Any atheists here get married in a church?

So I’m going to be getting married next year, and we’re thinking about venues. I’d always been pretty sure I didn’t want a church wedding. I’d feel like a hypocrite, and anyway since the rules were loosened up in the UK a few years back, lots of nice venues now have licences so that the whole ceremony and reception can be held in one place. My fiancee is more amenable to religion than I am (heck, most people are!) but she is perfectly cool with a non-church wedding.

But a couple of friends and family have suggested that we should still consider a church wedding, purely because the setting is attractive. The ceremony doesn’t have to be overtly religious, they say, and I can kind of see the attraction in a pretty village church. But on the other hand I went to a church for a christening the other day, and felt pretty stupid sitting there listening to stuff I didn’t believe or even actively disagreed with.

What are your thoughts? I’m 90% certain we won’t opt for a church anyway, but I’m interested to hear opinions. From atheists - did you get married in church? If not married, would you consider it? And from Christians, would you consider it bad form for a self-confessed atheist to marry a “non-practising” Christian in a church? Would getting married in a church purely because it’s a pretty setting be, well, wrong?

I’m an atheist and I got married in a church that was an historical landmark by a justice of the peace. Didn’t bother me in the least and our “donation” to the church was tax deductible.


For a couple of agnostics we didn’t get married in a church.
And I don’t know if I’d agree with your friends that a church is an attractive setting. It really depends on the church.
I’ve been to my fair share of weddings the past 5 years and the most beautiful ones have not been in churches. Lakeside gazebos, tents in botanical gardens, oceanside bluffs, etc. I preferred way more than some stuffy old church.

No, but I would have.

I assign no value to a church other than being an interesting building with decent seating, and a raised dais so that people can see better.

My wife didn’t want to though. We had a minister marry us where we had the reception.

Oh, there are some very beautiful old churches around here. Unfortunately, it seems to be a general rule that the more chocolate-box-pretty the village church, the more reactionary the vicar.

My wife and I, atheists both, got married in a church. She had been raised Lutheran (me RC), and had had a positive relationship with the minister when she was young. So it meant something to her to have him officiate. And, as has been said before, churches are pretty places to be married.

The minister let us cut out just about all of the “Goddy” stuff that was not absolutely required - I’d be surprised if our ceremony lasted 20 minutes.

He met with us once before the marriage, and had us fill out a form concerning our views on such things as children, finances, etc. Not a horrible exercise, just to make sure we were on the same page. Apparently many people get married without even thinking about whether they have the same attitude towards household finances, the role of religion in the education of their future kids, etc.

This guy married us in his church even tho we both said we had no intention of attending any church, and intended religion to play no role in the raising of our kids. I’ve occasionally wondered if he should have officiated, given our avowed disbelief.

Part of it also was a sop to our parents, who still went to their respective churches. Of course for my mom it was a wasted effort, because in her RC eyes anything other than an RC marriage wasn’t really a marriage.

Looking back at it, my preference would have been to have been married by a judge - especially one of the many I have gotten to know throughout my career. Or one of a couple of UU ministers I have known. But I didn’t know any judges or UU ministers at the time.

Being in a church makes my horns and tail ache.

I did allow one or two uses of the G-word in the ceremony just to make my grandma happy. Of course, she still pouted.

“Grandpa”? :stuck_out_tongue:

We did. I wasn’t a good atheist, but I certainly had no lingering residue of christianity, I suppose she was agnostic at the time. Primarily did it at her parents church because they are very religious and I didn’t care so much about the ceremony. Signing the paper made it legal, having an old guy babble endlessly was little more than a minor inconvenience.

Also, her parents paid for everything.
Her dad did offer me quite a bit of cash to call the whole thing off and elope, but that’s another show.

I wasn’t an atheist at the time I got married, but I had renounced my Catholic faith. I was not about to subject my husband( a protestant) to be to the horrendous pre cana tripe that my friends had been through, but I felt I needed to be married in a church. Any church.

I decided on one called “The Friendship Church”. Future hubby and I met with the minister and he counseled us on communicating with one another and trust issues and future goals. He never once asked about pre marital sex, and didn’t flinch when we told him we’d been living together for six months. We got married in his little church. He didn’t charge a fee but said donations were welcomed. Hubs paid him fifty dollars, but with my large ass family there I’m sure he got some word of mouth advertising.

Today I have no idea why I needed to have a church or even a minister validate our relationship. It seems odd to me now,and to my husband also as we are both atheists. Neither one of us regrets our decision way back then(1985) as our minister was friendly and helpful, and most importantly non judgmental.

Oh yeah, to the OP: Marry wherever you like. If you believe God will bless you, he won’t care about your venue. If you don’t believe, it doesn’t matter where you get married. What matters is that you enjoy it.

Yep, the full Catholic monty.

