How do we tell his family that we are having a secular wedding?
February 8, 2015 7:56 PM   Subscribe

My fiance and I are both atheists with strong antitheist views. We're getting married in November and want something that represents us. His family, however, is extremely religious (Baptist) and will have certain expectations of us; they don't easily take no for an answer. What is the best way to balance the two worlds?

We don't have a lot of money and we're big on DIY anyway. We're planning for a nice ceremony with maybe 30 people. One the one hand, we want an officiant (secular) but on the other, if we have any sort of officiant his family is going to have very pressing questions, and be very distressed.

To further elaborate the level of religion we're talking about, his brother's wedding was basically a church service. There was a lot of praying, singing and they had a church style luncheon afterwards. While his sister's wasn't as bad it still included praying and preaching.

He and I are both extremely adamant about not including any of that in our wedding. This is causing him more distress than me, I'm guessing because I already outed myself as an atheist to my family and he has not to his. I don't blame him, I wouldn't want to either, my family is more casual in their religion.

The biggest problem is that we both really love his family and don't want to disappoint them. We don't want to just say "eff you", we want to try to make everyone happy, we're just at a loss as to what we can do. I suggested that if his family wants to have a prayer at the dinner, that would be fine, but he thinks that won't be enough for them.

What can we do to ease them into understanding that we're not trying to mock their religion by not having a religious wedding ourselves?
posted by DriftingLotus to Religion & Philosophy (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe the two of you have a really close friend who you could ask to be your officiant? Presumably they know he's not very close with the family's pastor, even if they don't know his religious views, so he could explain that it would have so much more meaning to the two of you to have your friend officiate than anyone else. It could even be a member of his family who might understand and consider it a big honor? It's one thing to impugn some random person and quite another to say your best friend or the person who means nearly as much to you as your soon-to-be-spouse isn't acceptable.
posted by Mizu at 8:10 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just clarifying: Anything other than a pastor is pretty unacceptable to his family.
posted by DriftingLotus at 8:14 PM on February 8, 2015

It's time for your future spouse to put you, and your shared beliefs, before the wishes of his family.

Let them be upset, it's their choice. But laying the groundwork of your lives as autonomous adults will save you many future fights which will be much messier.

How they react - with love or with scorn - will tell you everything you need to know about them in your future together.
posted by littlewater at 8:23 PM on February 8, 2015 [68 favorites]

My now-husband sat down with my Mormon parents a couple months before the wedding and basically said, "Our wedding is not going to be what you will want- there will be drinking, and no religion, and it won't be in a church or a temple. But I love your daughter and it is important to me that we start our lives together with honesty to ourselves and happiness with our families, and this is how we're doing it." They knew what to expect and they were happy that there were no surprises, and they loved and respected us enough to tolerate a secular, non-sober wedding. Give his parents the chance to do the same; this is how you will set the tone for the next few decades of your relationship with them.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:27 PM on February 8, 2015 [50 favorites]

Backslid Baptist gal here. My aunt stopped speaking to me for a year after I told her that I was a secular Buddhist and didn't believe in God. Nthing what Littlewater says. Let them be upset if they become upset. You need to set boundaries. That said, if my kid should ever get religion I ho
posted by Bella Donna at 8:31 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

You can't make everyone happy. Please yourselves. Start your marriage by honoring your own beliefs.
posted by studioaudience at 8:32 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

This exact scenario is why my husband and I got married at city hall by ourselves. You're not going to be able to make everyone happy, so focus on making yourselves happy and mitigating the damage with his family.
posted by coppermoss at 8:35 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: His parents don't know that he's an atheist; do they know that you're an atheist? That is, can he push for a middle ground based on who he's marrying instead of for himself? Or are they totally unaware that there is even a middle ground to be considered! If they think you're both Baptist compatible, they're not going to be aware there needs to be a middle ground at all. Anything short of a "normal" (to them) wedding is going to seem weird and out of place in that context. Marriage is a big deal in serious Christian denominations as something between the couple and God. Take God out of the equation and they could be hard pressed to even consider it a marriage.

