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    Creating Your Own Interfaith Wedding

    reverendWhen I first learned about creating wedding ceremonies to honor and mark the important transitions in life, I was captivated. I grew up Quaker, a member of the Society of Friends, and we didn’t celebrate life events in the way most religions do, with fanfare and rituals. Instead, these events were viewed as quiet expres-sions of a couple’s commitment and acknowledgment of God’s blessing of it.

    When I was student at an interfaith seminary 11 years ago, I was exposed to the ways and forms of celebration and ritual in many cultures and religions. I was hooked! Over my first year or two, I developed a practice of helping couples to go deeply into themselves in order to find out who they are and what marriage is all about to them. It’s important to me that their ceremony reflects them, whether it’s a big wedding with family, friends, colleagues and community, or simply an elopement with just the two of them.

    This was somewhat instinctual for me, as I had attended many weddings and had been, quite honestly, bored by the impersonal language, the rote statements of intentions and vows, and the old-fashioned words and phrases that gave no indication of what it was like for a particular couple to have found one another, and to be making longstanding vows. The latter seemed so much more meaningful to me.

    As an interfaith minister, I love marrying couples of different backgrounds: people from different religions, cultures, sexual preferences, creeds, and those with no religious or faith tradition. Simply put, my interfaith ministry is about helping people open up to what their own deepest truths are, and encouraging them to express and live them with their mate, fully and joyously.

    I have the desire now, after 11 years of officiating weddings, to give public acknowledgment and gratitude to the woman who has had the greatest influence on my interfaith wedding ministry. Her name is Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb. She is from New York City, and her book about interfaith weddings, Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations, A Practical Guide for Couples, became my guidebook. I refer many couples to this book as we collaborate to create unique cere-monies.

    No matter who officiates your wedding, consider asking that person to help create a ceremony that reflects both you and your partner as individuals and as a couple. I recommend using Susanna’s wonderful book to help you in that effort. In the following video clip, Susanna beautifully expresses what I strive to do, in part, for the couples whom I marry:

    And if you want to check out the results of this approach, please read some of the comments on my website:

    Finally, as always, my great blessings to you on your wedding, and your marriage!

    Reverend Elizabeth River is an ordained Interfaith Minister based in the North Bay. For more information, please visit