Val and Paul

Val & Paul were married this past weekend, at Lana Lounge in Hoboken, NJ.

The ceremony was sweet and funny, just like the couple wanted. One of the sweetest moments was when Val walked in, to Etta James’ “At Last,” escorted by her son.

Val & Paul's Wedding

The couple decided to do a unity ceremony, a sand ceremony, and involved Val’s son in it as well. He was so excited about it, too! Each had chosen two colors to pour into the central vessel, and, as music played, each bottle of sand was poured into the central container. The result, a beautiful visual reminder of the new family that was being formed today, stood at the front of the room during the reception.

Val & Paul's Wedding
Before the Ceremony

Val & Paul's Wedding

During the reception, the maid of honor and her boyfriend performed a song from “Flight of the Conchords” – so much fun! Paul joined them to sing Barry Polisar’s “All I Want Is You” (the opening song from “Juno”) to Val.

Val & Paul's Wedding

I had so much fun with Val and Paul’s ceremony. You could really tell, simply from the way that they were looking at each other during the ceremony, how in love they are. Paul put it best when he told me that Val has this certain look that she gives him – and at that point, Paul says her soul is blown wide open, and he can see the true depth of her love. Both Paul and Val’s souls were wide open today, and everyone was so happy to witness their love and devotion to each other.

Val & Paul's Wedding

Val & Paul's Wedding

Sex & The City and Weddings

OK, I may be late to the game, but I finally saw the Sex and the City movie last night.

I am a huge fan of the series (the first DVD I ever bought was the first season of the show!), and always loved all of the different weddings that occured throughout the series.  The “perfect” weddings always reflected the relationships of those getting married so well – like Miranda and Steve’s sweet civil ceremony in a park (with no white in sight!), and Charlotte and Harry’s Jewish ceremony that just couldn’t go right (and Charlotte first wedding, the seemingly perfect wedding, which was just falling apart at the seams).

And the movie was not disappointing wedding wise at all.

[If you haven’t seen the movie, or don’t want to know more about the plot, please skip to the bottom!]

When Big and Carrie decide to get married, Carrie picks out a “no-label” vintage suit to wear to the small ceremony.  But soon, the wedding balloons out of control (as can be seen in the absolutely stunning and absolutely HUGE Viviene Westwood dress that Carrie is given), and soon the wedding doesn’t reflect who Carrie and Big are as a couple and as individuals – which is SO important in weddings.

Unfortunately, Big finds himself lost in the huge poof of a wedding Carrie has planned, and he ends up not being able to get out of his car on the day of.

In the end, Big and Carrie find their way back to each other (just like always).  Big, who isn’t a writer and seems to always have a problem expressing his feelings very well, sends Carrie a simple love letter: “I will love you forever.”  And the final scene of the movie has them being married in city hall, Carrie wearing her no-name simple suit, their ceremony simple and elegant.  With an “I do,” and a kiss, they’re officially husband and wife.

[OK, I guess if you’ve stuck around and are skimming towards the bottom, but trying to avoid the plot of the movie, you can start to read again.]

And Carrie, as the narrator, imparts this information on the audience at the end:  “Why is it we’re willing to write our own vows, but not our own rules?”

Create your own rules, especially when it comes to love.  When it comes to weddings, don’t be afraid to say “No,” or change what you don’t feel reflects who you are.  Don’t get lost in the poofy layers of the crinoline they talked you into getting when you bought your dress, and don’t be afraid to make your wedding say exactly who you are.

Unity Ceremonies Galore.

Unity ceremonies are really popular in wedding ceremonies – and rightfully so! Wedding ceremonies aren’t just about two people coming together, but about two lives coming together. Unity ceremonies showcase this, and the physical aspects surrounding them can really help “cement” that feeling of togetherness, as well as provide visuals and make you and your partner feel closer.

And there are so many! Here’s just a selection of the many unity ceremonies that are out there!

Unity Candle
: Perhaps the best well known is the unity candle. The couple lights tapers, and uses the tapers to light a central pillar candle. This is a sweet and well known example of a unity ritual, and is easy to incorporate family into as well (parents can light the taper, or children can help light the central candle, to symbolize a family coming together).

Sand Ceremonies: I love sand ceremonies, and they are ABSOLUTELY not just for beach weddings. In a sand ceremony, the couple each pours a small amount of colored sand into a central vase, creating a beautiful layered sculpture that they keep to remind themselves of their love and commitment to each other. It would take forever to separate the grains of sand once they are poured and joined together in the vase – just as your love will last forever! This is another great ceremony to include family with (they can combine the sand that you will pour into the vessel, or add their own layer in a separate color), and is especially fun if you have children! It is a great outdoor solution to a unity candle (no wind will blow it out), and is really family friendly (no potential burns).

