to want a religious wedding?

(126 Posts)
flaquark Sun 29-Sep-13 11:13:35

I had always promised DP that if I ever got pregnant we would get married - so we are getting married.
He is letting me decide all the bits and things. I came to the decision that I wanted to get married in a Jewish ceremony.
We are both jewish but both raised secular and dont believe in a God. But do and did all the other bits.
DP doesnt mind either way so there we go.

I have had more than a couple of comments from people that we shouldnt be doing this, that it is distrispectful things like that.

And it has me doubting and thinking that people will think we are just doing it for a 'pretty' wedding day.

Because I think it's relevant - I'm adopted and dont look 'jewish' (being black with white parents does that) (technically means I'm a convert) so I think I tend to wear my Jewness on my sleeve a bit.


hackmum Sun 29-Sep-13 11:28:17

It's your wedding. I think you should do whatever makes you happy.

GirlWithTheDirtyShirt Sun 29-Sep-13 11:30:44

I'm afraid I think it's just plain weird to get married in a religious service when you don't believe in a God.

AgentZigzag Sun 29-Sep-13 11:32:04

What you privately think about God has nothing to do with anyone else.

Who is it making the comments, and how are they saying it?

AgentZigzag Sun 29-Sep-13 11:32:48

But if you don't believe in God why would it matter where you got married GirlWith? confused

There are plenty of pretty non religious places to get married so I don't think people will think you're only doing it for that. Do what you like, it's your wedding.

specialsubject Sun 29-Sep-13 11:36:49

plenty of black and mixed-race Jews around, you are not unique.

however as non-believers (me too) why do you want to stand there and make lots of promises to run a Jewish home and to live by the rules of a god that you don't think exists? I would struggle with that.

flaquark Sun 29-Sep-13 11:36:59

Friends, a few people I work with. Basically saying it is disrespectful. Or that I'm doing it for photos or to get extra presents (not sure how that one works)

nonmifairidere Sun 29-Sep-13 11:51:12

Are you serious, you are an atheist and want a religious marriage ceremony, then are surprised it raised the odd eyebrow. I loathe the way non-churchgoers, even if they believe, expect to use the church ceremonies when it suits them. This is no different. The Rabbi should tell you to get lost.

LondonInHighHeeledBoots Sun 29-Sep-13 12:03:26

I think how you marry is about your culture. it is your culture to get married in a trad jewish ceremony so do so rather than specific beliefs.

tell the people sticking their nose in that if they are so uncomfortable, they won't be getting an invite, that should shut them up.

I am having a full Catholic mass wedding as I was raised Catholic, not hugely practicing (I go to mass when dm drives me) but it is my culture and I just wouldn't feel married ifbit was a registry office wedding but that is just me. dp is not religious at all but respects that this is my culture and he is happy to join it.

PasswordProtected Sun 29-Sep-13 12:06:34

Many, many years ago I sang in our church choir. It was amazing the numbers of weddings we sang at, where you had never seen the bride or groom before. However, it was their choice to be married in a solemn, religious ceremony, which added some "gravitas" to the occasion, so I think you are perfectly within the bounds of reasonableness to want this.

flaquark Sun 29-Sep-13 12:07:57

I do understand if we didnt do anything but to me it's different.
It's the Shul that me and my brother had our Bar/Bat Mitzvah in, that we went/go to as a family on the 'important' days. We do passover and yom kippur and Rosh Hashannah and all that. So it isnt like we are just Jewish in name. And we plan to do the same with our children

special I know I'm not unique. I just guess it is that constant searching to have something to bind you to people more so.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sun 29-Sep-13 12:08:38

I couldn't say my vows to a God I didn't believe in.

DoJo Sun 29-Sep-13 12:09:09

I am surprised that people want to make their marriage vows to a god they don't believe in - it was only when patently atheist friends of mine got married in church that I realised just how much god stuff there was in the ceremony and felt sad for them that they were making all these empty promises on a day when they should be being completely sincere about their love for one another. I can also see how regular worshippers feel as though their beliefs are being 'used' by people who just want a pretty building to get married in and don't contribute to the church community. However, I wouldn't voice any of this to someone unless they had asked my opinion.

hiddenhome Sun 29-Sep-13 12:11:00

Have you formally converted? A person doesn't automatically become Jewish because they've been adopted into a Jewish family. You are automatically Jewish if you have Jewish birth mother, but otherwise, you have to formally convert.

If you don't believe in God, you should just stick to the registry office. It's disrespectful to use a place of worship just because you want the ceremony.

WorraLiberty Sun 29-Sep-13 12:11:59

It's the Shul that me and my brother had our Bar/Bat Mitzvah in, that we went/go to as a family on the 'important' days. We do passover and yom kippur and Rosh Hashannah and all that. So it isnt like we are just Jewish in name. And we plan to do the same with our children

And yet you don't believe in God? confused

specialsubject Sun 29-Sep-13 12:13:41

I'm puzzled too - why would non-believers do all that?

you sound more observant than many!

cookielove Sun 29-Sep-13 12:15:22

I originally wanted to get married in a church because they are pretty blush and often thought to me as an atheist it's just a building. If I could have had a registrar hold the cermony there I may have well gone through with it. However dh and I are both atheist and did not want an ounce of religion in our cermony so opted for a rather pretty cricket club instead.

