Wedding: Monika and Marko

Monika and Marko were married at Maritime Parc in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, the day after the giant Halloween snowstorm here in New Jersey!

They are both such exuberant, passionate, and interesting people, and I tried to capture a little bit of that in their ceremony.  To honor Monika’s Polish heritage, we did a special ritual at the very end, after the kiss.  The bride and groom were offered salt and bread, to show how they will sustain and support each other throughout their lives, by their moms – and then had a vodka toast, smashing the glass for good luck!

Their personal vows had everyone laughing and crying, and there seriously was not a dry eye in the house!  Monika and Marko also incorporated a few readings into their ceremony, including some of my favorites (Taylor Mali’s “Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” and a selection from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) as well as some I hadn’t even thought to use as wedding readings before (Robert Fulghum’s “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” – it works surprisingly well!)

Plus I just loved their polka dot theme.  If anyone wants me to wear polka dots to their wedding – just let me know!

And their ceremony did include the story of one of the greatest pick-up lines ever:

Monika and Marko’s lives first crossed paths at a bar, when Marko overheard Monika discussing cheese, and offered this choice tidbit of trivia to her: “Did you know you can eat most things that grow on cheese and they won’t hurt you?” It turned out they had a mutual friend, so our couple was introduced – and Marko with a K met Monika with a K officially for the first time.

And included this wonderful line in the Love Story, too, which I just loved!

If Marko had to choose just one person he’d want in the Batmobile of life as his co-pilot, it would have to be Monika.

Congrats and much love to both of you!

Our Eclectic Union: Something Old, Something New…

Wow!  It’s hard to believe that today is the one year anniversary of our wedding!

I didn’t blog as much about my wedding as I wanted to, for some personal reasons, but now that some time has elapsed, I feel comfortable sharing some details from my own wedding day!

Let’s start off with a sweet and easy tradition that many couples incorporate into their wedding day: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

My Something Old.

(DK Designs Hawaii)

My wedding bouquet was wrapped in fabric that was cut from the dress worn by my grandma, aunt, and mom for their weddings.  My grandma’s original dress had a long train, and, when it was hemmed to be worn again, extra fabric and lace was stashed away with the dress itself.  It was this fabric that I use to create a wrap for my wedding bouquet, along with some of the beautiful, antique lace, that came from my great-grandmother.

My Something New

(Sarah Schulte Photography)

Though I had purchased my dress in 2008, nearly two years before my wedding, I think I could still consider it my ‘something new,’ as this was the one and only time that I got the chance to wear it.  It’s a now discontinued Oleg Cassini dress, from David’s Bridal, and I loved it so, so much.  I made the green sash, and had the bolero custom made to match.

My Something Borrowed

(Sarah Schulte Photography)

My best friend Lindsey was kind enough to lend me her wedding veil.  Because her dress was white and mine was champagne, I dyed the veil with coffee grounds to get a beautiful, ivory shade.

My Something Blue

(Sarah Schulte Photography)

I gave Dan TARDIS cufflinks as a wedding gift, and carried one in my purse (pictured above with my veil), as my something blue.

Happy anniversary, Dan.  I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.
(Sarah Schulte Photography)

Unique Wedding Ceremony Locations – Eclectic Unions in the news!

A wedding I officiated at in early September was featured on the front page of the Times of Trenton this past Sunday!

The couple was married at the incredible Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton, NJ – a unique wedding location that is the perfect compliment to a unique Celebrant ceremony.

From the article:

Newlyweds Katherine Kittel and Jimmy Ding decided to celebrate their Sept. 2 wedding at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton.

The 42-acre public sculpture park was founded in 1992 at the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds.

“Jimmy and I had gone there on one of our earlier dates. We really loved the grounds and park,” Kittel said.

At first, the couple considered a simple city hall-style wedding. But once they realized what Grounds for Sculpture had to offer, they were sold.

“The location really speaks for itself,” she said.

The couple decided to be wed at the Nine Muses exhibit, a granite collection of figures that suggest ruins and individuals from ancient Egypt, Greece, pre-Columbian sites, and other civilizations.

Click over to read the full article!

Wedding Ceremony Writing: Lindsay + Randy

One of my favorite parts of my Celebrancy practice is when I get to write ceremonies for couples all over the country!  My ceremony writing services are for those who are planning a wedding ceremony and want a unique, Celebrant ceremony – but already have an officiant or are having a friend or relative solemnize the marriage.  I work closely with my couples, via email, Skype, and phone calls to create a beautiful and personal ceremony for their officiant to use.

