December 3, 2020 Before you say ‘I do,’ give a little thought to ‘I believe’…

Dec 3, 2020

Here’s a question for you.  On a scale of 1 – 10 where 1 is atheist and 10 is a deep spiritual or religious belief, where would you place yourself? And, equally importantly, where do you think your partner sits on that scale? Being at point 10 doesn’t necessarily mean going to church every week, but can be about your perceived place in nature, the world around you, and the concept of whether there’s something bigger than ourselves, so it’s a pretty wide scale.

I ask because it’s a question I put to all the couples I’m marrying and its surprising how many don’t know what the other’s belief system is or have even really thought about their own.  Religion, spirituality – call it what you will – is an area of discussion that few couples venture into, but it can be crucially important in getting a ceremony just right.

I suppose the biggest challenge for me, as a celebrant, is helping couples find a compromise for the ceremony when one half a partnership sits at 1 on that scale, and the other sits around 8 or higher, even more so when the partner who sits at the top end of the scale wants a church wedding.  And, although many couples may have no belief system whatsoever, they’d still like to include a spiritual or religious reading because their parents, or grandparents are religious and want the words of their ceremony to mean something to everyone who’s sharing their special day.

A spiritual ceremony doesn’t have to be religious in any way and it’s only by us discussing it at a pre-wedding meeting, that we’ll be able to work out something that’s perfect for you both. So why not have a go:  work out where you think you are, where you think your partner is and then compare notes. The answer may very well surprise you.

The question I’m most often asked is why I chose to become a celebrant, and the answer to that is really easy. I’ve attended many weddings and funerals in my life, the majority of which have been full religious ceremonies, but which were much more to do with dogma and religious tradition than the individuals at the centre of the occasion.

I conduct ceremonies which have individuals at the centre of them – in other words, human-centred. People nowadays have a wide range of personal belief systems, and so the ceremonies I conduct are hugely varied: sometimes they’re entirely non-religious, sometimes they have a little bit (or quite a lot) of religious content, and sometimes they’re interfaith (where more than one belief system is represented). So whether you have no belief whatsoever, or you have religious or spiritual beliefs, the most important thing is that I will deliver your ceremony exactly as you want it.

Glynis Woodhead is a OneSpirit interfaith minister based in the highlands of Scotland. This article first appeared on www.highlandceremonies.com

Click here to go back to the Community Collection

Finding and Maintaining Your Peace

In these challenging times, and in accordance with our ethos, remembering our unity and honouring our individual uniqueness, in a world all too frequently consumed by conflict and division, we endeavour to keep our hearts open to all. We echo a sentiment prevalent...

25 Years of OneSpirit Reflections

Dear OneSpirit Community, Here we are 25 years on from the beginning of OneSpirit and what a delight it is to be a part of that time! Since the organisation began in 1996, we have witnessed 23 Ordinations and seen over 900 graduates of our school step into ministry,...

Interfaith Education

My interest in interfaith education stems from my own upbringing. Living in Birmingham, I have the privilege of being fully immersed in a multicultural and multi-faith community. My grandparents moved to England from Northern Ireland in the 1950s, with my Grandad...

Diversity and Interfaith – a personal perspective

Interfaith and interspiritual engagement is as personal and profound as any relationship-building. To me, it is about exploring the possibility of deep listening, and the transformational potential which can grow from this. As in other encounters, I find that...