by the leaders of the Pre-Cana course my fiance and I did together. Many of those couples stated, implicitly and explicitly, that Catholic marriage was better than other marriages. I completely disagree, but I don’t consider the supremacy of Catholic marriage, or of Catholicism or Christianity, to be a tenet of Catholicism, and so I don’t blame the religion — just the close-minded, well-meaning workshop leaders. I suppose I’m the pejorative Pollyanna who sees equal merit in many of our world’s major value systems, including humanism/atheism/agnosticism, though I’m personally most familiar with Catholicism. I’m sure there are Catholics and Catholic authorities out there who would take that as evidence that I’m not a real Catholic (along with my convictions that homosexuality and heterosexuality are both great, that women are equal to men and should be eligible for priesthood, and that structural change is needed to fix a problematic church hierarchy.) My point is that, in my opinion, respect for all belief systems is to be encouraged. And I definitely appreciate the powerful sentiments expressed in these thoughtful vows!

        • idkmybffjill

          “But I found this article way less bothersome than the nails-on-chalkboard sentiments expressed by the leaders of the Pre-Cana course my fiance and I did together.”

          This absolutely. I grew up VERY religious (although protestant), and have been to many a wedding in which the bride is told she will obey her husband and….. I found those to be far more offensive than anything here.

          ETA: And that is how I felt when I still identifited as a christian! From your description, we have very similar belief systems. I ultimately claim agnostic instead of Christian these days because I finally decided I was spending too much time listing the things I didn’t believe than the ones I did.

        • Oh goodness, I went to a Catholic wedding this summer where it was repeated multiple times during the homily that the only valid marriages were Catholic marriages. At a wedding where the bride was a convert and her whole family wasn’t Catholic. I’m Catholic and got married in a very Catholic wedding and I was so mad. I made sure to try and keep things like that out of my wedding as vest I could. (I’m sure some was there but it wasn’t explicit St least)

  • idkmybffjill

    I’m an agnostic but this gave me comfort from another side of things! We’ve been a little anxious about our choice of processional (Ordinary People, John Legend), because it’s not exactly wildly romantic in a, “You’re perfect I’ll love you forever way”, and it’s nice to recall that people won’t be reading the lyrics to it.

    Thank you!

    • Grace

      I love your processional.

      • idkmybffjill

        Thank you!!

  • idkmybffjill

    Also… sorry another comment but this just really spoke to me. A family member, upon hearing that our wedding would be secular said, “Because you don’t want God to bless your marriage?”. And we just said, “Exactly.”… cause that’s the truth? And I like the thought of…. not believing (or being ambivalent about, if you’re me) in eternity beyond life means we’re committing everything to eachother by committing to each other for life.

    • stephanie

      “And I like the thought of…. not believing (or being ambivalent about, if you’re me) in eternity beyond life means we’re committing everything to each other by committing to each other for life.” this really stuck out to me, too. I love it.

      • idkmybffjill

        Right? Almost especially for me, as agnostic (because of my uncertainty) – this part resonated so intensely. Like… this life is the only thing I’m sure about and I’m sure I want to spend it with you….. and I’m weepy, it’s fine. :)

        • stephanie

          Yep. I’m squarely in the atheist camp, but feel the same way. I think it’s a wildly romantic thing to say!

  • Alyssa Andrews

    I love this! I wouldn’t consider myself athiest (more agnostic-ish?), but I can definitely see myself using a lot of the verbage here.

    Also, “If you should live longer than [Name], do you promise to promote [Name’s] values to the best of your power until your own death? Say “I do” to that, motherfuckers.” — YES.

    • cml

      Just a Christian popping in to say that I effin’ LOVE that line!

      • Totch

        My first thought with that line was “that’s not specifically atheist, that’s just great!!” I could see incorporating that sentiment into any ceremony.

  • Rose

    I love love love the Twain quote. It was one that came to mind when we were planning our own wedding, although it didn’t actually end up getting used anywhere. It was especially tempting since we’re both “her”s, and unlike a lot of readings/quotes it actually wouldn’t have needed to be changed for that. It’s just such a powerful statement, if slightly melancholy. Better to struggle with her, than to live perfectly without.

  • Christina McPants

    Also, damn straight my wife will forever be leading a feminist girl scout troop in my name if I pass before her because I can barely wait the three years to start one for my two year old.

  • Natasha Romanova

    Oh man, I love these vows so much but there’s no way it wouldn’t cause drama with my family. And I want to avoid all drama on the wedding day… Maybe I could tweak the first to leave out the explicit “as atheists” part while still getting the general sentiment of it?

    • Eenie

      Yes, I think that works nicely if you don’t want to be explicit. And honestly if anyone starts drama over your ceremony on your wedding day, please smash cake in their face. Or pie.

