This past weekend my Pakistani friend, lets call him D, married an American woman, lets call her S. I can’t really say we’re very close friends but we’re certainly close enough to be invited to their wedding. Unlike some wedding invitations this one specifically encouraged us to bring our kids. We found out later that kids would give the bride flowers as she entered the room. A very nice touch.
Since D is a Muslim and S is from with a Christian tradition (can’t remember exactly), I was interested to see how their ceremony would be handled. From knowing D I know he is pretty much a non-practicing Muslim. He appreciates the traditions but he’s not going to the Haaj anytime soon. I don’t know much about S’s religion again from what I can tell she’s not a tithing member of any congregation. So, both are very nominal in their faiths.
The ceremony was held in a meeting center and religious artifacts of either religion was absent. The chairs were lined up neatly with flowers along the aisle. There was a podium with some colors, a canvas and behind it was an arch made of some green branches and leaves. Nothing terribly religious or sacred in the traditional sense. For the most part it was a secular affair. There was profession of commitment, honor, respect and love, and only a few references to a generic God.
I don’t know what kind of wedding they had in Pakistan, but I would assume (based on the pictures that were on display), that it was a fairly religious ceremony. I have never been to a Muslim wedding, so I am making a huge assumption. I know that the Hindu ceremony is a religious ceremony and there is no way around it. I’m assuming Muslim weddings are religious and there is no way around it. Perhaps because of this they chose a secular setting for their US wedding – I don’t know.
I walked away from this secular wedding wondering about wedding ceremonies in general. Not marriage but just the ceremony and the role God should play. Obviously they can have any type of wedding they want and I’m not here criticizing that at all (so please do not take this blog post to mean that at all).
I’ve always held the view that weddings are religious events. It is a commitment you make in the presence of God himself and you set out to keep this commitment with God’s help and grace. When this aspect is removed from a public ceremony I just feel that a large part of something important is missing.
Now you’re probably wondering what kind of wedding we had. I’ll tell you one of these days. But for now I want to hear your thoughts on secular weddings.