Be aware that choosing a church isn't always as easy as it sounds. Some churches are booked solid months in advance, others have special requirements that couples must meet before they can walk down the aisle. And what if you and the bride are from different religious backgrounds?Waiting and Waiting … and Waiting
Many churches have long waiting lists, some as long as several months, during which time you may also be required to attend premarital classes or counseling. Give yourselves plenty of time if your heart is set on a particular church; being flexible doesn't hurt, either. (If the waiting period determines that you'll miss out on a Spring wedding this year, maybe a Fall wedding would be just as lovely.)
If you or your bride has a minister who is almost like family and you can't imagine getting married without him or her presiding over the vows, get on the horn right away. Give him or her plenty of time to work out a date with the two of you. Although this clergy member
You're from a family of atheists; your bride's clan are devoted Christians. Can you two bring a couple of hundred philosophically and theologically opposed wedding guests together for a peaceful evening? No, it's not the premise for the next big reality television series, it's your wedding day! When you and the bride are of very different religious backgrounds, how can you put together a wedding that will please everyone?
First, you have to decide whom you're trying to please. If having peace in the family is extremely important to you (and to many couples it is), then you might try a hybrid ceremony, where a civil officiant (a judge or a justice of the peace) and a religious cleric (or clergy from each of your churches) stand side-by-side and pronounce the two of you husband and wife.
Combining religions or officiants in one ceremony isn't always an option, depending on which religions you're trying to merge. Talk to your officiant as early as possible about what you'd like to do.
In some instances, one partner may decide that the religious issue just isn't that big a deal and will agree to be married by the other's choice of minister (civil or religious). What's most important here, though, is that the final decision is made by the two of you — not by your mother, not by your fiancée's mother, not by one of your grandmothers. The choice to please all of the important people in your life is a noble one; the choice to remain true to your beliefs is noble, too.
If you choose to be married in your fiancée's church and you don't belong to her particular religion, you may be required to follow a set of guidelines before the minister will consent to marry the two of you. This may be as extreme as converting to her religion, so you'll have a lot to think about. Again, make sure the decision is
A civil ceremony is usually much shorter than a religious one. Think of it as the streamlined approach to saying your vows. That's not to say that you can't include your own touches: Writing your own vows, for example, or including some special music.
If you plan on adding personal details to your wedding, you should inform your officiant well before the ceremony. He may be running on a tight schedule, and you don't want him slipping out the back door before you've said, “I do.”
A civil ceremony can usually be performed at the site you've chosen for your reception, though in some localities, there may be restrictions. (Check with your county clerk and your reception site.) The benefit of this, of course, is that your guests won't have to worry about a delay between the ceremony and the reception, and you won't have any downtime between the two events, either.