A variation on the sand ceremony is to used colored water, which the couple combines into a central vessel. I’ve seen this done where some chemistry-savvy couples have found ways to pour two colored waters into the middle and have them combine as clear!

I think it’s important to mention when it comes to both Unity Candles and Sand Ceremonies that you don’t need to just purchase the kits for these (though you can find Unity Candle sets at most craft stores now!). Though the internet is full of places to purchase these kits, you can very easily make your own, saving yourself a little bit of money and being able to personalize it even more. A quick trip to the craft store can yield a beautiful center pillar candle (perhaps in a color appropriate for your wedding colors or bridesmaid dresses), and some tapers or tea lights. You can find clean craft sand in most craft stores as well, and a selection of vases and vessels are usually displayed with them. Check out discount stores (like Target or Marshalls) for beautiful vases for the sand ceremony, and don’t forget places like Pier 1 or other home decor stores for vases and candles!

Wine Ceremonies are a personal favorite of mine, and one that has a rich history in many backgrounds and cultures. For the religiously inclined, a blessing can be said over the wine before the couple shares a glass. This symbolizes that they will share everything from this point forward – and their sorrows will be halved and their joys doubled because of this. A variation on this ceremony is to use two glasses of wine – one bitter and one sweet, to actually represent the good and bad times that a couple will embark on together.

Rose Ceremonies
are very popular in weddings now as well. There are a few variations on this – the couple can present roses to each other, as their first gift as a married couple. The symbolism of the rose is explained, and the couple will have the rose to remember the commitment and vows they have taken. Another idea is to present a rose or flower to important women or mothers present at the wedding, as a special thank you for their love and support. This can be done with bouquets or other gifts, and is even appropriate if you have a very special person who cannot be at the wedding – simply present the flower to their partner, in their honor, or place it on a seat of honor for them at the front, during the ceremony.

Another sweet ceremony in the line of the rose ceremony is something from the Hindu tradition. The parents of the groom will present the bride with a garland, to welcome her into the family. A simple presentation of flowers, a small present, or a garland from the future parents in law is a beautiful gesture of acceptance and love that can truly show that the couple aren’t the only ones coming together – it’s about the joining of family as well!

These are just a few of the many suggestions and are, of course, just a jumping off point! Take inspiration from them, and run with it to make your ceremony your own!

Lorrie & Jessica

Lorrie and Jessica were married in a beautiful, simple ceremony in Lorrie’s parent’s backyard this past weekend.

I immediately clicked with both of them – they had a ton of great ideas for the ceremony, and it really felt like a collaborative effort.

The couple really wanted to exchange a red rose as a symbol of their love for each other – we placed it with the vows, so after saying their vows, they presented the other with a red rose.

Lorrie & Jessica

Let this rose be a reminder that love has joined you together, that it is love that makes relationships endure, and it is this love that you cherish more than anything in all the world. For love that is nurtured never dies. It blossoms into something glorious to behold – as beautiful as a rose.

We also had a unity candle, with the tapers lit by the brides and their mothers, and it was used to close the ceremony – so once the center flame was (symbolically, as it was windy) lit, they were declared married!

Jessica and Lorrie took their first steps as a married couple to a family friend performing “No One” by Alicia Keys – such a beautiful song, and such a beautiful moment. All in all, it was a perfect ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, Jessica and Lorrie each gave me huge hugs, and presented me with a yellow rose, to thank me for the work on their ceremony. I couldn’t have been happier, and those two amazing women have truly found their perfect partners.

Jessica & Lorrie

Links & Such

Eclectic Unions

Want Officiants & Clergy? Eclectic Unions is the leading choice. Visit Eclectic Unions at OneWed.com & create a wedding vendor review.

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Incorporating Family & Children into Your Ceremony

Weddings aren’t just between two people – they are the coming together of two separate families! It’s so special to include parents, siblings, and your children into your wedding day – it helps to foster the sense of togetherness and family that you hope your wedding will create. Any of these can be changed or adapted for your ceremony.

Here are some suggestions for incorporating family and children into your special day.

✗ Dad doesn’t have to walk you down the aisle.
○ Honor a special family member by having them escort the bride or groom to the altar. Your son or daughter, older sibling, or both parents walking you down the aisle is a beautiful, personal touch. It not only shows their support and love for you, as they guide you into this next step of your life, but is a wonderful way to honor someone. And they don’t need to “give you away” at the end. They can either be seated in the first row after escorting you, or join you at the front for a few moments while I say some nice words to thank them.

Walking Mom down the aisle
When my mom and stepdad got married in 1999, I escorted my mom down the aisle.

