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Dear Lifelines: Stressed Near the Altar

Dear Lifelines,

My partner wants a religious ceremony but I don't. Do you have any advice on how we can compromise?

Signed, Stressed Near the Altar

Dear Stressed;

Thanks for your great question! And certainly there's hope in devising a way that can honour both of your wishes for a marriage ceremony. But the first question to figure out is why does your partner prefer a religious ceremony and what is it about this process of having a religious service that you don't like? Is it that you want a very private function and your partner wants something more elaborate? Is it that you do not agree with his religious faith or is it that you just want to have a simple secular service? And why is this?

There are many options for wedding ceremonies that can be as elaborate or as simplistic as you wish - both for civil marriages with those officiated by a religious delegate. Perhaps you can find out exactly what you both want in a service and then go from there in selecting a process that will honour and meet the needs that you both have.

For instance, assuming that you are both of the same faith, you and your partner can consult with your religious organization and see what options there are for length of service and for the level of religious involvement that will take place during the ceremony. You can speak to them honestly about your dilemma - they may have many excellent suggestions you can work with. Many religious groups attempt to support the wishes of the couple and allow for the selection of certain religious customs that fit with the couples' level of belief and practice. However, if you do not support your partner's faith and are resentful of his or her level of involvement with religion, this is a huge red flag that you will want to sort through well before the planning of your wedding.

Another issue you might be contending with is pressure from family and friends to have a certain type of wedding - whether religious or civil. This type of pressure has led many a couple to choose an elopement to a tropical beach or a Las Vegas style drive-thru wedding in order to avoid the expense, emotional pressure, bickering and overriding fear you may have of disappointing family and friends. Make sure you choose the style of wedding that will suit you and your partner's needs. If part of those needs include having a wedding service that meets the needs of parents and family, make sure you each understand the potential consequences of trying to please others before any booking commitments and deposits are made.

So basically, get all of your needs in order and understand what is driving your emotions. Do you want a large, elaborate, expensive wedding? Or do you want a small gathering of friends and family at the cottage? Are you able to compromise and have the wedding in a church? Or would you prefer a community hall with a small religious program that includes a couple of friends doing religious readings that you both select? After you individually come to agreement on what you both want (I'm assuming you both want each other to be happy and this certainly will be one of many compromises that you will have to work through within your couplehood) move confidently towards the creating of this beautiful wedding dream knowing that you are both in total support of each other. With the support of each other, you can achieve virtually anything together.

All the best!


"What makes a happy marriage? It is a question which all men and women ask one another...The answer is to be found, I think, in the mutual discovery, by two who marry, of the deepest need of the other's personality, and the satisfaction of that need." - Pearl Buck


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