Interfaith Wedding Ceremony ideas

Our son and his long term gf just announced yesterday that they got engaged.

We are Jewish (secular), her family is Irish Catholic, not particularly religious but probably more so than us.

They want a ceremony that would honor both of their backgrounds, and are brainstorming different ideas, so I thought I’d reach out here, as you guys have always come through with the most thoughtful useful advice on many different topics.

Any specific suggestions in the Philadelphia area are especially welcome.

Thank you in advance!



As an Irish Catholic, in order to have the marriage recognized by the church, the ceremony will need to be in a Catholic Church, even if not a full Mass, unless the venue is accepted by the diocese. My mom’s cousin (a catholic priest) was given permission to marry us in our church.

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I think you need more information. Do they want a religious ceremony at all? One which will be recognized in either faith? Or do they just want to acknowledge the two faith traditions?


I suggest they determine which traditions of each religion they want to incorporate (ketubah? chuppah? certain vows from the Catholic ceremony?) and then find a clergy person who is willing to work with them.

I would start by contacting a Catholic chaplain at a university.

My husband was raised as a Catholic and I was raised as a Protestant and we had a wedding in a Protestant church with a priest and Protestant pastor officiating - the pastor was the one who actually married us.

These give a start of things to consider.

And I saw this book referenced:

My family is Jewish, and both our kids married out. My DIL attends an Episcopal church in their city, so her Priest, and what we refer to is a rent a Rabbi, jointly preformed the ceremony at an outside venue. As my son did not belong to a local synagogue, there was not a local Rabbi that would marry them; they had to find a Rabbi that would travel for the ceremony. The kids had a ketubah and chuppah, which my son wanted, where my DIL chose the prayers. She selected ones that would not cause my son’s grandparents to cringe.

The Priest was wonderful, the Rabbi was just fair. My Jewish family and friends all thought the service was beautiful, and I believe my DIL’s family and friends felt the same.

For my daughter’s wedding, she and her husband wanted a Jewish ceremony; SIL was not a fan of organized religion, growing up at the Church of England, so wanted to do whatever my daughter wanted. As we belong to a conservative synagogue, our Rabbi would not marry them, so a local reform Rabbi preformed the ceremony. He had the kids attend marriage consulting with him; as they were living in London, most sessions were by Zoom, although they had one or two in person while in town. I think these session helped my SIL understand that religion was not a terrible thing as he adored the Rabbi. Their daughter attends preschool at a local Temple and will be raised Jewish; this was decided before they got married.


Thanks for the suggestions so far.

They wouldn’t worry about the church recognizing the marriage or not,
and doing it in church is out, as my son didn’t want that, so probably something in a
‘neutral’ location with possibly both the priest and the rabbi present.


I haven’t looked into this lately but I’ve found that in the past, a priest would only marry in their church and the non catholic must promise that any children be raised catholic.

Reason why we married in my husband’s religion. We only had to promise to raise our children Christian.

Maybe catholic interfaith weddings have changed? Priest are more welcoming of “mixed” marriages?

Edited to say that things have changed? Depends on the situation and priest? Glad to hear that this is happening.

I would look at the symbolism behind the traditions and decide what the couple wants to incorporate.

I like the bride walking with both parents and the groom walking with both parents. I believe that is more of a Jewish custom.

There are many interpretations behind the meaning of the chuppah. In my mind, it represents the joining of families. I once read that, traditionally, two branches from trees from the groom’s family’s home and two branches from the bride’s family’s home were used to hold the canopy which symbolized the home that the couple will create together. Both the brides parents and the grooms parents stand at the corners of the chuppah as couple, and the two families, are joined.

If you are looking for a religious component that both sides will feel comfortable with, maybe incorporate the seven blessings.

I’ve seen the hora danced at weddings where neither the bride, nor the groom, were Jewish.

Whatever you include, you might create a program for guests to describe the customs and why the couple chose to incorporate them.

Just attended an interfaith wedding today with one secular Jewish, one atheist. So the atheist didn’t really have any tradition to uphold, but for nods to the Jewish side they married under a chuppah, a relative gave a few words about the timing of the wedding (leading up to the high holy days), and they broke a glass.

My own wedding was interfaith but we didn’t acknowledge either of the faiths particularly other than a couple of Jewish ideas - having a chuppah and having both bride and groom escorted by both parents. Wedding was on a Sunday, which didn’t seem a problem for the Christian side.

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It will probably be more difficult to find a priest (and possibly a rabbi as well) who will co-officiate than one who will do interfaith marriages.

Actually, it seems there are several rabbis and some Catholic priests in the Philadelphia area who specifically advertise that they do interfaith marriages, particularly for those who aren’t members anywhere. Not sure if the priests just mean other Christian faiths than Catholic, but certainly the rabbis mean other faiths than Jewish!

We recently attended a wedding where the bride was Catholic. They wanted an outdoor ceremony and no Catholic priest would even consider their venue. They chose the elements of a wedding ceremony they felt were meaningful and important. They then had a fabulous and sensitive Justice of the Peace who actually did the ceremony with and for them. It was lovely.


