While planning your wedding ceremony, you and your beloved may wonder how to express your commitment to each other regarding your beliefs about religion, God, the universe, or a higher power. You may ask yourself these questions: Does a religious ceremony work best for us? Would a civil ceremony with no mention of God align with our idea of marriage? Is there another option that would share our spiritual values and is somewhere in between these two choices? Yes, there is.
What Is a Spiritual Wedding Ceremony?
A spiritual wedding ceremony is a type of ceremony that acknowledges the couples' connection to God or the divine but allows the freedom to express it in their way during the ceremony.
A spiritual wedding ceremony can also be the right choice for those who feel that being in nature is a spiritual experience and want to wed at an inspirational outdoor setting rather than in a church. You can have a spiritual wedding ceremony anywhere you like. A chapel, beach, mountain lodge, backyard, boat, during a skydive, Zoom call, etc. are all ideal venues for your spiritual wedding ceremony.
Here we explore spiritual wedding ceremonies, what they are, and how they differ from a religious or civil ceremony. Read on for our guide to spiritual wedding ceremonies.
Spiritual vs. Religious and Civil Ceremonies
While not a religious ceremony, spiritual ceremonies can include religious beliefs and can be the most inclusive of all ceremonies because couples of different belief systems or faiths can honor their traditions by including prayers, rituals, readings, and vows sacred to their religion. However, you may be asking yourself, “What is spirituality?”
In short, spirituality is a deeply personal realization through the experience of life that there is a connection between you and something greater than yourself. It affects the way you live, the way you connect to your life's immediate moments through consciousness, the self, your relationship to others, and nature. Like religion, it’s a path to pursue answers to the fundamental questions of one’s existence: “Who am I?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What is my purpose?”
The spiritual wedding ceremony is inclusive because spiritualism is about love, inner divinity, and connection to the universe or God. A spiritual ceremony is flexible, adaptable, and can be highly personal and unique.
All religious ceremonies follow the tenets of that specific religion. Most follow a strict protocol and do not allow you to write your vows, select readings, nor permit any deviation to their sacrament. Many couples consider their religious traditions and the experience of the rite of marriage in their church of paramount importance to them. But if you and your partner are of different faiths or you are a same-sex couple, you may not want to or be able to get married in the temple, church, or place of worship.
The format of a spiritual ceremony can be similar to a religious wedding, but you have the freedom to select readings and vows that are deeply meaningful to you. Your connection to the universe or God can be included, or you can focus entirely on love.
A civil ceremony is a joining and witnessing of a legal marriage. There is no mention of a religious or spiritual belief. A civil ceremony is performed by a judge or official at the courthouse but may be conducted anywhere by someone duly authorized to solemnize legal marriages. If you have no spiritual or religious belief system, a civil ceremony is what you are looking for and can be beautiful and meaningful. This ceremony is not limited to an elopement and is appropriate for a wedding of any size.
Is a Spiritual Ceremony Right for You?
It’s relatively simple to decide. External or internal influences will determine your choice.
- You are both of differing faiths, and converting to the other's faith is not an option.
- Your respective families are pressuring you to be married in their churches or religions, and you need an equitable compromise.
- You will be married away from your congregation but want a ceremony that includes God.
- Your religion does not perform same-sex marriages.
- You consider yourself spiritual but don’t attend church regularly or are not part of a congregation.
- Your religion no longer aligns with your beliefs, but you are looking for a sacred marriage ceremony for your wedding.
- You want to combine both your belief systems in your ceremony.
If you see yourself in any of these examples, then a spiritual wedding ceremony is the best choice for you.
How to Plan a Spiritual Wedding Ceremony
Here's a step-by-step outline of some necessary tasks to cross off your list before your spiritual ceremony.
Select the Right Officiant
Most nondenominational ministers and wedding officiants are well-versed in helping you create a spiritual wedding ceremony. But it is essential to find one with experience in writing custom ceremonies because your spiritual ceremony will be unique to you both. Remember, spiritualism comes from the inside of your being, divinity, or soul, so it can't follow a rote script. If you want an ordained friend to marry you, choose one who has a spiritual side and has the talent to craft a ceremony for you.
A spiritual ceremony is a comfort to wedding day nerves because it includes only those readings, poems, vows, and rituals that have meaning to you.
Outline the Parts of the Ceremony You Wish to Include
You may organize the structure like a traditional religious ceremony if you wish, or you are free to create something unique. Your wedding minister or officiant can guide you. Here is the order and the parts of a ceremony that work for most couples:
- Processional: Organize how family and members of the wedding party arrive at their seats and ceremony space. Include your walks down the aisle or come in together. Your music should convey your ceremony style.
- Officiant's welcome: This sets the ceremony's tone, acknowledges the guests and family, and draws focus to the couple.
- Opening reading: Select a spiritual or religious poem, song, scripture, or text. You can also have someone read the story of how you met.
- Question of intent: Your officiant may ask this. Many states require each member of the couple to confirm their intention to marry and are legally free to marry.
- Vows: It's best to write your own and mention your spiritual bond with each other.
- Ring vows: You each share a sentence about the ring as a symbol of your commitment to the other.
- Symbol of unity: You may light a unity candle, drink from the same cup, or pour water together into one vessel. Ask your officiant for some fresh ideas or skip this—it is not a requirement.
- Final reading: Like how the ceremony began, close the program with a spiritual or religious poem, song, or prayer.
- Marriage pronouncement: Your officiant will declare you married, and you may kiss.
- Recessional: You lead the wedding party down the aisle or go out and greet your guests together as a married couple. Select some joyful music or "your song" for the exit.
Once you have found an officiant who understands what you want and will guide you, your job as a couple is to find readings and music that speak to your souls. Your spiritual wedding ceremony will be yours alone on the wedding day and forever after.