I think it would have been hypocritical to get married in a church and really boring

Sirzy Sun 29-Sep-13 12:16:37

I don't understand why a non-believer would want a religious ceremony.

Your wedding, do what you want but expect some raised eyebrows.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 29-Sep-13 12:17:11

So do you believe or not?

I was christened and observe Easter,Christmas etc. I do not believe, agnostic if you will, I observe them out of tradition.

However I would never have a church wedding. I do feel it would be disrespectful to people of genuine faith.

If you believe - go ahead. But if you don't and only observe religious events out of tradition then I think you should rethink the religious wedding.

cookielove Sun 29-Sep-13 12:17:23

Posted to soon.

I think yabu!

On a side note the term non believer always tickles me.

flaquark Sun 29-Sep-13 12:20:09

hidden yep. Converted as a toddler and then obviously gave adult consent in having a bat mitzvah.
worra just the way we were both raised

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 29-Sep-13 12:23:39

But do you believe now op?

Otherwise it is disrespectful

WorraLiberty Sun 29-Sep-13 12:38:13

worra just the way we were both raised

You were raised by atheists who used religion as some sort of hobby?

Sorry I'm still confused

MrsBW Sun 29-Sep-13 13:05:33

I could no more get married in a church than say my vows to a celestial unicorn. I'd have felt like a massive hypocrit.

But plenty of people who don't believe in God still celebrate Christmas...

So I can't really get worked up anymore about non religious types getting married in Church. Each to their own.

roweeena Sun 29-Sep-13 13:19:37

If you don't 'believe it' don't get married in a religious ceremony - simples

hackmum Sun 29-Sep-13 14:20:27

There are lots of people who have a cultural attachment to religion, even if they don't believe. Belonging to a church or synagogue roots you in a particular community. There are loads of people who are ethnically Jewish who, while being non-believers, still love observing the different holy days because it gives them a sense of belonging to a longstanding tradition.

I imagine the rabbi would be happy with the OP's decision, on the basis that, if she still clings to the old rituals, she may still come back to the faith in the end.

Kemmo Sun 29-Sep-13 14:24:49

If you don't believe in god then there will be parts of any religious ceremony she you will effecting be lying.
IMO this would undermine the marriage related promises.

And yes I think it is offensive to people who do truly believe.
I come from a very religious family and there is no way I could have got married in church without trivialising and insulting their beliefs.

cantreachmytoes Sun 29-Sep-13 14:30:07

OP - do you truly not believe in the existence of God, or do you really mean that you're non-practicing, which would imply a faith, but not a very strong one?

LaFataTurchina Sun 29-Sep-13 14:33:00

I believe (Catholic) but I'm not in the least bit offended. I can understand the wanting to keep hold of your culture even if you don't believe in God.

I am planning to the whole shabang of big church wedding, baptising future children, then sending them to catholic schools - but it's probably only about 25% to do with religious conviction, and the other 75% with wanting to stay a part of my culture (Italian living in England) and making my future children have a similar childhood to mine (advent services etc.)

HopeS01 Sun 29-Sep-13 14:41:36

I am a Christian, and I won't marry in a church unless my husband is a Christian too.
Nor will I attend Christenings of atheists' children!!! angry

Why would you, like everyone has asked, want a religious ceremony when you are not religious!? Just because its "pretty"?! hmm

nonmifairidere Sun 29-Sep-13 14:41:38

Lafata - my x is Italian and seems to manage to keep in touch with his native culture without the assistance of the Catholic Church.


I'm a Christian and don't believe that God gives a shiny shit about where you get married. Can't even imagine God being 'offended', that's just fuckwitted.

A cultural reason is a fine reason to choose your Shul/church - at some point you may 'believe' again or more than now.

I don't want to preach but God loves you whether you know him now or not - and his followers built that building for you to use as part of the community.

HopeS01 Sun 29-Sep-13 15:00:20

Laurie, it's not about where it's about the promises you make, and whether you mean them or are reciting a script you don't even believe!

Not for me

I don't believe in everything I say in church
- afterlife, getting to reside with Jesus in heaven for example - that was in the church marriage service.

The essence of what they will say, they will likely believe - loving each other, bringing up the children in the Jewish faith, serving their community etc

Also, they're culturally Jewish - it's much less common to be culturally Christian

Apologies if I'm describing the Jewish faith not brilliantly but my friends who are culturally Jewish have Judaism in their life day to day - in the food, the celebrations , the concept of community or family

It's much more integrated into the fabric of every day life in a way that nominal Christianity is not.

HopeS01 Sun 29-Sep-13 15:09:35

You're a Christian and you don't believe that Jesus is your Saviour and you will spend eternity with him?
Oh my... hmm

Anyway, I don't want to hijack this thread talking about the difference between Christians and "Christians".

I do believe you can't read or interpret

I said I didn't believe in an afterlife or in heaven - that's pretty common amongst liberal Christians I know

A know a couple of atheist Jewish people. I think there is a lot of emphasis on maintaining Jewish culture which is very important in a way that maintaining Christian culture isn't. Talk to your Rabbi. If s\he is happy, and you are happy, sod the haterz grin

HopeS01 Sun 29-Sep-13 15:23:31

I can do both.
I do believe you haven't read or interpreted the Bible.

I'm not a bible literalist

It's fine if you are, Christianity is a broad church.

How about you show me the same courtesy.

LookingThroughTheFog Sun 29-Sep-13 15:29:51

^ I think it is offensive to people who do truly believe.^

I'm another truly believer, and I'm not offended.

