J. McRee Elrod

Unitarianism places great emphasis on individual freedom of belief. We are concerned that any Unitarian ceremony not violate in any way the values of those participating. We encourage couples being married to plan their own ceremonies. This information is intended to help you in that process.

The circumstances under which persons are contemplating marriage vary considerably. A couple may each have been living with their own families until now, or may have been living some time entirely on their own. They may have been living together for a period of time before deciding to marry. They may have been through the disillusionment that accompany separation and divorce, or a previous happy marriage that may have been ended by the death of a partner. They may be excercising the new right of same-gender couples to be legally married in British Columbia. Whatever the circumstances, entering upon a marriage relationship is a serious step and is treated so in our denomination.

It is normally a social occasion; in all times and cultures it has been a time for the gathering of families and clans, though in this age of mobility people are far more scattered than once was the case. Wherever possible it is desirable that a couple exchange their vows amid the good wishes of family and friends.


A Unitarian ceremony, based as it is upon the personal integrity of the participants rather than upon institutional forms, may provide a suitable meeting place for people coming from different religions, ethical or cultural traditions; or who are embarking on the new phenomenon of same-sex legal marriage. We try to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Where differences can pose a hazard to the success of the marriage as is sometimes the case, this fact needs to be faced frankly and openly, but the hazards should not be magnified out of their true proportions. All living is risk-taking, and no marriage can have it's success guaranteed in advance. A close relationship like that of marriage needs to be continually reinforced by those who have entered into it, with the support of others. Some books on marriage are recommended on this site, but where couples find difficulties in their relationships beyond their ability to resolve for themselves, they should not be ashamed to seek outside help while the problems are still manageable. Too often it is not until the situation is at or beyond the point of no return that counselling is sought.

Naturally it is our hope that the couple getting married in a Unitarian ceremony will wish to find a place within the fellowship of a Unitarian congregation (Unitarian Universalist in the States), where they can find the community support which all of us need in cultivating deep and meaningful relationships in life. But it is entirely contrary to our principles to put pressure on anyone to become a member.

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Last modified: Monday, 16-Jan-2006 13:34:01 PST