I recently went to a wedding of one of my boyfriends old friends. It was quite religious with an opening prayer, lots of references to what the bible says about marriage, songs that were religious, more prayers and all that nonsense. 

My boyfriend, who is an atheist, mentioned that he would want that for his wedding because "it's tradition and there would be hell to pay from my family if there wasn't". I personally don't want all that garbage poisoning my wedding, and as for the family, it would be our wedding and not theirs. Why should we do things we don't want to placate them?

My question to you is, what would be right for an atheist? What is your opinion on how an atheist wedding should be? What is your opinion on having a religious wedding to satisfy family members?

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There are lots of financial benefits to having a spouse in the US. For example an insurance company will not let you have family coverage for your bf/gf  but you can for your spouse. Same with ownership of property and many other things

Then incorporate.

Declarations of love and the sweet perks that come from being married make it worth the while. Moerover there are legal issue that understanding every marriage goes through MANY rough patches, may actually make for wiser long term decisions first based out of an inconvenient process to get divorce, the money, the time, and eveyone else involved if there is more than you in the family, can make you wait long enough for feelings to be turned around. Its a lot easier to dissolve a friendship then go through a divorce legally.

The ceremony does deserve some gravitas placed on it. Coupling has proven to be very beneficial to health both physical and mental. But is not easy and should be viewed as the work it is. I know much more about myself from those coupling than I would have ever figured out on my own. And that in itself deserves a little pomp and circumstance!!

You can declare love more so without a legal contract that forces you to feel something forever.

I don't see how marriage is the epitome of coupling, when that's really just what clergy want you to think.  It's not more or less coupling than shackling two people together.

Besides, if your relationship is weak enough that the only thing holding you back from a break up is the tedious paperwork involved with the legal contract, guess what, it's not worth much.

Marriage doesn't change the relationship in the least bit, other than the commercial aspect of it like Adam said, and the legal paperwork. Everything else is already there. It's a label.

I am unmarried however my brother got married a few years ago. He and his wife are both non-religious and had a ceremony with no mention of any religion. But it was still a ceremony that felt significant. They did a ceremony with roses and the justice of the peace read something about how they can always have roses in their home as a reminder of their love etc. It was a short ceremony ~20 minutes and it was totally about THEM and their commitment to each other not any supernatural being. The ceremony wasn't in a church but at a purpose built wedding facility. It had big bright windows and a vaulted ceiling a lot like a church though. They kept it pretty small with about 30 people at the ceremony itself. I have always thought that religious reasons for marriage undermine your actual commitment to the other person. If I want to marry another person I want it to be about us not about what the big man in the sky would want me to do.  

It's your wedding; the only people whose satisfaction should be your concern is you and your groom.  If family members have a problem with it, their attendance is not required for the wedding to take place.

I'm an atheist married to a Christian. Her family had kittens when they found out we were getting married.  We eloped and got married at City Hall in New York City.

It is obvious that religious stuff bothers you. Therefore, nothing to discuss, your/his family members just have to live with it. After all it is your wedding not theirs. I find your friend's attitude hypocritical btw.

I find your friend's attitude hypocritical btw.

I know, I do too.

As with many things which were traditionally associated with religion, a wedding has many elements that speak to our humanity and should not necessarily be discarded simply because of bad associations.  I certianly think that wedding vows are a great tradition, and these have the added virtue of being as flexible as you want them to be, perhaps a vow to keep each other from getting religion in old age!  I even think that a wedding in a church with organ music playing wouldn't be such a bad thing, though I personally abhor the starchy formal dress that such events normally entail.  The point is that your wedding would be your wedding and you should thus choose which traditions to keep and which to junk to make it just what you'd like.  Definitely keep bridal registry, though. 

I actually just wrote a blog about atheist marriage a little over a week ago. Some of it should certainly be relevant to your questions.http://brainhulklogicsmash.blogspot.com/2013/02/atheist-marriage.html


I am an atheist, and I am also married. Oddly enough, this simple combination of those two facts results in some people becoming confused and sometimes even at odds. Perhaps I'll start with a theological picture of my marriage. As I stated already, I am an atheist. At the time of our marriage, my wife considered herself a Wiccan. As time went by her beliefs have wandered somewhere between atheism and her Wiccan beliefs. As of now I'd say that she's somewhat more Wiccan still than anything else. Now that you have a basic picture of our union, let's press on to the reactions and questions that sometimes come up...

How can you be married to someone with differing beliefs?

