Creating a Sacred & Secular Wedding Ceremony

The best wedding ceremonies reflect both the quirks of each unique human involved, and the pair as a unified whole. Every word and action shoiudl resonante with a sense of your ‘voice’ and be inspired by your personal passions and truth.

But what happens when you have a passion, faith, or belief that your guests or partner do not share or understand? How can both humans be reflected if one is spiritual and the other firmly secular in their beliefs?

You hire a Celebrant of course!

A Bride and Groom stand before a large stone fireplace. The Celebrant Keli Tomlin is standing behind them, laughing at something the bride has said. The couple's hands are tied with a purple and gold handfasting cord.
© Steve Selby

Honouring Yourself

You should each be fully represented in your wedding ceremony; if the content reflects only one person’s beliefs there will be a sense of unbalance.

There is no generosity or chivalry in setting aside your personal beliefs for the other; do not be afraid to own your truth!

Openness and honesty are key to ceremony planning. Share your unique ideas, beliefs, and what you are and aren’t comfortable saying/doing with one another and with your wedding Celebrant. This gives us more juicy truths to create with and results in a more engaging and enthusiastic ceremony.

2019 Lucys Wed 18
© Jof

Honouring Your Beliefs

If you have a spiritual approach to life but do not follow a specific path, ceremony options can seem limited. It’s perfectly reasonable not to want to commit to a religious tradition but still want to imbue the day with an element of the sacred.

When your partner doesn’t share this desire, it can seem easier to put the spiritual parts aside; out of ‘respect’ for their atheism or to keep things more ‘normal’. Disregarding such a valiable part of you and the journey of your life can leave a own sour taste.

Take time alone or with your Celebrant to research wedding rituals that speak to you. Perhaps a Handfasting, the honouring of ancestors, or the use of blessings from a particular culture or tradition. Discuss with your Celebrant and your partner how these elements might be adapted to resonate with both your beliefs. There are many ways to incorporate the sacred without alienating those who are more comfortable with the mundane.

Emma-and-Robert-160
© Matt Thompson

Careful Words

The language of a wedding ceremony can set the tone and quality for the whole day. Formal or informal, light-hearted or solemn; a good wedding Celebrant weaves together a mixture of tones and atmospheres to reflect the various energies of your life and the commitment you are making.

Choose words that suit both the intention and the individual/s involved. For example, you may refer to a blessing as a “wish” or describe someone’s sacred vow as a “heartfelt promise” to encapsulate the same intentions whilst avoiding overtly spiritual language.

Alternatively, if it is important to use words of an inherently spiritual nature, the Celebrant can set the scene by describing the intentions behind the words and acknowledging the reason why those particular ones have been chosen.

This builds a bridge of understanding between the guests and the couple that allows a wide range of both secular and sacred language and ritual to then be used.

handfasting
© Matt Thompson

Ritual Action

Ritual is the perfect tool for conveying ideas that are both sacred and secular.

Performing ritual is a human act, one that we have utilised since prehistory to mark important events and to make sense of the World around us. Ritual reaches us on an instinctive level; it communicates to us without our needing to fully understand the what or the why. So even if your guests or partner don’t fully understand your unique beliefs, the intention behind a successful ritual will still reach them on an emotional, human level.

An experienced Celebrant will help you to tailor existing rituals or devise new ones that embody sacred intentions whilst communicating in a secular language.

For example, to create a sacred space in which to speak wedding vows, you might ask your Bridesmaids to sprinkle flower petals around you both, while the guests are instructed to imagine a golden bubble of light covering you and the Celebrant speaks a Druidic verse, blessing the space.

The intention here is embodied in three separate acts: one purely physical, one imaginative and one sacred. This three-fold approach ensures everyone will understand and appreciate the significance of at least one, if not all of them. It also involves everyone in the doing, which is a powerful way of building connection and encouraging acceptance.

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Champion

Don’t be afraid to stand up for your beliefs and to request space for them to be honoured during your wedding day. Find the words and rituals that encompass both of your hearts and trust that they will reach your loved ones, even if they don’t fully understand or expect them.

Part of a Celebrant’s role is to embody and express both of your beliefs and desires with confidence and conviction. This does not mean your Celebrant needs to share your beliefs (though it can help!) only that she is willing, for the duration of your working relationship, to champion your preferences and needs and to give you the confidence to stand by them too.

Your Celebrant is your biggest fan and the most determined supporter of your ceremony choices, both in the lead up and on the day. Trust her to facilitate the coming together of your sacred and secular selves and to celebrate with you when those two become one!

happy celebrant
© Matt Thompson

Do you have the same beliefs as your partner? Do you worry about your guests understanding your spirituality or faith?

Let me know if I can help bring some clarity and connection on your special day.

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