Ethical Culture Weddings are performed by Ethical Culture Leaders. Leaders are the clergy of Ethical Societies, trained and certified by our national organization, the American Ethical Union and recognized in the law as clergy with legal authorization to conduct marriage ceremonies. (Weddings are the only ceremonies requiring legal authorization.)
Couples exploring an Ethical Culture wedding come from diverse backgrounds and traditions, seeking a non-traditional, humanist celebration. After contacting the Society or the Leader the couple meets with the Leader to talk about themselves, the ceremony they hope for and Ethical Culture’s orientation. If it feels like a good match, the couple and the Leader begin planning the ceremony, often meeting two or three times (in person, by phone, or by email) to give shape to the celebration. Because this kind of planning is a mindful, gradual process, couples should contact the Leader as early as possible before the wedding date.
Couples–heterosexual or same-sex–do not to have to be members of an Ethical Society but we invite them to attend Society Sunday Meetings and learn about Ethical Culture in order to be comfortable with the match of values and to be able to explain to relatives and friends why they have chosen Ethical Culture for their ceremony. Weddings can be celebrated in many places, indoors and outdoors, in homes and backyards, in restaurants and parks, urban bistros, country inns. Weddings can be short and simple or longer and more elaborate–depending on the couple and their desires. Couples are encouraged to think about the inclusion of readings and music, the possible participation of families and friends, the roles that they themselves would like to have and the inclusion of elements of family or their ethnic tradition.
Ethical Culture makes no statements about the supernatural and some people consider Ethical Culture ceremonies “non-religious”; others have said our ceremonies are “spiritual but not religious”; yet others say “religious but not spiritual”. Ethical Culture ceremonies, however, are, in the eyes of the law, religious, not civil, ceremonies. As mentioned, our Leaders are recognized clergy, authorized to perform marriages. While there is no creed or statement of belief in Ethical Culture, our commitment is to living ethically: to respecting the worth of all persons and contributing to the cultivation of a more decent and humane world.
If you are interested in exploring an Ethical Culture wedding, please contact the Society or its Leader to schedule an appointment. Do try to make contact early and, should plans change, let the Leader know quickly. Ethical Society of Northern Westchester, Office Manager, 914.941.3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org