To be honest, I think that it's wrong to turn away anyone who wants to stand before God in any capacity.

geekgal Sun 29-Sep-13 17:20:04

Jewish atheism is a thing, you know (speaking as one...):

I say go for it, it's great to have a wedding that acknowledges your roots!

Chunderella Sun 29-Sep-13 18:52:15

Yanbu. Unfortunately, as this thread shows, there are a lot of people who can't and/or won't understand why a non-believer might want to have a ceremony for cultural reasons, or because they find meaning and importance in continuing the rituals of their family and ancestors. Some of them will insist on sharing it with you.

SamG76 Sun 29-Sep-13 19:05:23

As always when religion is being talked about, 75% of what is being said on the thread is b******s. Being a bride at a Jewish wedding is not a speaking part, and the groom doesn't say much. Vows and the like are therefore irrelevant. There is a contract that is signed by the witnesses (not even the partners) in which the groom agrees to make certain financial provision for the bride during the marriage and in the case of divorce.

It follows that no Jewish person could possibly be offended by atheists getting married under the auspices of a rabbi - quite the opposite. And similarly, the rabbi, as long as he recognises both parties as Jewish and capable of marriage, has no power to tell the parties that he won't marry them.

Good luck to the OP! Mazeltov!

WestieMamma Sun 29-Sep-13 20:36:15

I think how you marry is about your culture. it is your culture to get married in a trad jewish ceremony so do so rather than specific beliefs.

^^ this.

It's the same reasoning behind my baby being baptised. My culture (Irish Catholic) involves babies being baptised. My belief is in adult baptism.

sonlypuppyfat Sun 29-Sep-13 20:46:21

Who would you say your vows too? Would they mean anything

LouiseAderyn Sun 29-Sep-13 21:02:21

I am an atheist who got married in a church. I honestly believe that if god did exist he/she would have no problem with me wanting a pretty location for my wedding. What people think of it is of no consequence to me.

I dont feel like a hypocrite, because I was making my vows to my dh, not to god.

If it is important to you from a cultural perspective, then that is what matters, not the judgement of other people.

Besides, church weddings tend to keep the parents and grandparents happy!

SamG76 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:09:57

Sonlypuppyfat - there are no vows at a Jewish wedding. Problem solved!

sonlypuppyfat Sun 29-Sep-13 21:26:40

confused every days a school day!!

Catsize Sun 29-Sep-13 21:32:06

I have been in a civil partnership for seven years. As Christians, we would have loved to be married in a church, so this sort of thing always grates a lot a bit.
However, what troubles me even more is your marriage being conditional on your pregnancy. Eh? If you hadn't got pregnant, you wouldn't have married him?! confused

dancingwithmyselfandthecat Sun 29-Sep-13 21:41:56

I'm Jewish and see no issue with it. Jewish identity goes beyond the religious, and that is accepted by most, if not all rabbis. If you are Jewish according to the synagogue you want to get married in, then you have a right to get married there. In Jewish law a wedding is a contract between two people unlike Christianity where it is a sacrament andtherefore there is not the same issue of being secular.

SamG76 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:44:54

Thanks, dwm&cat. You put it much better (and more tactfully) than I did!

TeaAndABiscuit Sun 29-Sep-13 23:54:52

If it's important to you then who cares what anyone else thinks or your reasons for doing it.

Lablab Mon 30-Sep-13 00:24:33

Louise, what an obnoxious post.

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 07:12:37

why is it lablab? I think it hurts no one to get married in a church, even if you only do it because it is pretty. If god exists then I doubt he would mind. The views of people who would object to someone doing the thing that makes them happy on their wedding day are not worthy of consideration.

if it turns out that god does exist and 'does' mind, then I'll take it up with him wheb the tine comes!

monkeymamma Mon 30-Sep-13 08:07:15

I got married in a church and am not Christian. It's massively insulting to imply it was for the pretty building! It's odd so many atheists on here are able to show so much respect for religion and none for culture. I am culturally Christian, I grew up in Christian communities, learned the stories of that faith, visited ancient churches and cathedrals, looked at art based entirely, for 100s of years, on the Christian story. I also celebrate Christmas every year, a lovely mixture of Christian, pagan and Victorian traditions (as I'm sure do most of the people on here shouting hypocrite). It is a sign of how seriously I take my marriage that I wanted to make those vows somewhere that had huge cultural and emotional importance for me. Iirc there were not promises of faith in the ceremony but only to do with marriage (yes, in the eyes of god - but a number of Christians have now posted to make clear that the god they know would not be offended by this). I didn't feel I was lying or making promises I couldn't keep.

IMO it is disgraceful that the only options for atheists are to marry in church (and thus become as I did and the op has done, subjects of a lot of very nasty comments, many to my face and from close friends), marry at enormous expense in a hotel or specialist wedding venue (a cost which I can well imagine is enough to put some couples off getting married altogether) or marry in a grey, faceless registry office (and lucky you if your local registry office is not like this ... Many definitely are). Not as disgraceful as not allowing same sex weddings in church, but that's a whole other thread...

YANBU op, please do what feels right and natural to you - and I hope you have wonderful day!

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 08:25:14

louise, I think (contrary to your opinion) that you would find that your views on this are insulting to many, but according to you, they are not worthy of your consideration. Pointless me pointing it out really as you won't care, but there we go... sad

Trills Mon 30-Sep-13 08:30:56

I would find it very odd, if I knew that you did not believe in God, that you had chosen to make serious important promises to one another while essentially lying.

