January 13

Diva Dish: Church or No Church?

Dear Diva,

My fiance comes from a devout Catholic family.  I, on the other hand, was not raised practicing any religion and actually feel quite uncomfortable in a church setting. However, my fiance’s parents are very insistent that we marry in their church.  We have had various heated discussions with them and it is putting a cloud over our wedding day, which is supposed to be happy time!  I am strongly opposed to the church marriage, however,  I sense that my fiance cares more than he lets on.  His parents are not contributing any money to our wedding.  Do I have to cave in and listen to them to keep the peace, or risk upsetting them and insisting we have our wedding elsewhere?


Bad Religion Bride


Dear Bad Religion Bride,

My first instinct is to say that this is your wedding and you should be able to have your ceremony wherever you please.  However, after giving it further thought, I’m starting to think it might be best to give in to your fiance’s parents.  It sounds like he is uncomfortable with the entire situation, and even more, like he might actually prefer the church.

Marriage is all about compromise.  When people from two different religions (or in your case, one more religious and one not at all) marry, it is common to have disagreements and inconsistencies in things like the ceremony, vows and even how you will raise your family in the future.  If you truly feel that your fiance might actually prefer not only the church, but also not upsetting his parents, I’d advise that you go with it.  Even if you’re not religious, many churches can be a beautiful setting for a wedding.  Furthermore, if this small compromise does not truly cause you any problems or take away from your wedding, it might be worth it to keep conflict at bay.

Another option would be to have a large ceremony at the venue of your choice, and then a second, smaller ceremony in a church.  If your fiance’s parents truly feel that strongly about you being married in a church, maybe they would be willing to pitch in for a small church ceremony after your “real” wedding day.  It could consist of only the two of you and your families, and it would give both your fiance and his parents the peace of mind that they are looking for.

This is a tough situation and I hope it works out for the best.  Make sure you hash out any discussions regarding religion with your fiance now.  If you wait until your married or have children, it can cause problems.  If you’re both on the same page and understand where each other is coming from, you’ll have a very strong marriage!  Good luck.


5 thoughts on “Diva Dish: Church or No Church?

  1. Justine

    That is a very tough situation, but I really like the second suggestion that Tara gave. It seems like that would be a great compromise that everyone could feel good about. Good luck!

  2. brittney

    this also was a huge issue for my family and it led to a lot of painful conversations. while my situation was not exactly the same, i also learned that the act of planning a wedding is all about compromise. for something as personal as your ceremony and your religious beliefs, i think that compromise should be between the couple. if he really wants a church wedding, then i would also consider this option (even if your mother in law does win).

  3. adias.angel

    I had the same problems with my mother when I told her we were having a Mayan ceremony and not a Christian one. Our compromise was to have the Mayan wedding our way and then we get back (destination wedding) we would have a blessing done by a pastor.

    Stand your ground and let them know you are more than willing to have a smaller service or blessing. I know I would miserable on my wedding day if I was forced back into a church that I was uncomfortable with.

  4. Kathleen Ball

    As a marriage counselor and wedding officiant for 30 years, I have seen some version of this many times. I think it might be helpful to know one of the underlying purposes of the wedding ceremony which is to reconfigure the family. The bride and groom are shifting from being daughter and son first to wife and husband first and daughter and son second. That’s a gigantic shift and the wedding planning and ceremony is where it begins to happen.

    What is not clear to me from your question is what your fiance wants (other than to please both of the women in his life which he can not do). So that is what I would focus on. What do each of you really want separate from your families. Once you have that clear, then you begin to find ways to compromise as much as is possible without losing your integrity as a couple. You want his family to know that you will be considerate of their wishes but that you as a couple need to make the final decision.

    Although you all ready know this, it’s worth remembering that weddings are days of powerful emotions of all kinds. When there is this powerful a conflict, there will be echoes of it during the day no matter how it gets resolved–which can add to the richness. Marriage is, after all, about saying yes to all of it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *