Growing up, I always thought I’d have a Catholic wedding. The religion was always a part of my life, as I attended a private Catholic school. My uncle, who happens to be a Catholic priest, was my confirmation sponsor when I received the sacrament in 8th grade. While my school and family always encouraged asking questions, I didn’t have information about the rest of the world to really ask anything important. I went to a public high school, where I first began asking real questions, but always retained my religious devotion. Looking to the future and marriage, I expected my uncle would be the one to carry out the ceremony one day.
Well, my traditional family is in for a shock when that day comes, because I don’t think I can consider myself Catholic anymore. I believe in equal marriage for all, under the law and within the church. I believe that woman as well as men can be religious leaders and priests. I think it’s perfectly fine to use contraception and other forms of birth control and, while I think life starts in the womb, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t start at conception. For a while, I told myself I would promote change within the church but found my connection to God fading. All I saw were stubborn people who appeared to me to be un-accepting of diversity in beliefs and who actively condemned people whose beliefs were different from theirs. This I could not stand. Well, I guess I’m not having a Catholic wedding.
A wedding for me is at least a few years off, so I don’t have to completely panic about my family’s reaction when I tell them…yet. My terror of having a non-traditional wedding is more centered in telling my family I’m not Catholic than telling them about the wedding. I am most concerned about hurting my uncle’s feelings if he feels he cannot participate or attend my wedding because of my religious views.
I have already started prepping my immediate family. Every so often, we engage in a conversation about religion or about human rights. I’m pretty sure they know where I stand, but in my family, if you don’t talk about something, it doesn’t exist. They may already know I don’t consider myself Catholic, but as long as no one says it out loud, they don’t have to believe it.
I hope that, by the time I am getting married, they will be so used to all my ‘crazy’ wedding ideas that having a non-traditional, non-Catholic wedding will come to no surprise. That being said, the first thing I had to do, and the hardest, is stop saying I expect my uncle to marry me. I don’t even know if he will show up as all research shows we will not be considered a legitimately married couple in the Catholic church. I’ve known of parents who refused to go to their own child’s wedding because the ceremony would not be Catholic.
That feels a bit overwhelming, so let’s start small: the wedding veil. I understand that the wedding veil has a different meaning today than it did in the past. Some people may not care about the origin of the veil, but I do. There are multiple stories about its origin. Some believe that in ancient Rome or medieval times, evil spirits were thought to be attracted to the bride. The veil was meant to obscure her features and confuse the spirits. Another purpose for the veil has been in arranged marriages, where the woman’s face was hidden until after the ceremony. The groom didn’t have a chance to back out if her features were less than satisfactory to him.
As I disagree with both of these ideas, I am seeking out a birdcage veil as I find them to be quite elegant. I still don’t need my face covered in any way so I am seeking out a birdcage style that is more of a hair accessory than a veil. I think I may have some trouble, but I know they’re out there.
My second requirement is to have a tea length wedding dress instead of this huge full length monstrosity. I do not have the proper coordination to walk in a traditional wedding dress, at least, not in heels. I’m looking for something simple, elegant and short, with some sort of color mixed in (another no no). I’ve already brought up the dress length to my family, and they are fine with that. I haven’t got the guts yet to express my desire for color.
Lastly, I really don’t want my wedding or engagement ring to have diamonds on it. I’ve found a few online sources for conflict-free diamonds, but I’d rather not support the industry at all. I’ve heard moonstones can be cut to look like diamonds and even reflect more light. Spending thousands of dollars on something as small as a ring seems so ridiculous to me. The best idea I’ve found for wedding rings is one which incorporates the birthstone of each person. Each stone makes half a heart. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Too bad I was born in April.
I guess for the actual wedding, what I consider untraditional may be seen as traditional by some. While I have abandoned Catholic views, I still have spiritual faith. I would like the ceremony to be performed by a religious leader and I will probably keep it inside. I’m too afraid weather, dirt or bugs will ruin the ceremony. The ideal would be to have tons of large windows to let all the sunlight in and peacock feathers mixed in with all the flowers. When I walk down the aisle, I want both my parents to be with me. It makes no sense to me that only my father should walk with me when my mother had just as much influence on my life.
To date, I still fear telling my family about my intentions for a wedding. I feel lucky that I have time to slowly get the used to the idea. My wedding will be about the union of two people and incorporate our beliefs and desires. While I believe it is important for the family to be involved in the wedding, they do not get to decide how the ceremony is carried out. I’m excited for the day when I feel ready to be married. Here’s hoping all family members show.xo, Tonya Vrba Author Bio: Tonya Vrba is a passionate writer. Her work has been published in newspapers and blogs. She writes frequently about health, career and dating issues. Tonya currently writes with Dating Sites Online. Learn more about her work at her personal website.