Helping Your Family Understand Your Interfaith Wedding

by: Michael Kabel

More couples marry outside the their faith with each passing year. As the world grows smaller and communities and cultures intersect and weave together, the coming together of couples has naturally followed that merging.

While previous eras may have forbid interfaith ceremonies, modern times call for modern changes, and even the most traditional families can find themselves welcoming a new faith or entirely new culture into their lives. Or, unfortunately, they may not. It then becomes incumbent on the bride and groom to help the family understand both the faith itself and their own reasons for embracing it into their lives.

Getting certain family members to understand a new faith and what it means for the family's own spirituality is a delicate matter, to be sure. But it's not an impossible goal either, and should be handled with care and respect for both faiths.

Don't try to sell the new faith, or be a spokesperson for its virtues.

Often times many men and women attempt to convince family members of the validity of a faith or idea by sharing their enthusiasm. But that approach just as often leads to skepticism or even suspicion.

Basically, people don't like to be preached to, especially about faiths and theologies divergent from their own traditions. Attempting to win family members over by explanations can likely backfire, leaving the family believing that the bride or groom is simply being disingenuous or insincere.

Instead, the wedding couple should take an affirmative stance explaining that the interfaith service is not meant as disrespectful to either faith but rather an open acknowledgment of both.

Demonstrate that respect by showing family members the interfaith ceremony itself.

Family members who understand exactly how the interfaith ceremony will play out are much more inclined to feel accepting of the unfamiliar. Marrying couples can explain the format of the interfaith ceremony and even walk the family members through it, describing how both faiths will hold significance.

Have the interfaith officiants explain the ceremony to the family members.

If one officiant is performing the ceremony, the marrying couple may ask them to give a talk to family members about what the ceremony will mean and how it will apply to both faiths represented. As above, the key to remember is openness and communication. As the family accepts the respect that the marrying couple feels for both faiths, they'll likely feel more relaxed about the wedding itself.

Understanding dual faiths past the wedding.

Another source of reassurance for traditional families may lie in the married couples life after the wedding and honeymoon. Parents especially will be relieved to know that the practicing of their faith will likely continue once the marriage celebration is over – that that won't stop because the bride or groom has married outside the faith.

Parents will also take heart in the reassurance that the children will be raised, if not in their own faith, then at least with an understanding of both faiths and how they are of equal importance within the marriage. That sense of continuity can be a great source of comfort and compensation for family elders worried their family faith may be at an end.