A Look at a Non-Religious Wedding Ceremony
A Secular Ceremony is still a Beautiful Ceremony
Non-religious wedding ceremonies come in three distinct varieties: those that are non-religious and without rituals; ceremonies that include rituals but no religious elements; and finally those that are religious in feel, but not in practice.
The first option is essentially a civil ceremony. Performed by a judge or a justice of the peace. These wedding ceremonies are conducted at a courthouse or sometimes in the home. All that's required is a marriage license and witnesses. The exchange of vows is really the recital of a contractual agreement, whereby each person agrees to the requirements of their partnership. Civil ceremonies tend to be quick, simple and rather impersonal.
The second option is a wedding ceremony that includes rituals, but no religious elements. Often called humanist weddings, these ceremonies don't include any aspects of religion, but aren't as plain as civil ceremonies. Instead of religious vows, the couple writes and exchanges their own vows, which focus on love, trust and commitment rather than religion, faith or God. An exchange of rings is still performed as are other rituals such as the lighting of a unity candle or selected readings. While these rituals are often conducted in religious wedding ceremonies here they have a secular, rather than religious context. The sense of unity, devotion and love that occurs in a religious ceremony is also very apparent in a humanist wedding ceremony. In fact a religious wedding ceremony and a humanist wedding ceremony are surprisingly similar in feel, except that a humanist wedding is not held in a church nor is God mentioned.
The last option is a wedding ceremony that may feel religious, but that doesn't include actual religious practices. For example the couple may choose to marry in a church, but the service doesn't include religious components. Likewise rituals that are commonly practiced in religious wedding ceremonies, such as a unity candle ceremony, readings and songs are included. However they are secular, rather than religious in nature. Despite having a religious feel, at heart this is a non-religious wedding ceremony.
Rather than following the set practices of a religious wedding ceremony, a non-religious wedding ceremony allows the couple to marry in their own special way. And instead of abiding to religious conventions of marriage, a non-religious wedding ceremony allows the couple to set their own expectations for their new life together.