Recommend you choose a different denomination: we had to go through the Catholic “training” and bureaucracy, though I suspect the priest we were dealing with was an atheist too, which made it fairly painless. She’s an ex Catholic and I’m an ex Protestant, so (it being Ireland) we had to attend a special course for “mixed marriages” and found during smoke breaks that about 50% of the other couples there were non-believers too.

Too late to edit, but I wanted to say our minister cancelled out “love, honour and obey” with “love, honour and respect”. He was cool that way.

Look, I was all for “obey” but future hubby admitted he knew he’d have to do what I said anyway.

Not wrong, but maybe… superficial? Only you can decide whether getting married in a church would go against your own principles. If they’re willing to welcome you despite your disbelief, good on them.

Congratulations and good luck!

At the time of our wedding, I leaned more toward agnostic than to the full-blown atheism I’ve since adopted. My wife is Indian, I’m white – in an attempt to please everyone, we got married in a Hindu temple first, then in a botanical garden by a non-denominational Christian-ish minister. Both settings were quite beautiful. The religious aspects bothered me a little at the time, although not enough to fight for the secular wedding I would have preferred. Since then, my attitudes toward religion have hardened, and I think I’d be less willing to get married in a religious ceremony today.

I grew up Catholic, and part of me wanted a Catholic wedding in the gorgeous 19th-century church I grew up in. The missus would have been OK with it, but I couldn’t go through with it. It just seemed dishonest. But then, I did agree to one religious ceremony in a language I couldn’t understand, and one that was Christian, albeit thoroughly watered down. I suppose that was no less dishonest by my logic, but there it is. See above: attempt to please everyone.

Short answer to the OP – it bothered me a little at the time; it would bother me more now.

Full-on atheist here, got married in a church with all the trimmings. Why? My husband’s family is religious (in fact, my FIL performed the ceremony, and my grandfather-in-law, also a minister, gave a lovely homily). To me, it boiled down to a question of respect and understanding the hurtful impact that forgoing a church wedding would have caused. It was far less painful for me to grin and bear it for a day than to cause the genuine sadness and humiliation that would have resulted from a refusal to have a church wedding (actually, I doubt I would be the sort of spouse my husband would choose if I’d been that militant about it).

A lot harder than the wedding, for me, was the baptism of our son. We had to stand up in church and say, out loud, that we would raise our son as a Christian. Ouch, that was exceedingly uncomfortable, and I felt like a shitty liar. I fervently wished, and still do, that I lived in a world where my beliefs were well enough respected that I could have avoided the whole thing.

But once again, consideration for family feelings trumped my own desires. As unpleasant as I remember the day of the baptism to be, I’d do it all over again if I had to.

Bog and I got married in my parents back yard. Under a tree I’d played in all my life. It was the best wedding, IMMHO. :smiley:

Sounds neat. Can you get married anywhere in the USA? Do you have to get a specific licence for that place, or just get the minister to turn up?

Over here you can only get married at a licensed venue, which by law must be “seemly and dignified” (at least at the start of proceedings, anyway :stuck_out_tongue: ). Open-air venues are not allowed, I believe.

It varies a little state-by-state, but pretty much. Don’t really need a minister in some places - in Colorado you just need witnesses.

I’m an atheist and I was married in a church. However, I was raised Christian and my father is a minister and performed the ceremony. I’m a closet atheist as far as my parents are concerned and it would have been a bit awkward to do anything else. I also maintain a philosophical relationship with Christianity, so it felt right. I just don’t believe all the supernatural stuff anymore.

I’m an atheist, as most Dutch people are. The timing of the OP is excellent; my fiance and I might get around to marrying somewhere next year.

In the Netherlands, every wedding is offcially a state wedding, performed by a city-council official. Unless the couple specifically asks for it, there is usually no religion involved in the ceremony. If the couple wish to, they can get married in church of their choice as well, (or have a friend perform any self chosen ritual in a place of their choosing) but the ceremony is purely religious and isn’t officially recognized. Most couples who choose to have a church ceremony as wel as a civil one do both the same day, and go from one ceremony to the other.

Other couples have the two ceremonies some time apart, which offers the possibility to have two ceremonies for the two sides of the family That Don’t Talk To Each Other Anymore.

In my hometown Maastricht, a couple getting a civil marriage can choose between three pretty locations; town hall, a medieval town house/museum in the center of town, and a nearby castle/restaurant. it isn’t possible to have the offical come to your house.

I don’t think I would get a church wedding. I like the ceremony attached to it, and I like visiting religious weddings from friends. I’m not an atheist on principle; I was just raised to consider atheism as a self-evident, but somewhat barren truth, and religion a nice embellishment of life, not to be taken too seriously. So I’ll even take the host and pray along, to get in the atmosphere of things and to participate.

But for myself, no: a church wedding would just be redundant.