✗ Mention them in your vows or take vows of their own!
○ This works especially well when there are kids involved. You could promise to be a loving parent to your child (or friend, for blended families). You could mention the love that you both have for your children, or the great memories that you’ve formed (and looking forward to many more!). You don’t need to write your own vows to work these in – I have a few vow examples that use them – ask me for them.
○ After the bride and groom exchange vows, I can write a short vow that, once read, everyone in the family would agree to. There are many options for this – you could have your children agree to support and love you, and accept your support and love. I could read the vows to the friends and family gathered, and have them all answer with “We will!” Or it could simply be the family agreeing to love and support you in your new roles as husband and wife.

✗ Unity Ceremonies!
○ Unity candle, sand ceremonies – all of these symbolize the coming together of two separate parts into a new whole. The unity candle is typically lit by the parents, and the bride and groom then use the tapers to light a larger candle – but why not have the bride and groom light the tapers, and the kids light the larger candle? A sand ceremony is a great idea for younger kids who you may not want near an open flame – plus you’ll have a beautiful sculpture afterwards! Small cups of different colored sand, representing the entities coming together in marriage, are poured into a larger vessel.

✗ Incorporate a family blessing or special thank you!
○ At the beginning or end of the ceremony, I can give a special mention or blessing to the people coming together to form a new family today. I can also talk to family members, if you’d like, for a brief “interview” about the bride and groom, and incorporate those words into the ceremony.

✗ Give them an honor with a ritual!
○ Do you plan to have a handfasting, Greek crowning, or other special ritual? Have a family member crown you, or wrap the cord around your hands. I will mention them and why you have choosen them to have this honor in the introduction to the ritual. It’s a wonderful way to have a family member or children a part of your wedding.

Copyright © 2008 by Jessie Blum
Do not redistribute or reprint in any form without written permission

Lindsey & Ben

I had one of the most amazing days of my life officiating at my best friend’s wedding this weekend.

The Beautiful Bride & Groom under their chuppah.

It was a sweltering day (95 degrees outside!), but the bride and groom still looked beautiful and so incredibly happy under their wedding chuppah.

Ben and Lindsey had chosen many different elements to combine into their ceremony. They had both sets of parents escort them down the aisle, were married under a chuppah, were bestowed with the seven blessings, and had a wine ceremony, inspired from Ben’s Jewish heritage. The ring vows they shared were traditionally Lutheran, and they also had a hymn (”Morning Has Broken”) and a “Passing of the Peace” during the ceremony.

The Happy Bride & Groom

Lindsey really wanted a handfasting as well – she and I knit the cord that was used! The words we chose came from a favorite book of hers, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon:

You are Blood of my Blood,
and Bone of my Bone.
I give you my Body,
that we Two might be One.
I give you my Spirit,
’til our Life shall be Done.

Handfasting

My favorite moment had to be their love story – I know both Ben & Lindsey very well, but I still had them fill out the “Homework” I give to all of my couples – a questionnaire that has tons of questions about their relationship and what they love about each other. It was so incredible to read all of these details! They love story was light-hearted, and touching. The couple’s first conversation was an argument about who had better bagels – Montreal or New York City. When I talked about each bagel location, the family members from those locations cheered to show their bagel support!

Stepping on the glass!

I could not have asked for a more beautiful or perfect ceremony. It was beautiful, funny, touching, and sentimental. It was also incredibly emotional – I managed to NOT cry until the very, very end – my voice broke a little as I declared them husband and wife.

The Love Story

What an amazing ceremony. What wonderful friends. Lindsey and Ben are such an incredible people, and are going to have a blast being married. They’re in Hawaii for the next couple of weeks, and I’m sure they will have a beautiful time!

Tom & Jeannie

It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.  – Anonymous

On a warm Memorial Day weekend, in their beautiful luscious backyard, Tom & Jeannie were married.

The ceremony was very small and intimate – just their children (six between them!), family, and close friends. The central theme of their love story is home – when I met with Tom and Jeannie, they told me all about the renovations and changes they’d made to the house they share in the past year, and how it reflected their commitment to each other.  This was such a beautiful notion.

The weather was nearly summer and gorgeous, but it was a little windy!

Jeannie’s daughter was the Maid of Honor, and Tom’s friend was the Best Man.  The had a very small recessional up the steps to the lawn, where Tom and Jeannie exchanged vows and rings.

More of photos of this ceremony can be found on my gallery page.

One of the most beautiful things about weddings is the power of love and memory that is imbued into the objects and places surrounding the ceremony.  Tom and Jeannie will spend time in their backyard, and always have the memory of that first kiss as a married couple whenever they see the green lawn.  It really creates a sacred, special place.

I also love the idea of getting married the weekend of a holiday – it gives that holiday extra meaning for you, AND you can usually get an extra day off of work for a nice anniversary getaway in the future!!