That’s Mrs. Closet Atheist to you!
I’m just kidding, except actually I’m not kidding because I JUST GOT MARRIED ON FRIDAY!
My husband and I were engaged for about a year and three months (since this post, to be exact). The beginning of our engagement was a bit rough, not between the two of us but in the sense that it was the two of us against the world. It had started when he asked my mom for her “blessing” and she technically said no but that she wasn’t going to stop him from doing something he had his heart set on. From there, a lot of issues came up when we realized that our brother-in-law pastor wouldn’t marry us because we wouldn’t have passed his marriage counseling courses because of premarital sex, which led to us coming out to him and my sister as atheists and explaining why we had decided that it would be too messy to try to get married at a church.
After all that occurred in April, we have been pretty much left alone to decide where to get married and by whom, and we chose to be married by a secular officiant in the same room as the reception. I was so relieved that since then, we haven’t had any problems with people fighting us on whether or not the ceremony was religious. I had confused my dad a bit, because I hadn’t ended up coming out to him at the same time as everyone else, so he didn’t know until receiving his invitation that we were atheists, but we had a conversation about it to clear it up, and he took it very well!
So before planning our ceremony, I’d never really realized what an atheist wedding ceremony would entail. A lot of you throughout the years have told me that I really don’t need to do anything extravagant, have a party if I want, or don’t, do it at a courthouse, or a restaurant, or at home. In my opinion, although it was a lot of work, our wedding wasn’t too showy or over the top; we held it on a Friday evening and only had about seventy guests.
Every wedding I’ve been to before my own was super religious, from both of my sisters’, which were pretty normal with hymns and bible readings and unity candles, to that of a college acquaintance which included a full-fledged communion service. They were generally about an hour long, but apparently non-religious ceremonies have no reason to be more than about 15 minutes long, which is probably close to the length of ours. Because of our mostly Christian audience, including a few friends who don’t know we’re atheists and probably don’t need to, we didn’t have an explicitly atheist ceremony: at least we didn’t plan to.
Having attended all these Christian weddings before, I knew that Bible readings were a normal part of it, so I thought it could be a nice personal touch to have a secular (not atheist, so no, not from The God Delusion) reading. We chose a passage from one of our favorite books (with existential undertones), John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars:
“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.
“Augustus,” I said.
“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
If you’re an atheist in love and you’re considering doing this, I’ll tell you now: don’t. As you read this quote, you might think, “Aw, that’s romantic, and slightly atheistic, but not too in-your-face, so it’s perfect!” It was just about one doom-factor too nihilistic, however. This is what I get for trying to be that atheist that instead of just dropping the religious aspect, has to replace it with something atheistic. I thought it would be cute, but it didn’t really turn out that way.
There were a few more references to our godlessness in our self-written vows. His included bits and pieces of this timeline (he knows the way to my heart!) and a thankfulness that we happen to exist within the same millisecond.
To cater to our audience, we had my husband’s grandfather (a retired priest) pray before the meal, probably to the surprise of my disapproving family; he agreed to it without knowing that we were atheists. In my eyes the wedding had a little bit for everyone involved: the atheist bride and groom and the almost entirely Christian audience.
I know that being married is technically just the same as living together and staying together forever, but I like the idea of not really having to choose between my husband and my family. We could have lived together, but it would have strained my relationship with my family, and it also helps with things like being able to sleep in a room together whenever we’re on family vacations or not having to pretend that we aren’t indeed normal people who have sex. Once we decided that we did want to get married and have a wedding, we figured it should be fun and a good time had by all while staying low-key. So yeah, you could say it was a productive week! By the time this post goes up, we will be off to our honeymoon!