      • Call Me Penny

        Don’t waste good cake!!

      • Anon Preggo

        Mmm, cake.

    • AmandaBee

      Just popping in to say: I’ve been to weddings where the family was vehemently opposed to the (non-religious) approach the couple used for vows, and what’s great is that unless they want to really cause a scene they usually just have to STFU and listen anyway. And as the article states, it usually moves quickly enough that people aren’t going to really have time to stop and get offended anyway.

      Of course, some family might actually cause a scene or walk out, so pick your battles and all that. But even as someone who recognizes weddings as a community affair, I think the vows should be something that is 100% up to the couple because ultimately they are what you’re promising to each other. And most people get that, even if they aren’t happy about it.

  • Totch

    Obligatory Hamilton reference since we’ve calmed down on those lately: doesn’t that vow remind you of Alexander and Eliza? She spends the rest of her life telling his story and fighting for his goals.

    OK, that aside: thanks for this. We’re both atheists but I think like many atheists, we avoid using that term around family. Not having a religious wedding has definitely been disappointing to my parents, and it feels like moving from a secular to actively atheist ceremony would be hard.

    But our values match those written in the piece, and sometimes I need a bit of reminding that my atheism comes with its own stuff rather than just being the absence of faith. Definitely going to be thinking of this more as we prepare our ceremony, because right now it feels like we’re writing around the religion question instead of making an active choice to promote our own beliefs.

    • Cellistec

      Aw, nice Hamilton reference. That gives me the fuzzies. It also reminds me of something I read one about the importance of spouses as the main witnesses to each other’s lives, and I wish I could find that again because I think it’s an underrated point.

      • Courtney

        I looked up your reference of ” spouses as the main witnesses to each other’s lives” as I love the sentiment, I only found reference to it as a quote from the movie ‘Shall We Dance’, spoken by Susan Sarandon’s character. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0358135/quotes

        • Cellistec

          Oh you’re good.

  • Eenie

    We aren’t atheist but agnostic, but we made very deliberate choices about what to mention and leave out of our extremely short (under 5 minute) ceremony. The part about forever was something that I absolutely refused to include in our ceremony. It’s not forever, it’s until one of you dies. Or until one of you decides the marriage is doing more harm than good.

    I loved this post, thanks for writing it! We would have stolen some language if it existed back in April….

    • idkmybffjill

      This is something I really LOVE about the traditional vows. “As long as we both shall live.”

      We’re agnostic too, but come from protestant backgrounds, and are using that one because I also felt very strongly that we weren’t promising forever.

      I’m a child of divorce and my parents, while divorced, still totally have honored those traditional vows in terms of (perhaps not to cherish)….. they have still actively held each other in high regard and worked toward their common best interests even after marriage. And even after I left the house.

      When we decided to get married, it was a huge thing to me to discuss with my fiance that when I said I would marry him I also meant that (barring abuse), I would always treat him as family. Even if we didn’t stay married. And that’s what I wanted from him too.

      • Eenie

        This is what we went with too in the end!

        • idkmybffjill

          We’re doing our own and then an “I Do” with these, “Do you ___ take the, ___ to have and to hold……”

          I’m really really excited!

      • Fellow “as long as we both shall live” people. For us it wasn’t rooted in any religious ideology, we simply wanted to affirm to each other & our community that we are committing each other to this marriage and it doesn’t end simply when one party dies.

  • lady brett

    i love this. ours was secular in the “took all of the god out of a fairly traditional ceremony” way (well, we didn’t pick the readings either, so one was religious, but that seems honest coming from my pastor father in law). but we were less militant in our atheism then…

  • Saxyrunner

    This is excellent! I one hundred percent agree with your two big ideas, and I wish we’d had this when we were getting out ceremony together. We had a secular one. I’ll just be over here fangirling for a bit, don’t mind me!

  • This gives me a lot to think about as I plan my own non-religious wedding. Thank you!

  • CP2011

    I love this wording! We had a religious-y ceremony, more because it felt like “what we should do” rather than any sincere religious persuasion. If we were to do it again, I don’t know that I would be this overt, but it was really a shift in my head to think of a secular ceremony and an atheist ceremony as distinct–but this really calls it out!

  • Ellie

    I think neither religious or non religious weddings should suggest the marriage has something up on any other kind. I had a Christian wedding (as both my partner and I are Christian and met at church) but I ended up rewriting the entire ceremony wording our pastor emailed me because while I wanted to acknowledge that God was a major part of our marriage I didn’t want it to suggest our marriage was ‘better’ because of it, just different. Essentially I see myself as having two kinds of ‘marriage’ one legal one that the state recognises and one religious that is far more important to me but that doesn’t mean it’s better. The ceremony wording was also super anti-feminist so I had to change that too! In the end we had a beautiful ceremony under a gorgeous tree over looking the water, our pastor acknowledged that it was a marriage under God, and my Nana prayed over us, some people stretched out hands and joined her, others had no idea what was going on! I think this ceremony might make people feel awkward which is something I know I definitely did not want at my wedding, while 90% of the guests were from church I still had to think about that other 10% and how they might feel.