Unless you think you can somehow have the ceremony without mentioning God or promising anything to God (who you think does not exist)?

I'm another Jewish atheist

I think it's difficult for Christians in the UK to understand because they have no equivalent, where observance and belief are separate things

personally I am not observant or a believer but for most Jews it's about how you live your life not what you believe in

especially when it comes to life events like birth, marriage. death

people from catholic countries tend to find it easier to understand

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 08:53:04

The church is endorsed by the state - we have bishops sitting in the houses of parliament snd therefore I do believe the church should provide it's services to anyone who requires it.

I dont recall my church objecting much, when it took the fees for conducting my wedding. And yes, they were aware that I was not a church goer etc.

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 09:01:33

Precisely Louise. The Church of England is obliged to marry those who meet the criteria, with a discretion re:divorcees and those who have undergone gender reassignment. Perhaps surprisingly, there are no criteria as to faith. This is partly because it is the Established Church. Could write 15,000 words on this but won't.
The obligation of the CofE to marry you doesn't make your attitude any less offensive I am afraid.
Hope your photos were lovely, even though your motives were not.

Chunderella Mon 30-Sep-13 09:21:37

Trills did you not read the bit about how the OP will indeed be having a ceremony without mentioning God or making any vows? I admit I didn't know that until now, and I've actually been to a Jewish wedding quite recently, but it was right here in the thread! The discussion about different religious attitudes here has been very illuminating. I'm not C of E and am not keen on the existence of a state church. But since we do have one, I wouldn't be impressed to be denied marriage there. They shouldn't be able to have it both ways. Heartinaspade's point about RC countries is a good one. I'm Catholic too, for me it's a cultural identity rather than a religious belief, and obviously this is something Jewish people understand better than many. There's kind of a similarity between the two in that aspect. And yes, it's quite funny that so many people seem to have such a double standard in that it's fine to do something for religious reasons but apparently not cultural.

Catsize I sympathise. However, the problem with the situation you face is that gay people can't get married in a church, not that straight people whose motives you don't approve of can. Also, do you know the Metropolitan Community Church at all?

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 09:23:04

My motives were to marry the man I loved in as nice a place as I could find. I got married before it was possible to choose hotels etc for the ceremony and my only legal alternative was a poky room in a grotty building. No regrets here from that perspective - my photos are lovely and I dont consider my motives to be bad either!

On a wider note, I do not believe that churches should have the right to marry people unless they are going to provide the service for all people who have the legal right to wed. I think they should only be allowed to carry out blessings and the legal part should be carried out by the state.

My only real regret is in choosing a place to get married that would have denied my darling sister the same right ( she is gay). I wish I had thought that through a lot more.

Mizza76 Mon 30-Sep-13 09:26:30

In the Jewish marriage ceremony, there are no vows to god or anything like that. As is appropriate - in Judaism, what you do is far more important than what you believe. Perhaps the people in your work place don't understand this crucial difference between Judaism and Christianity. You can be a Jewish atheist and still be happily Jewish. They sound extremely mean anyway. Why are they trying to ruin your special day?

Trills Mon 30-Sep-13 09:39:40

how the OP will indeed be having a ceremony without mentioning God or making any vows?

Er, then this is the obvious answer.

The people making the comments are not aware that it is possible to have a "Jewish" wedding that is Jewish in tradition but does not actually mention God. And so they are (perfectly reasonably) commenting that they think it would be weird to have a wedding that mentions a God that you do not believe in.

On churches and same sex marriages - I think that everyone should have to have a civil ceremony (or even just a civil paper-signing) at a government-registered place, and then they can go have whatever vows/pictures/cake/dresses they like at any place of their choosing (church/mosque/hotel/woods/beach/back garden). No one religion's church should be able to do more or less than any other.

Maryz Mon 30-Sep-13 09:46:43

I think Louise's attitude is very reasonable.

It's the same reasoning many people have about baptising children. If there is a god, will he really mind if you follow religious customs without fully believing in all the laws around organised religion. And if god exists, and minds, does anyone want anything to do with such a god?

And if there is no god, does it matter?

Personally I believe there is a lot of cultural significance to religious ceremonies that simply isn't replicated in most civil ceremonies. And that many people who were brought up with those ceremonies surrounding birth, marriage and death would miss them. Certainty of belief isn't a prerequisite for wanting a link with the culture.

Maryz Mon 30-Sep-13 09:49:10

And I also think the fact that the op is adopted is very significant.

I know it's very important to dd, for example, to feel included in things to do with us (her adoptive family), to know about family traditions and to inherit family traits and belongings. It is probably much more important to her than it is to ds2, who inherits blood and therefore is more confident in his belonging.

If that makes sense?

Chunderella Mon 30-Sep-13 10:03:59

Trills although some people's posts were made before Sam and Dancing explained, yours wasn't.

Interesting point re being adopted Maryz. can see where you're coing from.

ABaconAndOnionTart Mon 30-Sep-13 12:48:53

Louise, although my opinion is not worthy of your consideration, I will offer it anyway.

Getting married in church is an act of worship before God. Most of the traditions of marriage, family sat on either side, white dress etc are derived from the Bible.

The words Dearly Beloved are an invitation to the congregation to partake in that act of worship, and the words that the bride and groom say are a covenant with God.