That’s great! Will they co-officiate as well?

If they actually want a religious wedding, I suggest reading the link below. I think it’s a good summary of the rules from a Catholic point of view.

I hesitate to post this, but… when you say that there are Catholic priests who advertize they will perform interfaith marriages, you should be aware that, while that it is possible, it is unlikely. Some of the “priests” who advertise they will do interfaith marriages are not priests and/or are not priests in good standing.

There are some people who act as if they are Catholic priests and perform weddings and baptisms for Catholics who cannot or do not wish to follow Church rules. These marriages are not regarded as valid by the Catholic Church. See

A variant of this is the “American Catholic Church,” which I assure you is NOT recognized by the Catholic Church. See for example, this wedding in the NY Times. “Antoinette Yeh, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tsun-Cheng Yeh of Ardsley, N.Y., was married yesterday to Marc Justin Genovese, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Genovese of Avon, Conn. The Rev. Robert J. Allmen, a priest of the American Catholic Church in the United States, officiated at Oheka, the Otto Kahn house in Cold Spring Hills, N.Y.”

Or this gay ceremony, also reported in the Times “Rodney D. Harder and Ray B. Gray Jr., artists and art teachers in New York, celebrated their partnership yesterday. The Rev. David A. Murphy, a priest of the American Catholic Church in the United States, led the ceremony at the couple’s home in Cooks Falls, N.Y.”
Or another gay “Catholic” wedding
“Dr. Luis Etienne Tollinche and Peter Raymond Meyer were married Wednesday evening at Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant in New York. The Rev. Ed Ingebretsen, a priest affiliated with the American Catholic Church in the United States, officiated.”

Please note: I am not telling you or anyone else not to make use of their services; I just think many of them mislead people into thinking they are Church approved. Obviously, that’s not the case for a gay couple; they are aware that they cannot marry in the Church. But there are people who think they’ve found a priest who will marry them despite the fact that one of them is divorced and has not obtained an annulment of the previous marriage or the couple doesn’t want to get any counseling.

I’m just trying to make you aware that these “priests” are usually not actual Catholic priests. (There’s one group of men who dress as if they are Franciscans. Slight problem: most of them are married and certainly don’t live in a monastery.)

If anyone in your daughter in law’s family is a practicing Catholic, they might well be more offended by a wedding performed by one of these men than they would be by a civil ceremony.

Again,just making you aware of the issue; not telling you what the young couple should do.

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Some priest will travel to another church to perform a wedding, but most require the venue to be a church. My sister was married by a priest at the chapel at U of Denver, originally a Methodist school (no mass that I can remember). A friend was married in the Episcopal cathedral with both Episcopal and catholic priests on the alter, and a mass was said. A friend was married in a catholic church by the president of Regis University, a Jesuit priest.

There aren’t many options for getting married outside by a priest in our area. There is the grotto at Our Lady of Lourdes, but really, it is like getting married on a sidewalk and not private at all - just get married in the church which is 20 feet away!

My parent had mixed marriage in 1954, she catholic and he (gasp) Episcopalian. They had to get married outside the alter, no non-catholics in the wedding party, no mass. My mother’s family wasn’t happy because she was not marrying a catholic. My father’s mother almost had a stroke just thinking about his being kidnapped by Rome.

I worked for a judge who stopped doing weddings when he was promoted to district judge (usually county judges do them, unless for friends or family). He was a very religious person and was uncomfortable doing them because many people wanted a civil wedding with a lot of religion thrown in, even though there weren’t religious and ‘didn’t believe’. He just didn’t want to do the religious aspects.

My husband and I married in a Catholic church (he’s Catholic, I am Protestant). His parish priest at the time was very progressive and allowed my pastor to officiate along with him. He also allowed everyone to participate in the eucharist that day, regardless of religious background.

I don’t think you’ll find a Catholic priest who will officiate a wedding at a location other than the Catholic church (although they may make exceptions in case where someone was hospital-bound, which doesn’t apply here).

Wow that is progressive! My parents had a mixed married in 1966, she was Catholic (an ex nun), my dad Methodist, parents weren’t happy at first, but they did have a Catholic mass in a Catholic Church. At my mom’s funeral Mass, my dad tried to take communion (dementia) but the priest (mom’s cousin) refused.

My kids wete married by a retired NYS Supreme Court judge who was absolutely fantastic. The wedding was tailored/personalized to what they wanted. If you live in the NY area and are interested, I can PM you the information.


I don’t have any recommendations but I’m so happy they have their hearts in a meaningful ceremony and that it seems you are supporting them.

You mention they want to “honor both backgrounds” - this to me says to honor some of the traditions but not necessarily the “religions” if that makes sense.

As someone who was raised Catholic (my dad’s background) but my mom was Jewish I am so happy to have been exposed to both - they both (for better or worse, no pun intended…) have influenced my way of thinking.

Maybe ask the couple which rituals or routines of their faith are most important to them - make that “list” and then have it ready to present to a potential officiant.