How Is a Nonreligious Ceremony Different From a Nondenominational Wedding Ceremony?

How is a non religious wedding ceremony different from a nondenominational wedding ceremony? It’s a question that I’m asked every now and then.

Nondenominational still implies that the ceremony is Christian in some way, without adhering to a particular sect of Christianity. There are many sects, with 30 or so main denominations.

A nonreligious wedding ceremony will have no mention of God or anything religious. It might still have spiritual elements, like stopping to breathe and soak in the moment, or acknowledging nature during the ceremony or by blessing the couple’s hands. Religious and spiritual are not the same thing and lots of people are spiritual, without necessarily being religious.

Nondenominational ceremonies mention God and are faith-based, but with so many different faiths and spiritual beliefs, I find it’s best to mention God as everyone’s homeboy.

I am not a Christian minister. I am a minister of metaphysics (where science and spirituality come together) so wedding attendees may have knowledge of the bible that’s far superior to my own, so I only mention Jesus when specifically instructed to by my couple and usually ask if they have a religious family member who would like to come up to read it or lead a prayer.

Every now and then I’ll meet a religious grandparent while at the wedding and receive 20 questions about my religious training. I tell that grandparent that I’m a nondenominational minister who honors the truth in all faiths and that the couple’s ceremony is fairly laid-back, but still honors God. That answer usually suffices.

Nonreligious wedding ceremonies are my specialty. Nor are they generally spiritual. There are quite a few religious ministers in my town, but few who will officiate a wedding that brings a gay couple together or couples from two different faiths. When two different faiths are present, it can be best to have a ceremony totally free of anything spiritual, but can also include elements from each faith and honor both. The trick is not to make anyone in attendance feel alienated.

Nonreligious ceremonies are becoming more and more common. One reason they’re becoming more popular is the lack of rules or defined way of doing things. Sometimes a couple will have their dog as their ring bearer, a grandparent acting as flower girl or even a surprise wedding. I’ve been fortunate enough to officiate three surprise weddings. One of those surprise weddings was a play in the couple’s backyard that turned out to be their wedding. The play was Roman themed and I dressed up as Julius Caesar! Everyone in attendance was so surprised and it was one of my favorite wedding ceremonies.