By reducing this down to have a pretty venue is rather insulting to those people who think that churches are more than wedding venues.

Perhaps you need to consider how God would feel about you performing a false act of worship. And also how it makes Christians feel.

Maryz Mon 30-Sep-13 12:49:58

Are you a Christian ABacon?

Because in my church, everyone is welcome.

ABaconAndOnionTart Mon 30-Sep-13 13:04:59

Everyone is welcome in my church too, they wouldn't want to be married there though, it's not pretty enough!

We do ask that people only take communion if they believe, so why should making promises to God be any different?

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 13:07:24

It's daft to say to an atheist 'how do you think god would feel?' So far as I am concerned there is no god. Thus for me, a church is a pretty building and as an institution has benefited from public money (historically, at least) and state endorsement. I consider that I have a right to use it . If the time cones when church and state are completely separate, I will reassess my position on this.

My using it as a pretty location takes nothing from you - you are not compelled to attend the wedding of someone whose views offend you.

As I said earlier, I considered that I was making my vows to dh, rather than to god.

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 13:07:51

chunderella, my issue with this is not so much as a gay woman but as a Christian. Sure, it is galling that Louise can marry in church and I can't (even more galling for the vicar if he/she is gay!) but that is an issue for the church to sort out. What bothers me more is the covenant of marriage, and the promises made to a God the participants do not believe in. I find that insulting to people who do. It makes the ceremony very disingenuous in my opinion as the vows are not just made between two people, as suggested by Louise. I have been to a number of atheists' weddings in church, including my brother's, and found them a bit odd. Their lack of belief made their vows less sincere in my opinion.

Equally, there is a part of me that would rather have atheists in church than out of them.

For what it is worth Louise, I too am of the opinion that everyone should have to have a State wedding with a religious element later if they so choose, until everyone can marry in the Established Church. I am a somewhat liberal Christian in favour of disestablishment until the gender recognition/divorcee/same-sex matters are changed. shock

Think how offended proper vegetarians got on a recent thread by people who ate fish, occasional chicken etc. calling themselves vegetarian. Then multiply that by lots.

Anyway, conscious of this going somewhat off-thread...

Maryz Mon 30-Sep-13 13:09:39

So suppose someone wanted to get married in your church. They had been born in the parish, baptised there, gone to church all their childhood, their parents still attended, but they were no longer active believers (they still go at Christmas and Easter and when visiting their families).

Can they get married there? Because it is family tradition, part of their culture?

I don't see why not. Many people lose faith as young adults and regain it in later life.

I don't see any loving god deciding that people can't get married or make vows in "his" church, whether they believe or not.

Thepoodoctor Mon 30-Sep-13 13:21:25

On the slightly flakey basis of having a close Orthodox friend at college, I understand the points others have made about cultural Judaism and would say go for it.

As an adoptive mother of two children who are ethnically different from me, I can understand why you might find it especially important to honour your adoptive family's cultural traditions. So would say doubly go for it smile

Good luck!

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 13:23:00

My one regret is that I took advantage of something that would have been denied to my sister. At the time, the discrimination against gay people hadn't affected me so I didnt think about it, which I am ashamed about now. If I was getting married now, I would choose differently.

Am on my phone so cant scroll back but to the poster who said all the traditions of marriage are tied up in religion, that kind of reads as if you dont think atheists should be wearing the white dress etc, either.

My vows didn't have less meaning because I am a non believer. I meant every word. Plenty of religious people have made their vows to god and still ended up breaking them. Vows, no matter who they are made before, are only as significant as their importance to the people making them, iyswim. I've put it a bit clumsily, but I hope it makes sense

Someone will be along in a minute to correct me if I'm wrong, but in Germany you have to get married at the registry office, which is where all the legal stuff is done. If you then want to get married (or celebrate your union, or however you want to put it) in a church or synagogue or on the beach, you go ahead and do that. I have a feeling it's the same in France and Poland.

OP you are not being unreasonable - I think you should have the ceremony you want.

And one more aside (sorry for derailing OP)

When DH and I got married I think it must have been in the most liberal church in the world. The vicar was a gay woman and she offered us a secular humanist version of the wedding ceremony where God would not be mentioned at all! We chose the traditional one...

I also believe it was (one of the) first churches in the world that married gay couples. I am very proud of this - United Church of Canada.

droppedscones Mon 30-Sep-13 13:39:20

I think, op, that you can't please everyone all of the time, and this is clearly one of those situations. So, yanbu and you should just please yourself and have courage in your own convictions. Am I the only one singing 'then I saw her faace, now I'm a believer to themselves?

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 14:02:56

hearts, you are right. They do not have Established churches. That is the difference. It is the same here in some cases. For example, a Catholic wedding is not automatically recognised legally unless there is a civil element or the officiator is registered under civil law. Wales has The Church in Wales, which is disestablished, but retains an obligation to marry and automatic legal recognition of its weddings for reasons too long for this post.

Chunderella Mon 30-Sep-13 14:29:16

Ok catsize, thank you for spelling out your position. But I should tell you that I find it extremely offensive for anyone to suggest that my agnosticism means I should not be married in the church that my grandparents donated money to build and were founder members of, where my parents got married, where I and a couple of dozen other members of my family were baptised, where I have said goodbye to loved ones and that is one of the centres of my local community. Or that I should not participate in the rituals that my ancestors have engaged in for centuries. The implication that cultural identity means so little is pretty appalling to me, actually. And the less we say about the judgement you feel entitled to pass on others vows, the better- especially as you were doing it in a church!