    • idkmybffjill

      I agree, but would point out that lots and lots of christians don’t have the sort of sensitive wedding you had!

      And that’s okay for them too, if they really do believe that marriage is nothing if God isn’t the center, they should be able to say that at their wedding – it’s the beginning of that marriage! I think the same just has to go for other belief systems.

      I’m with you in terms of philosophy on weddings, but I think it’s fair that people who deeply believe something should be able to acknowledge it on their wedding day.

      For example – the pastor acknowledging your marriage under god, could be just as subtle as the officiant acknowledging that two atheists getting married only believe in this one life together.

      • Ellie

        Oh absolutely I agree they should mention it if that’s important, but like you said subtlety – there’s no point offending your guests really. And your so right about most Christian weddings! I’ve been to quite a few and sometimes it really does seem like some Christians think they have the sole ownership of the institution of marriage. It’s not necessary to make it seem that way.

  • Lisa

    I have to disagree with you. I am a deeply committed atheist, but I didn’t mention it at all in our wedding. To me atheism means that one can marry without any obligation to talk about God or non-God, at all. So, in my thinking, I had an atheist wedding.

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  • clarkesara

    I’m not so worried about mentioning atheism in our wedding, but one thing that has occurred to me is that almost every secular wedding I’ve ever been to apes the style and aesthetics of a Christian church service. People sit on opposite sides of a room with an aisle dividing them, with an officiant in front, often even in front of an altar or altar stand-in. The bride, groom, and attendants process up the aisle like the priest, choir, and altar servers. There are readings and pauses for music led by the officiant, just like in a church service. And then a benediction (“I am proud to announce Mr. and Mrs. Williams!”) and procession back down the aisle, just like in a church service. As an atheist, I don’t care whether we talk about what our lack of religion means to us. But I also don’t want my ceremony to ape the style of something that holds no meaning for me. Any ideas about how to build a meaningful wedding ceremony without the trappings of Christian religious practice?

    • Eenie

      We didn’t process or recess, we had no altar (we stood in the corner of the room), most people stood (five minute ceremony), we had no music, and we had one friend (no bridal party) read a poem. We just used what we wanted and got rid of everything else.

      I think a couple things you mentioned aren’t inherently “christian”. Officiant – most states/countries require one. It just makes sense to have an aisle for any stage/play/speech etc to get to your seats easier. Movie theaters have aisles.

      I think it helped us to think about what was really important to us (having my best friend honored by reading a poem, having us announced so people wouldn’t call me the wrong name, keeping the majority of guests standing so we could use one space for ceremony and reception) and working from there.

      • clarkesara

        It’s not so much that these things are inherently Christian, but that they clearly come from the style and structure of a Christian church service. Yes, we are required to have an officiant, but for example there is nothing to say that they need to stand in front of some kind of altar stand-in. That’s from Christianity. Yes, an aisle is convenient for people to get to their seats, but did you ever notice that in movie theaters, the aisles are on the sides, whereas in churches, the aisle is up the middle? This is because processionals are traditionally an important part of the Christian church service.

        I’m not saying Christianity is bad, or that weddings are bad because they are like church, or that literally everything about how weddings work should be thrown out (yes of course people should have a way to get to their seats). But, yes, even secular wedding ceremonies are structured like Christian church services, and the room is typically set up as if it were a church. None of that has any real meaning for us, so it would be interesting to know ways people have done ceremonies that break that mold.

        • Eenie

          We definitely broke the mold for our ceremony, not for the same reasons you want to though. If you plan to have a dance floor, holding the ceremony in the corner of the room where the dance floor was worked out really well. It got rid of the aisle, procession/recession, and altar (well we just didn’t have one cause it would have looked weird). We didn’t “hide” before the ceremony but had a short cocktail portion beforehand. We stood in the corner with our officiant and had her say “hey, I’m marrying them now, please come over here!” Then afterwards, our venue cleared out the seats for eventual dancing while we got drinks and appetizers. Our wedding was very casual, and that’s not the feel everyone wants so this obviously won’t appeal to everyone!

  • Jessica McCammon

    I would love to see something written that isn’t anti-christian – just because it bores me to even acknowledge Christianity in the process, I’m so thoroughly certain that isn’t the way. I like most of the rest of this though, I will certainly incorporate references to the finite existence we’ll have on Earth, and the after one of us dies chores are cute too.