In my opinion, getting married as a religious person is much easier than getting married as an Atheist or an Agnostic because deciding who is going to officiate the ceremony is so filled with confusion, it would just be simpler to say, “Well I guess Father Tom will take care of business.”
I am not religious. I don’t not believe in something bigger than, you know, this life, but I just haven’t decided how God figures into that yet. I also don’t understand this need for people to know what happens after we die — whether we rot into the soil or go to heaven and have sex with virgins — because how can you be sure about either and also? Isn’t it kind of exciting not knowing?
Anyway, I’m the kind of “spiritual” person who goes to yoga and chants not because it makes me feel in touch with the Divine for an hour, but because it puts me in the kind of calm mood I need in order to barely make it through an hour and a half of extreme bendy-ness. After 9/11 I went to church once and tried to pray, mainly because I was totally effing scared and had the paranoid feeling that maybe if I did my part with the whole praying thing, the terrorists would leave us alone. They have, so far, but I don’t think that’s because of my pathetic attempt at asking favors from God.
I wasn’t raised religiously. My mom went to Catholic School as a kid and has done some really amazing art work that she says deals with her issues with Catholicism. I don’t think my dad had the best impressions of religion as a kid because he never really talked about organized religion with us as a positive thing, though he always had a Buddha or two, as well as an icon of Shiva, a Hindu deity, around the house. My brother is an atheist and thinks any kind of religion is looney tunes.
The man-friend (fyi, that is my new name for him on this site, as I recently looked up feef, the term I was using and thought I had made up, on Urban Dictionary and realized it was defined as “a combination of socks, two rubber gloves,and some tape used to simulate a vagina”) was raised with religion. He went to Catholic school and his parents attend church fairly often. He has had the same priest for many years, an Irish man who has come to dinner when I’ve visited and seems super jolly and sweet n the way you’d expect an old Irish guy to be. M. doesn’t feel like he’s a member of the Catholic Church anymore, as he disagrees with many of their policies, but still goes to Church at his parents behest (sometimes happily, more often begrudgingly) and says he definitely believes in God. He recently told me that he believes in God because he’s been touched by God. As someone who is a little less convinced of God, I’m not sure what that could feel like, but it sounds kind of great.
So, back to the wedding. We don’t want to have a Catholic wedding, but we don’t want some impersonal justice of the peace to officiate either. Someone who doesn’t know us from the last couple he married? No thanks. Before getting engaged, out of all the pains in the ass I thought planning a wedding could contain, I didn’t really consider this to be one of them. But when you think about it, this person is standing between you and professing that the bond you are forming is permanent (well, permanent-ish) and that role is so essential to the process of getting married, so unforgettable, that it would be nice for them to be worth remembering. At one point I suggested we have a friend get his marriage license through the mail and marry us, but M. thought that was a terrible idea. I also suggested M.’s father because he is a really wonderful public speaker and, clearly, knows us and our relationship well, but M. pointed out that it would be nice for his dad to, you know, be able to relax and have fun that day, not work.
So now we are at a standstill — like the rest of our wedding plans frankly, as we’re still trying to find a location. But this is one of the decisions that’s puzzling me the most, because I know the others — what fanciness of dress, what colors for the bridesmaids, peonies and garden roses or peonies and ranaculus? — will come fairly easily once the locale has been selected. It’s times like these that I wish I did have a more assured perspective on life after death — though I suppose that would be as insincere a reason for believing in God as praying for safety on September 12th.