Tiptops Mon 30-Sep-13 14:38:32


I can't understand why you want to make your wedding vows to/ before a God you don't believe in?

It is disrespectful to people who believe in God, I'm not surprised you've had comments. Participating in festivals out of tradition is irrelevant, if you don't believe in God then it's unfair to have a religious wedding.

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 14:44:16

Eh? Whoa! Where has that come from?! Besides, agnosticism is different entirely to atheism.
Just interested in how people feel they can enter into a covenant with a God in which they do not believe. I listen to the words they and the vicar say and think 'but bride and groom, you don't believe any of this stuff'. Is that passing judgment? And I am surprised that people think that people who DO believe will be entirely comfortable with this.
The cultural heritage point is entirely different and one I personally haven't addressed, so please don't throw fire balls! brew

Catsize Mon 30-Sep-13 14:45:27

My post was directed at chunderella by the way, not you tiptops.

eeyore2 Mon 30-Sep-13 15:03:11

I really hope you ignore any ignorant comments and go ahead with your Jewish wedding ceremony! As others here have said Judaism is much more about what you do than what you believe. No rabbi would ever interrogate you about your precise beliefs regarding "God, the universe and everything" before proceeding with the wedding planning, because it's just not relevant. What is relevant is that you will be honouring your culture and heritage, celebrating an important life event according the time-honoured traditions of your people, and affirming your place within a long chain of history. On a side note, you will also be helping your future children in case they ever wish to marry another Jew as it is enormously easier to get approval for a synagogue marriage if your parents have a valid Jewish marriage certificate. I know of several people for whom this has been a real blessing, even though their parents were certainly not 'believers'.

Chunderella Mon 30-Sep-13 15:03:48

Well I don't believe in God, I just don't not believe either. As such, entering into a covenant with God was not important for my marriage vows. Clearly it is for some people, my DH included, which I respect. However, my reasons for participating in the ritual were different but no less valid. I wonder catsize whether you think it would be acceptable for me or someone from my background to feel uncomfortable with eg a convert engaging in a Catholic marriage ceremony, when it is not their cultural background and they don't have the same understanding as I do of what it is to come from the community? I don't, btw, if you feel Catholic that's good enough for me. But if you think one is ok you should really feel the same about the other...

And 'their lack of belief made their vows less sincere in my opinion' is absolutely passing judgement.

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 15:04:08

How is it unfair tiptops? It takes nothing away from you, if a non believer gets married in a church.

I find it a bit strange that religious people I know, who have subsequently broken their vows, are deemed to have meant them more than someone like me, who hasn't!

I thought Christianity was supposed to be tolerant and welcoming and non judgemental.

SybilRamkin Mon 30-Sep-13 15:22:30

You might find that the Rabbi won't marry you if you admit to being atheist.

If you do get married in a Jewish ceremony, you will need to lie and agree to statements you do not in fact believe. Do you really want to begin your married life by lying in front of friends and family?

I don't have an issue with you doing that (it's your life) but I personally wouldn't like to do that, and I suspect it may make some friends and family uneasy.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best of luck and happiness for your wedding, I'm sure it will be lovely no matter what you do! flowers

SamG76 Mon 30-Sep-13 15:49:24


Have you read any of this thread?

"You might find that the Rabbi won't marry you if you admit to being atheist."

No you won't. He won't ask, and even if he did he wouldn't be entitled not to marry you.

"you will need to lie and agree to statements you do not in fact believe"

No - as explained above you don't make any statement at all except for turning up in a dress, so you won;t be lying

"I suspect it may make some friends and family uneasy"

As explained above, anyone with the most basic understanding of Judaism will be delighted for you

Pigsmummy Mon 30-Sep-13 16:10:53

I am a religious person and I wouldn't mind if you wanted to marry in our church, inclusion, the more the merrier, however in my religion you would have to declare a belief in God and the service is very religious. As a believer I can't see why you wouldn't want to say your vows to God.

I think that you are naive to not expected some back lash though and I wonder what the Rabbi would say if he knew your atheist status.

ABaconAndOnionTart Mon 30-Sep-13 16:40:26

Louise, I can only explain it by saying that Christians feel that they have a close, loving relationship with God. As you clearly do not believe in God, saying you don't think He would mind is like me saying I don't think your dh would mind you going on holiday without him, for example.

I clearly have no idea about what your dh would mind about or not, as I don't know him. Equally I don't feel you have a right to say what God does or doesn't mind.

Whilst I respect your decision not to believe in God, I feel that you should respect others who do.

sashh Mon 30-Sep-13 16:50:39

I'm puzzled too - why would non-believers do all that?

For the same reason loads of people do Xmas who don't believe it.


Personally I wouldn't, I would feel I was insulting people who do believe.

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 17:22:58

Bacon, I do respect your right to believe in god, but really you are in no more position to say what god would or wouldn't mind than I am, since neither of us is in a position to ask.

flaquark Mon 30-Sep-13 17:36:56


To those who asked, No I dont believe in God. worra no not a hobby. Simply (as others have explained way better than me) it is part of who we are

pigs Sam explained it way better than I could. As did others. Maybe you are right that it is that fact that Jewish ideas of cultural and what you do as part of that are different

Those who said about me being adopted, I think your right. It is doubly important (to me) to have things that link me more so to my family an culture when I dont look like I fit. As I said I tend to wear it on my sleeve

catsize No I wouldnt. Never be fussed about getting married. DP has been asking to marry me for about 5 years. So my agreement with him was that I would marry him if and when I got pregnant.