I guess I could suggest you find a Universalist Unitarian pastor (they welcome atheists as they are), but I really don't think that's going to be much help. I imagine that kind of a pastor is just as bad as a secular one to them.

I remember when I was dragged out of my nontheist closet by my upset Mormon parents. It was very difficult and everyone felt awful. But it was the best thing that could have happened for our relationship. All my half hearted pretending didn't help either of us, and it was only when the denial was cleared away that I could start having genuine interactions with them.

I cannot promise you that him coming out to his parents will have the same effect. I can say that I think it is the best thing he can do for himself in this situation and that if it doesn't it will constrain your partnership in awkward ways starting with this wedding because either you two are going to have a nice upstanding Baptist wedding or you are going to face confused blowback because until they know where he really stands they will think that he should be conforming to the standards of the community they think he still belongs to.
posted by foxfirefey at 8:36 PM on February 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

Oops, sorry. If my kid gets religion, I hope she comes to me before her big fluffy, prayer-laden wedding and says, "Mom, I really love and respect you. I know that you are not religious at all. And I didn't used to be. But my thoughts on that have changed. And my husband to be is religious as well. So I hope you will honor and support our decision to have a big church wedding." If that happens her dad, who is a 2nd generation atheist, will have a seizure and drop dead. Whereas I will say, "it's your life and your wedding, sweetheart. Thanks for letting me know in advance. I'll always love you and I'll be delighted to be a part of your wedding. If any of it becomes too hard for me, I'll just go outside for a bit." But I have no idea how your in-laws will react. If they are hard-core fundamentalist, it could be tough sledding. Best of luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 8:39 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

What can we do to ease them into understanding that we're not trying to mock their religion by not having a religious wedding ourselves?

You say "we're not trying to mock your religion by not having a religious wedding ourselves." Emphasize that this is not anti-their religion (maybe lay off on anti-theist discussion for the time being) but pro-your beliefs and values. You want the ceremony to authentically reflect both your life together (and so a secular ceremony) but also include your roots (and so include a prayer at dinner).

Then rinse and repeat as necessary. Be honest, be kind, be firm. Be respectful of their beliefs but true to yourselves . Good luck.
posted by Beti at 8:41 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Seems to me like the real issue here is that his family doesn't know he's an atheist. The way you are planning to do the wedding will make it very, very clear to his family that he is not as Baptist as he has been letting them believe. He is going to have to decide whether he's ready to come out about his religious non-belief to his family.

If he is ready, then maybe that discussion should happen first, before the details of wedding planning are on the table. "We're not having a religious wedding because we're not religious" will be a natural next step, and although surely upsetting to his family, will at least be coherent. At that point, why add fake bits of religion to pacify them? If he's not ready to be openly atheist with his family...then honestly I don't really see how any of this will fly. There is not going to be any option besides "full-on traditional Baptist wedding" that keeps his family happily in the dark about his atheism. Going to the courthouse won't cut it. Having a prayer at dinner won't cut it. Chances are pretty good that what they want is not for you to put on a show with some religious pageantry, but for you to believe in God and see your wedding as formalizing a religious commitment. The disappointment will be with the realization that you aren't religious, not the lack of a prayer. You either do or do not believe in God/Jesus/the Bible etc. -- that can't be balanced.

All of which is to say -- I think this is mostly your fiance's issue to sort out. He is going to have to decide how he wants to relate to his family...and if his top priority is staying safely in the atheism-closet, you're almost certainly looking at a for-real church service wedding or nothing.
posted by ootandaboot at 8:46 PM on February 8, 2015 [13 favorites]

I would strongly, strongly urge you NOT to go the route of having you be the "fall guy" (having him essentially blame you for the ceremony being nonreligious, which I think I saw suggested above.) That way lies a lifetime of tension and lies and blame for you.

You need to stay out of it and he needs to man up. Now is as good a time as any -- better now than once you have a kid, for sure. Plenty of people have to come out in worse ways than this to their families! He can invite them out to dinner, tell them he has something important to tell them - (I'd set the stage a little to scare them here so that his actual announcement comes as a relative relief) - that he loves them so very much and wants to honor the love and emotional safety in which they raised him, and that now, as he is setting out to establish his own family, it's time for them to know that his spiritual beliefs are just not anchored the way theirs are. That he loves them and the values they instilled in him, and that he hopes they'll love him and be proud of him as a good man leading a good life.

