Officially official!

jbgcelebrantSince I became a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant in 2008, I have officiated at over 500 wedding ceremonies… because I was a minister.  Even though I am trained as a Life-Cycle Celebrant, there just isn’t an easy way for a lay person to marry people here in New Jersey – we don’t have a justice of the peace option here.

So I was delighted when NJ recently passed a new law that allowed those who have trained at organizations like the Celebrant Foundation to legally solemnize weddings!  CF&I’s program is an eight month long, intensive program that covers everything about being a Life-Cycle Celebrant – ritual theory, open communication, marketing, and it was frustrating to go through this extensive training, and then still have to jump through hoops to take care of the legal part of the ceremony.

I am proud to say that I am officially registered with the state department, and I can’t wait to sign my first marriage license as a “Civil Celebrant” on Tuesday!

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)

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!

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!

Our Eclectic Union: Honoring Marriage Equality!

I wrote a blog post about how Dan and I honored and included the fight for marriage equality in our wedding ceremony for one of my favorite wedding planning blogs, So You’re EnGAYged.  Here’s an excerpt – head over the the blog to check out the full post!

“Marriage is a promise that you make to that other person, a promise to stay in love with them forever, to be related forever, and that you’ll always be together.” – Dan Savage

Honoring marriage equality was really important to me while my husband, Dan, and I were working with our celebrant to put together our wedding ceremony.

We began by tying White Knots on our personal flowers – mine on my bouquet, and his on his boutonniere. The White Knot is a symbol of support for marriage equality – a statement that everyone should be able to legally “tie the knot.”

How did we work with our celebrant, April Beer, to include a reading and re-interpret a Jewish tradition to further incorporate marriage equality? Head over to So You’re EnGAYged to find out!

Our Eclectic Union: Choosing the Music

After a two years, it was finally my turn!  My husband and I were married on Sunday, October 10, in Tarrytown, New York.  We chose our wedding date (along with thousands of other couples!) because we liked 10/10/10.   Dan because of the binary action – and I loved it because it was a Sunday in October!

I thought it might be nice to share some of our planning progress for the ceremony, and where better to start than the music!

Music for the ceremony was always really important to me and Dan.  We both didn’t feel strongly about where the music was coming from (i.e., live music versus a recording), so we had our awesome DJ, Carol of A Starry Night, set up and play recordings of our songs.

The Prelude.
When my friend Marisa got married, I remember she chose four or five special songs as a “prelude” – the songs that played immediately before the ceremony began.  I loved this idea – I think it sets a tone for the ceremony, and also let me slip in some of our favorite songs that are a little more nontraditional.  Carol was nice enough to mix them together for us, and I remember standing on the porch before the ceremony began, hearing my favorite songs smoothly segueway into each other, as I waited to make my entrance.  It also worked well because it gave us a definite starting time – once those songs started, we were getting married in twelve minutes, no matter what!

  • La Mer by Charles Trenet (our first dance song was “Beyond the Sea,” so this was a reference to that!)
  • The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields
  • Vienna by Billy Joel
  • All My Loving by Jim Sturgess (from Across the Universe)
  • Somebody’s Getting Married from The Muppets Take Manhattan

So about that Muppet song – one of Dan’s requests, right from the beginning, was to include two songs from “The Muppets Take Manhattan” in our wedding.  I thought including “Somebody’s Getting Married” just before our processional began was a fun way to lighten the mood, and Dan was SO happy we got it in there!

The Processional.
Our processional was a tough decision.  But one thing remained the same – I knew I wanted to walk into some version of The Beatles “Blackbird.”  The lyrics in it just felt perfect to me – All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise. But what Dan and our bridal party would be walking into was still up for discussion.

Our original plan was to have Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection,” but we couldn’t find a version we liked, of Kermit or any cover.  We spent many nights searching through the iTunes store, naming a song we liked and listening to cover after cover.

