reader questions: how to incorporate religion into the wedding when one is not religious

Mariah K. from Atlanta, GA writes:

Dear Wedding Therapist:

         My fiance is Jewish and I'm not any religion.  The whole time that we were dating, religion never came up but now that we're planning the wedding, he wants to add a bunch of traditions into the ceremony that I really don't want to do.  What should I do?


Girl, how did religion never come up during your entire relationship?!  Certainly, it MUST have come up at least once!  Sorry, I'm just a little surprised that you two never discussed religion during your relationship.  Ok, now that the shock has worn off...I think incorporating his religious traditions into your ceremony is the least of your worries. 

A lot of times there are "warning signs" that people ignore because they want to get married so badly.  You two need to sit down and really have an open and honest conversation about what part you want religion to play in your lives.  Clearly, when it comes down to important events in his life, it is important that his religion is present.  This doesn't end with your wedding.  Look down the road five years from now when you have children.  How will you raise them?  Seriously, put the planning on hold and have a long talk.  Religion is a deal breaker for most people.  Maybe it isn't for him now but it may be in the future and you want to know what you're walking into with both eyes wide open.

Oh, and once you have the talk and you're both on the same page, you should allow him to throw in some of his religious traditions into the wedding ceremony.  Again, the wedding may be your first compromise religiously but it won't be your last. Good luck!

how to deal with death during the planning process

Death is one of those things that I don't think anyone can prepare themselves for.  Whether it is expected or not, I've learned that when a death occurs there really isn't a guide to follow that makes the pain go away or makes it any easier.  I recently lost someone who is extremely close to me and his brother is getting married this summer.  His fiance is very supportive and jumped right in when it came to funeral preparations and just support in general. 

I'm not so sure if the things that I learned during this time apply differently during a wedding or not but I thought I'd share:
  1. Show up.  Whether you are a friend, estranged family member, fiance, boss, etc...SHOW UP.  Be available as much as possible.  Emotionally, mentally, physically.  
  2. Life is short and sometimes holding on to a grudge isn't what is important.  Unfortunately, death makes us face some of the petty and not so petty issues in life.
  3. The wedding will still go on.  Details can be discussed later.  Reschedule meetings, fittings, tastings, etc.  There will be time for those things later.
  4. It is ok to enjoy the wedding.  Death is always sad.  It is ok to be sad at the funeral and to not want to talk about wedding details.  Take your time.  Don't feel guilty when you start enjoying planning again.