The sooner he does this, the better. Lying about this sort of thing becomes very toxic.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:59 PM on February 8, 2015 [48 favorites]

The real issue is that he isn't "out" to his parents as an atheist. Which is weird, frankly, especially as he's apparently anti-religion and not just a nonbeliever.

But in any event, that creates an intractable problem. Because if he just blames you, that's going to sour your relationship with your in-laws, perhaps permanently. And you're not willing to appease them with a religious ceremony, I take it. That leaves only one way out: he needs to come clean.

I know you want a compromise that will make everyone happy, but I doubt it exists. I'm certain, however, that you will only reach a compromise if he tells them his beliefs and where he's coming from and then negotiates a compromise in good faith.

BTW are you sure he doesn't want to go along with a religious ceremony for his family's sake? It sounds like that's what he's been doing all these years by letting them believe he shares their faith.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:26 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Oof, I think I need to expand a little.

The reason I brought up whether his parents know you are an atheist or not is because it does change the landscape some. If they know, then the situation is already one where they could possibly not expect their normal marriage script to apply. If they don't know, then it's obvious why trying to change the ceremony around will only cause confusion.

For instance, let's say I was still pretending to be Mormon with my parents, and I was getting ready to marry my boyfriend, and I let them think that he was Mormon. Well, the only way two Mormons are supposed to get married would be in a temple ceremony, which we wouldn't qualify for, so if I tried to plan a wedding that wasn't a temple ceremony, my parents would not be able to understand why. As far as they know we're both Mormon, we have to get married in the temple, if we don't there has to be a reason. If we refuse to tell them that reason (that we're not actually Mormon and thus don't have temple recommends), then my parents would not be able to just let it be. Getting married in the temple as a Mormon is really important and the entire LDS community spends a lot of effort making sure everybody knows how important it is and how not doing it is bad.

But if I was pretending to be Mormon but they knew that my boyfriend wasn't, they would know why we couldn't marry in the temple. However, they would still not be happy with the situation, because the ideal is to have a temple marriage. They would wonder why I am dating and planning to marry out of the faith, and potentially dislike my partner because of it or not want us to marry, but they would realize that I was already not following the normal Mormon script.

Now, I don't know how this works in the Baptist community, but I imagine it's similar in some ways. That's why I don't think having a UU pastor will really do much for them, although I see no reason not to use one if you like the idea. If his parents expect a Baptist pastor and this internet document has any basis in reality there will be no way to make that happen without some serious lying on both your parts, because it is unlikely such a pastor would agree to marry you without interviewing you and being convinced that you are ready to marry according to the guidelines of the faith.

So if the latter half of my previous answer didn't make it clear, I don't think him trying to pin the wedding changes on you is a good idea. It has the strong possibility of making you into a scapegoat and you don't deserve it and it's bad for your partnership. I could come up with that idea because I did spend so much time trying to hide from my parents, and because it was an idea in line with the questions you were asking, but the time I spend hiding my true beliefs from my parents were some of the most miserable in my existence; by the end of high school my overall anxiety was so bad I'd started having panic attacks.

If your fiance doesn't come out now, it's just going to get more and more difficult and tricky to keep hiding it, and the worse it will be when it comes out. If you end up having children, are you going to expect them to be a part of the lie too (though I don't think they'd actually be capable of pulling it off, unless he intends to take them to church)? If not, how is he going to explain why they are so lacking in the spirituality his parents will want for their grandchildren. And if you guys don't want children, do you know if the Baptist religion expects that your union "be fruitful and multiply"? How will you then explain the lack of any grandchildren--more lies?

