How to successfully mix two religions into one beautiful interfaith wedding ceremony

This is a guest post by Lisa Johnson :: Above image taken from Jess & Alex’s Jewish-Catholic wedding

So, here we are in 2016 and mixed faith ceremonies are far from unusual or controversial, yet there still seems to be a lack of knowledge around the processes and variety of options that are possible.

As a wedding planner, as well as a celebrant, Karen asked me to put a guest post together with lots of ideas on how to blend two different religions into one beautiful ceremony for those of you fusing two different faiths into your wedding day. I’ve covered lots of ground, but if you have anything to add, or you have any burning questions, feel free to pop them in the comments box at the end of the post, and either me or Karen will do our best to answer them

Many couples decide to use two separate officiants – one for each religion; this could mean having a Rabbi and an independent celebrant conduct the ceremony. There are many Rabbis out there who are happy to conduct an interfaith ceremony and they will also have suggestions on how to incorporate your religion into a mixed faith ceremony.

Some religious ceremony traditions are much easier to incorporate into an interfaith ceremony and traditions unique to just one faith can be blended perfectly to make a balanced, beautiful ceremony.

For instance, if one of you is Catholic and one is Jewish, there are large parts of a Catholic mass that would work really well including certain readings and even the ‘peace be with you handshake’. This is when you engage in the sign of peace by shaking the hands of the people around you and saying, “Peace be with you.” Each handshake preferably includes a smile and at least one full second of eye contact.

Francesca & Andrew’s Jewish-Irish Catholic wedding. Click here to read their wedding story

In addition, many Catholic-Jewish couples choose to celebrate the beloved Christian tradition of the lighting of the unity candle with the celebrant reciting this exquisite saying from the Ba’al Shem Tov :

“From every human being, there rises a light, that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls, destined to be together, find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.”

Jewish – Muslim weddings are more complicated to arrange, but by no means impossible. The important thing is to remember to consult with your families along the way. This gives you and your family members time to process and address any concerns and prevents any surprise reactions on your big day and don’t forget to take family halal or kosher dietary needs into account for the reception.

So what about using a Rabbi and an Imam in your ceremony?  It can be done – assess what prayers and traditions are typical for a Jewish wedding and Muslim wedding.  Then, meet together with both to figure out the best options. The ultimate would be to have a beautiful ceremony, intertwining blessings from both religions and incorporating Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

Sarah & Ben’s Jewish-Muslim wedding. Click here to read their wedding story

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Meet my July sponsors!

I love these suppliers and I really think you will too! All these incredible businesses sponsor Smashing The Glass because they love Jewish weddings (and know every little detail about them) and want to work with more readers like you. They also happen to be some of the very best wedding vendors in the business (believe me, I’m incredibly fussy about who I partner with).

If you want to support Smashing The Glass, using one of these suppliers for your wedding is the best way to do so. They’re how I’m able to continue the blog and I only ever take on sponsors who align with my aesthetic and who I would only ever use myself.

It’s my hope that you’ll discover exactly what you’re looking for, either via the links below, or by regularly clicking through the ads running down the right hand side of the blog. And if you’re a vendor looking to join the Smashing The Glass family, here’s how to collaborate as a sponsor!

Beautiful handcrafted, ethically made wedding bands created from reclaimed gold by Omi Gold

Odi Caspi, a wedding photographer with a fashion background, shoots weddings and portraits in a natural, fun and creative style

Charlotte Jade create hand drawn, striking designs in pretty colours for beautiful bespoke wedding stationery

Exquisite Bloomsbury house is set in the heart of London’s West End and is yours to hire exclusively Bloomsbury-House

Beautifully personal and creative wedding photography by Shaun Taylor

Traditional Jewish music for your Chuppah and Wedding party guaranteed to thrill your guests by Shir

Awe-inspiring, versatile and super-sophisticated London wedding venue, RSA House

The most beautiful and stylish wedding gift list service from Prezola. Everything you can think of – all in one place

Breathtakingly creative documentary wedding photography by John Nassari

BE Group TLV plan very special weddings in Israel’s most exclusive locations

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Indo-Italian-Jewish wedding at The Garden City Hotel, Long Island, New York, USA

One of my main aims when I started Smashing The Glass was to ensure there would be an abundance of Jew-ish wedding inspiration, by which I mean interfaith wedding inspiration for readers who are marrying out, marrying in (or anywhere in between for that matter) – I call it Jew-ish!

Prior to starting the blog, I remember hearing the same complaint over and over again from friends who were marrying the love of their loves who were of another faith. They desperately wanted a ceremony that embraced both their and their partner’s religion / culture, but there was simply no inspiration, online or offline, for how to create a meaningful fusion Jew-ish wedding.

As a result the blog covers an array of topics from 5 ways to incorporate Jewish’ into a non-Jewish or Interfaith wedding to a diary of a Jewish bride who ‘married out‘, to spotlighting awesome Smashing Suppliers like Rabbi Paul Glantz who has lovingly officiated countless beautiful interfaith Jewish weddings.

It therefore goes without saying that I love blogging mixed faith Jew-ish weddings as part of this focus. I’ve showcased several Indian-Jewish weddings on the blog before, and they are often very colourful affairs, but today’s W Day takes brights and rainbow hues to another level and should definitely be viewed with your sunglasses on!