SamG76 Mon 30-Sep-13 17:44:24

Before anyone asks, being pregnant wouldn't worry the rabbi either!

ABaconAndOnionTart Mon 30-Sep-13 17:55:33

Louise, I take it you have read the bible then?

HarderToKidnap Mon 30-Sep-13 17:56:48

Judaism is completely different to Christianity in that its a religion of action, not belief. You can go to shul every shabbas, marry in shul, be bar mitzvahed etc without a shred of belief and that is OK. Christianity is based in belief and so most Christians will absolutely not get it. Don't bother discussing it with anyone who isn't Jewish really, this is one area that even the most atheist non Jew might struggle to get.

Mazel tov by the way, hope you have a wonderful wedding and a fabulous marriage.

LouiseAderyn Mon 30-Sep-13 18:32:53

You'll have to explain that Bacon, as I haven't read a Bible since school.

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 11:00:05

I grew up semi-Christian - was baptised, sang in church choir, sang hymns at school, went to church services with school. It is part of my heritage and although I am now a humanist I still enjoy Christmas and singing hymns etc. Some people may think that's hypocritical and I can take that on the chin.

But despite my cultural attachment to the church I did not get married in a church because I believe that any vows I took in front if a God that I did not believe in would be pointless, null and void. I can't understand people who think that it is ok to get married in a church or other place of worship for a religion that they do not believe in, the vows would be completely meaningless. I just can't get my head around it at all.

But I wish you a happy wedding whatever you decide to do!

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 11:02:19

And I don't think bring black or not 'looking' Jewish had anything to do with it, all that matters is if your heart you can stand by vows that you took in the name of/eyes of/in front of a God that you do not believe in x

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 11:02:43

And I don't think being black or not 'looking' Jewish had anything to do with it, all that matters is if your heart you can stand by vows that you took in the name of/eyes of/in front of a God that you do not believe in x

Viviennemary Tue 01-Oct-13 11:10:26

I lived near a Jewish lady. She said you can only be Jewish if your biological mother is Jewish. Don't know how true this is but it's what I was told. I think YANBU to want a Jewish wedding but are being a massive hypocrite to stand up at a wedding ceremony making promises if you have no intention of keeping them.

SamG76 Tue 01-Oct-13 11:36:21

BbW/ Vivien

This is the last time I'll say it. No vows/ no promises/no mention of God by the bride or groom at a Jewish wedding. Rabbi is not required but is usually there though as a witness. Ergo - no hypocrisy.

Also, Vivien - you can convert to Judaism, whether or not as part of adoption. Once someone has converted, it is considered a very serious offence to treat them differently to those who are born Jewish, or even to mention this fact in public (not sure if MN counts - probably not if anon!).

Preciousbane Tue 01-Oct-13 11:46:13

I don't understand people wanting a religious wedding if they are atheists. I refused to marry DH in church because he is an atheist so opted for a civil ceremony instead even though I'm a Christian. He was fine with getting married in church but it didn't sit comfortably.

Sixteen years on and he is still an atheist and I'm still a Christian I have thought I would like to get our marriage blessed but DH would need an epiphany entirely of his own for me to agree.

I like Blackberrybakewells post and also wanted to say I have attended one humanist wedding and it was really such a lovely ceremony. Probably the most inclusive and moving one I have ever attended.

LouiseAderyn Tue 01-Oct-13 11:48:11

Blackberry I am almost speechless at that post, but not quite, so here goes.

It makes no sense to say to a non believer who is planning a church wedding, that their vows are completely meaningless, but hope you have a nice wedding anyway. You' ve really insulted all those people who viewed their ceremonies as making vows to their partner rather than to god and then tried to say something nice at the end. Its okay to hold the view that our vows mean jack shit, but at least have the courage of your convictions and not put that 'have a nice wedding' stuff at the end of a huge insult. Unless it was meant in a passive aggressive way? Hard to read tone sometimes on MN.

And if people had RTFT properly they eould know the OP is having a Jewish ceremony and doesn't have to promise anything to god anyway.

frogspoon Tue 01-Oct-13 11:56:52

I am Jewish, have many secular Jewish friends who still do several customs and traditions, and want to marry Jewish and have a Jewish wedding, but fundamentally say they don't believe any of it. It's not an unusual situation

It's your wedding, not really anyone else's business.

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 12:42:52

Louise no passive aggressiveness here.

I do genuinely hope the op has a lovely wedding, of course, why would I not? I hope that anyone who gets married has a lovely wedding, be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Scientologists, atheists, humanists, church of the flying spaghetti monster or whatever else.

You say that I have insulted those who choose to make their vows to their partners rather than to God. Seeing as I am one of those people that wouldn't really make sense.

Did you mean that I have insulted those who make their vows in front of God i.e. in a religious ceremony, but actually didn't really mean the bit that involved God and just really wanted to make their vows to their partner?

Viviennemary Tue 01-Oct-13 12:53:51

The OP herself mentioned the fact in public that she wasn't born Jewish so how are we supposed to know it's a grave wrong to mention it. confused And the OP didn't say she had converted to Judaism. she should do what she wants and not ask people if she doesn't like what's being said. IMO.