Is this really so hard to understand? People very rarely share every single belief and opinion that their spouse holds, so why should we expect theology to hold a special place where both sides must see eye-to-eye 100%? To be quite honest, the answer is quite simple. Mutual respect. She respects my beliefs, and I respect hers. We do not try to convert one another, or belittle the others theological stance. And when you actually get to know what someone believes you may sometimes find that there really is a lot that you may both actually agree on, even if the label of your favored theology may be different. If one or both parties are concerning themselves with proselytizing to the other, then there will be conflict in the relationship. However, we have no such conflict. Actually, we can talk about the subject matter for hours. Perhaps it is because we are both former Catholics. Or maybe it's because we both find theology fascinating. But we can sit and talk about the silly things that people believe, the logical problems, the beauty of the natural world and how it doesn't get the respect it deserves, and find that the time has flown past swiftly without our even noticing. So to those wondering if a marriage between those of differing theological opinions can work, yes... yes it can. But only if you respect one another and their beliefs.

How does one get married without religion?

Quite simply, actually. And often much cheaper than a church wedding. If you don't want to get married in a church to appease family, there is always the option of getting married at the courthouse. But if you are looking to still have a gathering of family and friends, you can do what we did and hire an officiant. If you do your homework, you can find someone to help you craft a wedding of your design. We wanted a wedding void of the Christianity to which we no longer subscribed. He agreed and also felt the the ceremony should be about us, and not anyone else. So we crafted a ceremony that was largely secular, but also included some nods to my wife's Pagan leanings. We rented a hall to hold the the wedding and reception in. To start, we exchanged rings at the back of the hall at the beginning of the ceremony as per an old medieval tradition. We had readings of poetry rather than scripture. We wrote our on vows (in which I reference nuclear fusion, in an arguably romantic way), we chose our own music for the start and finish of the ceremony, and we concluded the vows with a handfasting ceremony in place of the ring exchange. In the end you were left with a beautiful ceremony that family and friends could enjoy, was 100% legal, and god-free. And to be honest, I don't think anyone that didn't know that was our plan beforehand even noticed out omissions. So one can very easily get married and still make it a beautiful and meaningful event without the need to bow down to the template and requirements of the church. Oh, and no premarital counseling requiered!

Why get married if you're not religious? / Marriage is all about religion.

Why get married? the simple answer is love and commitment. That was true in our case anyway, but this answer may vary slightly from couple to couple. But let me start out by saying that I actually don't think that marriage is necessary for a couple to have a long-term committed relationship. In fact, some atheist's choose not to get married just because so many falsely believe that marriage is inherently religious. Let's be honest with ourselves... marriage isn't for everyone. But in our case, it's what we wanted. It is a symbol of our love and commitment, and also a symbolic marker of this new chapter in the story of our life and relationship. We had no worries that our marriage had to be 'blessed' by a priest or deity in order to last. After all, it is the individuals in a relationship that control it's health and vitality. Not to mention that if a deity is 'blessing' marriages, he's doing a pretty bad job since religious marriages have a slightly hire divorce rate than non-religions ones. The reasons to get married if you're not religious are honest and emotional. I personally favor this vision of marriage, rather than one that also includes conforming to what the church expects you to do. Should you rush into a marriage just because you find out you are pregnant? Or isn't it better to determine if the relationship is strong enough to fulfill the commitment you'd be entering into? If the long term bond isn't there, I feel that the marriage would be irresponsible, even though it may be what your church demands in order to align with expectations. But I contend an unhappy marriage and divorce would be worse for the child than two separate parents doing what the can outside of marriage. As I said before, marriage isn't for everyone, and the reasons people get married can vary greatly. But I feel content and in fact comforted that our marriage was about our mutual love, and nothing more.

As for the second statement that 'marriage is all about religion'... That's just downright false! I've heard it before (but luckily lest that the other questions), "Aren't you being a hypocrite if you are getting married as an atheist? Marriage is a religious institution!" Quite often a bit of all the previous questions is miked into their flawed 'reasoning', but the simple fact is that while marriage can be religious, it isn't inherently so. Some like to think that the church owns and invented marriage, but this couldn't be further from the case. Christianity invented marriage about as much as the invented the Christmas traditions we all enjoy. In short, they didn't! Marriage is much older than Christianity, just as Christmas is. And like the way Christianity 'borrowed' Pagan traditions and claimed them as their own, the also try to do the same with marriage. Sure there are some parts of Christian marriage that are unique to Christian marriage, but you can also say the same for Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Norse, Shinto, and all other religions takes on marriage. But that does not change the fact that marriage is much older than the religions that may try to claim sole ownership of the institution. Marriage actually predates written history, and at it's earliest known point seems to have centered around mating exclusivity. It wasn't until much later that religions started weaving themselves into marriage.

I'm hoping that I have shown you that marriage is not inherently religious, and that marriage involving the nonreligious it a very meaningful, and understandable institution, despite what those blinded by their faith may try to tell you.


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