Weddings are sensitive times when it comes to balancing the expectations of many family members...from two different families, but the ultimate decision rests with the bride and groom. It is up to them to be gracious, but firm with family members who are uncomfortable with the idea of a wedding ceremony held somewhere other than a house of worship.
I actually prefer weddings outside of the church as it allows the primary focus of the ceremony to be on the couple, their regard for one another, and their expectations for their marriage. When I am inside my church, I must confess my thoughts can turn to congregational matters when I would prefer to be thinking only of the couple and their wedding.
Secular venues are neutral territory. They are excellent solutions for couples who come from differing faith backgrounds or have lots of friends who might be more comfortable in a secular setting. Now, this doesn't mean the ceremony has to be secular as well. The location of the wedding does not necessarily dictate the content of the ceremony. Patrick and Cindy shown above had a non-denominational Christian service on the deck of a hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The officiant can always work a phrase into the ceremony intended to reassure your reluctant family members as well. For example, during beach weddings I sometimes say, "(Bride and Groom) have chosen to exchange their vows beside the sea because like the wonder of nature, their love for one another can never be contained within four walls. They invite you to take a moment to enjoy the sound of the roaring surf, the warmth of the sun, and the smell of the fresh salt air. These are the kinds of simple pleasures in life they wish to bring joy and wonder to their union. Thank you for standing with them at their hour of commitment." As a contributor on a forum at Wedding Wire pointed out, you can always remind them that Nature is the most glorious cathedral of all. Hard to argue with that!
Be sensitive to family expectations and make sure your cherished loved ones know their presence and support is both desired and greatly appreciated. Partner with an officiant who is aware of these concerns and will work with you to reassure your families that your union is truly blessed no matter where you are standing the moment your marriage officially begins.
Photo Attribute: Kristen Wynn Photography