Pre-marital counseling–times two faiths!

Something I haven’t yet talked about here–which I can’t believe I didn’t think of before–is the pre-marital counseling we’re doing. We’re actually doing counseling with the Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel and the Minister at Alliance United Methodist Church. The counseling with the Rabbi thus far has been pretty traditional pre-marital counseling–communication skills, conflict resolution techniques, talking about families of origin and how they affect our relationship today. Our next sessions will delve more into the dual faith aspect of our relationship. The counseling we’re doing with the Minister is a little more focused on the interfaith aspects of our relationship.

We initially set up to do premarital counseling with Rabbi even before we found anyone to co-officiate the wedding. After talking with him the very first time, we were immediately comfortable with him and knew we wanted him to do our counseling, even though he respectfully declined to co-officiate the ceremony. The Minister definitely wanted us to do premarital counseling (she requires it of all couples she marries), and was satisfied when we told her what we already had set up with Rabbi. However, when we talked more with her, we realized that we really could benefit from some sessions with her, too.

(As an aside, this arrangement made my family very happy also. They didn’t have any problem with us doing counseling with the Rabbi, but voiced strong opinion that it would be beneficial to have help/input from clergy of both faiths.)

We had our 5th session with Rabbi Tuesday afternoon. Due to scheduling conflicts on both sides, we just had our first session with the Minister Wednesday morning. All the sessions (with both Rabbi and Reverend) have gone really well.

For anyone planning a wedding, I HIGHLY recommend pre-marital counseling. For interfaith couples, it might take a little searching at first, but it is possible to find a rabbi and a minister (or whatever clergy you need) willing to really work with you. Both our Rabbi and our Minister are very committed to helping us build a strong interfaith relationship, and no one is trying to convert us to either faith. Both have really emphasized to us that they’re here to provide any support and guidance that we’ll need as we build our interfaith family.

This post is probably too long already, but I’ll tackle more on this (ideas are still bouncing around my head) very soon in another post. I’m sure I’ve left questions and holes for the readers, so definitely respond with questions or comments!

How We Ended Up Here

Pretty early on Julie and I realized that there was something different about this relationship, and that there was a very good chance that one day we’d be making long-term plans together. As our relationship progressed, we discussed all of the typical topics that you’d expect—children, faith, short-term and long-term goals, etc.—but we never talked about the kind of wedding that either of us wanted.

I knew what kind of wedding I wanted (the kind where we are married at the end of the day), but I was worried that she would want a church wedding, with all that entails. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I’d be with that. My idea for a wedding involved a faith-neutral site, with the ceremony led by a judge or some other non-religiously affiliated person licensed to marry people in Texas. If all that matters is that at the end of the day we are married, then I really shouldn’t have been concerned about what she might want, but I was. And not only was I concerned, I was certain that this could be a major stumbling block. I should have known better.

Fortunately, it was never an issue. From the very first time we discussed the type of wedding we wanted, Julie was already thinking about how we can have an inclusive wedding, where everyone is comfortable. This included not only the location, but the ceremony itself. What a relief!

Now you’re probably wondering exactly what kind of wedding she was thinking about?

Julie envisioned a wedding at a neutral location, with a ceremony that integrated the traditions of both Jewish and Christian weddings, and hopefully officiated by both a rabbi and a minister. I was thrilled with the plan. I had never really thought about the possibility of having a wedding ceremony that included some religious aspects, so this was all new and exciting.

Of course, reality soon set in, as we began the search for a rabbi and minister willing to co-officiate.

Interestingly enough, our search for a rabbi brought us to InterfaithFamily.com.

Vendors – Part II

Today’s vendor blog is about florists…I was so excited after our initial meeting with a highly recommended florist. Like our photographer, she asked all kinds of great questions when she found out our wedding would be interfaith. She asked things like whether there would be a chuppah, and if so, would we want flowers on it, she asked about other decorations (cake table, unity candle table, etc). We set up for her to get a bid to us in the next week or two…that was January 6, and we haven’t heard from her since. I’ve emailed, called, and gotten no response. Wait, to be fair, she did email back once that she was having email issues and hoped to resolve them in the next day or so, but if she couldn’t get it fixed, she’d send a hard copy bid via “snail mail.” But, since then, nothing. At least we hadn’t paid her any money yet.

So, we now have a meeting with another florist – this one doing a very close friend’s wedding 5 weeks before ours – for next week. I’m beginning to have more antsy “oh-my-gosh-we-still-have-tons-to-do” moments, but so far I’ve kept it under control (Bryan might have a different take on that, of course! :) )I’ll let you all know how things go in that meeting.

Happy Valentine’s Day

We hope everyone had a Happy Valentine’s Day and got to spend it with someone you love. It doesn’t matter if that someone is a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, parent, sibling, or just a very good friend. The point of the day is to be with those you love.

We had a great day. It’s Wednesday, so we got to spend the evening with our boys. It’s been fantastic, complete with heart-shaped pizza and heart-shaped giant cookie for dessert. Julie even got a beautiful red, white, and clear bead bracelet, made in school by the 6-year-old. She’s been wearing it all night.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day, Y’all!

Mardi Gras and First Wedding Shower

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Well, folks, sorry for the lapse in posts lately. Bryan and I both fought a flu-like bug, and as soon as we were better (actually, while Bryan was still recovering), we headed to Mobile, Alabama, to visit some of my Dad’s family for Mardi Gras. A little known fact, Mobile actually has the country’s oldest Mardi Gras–it was Mobilians who started New Orleans’s Mardi Gras! Check out some history and fun stuff at the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website.

I have cousins (first and second) who are in the various parading organizations, so we usually catch lots of stuff at the parades, and we get to go to a couple of balls each year. These are fun, formal events with food, drinks, and dancing – ladies’ dresses have to be floor-length and men wear tails with white vests and bow-ties. We had a great time!

On Saturday, an aunt and a cousin (my Dad’s cousin, actually) threw Bryan and I our first wedding shower. It was, of course, a Mardi Gras-themed shower, complete with King Cake and a crowning of the king and queen of the shower. In fact, the picture here shows us in our “regalia” with my Great Aunt, the only surviving sibling of my late grandmother. Her piece of King Cake had the baby in it, so the “rules” say that she has to buy next year’s King Cake!

We had such fun visiting with extended family–some of whom I hadn’t seen since I was a small child. Bryan enjoyed meeting even more of my extended family–I think he finally believes that I really am related to half the state of Alabama… when your Dad has 25 first cousins…

The shower was pure fun–no faith questions came up (almost all of Dad’s side is Catholic, so there was the potential). Bryan’s boys each got a large Mardi-Gras teddy bear from my cousin that we brought home for them (they couldn’t join us this trip). It was a great way to end our little mini-vacation. Now, back to the real world… the next wedding milestone is to order invitations. I’m sure there will be a post somewhere in the near future about that!