Mixed faith marriage? You two can bridge your beliefs, customs, and traditions into one seamless ceremony. Interfaith officiants help you navigate your varying belief systems alongside your mutual love to create a truly personalized ceremony. Reverend Dawn Camacho of Atlanta, Georgia—a top-rated Thumbtack officiant fluent in French, English, and Spanish—shines light on the meaning of interfaith and hiring the right officiant for your wedding.
What does interfaith mean?
Interfaith isn’t a religion, Dawn explains. It is the belief that there are many valid paths to the divine. The training in major world religions she received at The New Seminary taught her that the interfaith tradition is very open to different people having different ways to express their connection to that greater love out in the universe.
What’s an interfaith ceremony?
Dawn highlighted two main types of ceremonies her clients request:
- A spirituality-based interfaith ceremony for a couple that is coming from two or more religious traditions and want to honor the spirit and divine in their own way, but their focus is more on spirituality than religion.
- A religious-based interfaith ceremony for a couple with two or more religious backgrounds that want to recognize their specific religious practices in their ceremony. An example of this was a ceremony she performed blending a couple’s Jewish and Christian backgrounds. They stood under a chuppah, lit a unity candle, performed the seven blessings, and shared a Christian reading—in French. Dawn says it was very involved, but beautiful, and so reflective and personal to the couple.
What should a couple look for in an interfaith officiant?
Someone ordained by a seminary is a quality Dawn recommends. Find someone trained in all the major world traditions, so they approach your beliefs with true openness and an educated background. Connect on a personal basis—look for that vibe! Look for a person who has a passion for the profession, rather than it being strictly business.
Experience and confidence. Are they comfortable interacting with strangers? Will they lead your ceremony with grace? Reading reviews will help with learning more about this.
The ability to customize an interfaith ceremony unique to your story, not just a person using a cookie cutter template. Basic outlines are great springboards to start the process, but a skilled officiant will help you craft a one-of-a-kind ceremony.
What happens before the ceremony?
Dawn facilitates a couple’s journey from start to finish. Before meeting in person, she provides inspirational reading materials, depending on how religious or secular they want the ceremony. Blending classic ritualistic elements (exchange of vows and rings) with unique personal elements is a fantastic formula.
Dawn loves creating a mix within the personal elements, so if you’re highlighting a religious reading, also incorporate a contemporary touch—such as a meaningful song lyric, or a dear-to-you passage from a children’s book.
What role does does pre-marital counseling play?
As an officiant, Dawn also advocates for and provides premarital counseling, especially if the couple has two different religious backgrounds. She really believes premarital counseling gets a bad rap. She’d like more people to understand it’s not a sign of a problem, or fixing something that’s broken. Counseling prepares couples for a successful relationship in tandem with their diverse traditions.
The counseling she advocates for provides a safe space for couples to dialogue about important issues—like how they plan to raise their kids as an interfaith couple. Think of it as an investment in your future where you set goals together and think strategically about how to set up life together. In her state of Georgia, the marriage license fee is waived upon completion of six hours of premarital counseling. The state wants you to succeed!
How long is the average interfaith ceremony?
20 minutes! She says you’d be surprised how much you can fit in.
How can someone have a successful interfaith ceremony?
Make it truly reflect you and your partner, says Dawn. Find the pieces of your life, beliefs, and traditions that are really special to you. She advises against incorporating things that don’t have real meaning in your life—basically, don’t do it just because it sounds cool. She loves when couples think of their ceremony as an inclusive event, not just an “it’s all about me,” day. Your ceremony will really shine when you give a nod to your background, and include the guests in a meaningful way. Really look at what represents your culture and tradition and let that guide you.
If all this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—that’s what passionate officiants are for, helping you get there.
[Photo: Top photo by Slava Slavik]