For me, the most important aspect of wedding planning, after finding a venue and caterer, is selecting an officiant. This is particularly difficult for Mr. Spaniel and I because of our multicultural backgrounds, and MINE in particular.
So I was kvetching to MOH that I wanted to have a "partially Jewish ceremony," but there were five obstacles to finding a rabbi who could perform the ceremony: (1) I don't really consider myself to be Jewish anymore (except culturally), (2) I am not joining anyone's congregation, (3) Mr. Spaniel is not Jewish at all and will not consider conversion, and (4) we don't plan to raise our children Jewish (um, except culturally... they will know their backgrounds, but we won't be taking them to synagogue on the High Holidays or anything...), and (5) we're getting married on a Saturday, and possibly before sun-down. I guess any rabbi who was willing to let the first four obstacles slide, though, would probably not be terribly concerned about the fifth! Wonderful helper that she is, MOH offered to call on some of her connections (i.e., the rabbi who did her wedding, and people at the Jewish day school where she works) to see if she couldn't find me some referrals anyway. I can't even tell you how helpful it is to have a MOH who has already been married. :)
I know this would make my family happy. I may have put some distance between myself and my religion, but Mama Spaniel has gotten really into it in the last few years, and the rest of her family certainly still thinks of themselves as Jewish. And even though my dad's family members are all adherents of a different faith, I think they would appreciate the symbolism of a Jewish wedding, which shares some rituals in common with Islamic weddings. (In any event, they think I'm Jewish, and they wouldn't be offended byand in fact would expect me to havea Jewish wedding.)
I'm not so sure about Mr. Spaniel's family, though. Where my family is Jewish and Muslim, his family is Catholic and atheist. I'm not worried about offending the atheists since we're not really planning to talk about god too much (and a certain amount of that is generally expected at weddings) But Mr. Spaniel thinks it might throw off his Catholic mother to have a rabbi perform the ceremony. I never would have thought that it would bother her, but maybe?
I'm just not sure who could do a wedding that was part-Jewish than a rabbi, unless it was a rabbi and someone else (and I'm not really keen on co-officiants for a 20-minute ceremony; it just seems a bit much). So I just assumed, when I told Mr. Spaniel that I wanted this, that he realized I meant I wanted a rabbi to do the wedding. I can't imagine asking a "non-denominational minister" to perform Jewish rituals that he might not understand, or even know at all.
Obviously Mr. Spaniel and I will have to talk about this for a while longer until we come up with a solution, and maybe interview some officiants before we make a decision. I don't need a rabbi if someone else can do the same thing. What I really want is someone who is able to understand the very complicated backgrounds we come from, our personal (lack of) faith, and be able to meld all of the interests of our families and ourselves together in a way that is respectful of everyone. Is that too much to ask?
Or we could just have this guy do it.