Lindsay and Randy were married at the end of June in West Virginia.  They came from different religious backgrounds, and wanted personal, unique vows, and had a friend officiate.  They had met while working at Domino’s Pizza, over ten years ago, and became friends, though they both felt an immediate spark.  It was this basis of friendship that their relationship was built on, and Lindsay sent me this fabulous quote from The X-Files that fit in with the ceremony perfectly!  I used it to lead off their Love Story:

Well, it seems to be that the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with. -Dana Scully

They crafted unique vows to use, too:

I, Randy, take you, Lindsay,
to be no one other than yourself.
Loving what I know of you,
trusting what I do not yet know.
I will respect your integrity,
and have faith in your abiding love for me,
through all our years,
and in all that life may bring us.

Lindsay and Randy, I loved being a part of your wedding, all the way from New Jersey.  Congratulations!

All photos by Amberlee Christey – thanks for sharing them with me, Lindsay!

Are you looking for someone to write your wedding ceremony, or need some help editing a ceremony you’ve already written?  My ceremony writing services are perfect for you!

When my (now) husband and I asked a friend to perform our ceremony, we knew we needed someone to write it. A Google search led me to Jessie and I’m so thankful it did! She was wonderful to work with and created a beautifully personalized ceremony for us. Many of our guests loved the uniqueness of it! No matter where you live, if you’re looking for a ceremony that truly speaks to who you are as a couple, I would highly recommend Jessie’s writing services!
-Lindsay & Randy, married in Morgantown, WV

Marriage Equality in New York State

It was announced just moments ago that the New York State Senate has voted YES on the gay marriage bill, soon allowing ALL couples to legally tie the knot!  I am proud to have performed civil unions in New Jersey, and look forward to performing same sex weddings in New York State and New York City.  More information to come as the bill is signed into law!  Hurray for New York State, taking a huge step towards our civil rights and marriage equality for everyone.

My husband and I watched the New York State Senate live feed all evening, waiting for the vote to come through with baited breath.  I clapped and cheered as Senator Saland discussed his vote for the bill’s amendment, and declared that he would be voting YES on the bill.  And, later, when Senator Grisanti took a stand, talking about the research he had done and how he had come to the conclusion to vote YES – it is a moment that I will never forget.  Knowing that these two men were standing up for what should be a civil right, despite their backgrounds, and that they were the tipping votes – it was so brave.  As one of the senators said, it was a room full of heroes.

If you are looking for an officiant to marry you in New York State or New York City, feel free to contact me! The bill has been signed into law, and Same Sex Marriages will be LEGAL in New York on July 24.  I look forward to officiating at many gay marriages in New York!

Wedding Ideas: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Getting Hitched

Today (May 25) is Towel Day.  It is in honor of Douglas Adam’s and his series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  In honor of Mr. Adams and his amazing books, one is supposed to carry a towel where ever they go.  Why?

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours… you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. (More – From the Towel Day FAQ)

But what does this have to do with weddings?  Well, I recently officiated at a wedding that used a great excerpt from Adam’s book So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – and it is a surprisingly appropriate and fun wedding reading!

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was “yes.”
Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos with me, Rachel and Jeff!
They also had a sand ceremony, and a Wine and Love Letter ritual (which was introduced with a Terry Pratchett reading!)

Finding readings the fit and work well for the couple is one of my favorite challenges in creating unique wedding ceremonies… maybe a reading from Douglas Adams is right for you?
My own nod to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on our wedding day – a Don’t Panic cake topper!

Check out my New Jersey wedding officiant listing on Thumbtack!

Joey’s Baby Welcoming

I was honored when my colleague, fellow Life-Cycle Celebrant Kim Lalicata, asked me to officiate at the baby welcoming for her adorable son, Joey.  The ceremony took place at the reception for his baptism, which had been a more private affair attended by a few family members.

The great thing about working with a Celebrant client is that they come with so many great ideas!  Kim read a beautiful and meaningful journal entry that she had written to her son, Joey’s aunt and new godmother read from “Oh! The Places You Will Go!,” and Joey’s dad helped me to introduce the Treasure Box ritual, by bestowing his son with the Twelve Gifts of Birth.  Guests were then invited to write their own wishes, blessings, and gifts for little Joey and drop them into the treasure box, for Joey to always have through his life.

We also did a special ritual for Joey’s big brother, too.  Too honor their Irish heritage, Joey was presented with a claddaugh pendant by his big brother, and I talked about all of the qualities of brotherhood that the claddaugh embodies:

The hands, clasped around the heart, represent friendship – may Georgie and Joey not only be brothers, but friends. The heart represents love – though brothers may fight or quarrel, may they always remember the love that they share as a family. And the crown represents loyalty – may Georgie and Joey always remember, above all else, that they are family, and they share a powerful history together.