I’ve always been a fan of the Vitamin String Quartet, and I love how it almost “classes” up songs – guests who are familiar with the song get it, but those who aren’t just hear lovely instrumental.  I did two weddings in September that used Vitamin String Quartet songs for the entrance, and I just loved it so much – I knew that was the way to go.  I found their version of Blackbird, and I loved it, so that was set (previous to that, we were using Sarah McLachlan’s version).

Because I’m a little crazy, I decided that if my processional was instrumental, I wanted the bridal party’s entrance to be instrumental, too.  So Dan and I stayed up late once again, listening to Vitamin String Quartet versions of our favorite songs, and finally decided on “Imagine” – also appropriate because our wedding was the day after John Lennon’s birthday.

So it was decided – Dan and our bridal party entered to Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Imagine, and I entered to Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Blackbird.

Ceremony Music.
Another request from Dan was to include a 40 second snippet of music from (you guessed it) The Muppets Take Manhattan – Right Where I Belong.  We decided to include it during our unity ritual, and it was short enough that we felt comfortable standing there when we finished a little early, to just stand there as the music played out

Right Where I Belong (beginning at 1:30 and going to 2:05 was the sound clip we used)

Recessional.
As a wedding celebrant, I know a good recessional needs to have a great beginning and be a fun, upbeat song.  Dan and I found a lot of great songs that we loved, but we couldn’t find one that had a strong beginning.  Our top contender for a long time was Harry Connick Jr’s “It Had To Be You,” which has this awesome, big band start – but it was just too long, and the lyrics wouldn’t have started until we were all the way out there.

A few days before the wedding, we decided to use “Till There Was You,” covered by the Beatles, as our processional, making the majority of our wedding music either from the Beatles or from Jim Henson.  Dan LOVES this version of the song, and it’s upbeat, sweet, and fun, with a very nice beginning – a few musical notes that go right into the lyrics.  To me, it ended up being the perfect recessional, and I can’t believe we didn’t think about it sooner.

Hey, want to see more of our wedding? Check out this blog post I wrote for So You’re EnGAYged about honoring marriage equality in your wedding ceremony!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TUFZQZjf_U&p=233EA6F095FAC4E0&playnext=1&index=73

What are you thankful for?

This year, I’m thankful for a lot of things.

I’m thankful for my kitties, who bring so much love and joy and cuddles into my life every single day.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2664/4131818848_1c3334fe4e.jpg
Maeby and Friday, the cutest kitties around

I’m thankful for my awesome fiance, who listens to me, supports me, and always brings me cold glasses of water when I’m working.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3497/3910405041_6f1257947c.jpg
Dan and I

I’m thankful for my family and friends, especially my mom, who is the most giving and generous person I’ve ever met (and it’s her birthday tomorrow, too!), and my best friend Lindsey, who helps me to find my way through the world.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437869272_8b3da7c318.jpg
My mom and I at her wedding.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2164/2568661679_69bcb0c48d.jpg
Lindsey and I on her wedding day

I’m thankful for every couple who emails me, calls me up to chat about their wedding, meets with me, and those with invite me to be a part of their wedding day.  Because of you, I get to follow my dreams, which is just about the coolest thing ever.  Thanks for choosing me as your wedding officiant!

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2549/4131104903_b0d3809fde.jpg
Giant Wedding Collage! Click to take a better look!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving (I’m so excited to make the stuffing this year – my favorite!), and take a moment to think of the moments this year that have taken your breathe away – and the reasons you are thankful, too.

Our Engagement Photos!

Blogging is going to be light through the end of August, but there are big changes going on over here at Eclectic Unions, and one of them is kicking my blogging into gear in September!  So please don’t mind the next few weeks light posting!

My wedding is slowly approaching (October 2010!), and while Dan and I were vacationing at the Jersey Shore last weekend, the awesome Sarah Schulte came down to take our engagement photos!  As I’ve mentioned, I contacted Sarah to discuss my wedding photography earlier this year… and then she asked me to officiate at her wedding, this past July!

