Monday, February 23, 2009

Choosing an officiant

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 by—and in fact would expect me to have—a 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.


  1. The Princess Bride is awesome in so many ways. I've been to a wedding once where the officiant quoted the whole thing and it was lost on the audience, most of which hadn't seen it, but there was a row of us who were irreverently laughing to death.

  2. I had two friends get married that were in a similar situation. Bride was Jewish, groom was catholic, but neither was very religious. I think they had a Unitarian minister, but did the whole stepping on the glass thing and then we all did the hora and lifted up everyone in chairs and carried them around. I think everyone was pleased.

    Finding a minister who is willing and knowledgeable enough about some of the jewish rites could be a challenge. I'm not sure where you are, but here in the bay area it wasn't too hard I don't think. I'm not sure, but I'm also pretty sure the minister was gay from a convo I had with him after the ceremony.

    Or you could do what two other friends are going to be doing this summer who are in the inverse situation (jewish groom, gentile bride). They are going to have one of our mutual friends from law school officiate it.

    ideas at least

  3. We're thinking about going with a Unitarian minister, actually, especially since we're thinking about joining a local Unitarian congregation (someday, maybe). We'd probably just go with the glass thing and a ketubah, since the chair thing has always scared the bejeezus out of me!


Comment moderation policy: I delete spam and comments in languages that I do not read.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin