mlnnRLQThis week’s question comes from a RevGal who is looking forward to a most joyous occasion:

Dear Matriarchs,

I have been asked to officiate a family wedding next year – a delight and an honor.

The bride’s family is from Japan and there will be relatives in attendance who do not speak (or understand much) English. The last time I officiated at a wedding with international participants, we prayed the Lord’s Prayer in both English and German. In this case, however, the family’s religious tradition is not Christian.

How have you handled cross-cultural and interfaith concerns in planning wedding ceremonies?

Thanks for your wisdom,

Wedding Planner

Karla Miller has some ideas:

For me, I always work with the couple to honor the faith traditions they want to have in the ceremony. That means, in some circumstances, I have help. For example, in one wedding, the family created a huppah, and the father of the bride prayed some Jewish prayers, and they broke the wine glass together. In another ceremony, a Buddhist nun chanted a blessing. In another, an aunt led a Hindu ritual of tying a thread around the couple’s hands (very similar to a hand fasting.) The point being, I suppose, is that I try to follow the couple’s lead as we create the ceremony and liturgy together. This is something I truly enjoy, and my tradition (UCC) allows for it. I don’t know how it would work if you have to follow a certain wedding liturgy in other denominations.

Thanks so much, Karla! And best wishes to this RevGal and her family for a day filled with blessings!

How about the rest of you RevGals?
Have you faced a similar cross-cultural wedding scenario?
What did you do to include everyone to make it a special day for all?
Leave a comment below with your ideas.

Are you facing a sticky ministry situation? Send your scenario to askthematriarch (at) gmail (dot) com and let our Matriarchs help.


Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.


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