By not coming out, your partner isn't treating himself like an adult, and he's not treating his parents like an adult. It is a corrosive situation and it will keep on tainting things until it's taken care of. It is like someone who won't go in to have their wisdom teeth yanked out even though they are impacted. The sooner he does this, the more likely things with his parents will have found a new equilibrium for your wedding in November. The longer he puts it off, the more likely it is that the fallout will have adverse effects on your wedding and that his parents' feelings are still raw, because it takes time for both parties to find their way into a more genuine relationship. The best time for him to have done this was once he started living his independent life, but the next best time is right now.
posted by foxfirefey at 10:39 PM on February 8, 2015 [10 favorites]

Elope, go on the honeymoon, then host a small gathering of family and friends when you get back.

However you do it, your wedding is probably going to cause a shitstorm with his family. That's just the truth of it. Just go get married on your own terms, and let them handle it after the fact. That way, they can't meddle/get pissy beforehand. Chances are high that his family (at least, some of his family) are going to turn their backs on the two of you, no matter what you do.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:08 AM on February 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

My parents-in-laws are Very Religious. My sister-in-law is not. She married my brother-in-law with a Native American ceremony. While they declined attending, their pastor had said to other family members who DID attend, sure, you could do this, but this is your family, and if you love them, go and enjoy their moment. I share this because you likely have allies in unlikely places. I should add that they were in their 80s and this was not a first wedding. They came around pretty quickly.

They were unable to attend ours at the last moment because of a bad fall. We made do, everyone understood. The wedding day was jam-packed, so we visited them a later-making peace for all of us - we were all worried about each other.
posted by childofTethys at 4:47 AM on February 9, 2015

I'd take people's advice above to out yourselves as atheists to them, and be willing to make one or two compromises regarding the ceremony, to make them feel welcome.

And I'd do it ASAP, hopefully giving them enough time to go through all stages of grief, so that by Novemeber they'll feel better about it and be present for their son's wedding, one of the most important days of his life!
posted by ipsative at 5:17 AM on February 9, 2015

What you are doing is having a civil ceremony that resembles a wedding, instead of a Christian wedding. The way that you explain this to his parents is that you say that you have doubt and you are not currently saved, therefore, it would be wrong of you to benefit from the traditions of the saved. Tell them that you are having a civil ceremony for now but, if you do become saved in the future, you will have a Christian wedding with a baptism. Also, let them know that any future children will be allowed to go to church with them because, if you promise them that and keep your word, they will bother you less. Invite them to have a prayer at some point during the ceremony and at least one Christian song. Part of joining a family is honoring their culture and beliefs. As long as you remain respectful and stay patient, it will be okay. Oh, and, your husband should actually be the one saying all this to his parents, with him explaining that he is the one not saved. If he throws you under the bus now, don't expect him to protect you any other time in your life.
posted by myselfasme at 6:42 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

his sister's wasn't as bad

I think this is an odd way to frame it, because if you are hoping that they will be able to respect your lack of religious beliefs/traditions, then it seems hypocritical to speak derisively of other people in the family having and enjoying religious beliefs/traditions. I know that you said this here, and not to them, but they are going to be a lot more defensive and upset if they can sense your scorn for their practices.

In fact, I think it might be helpful to tell them part of your decision to have a non-religious wedding (specifically a non-Baptist wedding) would be to emphasize that you both feel it would be disrespectful for the two of you to participate in rituals for the sake of keeping family peace. Say it would be pharisaical (nobody in any church wants to run the risk of being told they are acting like a Pharisee). Say you don't want to demean their beliefs by going through the motions just to appease them. The benefit here is that if they ask you to do it, they are exposing themselves as people who care more about the performance of faith than genuine belief, and they will be reluctant to do that.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:49 AM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Be honest with his parents. You don't have to say he's an atheist, all you have to say is, "We've decided to have a civil ceremony and we want you to be a part of it." They will be disappointed, but they won't be devastated.

I don't think it would be so terrible to honor the contribution of the religious education they provided your husband in your ceremony. Perhaps a reading, Paul's letter to the Corinthians is pretty secular for being a Bible reading, it's a staple of weddings everywhere. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 It's also short.

But if you're truly convicted, perhaps give them a ritual within your wedding. Perhaps a candle lighting or some other contribution that says that you value them, even if you don't believe what they believe.