She just posted some teaser photos on her blog, and I love them.  Who knew Dan and I were so cute?

JD_Eng_5

JD_Eng_4

JD_Eng_3

JD_Eng_2

JD_Eng_1
(Blumbriel is our made up last name combo – Blum + Gabriel)

Fidelity: Don’t Divorce…

I’ve seen this video pop up on the blogs I read, but haven’t had a chance to watch it – and I just did, and it made me cry.  If you’re the same way (not that you have to cry, but with the seeing it around but not watching..), please take a minute to go to this website, watch the video, and sign the letter – you only have till March 2.

[vimeo 3089746]

Have you heard that Ken Starr — and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund — filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and attempting to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples that were married in California last year? The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days.

The Courage Campaign has created a video called “Fidelity” — with the permission of musician Regina Spektor — that puts a face to those 18,000 couples and all loving, committed couples seeking full equality under the law.

Please watch this heartbreaking video now. If you have the same reaction that I did, please help me spread the word by sharing it with your friends ASAP:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/Divorce

Over 1 million people have watched “Fidelity.” The more people who see this video, the more people will understand the pain caused by Prop 8 and Ken Starr’s shameful legal proceeding.

After you watch the video, please join me and over 300,000 people who have signed a letter to the state Supreme Court, asking them to invalidate Prop 8 and reject Starr’s case.

My Celebrant Shawl

As a Celebrant, I understand how powerful and meaningful symbols can be.  So I was delighted when I got this email before my Celebrant graduation in May of last year:

One special event every year is to set aside some time for YOU to talk about who you are and what your path to Celebrancy and your new status as a Celebrant means to you.  We do this using the universal language of symbolism, which we study in the course and which deepens and enriches every ceremony we perform.

I spent some time thinking about what I would bring with me, as a symbol of myself and my choice to become a Celebrant.  As a knitter, I almost immediately knew I wanted to knit something as this representation.  I researched yarn, patterns, and eventually settled on creating a shawl, something I had always wanted to do, but had never attempted (successfully!) before.

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

I think the intricacy of the lace matches up well with the intricacy of relationships, those ties that hold us together.  I picked this color in particular because periwinkle has always felt like a magical color to me, that beautiful ethereal color of the sky that I always felt wasn’t quite real.

Of course, there are a few mistakes in there.  I had some trouble transitioning between the charts, mostly because I had to follow the chart blindly when I started it off, and wasn’t able to easily read my knitting.  I tried to fix them the best that I could, and I don’t think they take away from the overall look.  In fact, I was happy that I had some mistakes that I conquered.  That was all part of my grand plan for the shawl.

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

As a Celebrant, I will get to know a couple, then create and perform an original ceremony for them.  This will involve taking elements from many different places – the couple’s own words and cultures, known traditions, and my own creative knowledge.

The same can be said for this shawl.  I followed a general pattern, one that many have followed and done before (just as the wedding ceremony).  I made my own choices – I made it larger, changed the yarn, chose the color.   I even made some mistakes along the way, but I incorporated them into, and made it a part of the piece.  Though I followed the “rules” of the pattern, I created a completely unique shawl.  Just like when I write wedding ceremonies – I’ll follow the “rules,” but I’ll end with something completely personalized and unique for the couple.

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

Modeling the Shawl, 2008

Even if someone liked my shawl so much that they decided to do it exactly the same way, adding extra repeats and the same yarn and same needle size, they would still be different.  That’s the beauty of any kind of art, any kind of creativity.  By simply writing, simply knitting, you are making something that is completely yours, something that will be memorable, beautiful, and unlike anyone else’s in the world.

Officiating at Tom & Jeannies Wedding, 2008

Officiating at Tom & Jeannie's Wedding, 2008

What made it even more special – I wore it at the first wedding I officiated, a wonderful backyard wedding over Memorial Day weekend.  It was perfect.