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Religious weddings in the USA

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Religion plays a very important role in the lives of people in the US, and many couples choose to marry according to their religious beliefs.

Around 79% of Americans are Christian, mainly Protestant, Catholic or Mormon; there are several hundred Christian denominations, including Baptist, Methodist, and Lutheran.

There are smaller but important communities of Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and other world religions in the USA. Each religion has its own unique marriage rituals and ceremonies. 

In the eyes of God...

Many couples in the USA choose a religious wedding as a way of sealing their union in the eyes of their God in their traditional place of worship. Depending on their religion and/or denomination, the bride and groom can choose from a vast number of churches, chapels, temples, synagogues, and meeting houses for their marriage ceremony, and may also choose to get married at their home or another location.

In many US states, the marriage license laws make it possible to get married pretty much wherever you choose, following your religious beliefs and traditional or alternative wedding rituals, as long as a registered officiant conducts the ceremony. Many religions require premarital counseling before tying the knot. 

Wedding celebrants or officiants

A celebrant or officiant is licensed to officiate at a marriage ceremony, including clergy, priests, pastors, reverends, rabbis, non-denominational ministers, and any civil non-religious ceremony officiant such as judges, justices of the peace.

It is important to check with the chosen officiant if it is possible to perform the ceremony outside their place of worship as it may not be recognized by your church.

Your local county clerk will be able to assist with finding a celebrant for your religious wedding.

Interfaith marriages

chelsea_clinton_weddingMarriages between members of different religions are becomingly increasingly common; about one in three US couples have different religious beliefs.

Perhaps the most famous recent interfaith marriage is that of Bill and Hilary Clinton's daughter Chelsea, a Methodist, and Marc Mezvinsky, who is Jewish. The wedding was co-officiated by officiants from both faiths.

Humanist and secular ceremonies

Religious marriage officiants can also officiate at a non-religious ceremony. Humanist and secular ceremonies are also popular, with many elements of traditional wedding ceremonies without the references to a god or deity. Humanist officiants in the USA are usually categorized as “clergy” and generally have the same rights and responsibilities as ordained clergy.

Humanist officiants often perform alternative and non-traditional weddings where religious clergy will not, often performing ceremonies in locations such as parks, beaches, boats, hotels, banquet halls, and private homes. Humanist officiants may also officiate at secular weddings for interfaith couples.

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