I'm Jewish with some Wiccan thrown in. Husbunny is an atheist. My in-laws are Pentecostal and my folks are Jewish. We got married at our UU church, where our officiant did an American Indian invocation. We had a Rabbi as well. We incorporated as much from our parents religion as we could cram into a wedding and still keep it under 30 minutes. We liked it, my mom said, "I hope James's parents thought it was Christian enough for them, because it was Jewish enough for me."

Frankly, the wedding we didn't really care about. We did that for our families.

I don't recommend lying to either set of parents, or of outing your husband if he'd rather not have that discussion with them.

Mazel-Tov on your wedding!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

they don't easily take no for an answer

Are they paying for the wedding? Because if they aren't, they don't get to dictate what kind of service you will have. I agree that I can't see a compromise that will make everyone happy in this situation. But in the final analysis, this is your wedding; conduct it in a way that makes you happy.

Respond to pressure by repeating "I'm sorry, that's the way we prefer it." If his family has that big a problem, they could opt not to attend, but that's on them.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with such a headache around such a happy occasion. Good luck.
posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on February 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

Honestly if it's such a small event I would be tempted just to not say anything, have a friend officiate, keep things short and simple and it'll be over before they know what hit them. My brother has officiated at a number of weddings and inevitably, the super-religious grandma or whoever refers to him as "that nice preacher"* even though he isn't a preacher and never mentions God in his ceremonies.

There are a small subset of people who would leap up and cry BLASPHEMY and storm out of the room mid-ceremony, but are your fiance's parents *really* those people? Or would they realistically be too busy dabbing away tears and taking pictures to wonder where are the seventeen sermons about how everyone's going to hell?

*One time, it was , "oh, that nice preacher who kept holding drinks for people while they danced!"
(it was always his own drink of course)

posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

We had a Unitarian Universalist pastor perform our wedding ceremony and it was amazing. The ceremony was all about us and our awesome relationship and our future together, with special mention for our dogs. There was no mention of god or religion, although I think he threw in a random "amen" just for kicks at one point.

My brother did the reading, which was part of "Falling in love is like owning a dog" and everyone was laughing.

At the end, everyone gushed about how wonderful the ceremony was. Including every Catholic on my husband's side of the family. It was so awesome and heartfelt that nobody even noticed that god or whatever else they expected was missing.

I don't know your fiance's family, but maybe if your ceremony is fabulous, nobody will even notice that it's secular.
posted by thejanna at 8:14 AM on February 9, 2015

So, you have to decide when/if to be honest with his family. I encourage you to be kind, but to simply explain that you will not be having a religious service. When I got married, both our Moms were upset about us not having a church. We are both atheists, but that was n surprise. I have a friend who's a minister in a somewhat progressive church. He performed the ceremony. We included the Lord's prayer and 1 Corinthians 4-7 because it's quite lovely. The Moms were still hissy, but I felt better because we did our part to address their needs. You don't have to have any religion at all. Depending on your state, a friend or a lawyer can perform the legal marriage. You can get it done at city hall if you want, and still do vows at the celebration.

They have to deal with this news at some point. Their reaction is up to them. They may be very upset, apply pressure, get other siblings to apply pressure, get their minister to contact you, tell you your very soul is in jeopardy. You do not have to participate. Be kind, calm, and don't engage. If they threaten to not attend, tell them how much you will miss them. Treat all attempts at pressure by calmly assuring them that you love them, but have made your decision, then disengage.
posted by theora55 at 8:19 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

they don't easily take no for an answer

This is the beginning of your lives as a unit of your own, separate from your families. And this is just the beginning of a lifetime of choices you make for yourselves that family won't approve of. Better get used to sticking to your guns and doing what makes sense for you anyhow - whether or not they ultimately approve.

My fiance and I are both atheists with strong antitheist views.

Because it's not just the wedding. There are a number of religious ceremonies Christians are expected to participate in over the course of their lives. So it's the wedding, then the issue of kids. And then what to do with those kids (religious education, baptism, church attendance, etc.).

He can't hide this from his parents forever.

I know when I told my very Catholic mother that I'm not religious, she was worried that I'd abandoned all my values along with my religion. If he can find a way to communicate to his parents that religion is not required for one to hold "Christ-like" values (honesty, love, humility, service, integrity, etc.), and reassure them that they still "raised him right" that may help ease the blow a bit. It's often hard for religious people to separate their values from their faith, because the two are so intertwined in their lives.