MortifiedAdams Tue 01-Oct-13 12:56:59

I would feel like a hypocrite having a religious wedding as I literally wouldnt believe the words I would be saying.

Its a fake.

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 13:03:40

I am curious as to how a ceremony can be Jewish but not have any mention of God or religion? Are there no religious connotations at all? Otherwise what makes it a Jewish wedding rather than a non Jewish wedding?! Serious question!

SamG76 Tue 01-Oct-13 13:07:39

Vivien - the point about conversion wasn't meant to criticize you, but rather to show that there aren't multiple tiers of Jews, with converts being at the bottom, and there are safeguards to try to ensure they are not made to feel uncomfortable. Clearly OP mentioned it herself, and it's not an issue on this thread.

SamG76 Tue 01-Oct-13 13:14:33

BBW - a Jewish wedding is the signing by witnesses of a ketubah, which is an Aramaic document in which the groom promises to look after his wife and pay her certain amounts if he leaves her. He also gives her a ring. You can google "ketubah" if you want to know more about it, and you can find all sorts of Jewish weddings on you-tube.

There are some blessings, eg over a cup of wine, but they're just padding to the actual ceremony, and they are not made by the bride or groom. No-one would be bothered about the bride or groom's theological understanding or lack of it.

Viviennemary Tue 01-Oct-13 13:14:40

Thank you Sam I misunderstood. Sorry. I looked it up and it is wrong to say a person isn't as Jewish as the next person if they have converted. I've learnt something today!

LouiseAderyn Tue 01-Oct-13 13:40:27

BlackBerry, the way I viewed my wedding was that I was making a legally binding agreement and the person conducting the ceremony had been given that authority by the state.
I didnt view the vows as being made before God, but to my dh in the presence of a legal body.

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 13:49:38

Louise did you get married in a church in a religious ceremony?

Blackberrybakewell Tue 01-Oct-13 13:59:22

Sam thanks for the info, I will look that up.

So, in rudimentary terms, a Jewish wedding is cultural rather than religious and is therefore actually a civil service rather than anything in the eyes of God? If so then the op has got her response to anyone that questions her on her decision to have a Jewish wedding. It sounds like a misunderstanding about the assumption that a Jewish wedding must be, well, Jewish!

Always good to expand one's knowledge!

candycoatedwaterdrops Tue 01-Oct-13 14:28:47

flaquark I am Jewish too and my thoughts and feelings about God are very complex. However, I love all the traditions, festivals, the culture and the family focus which makes me a very proud Jew. As a few others have said, many people don't understand the cultural aspect of being Jewish. I do though and I get where you're coming from and I would feel the same way as you. I've never met a Rabbi who wouldn't welcome you with open arms and they love people who think differently and question. I've had some wonderful debates about the existence of Gods with several well-respected Rabbis and I've been surprised at how willing they listen and have said things to make me think and have never tried to change my mind or try to prove me wrong.

Mazel Tov on your upcoming wedding and the new baby. Go with what feels right in your heart. flowers

LouiseAderyn Tue 01-Oct-13 15:06:52

Yes I did. I wanted to get married in a nice place, rather than a grotty register office and as I said up thread, as long as the church is endorsed by the state and benefits from that association ( for ex, by having bishops in House of Lords) then I feel entitled to use the church.

I have been to some weddings which were very full on in their religious content - my friend's wedding had a lot of talk about marrying 'in the fear of God'. Mine wasn't like that and I would have deliberately avoided that. Mine was relaxed and funny at times and the vicar was very inclusive of our child and it was lovely. But, yes it had a religious element. I still feel that the religious part was incidental and the vows were a promise between me and dh. I meant them and so they have meaning. Vows are about intention and how you behave having made them.

Lilacroses Tue 01-Oct-13 15:19:44

It's your decision Op. I have some Jewish friends who felt very similarly to you. They feel culturally Jewish but are not religious. The mark the important times of the year with their children like you plan to and they would not have considered NOT having a traditional Jewish wedding. Up to them. It was certainly a lovely occasion.

I am gay and got married in a registry office but I would not have married in a church even if that was an option. I'm not religious at all and it would feel meaningless to me. However, I was brought up that way so it isn't part of my family tradition in any way whatsoever whereas it is for you and your partner.

Do what you both feel is right, it's your wedding.

I can completely understand that the OP wants the Jewish cultural element on her wedding day. I can't for the life of me see why anyone should be 'offended'.

I am also pleased that Louise thinks that churches are 'pretty'. I think that if I were an atheist I wouldn't like them!

Lilacroses Tue 01-Oct-13 15:20:42

Oh, and there was nothing grotty about the registry office!

LouiseAderyn Tue 01-Oct-13 15:59:27

Sorry Lila, I didn't mean that all registry offices are grotty - only my one at the time of my wedding. It has now been moved to a much more appealing building, which I wiuld hsve been very happy to get married in!

flaquark Tue 01-Oct-13 22:53:50

Vivien I did mention that I'm technically a convert
blackberry kind of basically. It isnt a 'sacrement' in the way it is under christiannity (done under jewish law and traditions. It isnt even a mitzvah (commandment). Having children is but marriage never has been so it's more cultural, legal and traditional. (it has been a long time since I was sat in a room learning those things)

Thanks Sam way way better at explaining than I ever could be.


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