Ritu, of Indian heritage, and Greg, who’s Jewish, very much wanted a single ceremony versus two separate ones. They found that many of their individual traditions were able to be seamlessly intertwined eg. the chuppah / mandap structure is both a symbol of the home that they would build together (chuppah) and the universe (mandap) and the framework of each is very similar. This blending of both their cultures into one meaningful ceremony meant a lot to them (and by the way, I have a post going live this Friday on how to successfully mix two faiths into one beautiful ceremony… watch this space!).

This entire wedding is magnificent, and not only do we have the images from Priyanca Rao Photography, but also the wedding video from Unique Visions Studio. Ritu’s wedding report is super fun to read too. Don’t miss a beat!

Indo-Italian-Jewish wedding at The Garden City Hotel, Long Island, New York, USA Indo-Italian-Jewish wedding at The Garden City Hotel, Long Island, New York, USA
How we met

I am not sure this story makes me look all that good! My friend (and eventual bridesmaid) Claudia and I were at a party for The Brooklyn Rugby Club’s final game of the season. I was a little hesitant about going in the first place… I had been sorta casually spending time with one of the rugby players and that dalliance had recently ended in a full on crash and burn! But Claudia convinced me to accompany her. And then I met the new guy on the team – Greg Aguele. He followed us to another bar and struck up a conversation with me. I was definitely stand-offish – I didn’t want to be the Brooklyn Rugby Groupie! But I will never forget him saying “I get it. But listen, I am a nice guy, and I think we should get to know each other”. And so we did.

Indo-Italian-Jewish wedding at The Garden City Hotel, Long Island, New York, USA
The perfect  Venue

You know how often the first dress a bride tries on is  THE dress? Well that was the the case regarding our venue. The Garden City Hotel was actually recommended by my father. The second I met with the team there, led by Jerry Rizzo, I was in love. We wanted a place that was close to where we both grew up and where both our families could easily get to. And we loved that all of our events (an Indian wedding can have quite a few) could be in one central place where all guests could also stay.

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Real Jewish Brides: Introducing Dawn + Harley… how they met to the present day

In the summer of 2013, Harley and I both joined JDate. He was moving to South Florida by himself from Montreal and looking to make a connection, and I may have been a bit bored in graduate school looking for some Jewish romance! Although neither of us actually lived in Palm Beach County at the time (he still had a few more weeks in Montreal, and although I am originally from Palm Beach I had one more year of graduate school in North Florida), we both indicated that we were from the area and showed up in each other’s searches. We began messaging, Facebook-ing, texting, and Skype-ing (to ensure that neither one was a 60 year old cat lady) every day until we finally met on June 24th, 2013…just hours after he had officially moved to the United States!

Our first date consisted of eating “snowballs” at Jupiter Beach, and I later admitted that I probably would have done a lot more complaining about the sand burning my feet if we had known each other longer! I had to return to school in Jacksonville immediately after our date, but it would only be two days until we’d see each other again because Harley conveniently purchased a car from South Carolina and had to drive it back down to Florida.

He quickly passed the roommate/friend test by becoming an extension of our friend group that week and even going on “man dates” with my friend’s boyfriend while we were in class. Being the themed-party lover that I am, I wanted to make sure that Harley was able to properly celebrate his first Canada Day living in the United States. My friends and I surprised him with a celebration even William Shatner would envy. complete with Canadian beer, maple syrup, “ice fishing” in the sink with a Fischer Price toy fishing set, and a homemade version of “Pin the Antlers on the Moose.” I had officially won Harley over by throwing him his first ever surprise party, and so began our love story!

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A bride in a green wedding dress for a rustic Jewish wedding at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, USA

A-bride-in-a-green-wedding-dress-for-a-creative-Jewish-wedding-at-Bridgeport-Art-Center,-Chicago USA
Any bride who chooses to wear a green wedding dress is an absolute winner in my book, but Claudia takes it one step further with the cutest little green veil! Definitely a superstar in my book for daring to go against the grain and wear whatever maker her feel best for her big day.

And then there’s the florals (seriously, have you seen the chuppah?). And the super cool stationery. And the warmth and love radiating from every single image by Allison Williams Photography. And…. you get the picture – this wedding is very, very special.

Ryan, the groom, converted to Judaism and embraced Claudia’s family and Jewish traditions emphatically. I loved seeing their modern take of all the Jewish wedding traditions in the wedding film at the bottom of the post. Have a peek – it’s an absolutely gorgeous film

In a slight deviation from the norm, the narration of this W-Day comes directly from Carlene Smith of  Naturally Yours, Claudia & Ryan’s super talented wedding planner.

Enjoy! This wedding may very well make you green with envy (could not resist, but you’ll excuse me because it’s a Friday, right?). Happy weekend everyone!

A bride in a green wedding dress for a creative Jewish wedding at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, USA A bride in a green wedding dress for a creative Jewish wedding at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, USA A bride in a green wedding dress for a creative Jewish wedding at Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago, USA
How they met

Carlene Smith, their Wedding Planner: Despite attending the same college, Claudia and Ryan didn’t meet until they attended a serendipitous goodbye party for a mutual friend in New York. After their initial conversation, Ryan instantly felt moved by Claudia. He asked her out, but she said no!

In the form of an email, Ryan laid out a convincing argument as to why she should go on a date with him – and she agreed! Fast forward a few years later, Ryan planned an elaborate proposal that involved a cute scavenger hunt (including their friends and family from all over the country) that ended with him on one knee on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building.

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