But he needs to come clean, and not make you a scapegoat. If he truly chooses you as his life partner, he needs to put your new family's well-being against his own as a single-person, or his family's.

Good luck!
posted by jennyweed at 9:31 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mr. gudrun and I had the Mayor of the smallish town where my parents live marry us in the back yard. He had several stock options for the wedding vows similar to standard church vows, none of which overtly mentioned God, or we could have come up with our own (we went for the shortest of his vows). It was really nice and the only cost was a modest donation to a charity (he offered several choices for that). Our parents were not particularly religious, so they had no problem with this.

I think if we had been in your situation, we would probably have gone to the local Unitarian Universalist minister, explained the situation, and let them do the marrying, working with them to come up with vows. Believe me, they are well familiar with situations like yours and can easily craft the wedding you desire, but will still be an authority figure who will be able to converse before or after the ceremony with your religious families in a way that is familiar to them.

Whatever you choose, you will want to let the family know well ahead of time and matter of factly where the ceremony will be. Don't get caught up in family drama or debates about god (or lack of god), simply state the where and when of the wedding, and that you are so looking forward to having everyone there.
posted by gudrun at 9:47 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am a wedding officiant who has performed a number of secular weddings, including one for friends whose parents were VERY strict Mormons. She is out to them as not Mormon, but they would certainly prefer that she was following her traditions. I had them bawling.

Any really good officiant can make parents cry and reach for each other's hands. you just have to find a good one. A UU pastor is usually really good at this.

Also, making everyone else happy except for yourselves is not the best way to embark on your marriage.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:15 AM on February 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

If the parents squawk, the unified response is "We love each other and this wedding is for us and what we feel is important. It isn't for you."

People seriously need to get over the idea that they get to decide how you share such a public-yet-intimate moment.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:30 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I picked the best responses and appreciate everyone's responses here. I wanted to add one last clarification to the post: In no way are we compromising what we believe, nor does he plan on making me the scapegoat. To add to that, just because we're antitheist does not mean we plan on being rude or even in your face about it - I feel like I was pretty clear about that in my post but apparently it needs to be reiterated.
posted by DriftingLotus at 11:15 PM on February 9, 2015

I was raised in an evangelical non-Baptist church and I and several of my youth group friends are now atheist. I've seen this go a few ways. I've seen secular weddings, church weddings, and personally I eloped to skip deciding on any service-related things and to avoid extended family comments.

It is important to tell his family early, so you can separate his deconversion from your wedding. They will ask why. Try not to answer this question. If you're anything like me and the deconverts I know, there's never just one thing and every little piece of it sparks a war with the converted.

They will grieve. They will question their parenting. They will think about cutting him off and they will think about trying to reconvert him. They will fear for him. They will be angry.

They will need time to process that initial reaction. Present the basic relevant facts ("I love you and because you're important in my life I want you to know that I am no longer Christian") and let them process.

Be clear that you're not reconverting. Be clear that you want to let them know that this is where you're at, and you want a relationship with them now at this point and that's the thing you want to discuss now.

With some family (eg the aunt who has spent her life as a missionary in Africa) I have had to say, "I completely understand that you want to know why, and I find that it is difficult to explain to Christians. I know that nothing will sway you from Jesus (and I don't have any desire to try!), and some of my opinions about Jesus would sound hurtful to you. I respect you and I don't want that to happen, so I would rather not discuss them with you."

They may need assurance that you were not abused by the church. A common narrative is that people leave due to Bad Christians. As parents they may fear having failed. They will likely wonder, "What did we do wrong?" I found out years later that my father went to his pastor for private meetings to discuss whether he had failed as a parent because I lost the faith.

When it comes to the wedding, you have an opportunity to demonstrate that they raised a good son. They will understand if you speak about personal integrity and not disrespecting the church by using it like a prop. They will understand wanting to celebrate love and community even if you can't celebrate Christ. They will understand you wanting them there.
posted by heatherann at 5:45 AM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

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