And then, his parents presented one to him, too, as a reminder of his little brother’s baby welcoming ceremony!

We ended the ceremony with the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon, a very meaningful song for Kim and her sons (and includes the often quoted lyrics, Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans).

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, a beautiful and unique ceremony, and little Joey was welcomed into his family and his community with open arms!

Wedding: Kristen and Thomas

Kristen and Thomas were married at one of my favorite venues, The Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge, NJ.  And we created an awesome ceremony.
They used Edward Monkton’s A Lovely Love Story (complete with printed illustrations!), a unique wine ceremony that decanted the wine (because, like a relationship, red wine reaches its fullest potential when it has room to breathe) and had a toast, and this fun poem by W.B. Yeats:

Wine comes in at the mouth
And loves comes in at the eye;
That’s all we know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

Kristin and Thomas, congrats again – I loved being a part of your wedding celebration!

From the couple: We were so happy to have found Jessie to officiate at our wedding. She understood our vision right away, and did such an amazing job creating our ceremony. Her samples and resources were amazingly helpful for folks like us who didn’t want to use all the traditional words, but didn’t want to write our own vows either. I wish I could give her six stars for responsiveness; I have never met anyone who responds to e-mails faster! Thank you again so much for a wonderful and special ceremony!

Honoring Mom

Mother’s Day is a great time to think about how you’d like to honor your mom (or any parent) in your wedding ceremony.

Consider having her walk you down the aisle. I love when my couples include their moms in the processional.  Walking in with your mom, or with both parents, is a sweet and simple way to acknowledge and honor.  And it’s not just for the bride – why not have the groom walk in with his mom, perhaps heading up the processional, instead of just “appearing” at the front with the Celebrant?
You could feel their love when Maryann walked down the aisle with her mom at her wedding at the Madison Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Kamilla Harris)
My husband walked down the aisle with his mom and grandma.  (Photo Courtesy of Sarah Schulte)

Include them with a ritual, or special reading. Many couples choose to include their moms with a unity candle, sand ceremony, or handfasting.  They can light the taper, pour the first layer of sand, or tie your hands.
Sarah and John’s moms came up to present their wedding rings, taking a moment to warm them in their hands, and add their own love and blessings for their children, as they were married. (Photo Courtesy of Cindy Patrick)
Blake and Jason, married at Merri-Maker’s At Water’s Edge in Sea Bright, NJ, had their parents join them at the front, for a moment, to say special vows of support.
Janice and Allen had their parents present flower garlands to their new son- and daughter-in-law, which the couple then presented to their partner, as a symbolic way of showing the unique beauty and power of their love and commitment.

One of my favorite wedding rituals is a Flower Presentation, where you give your mom a rose, flower, or small bouquet, in honor of the love and support they have offered to you.  It’s a sweet way to recognize moms!
My husband and I presented our moms with nosegays during our wedding ceremony (Photo Courtesy of Sarah Schulte).

And, if your mom is no longer with us, we can, of course, honor your continued love for her in the ceremony as well.  Placing a special flower or token on the chair that would have been hers in the first row, during the processional or during the ceremony, including a special item that reminds you of her in the bouquet or pinned to your dress, or lighting a candle in remembrance are all sweet rituals to include.
Lisa and Quinn released butterflies in honor of Lisa’s mom, who is no longer with us.

Including words, an anecdote or story, or just the mention of how much you love your mom into the text of the wedding ceremony is another simple way to let your mom know, on your special day, just how important she is to you!

Pinwheels and Celebrating Celebrants

This past weekend was the Collective Wisdom Conference and Graduation Celebration for the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, where I was trained as a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, and where I serve on the faculty, teaching the Fundamentals of Celebrancy and Weddings and Other Ceremonies for Couple classes.  Our yearly conference and graduation is always a wonderful event, where we converge at the Hyatt in Jersey City to celebrate the art of ritual, rites of passage, and, of course, our new Celebrants!  This year was also their TENTH anniversary, a true cause for celebration!

This year, I was a part of four classes – I taught two sections of Fundamentals, and one weddings, and took the course that concentrates on creating ceremonies for Family and Children (baby welcomings and namings, house warmings and blessings, coming of age ceremonies, and so much more!).  I wanted to be able to gift something to those I would meet, in honor and celebration of their new journey!

I chose a pinwheel – an especially good symbol for our celebration since the ballroom had an outdoor balcony overlooking New York City which let the pinwheels twirl beautifully!  Pinwheels are symbols of luck and good fortune, unseen energy, wish fulfillment, and transformation, and were just a small token of my appreciation for all those present.

Congratulations to all new Celebrants out there! Hurray!