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!


2012 as an amazing year for Eclectic Unions!  Here’s to 2013!

(Click to check it out full size on Flickr!)

Wedding: Eric & Courtney

Courtney and Eric were engaged on the Brooklyn Bridge – a place that holds a special significance to Courtney, and now holds a special meaning for both of them. Their ceremony was held on the stunning Pebble Beach within Brooklyn Bridge Park, behind the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. We included a handfasting, and they said there, “I do’s” while they were bound together.

Their personal vows were heartfelt and lovely, and the whole celebration seemed to capture them well – it was thoughtful, personal, meaningful, and unique.  Their reception was held at reBar, in DUMBO, and the couple lead a parade of their guests through Brooklyn, to make their way to the celebration.  Courtney wrote a really eloquent post on her blog about it, too (she has her first novel coming out soon!).

Thanks to Courtney for sharing these stunning photos with me.  Just look at the bride and groom’s faces! They really say it all, right?

LOVE this breaking of the glass shot!


Eclectic Unions Wedding Featured in Sites & Services NJ!

I as so excited when Erica, a bride I married in March, contacted me to let me know her beautiful wedding was going to be featured in Sites & Services magazine.  If you’re in New Jersey, you can pick up your copy now – it is the Summer/Fall 2012 issue.

Erica and Christian contacted me a couple of weeks before their wedding – they had most of their ceremony written, and were planning to have a friend officiate, but he was called to duty and was no longer able to be at the wedding.  They had their ceremony and reception at the Waterside in North Bergen, which has  a stunning view of the NYC skyline.  Their ceremony included one of my favorite books of all time, The Giving Tree, and their personal vows were funny and heartfelt.

I loved working with them – they were such a quirky, fun, and upbeat couple! – and their ceremony and whole wedding celebration really reflected that, too.

Click to see larger!


Wedding: Lauren & Hasan

Lauren and Hasan were married at reBar in Brooklyn in early May.  For their ceremony, they chose one of my favorite rituals, The Circle of Love, and their friends and family were encouraged to place a tealight at the front, under their chuppah, to form a circle of love and support the couple would be married in.  It went perfectly with their amazing chuppah and decor of the venue.  It’s hard to believe, but these are LED tealights!  They flickered and everything, and, even though I had suggested to the couple to go with LED tealights instead of real candles, for safety issues, I totally thought they were real when I walked in!

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house (Hasan included!) as the bride and groom exchanged their heartfelt and personal vows.  Their ceremony was personal, lighthearted, and romantic.  Lauren and Hasan met during college, and have been through a lot in their time together, and there were a lot of fun anecdotes to share that really captured their relationship.  We also got a few mentions of their labradoodle Zooey in there too!

They were married under a chuppah, the Jewish marriage canopy, that represents the home that the couple is creating together.  The sides are left open, to invite in their family and friends love.  And Hasan broke a glass at the end, another Jewish tradition.

Photos courtesy of Nyla Gray Photography.

Lauren said: “Patient, professional, and comforting. Jessie did an incredible job with our ceremony. From our initial meeting, we knew we were in the perfect hands. She is extremely organized and really knows her craft. She responds to any questions or concerns extremely fast. Everyone at the wedding commented that our ceremony was beautiful and touching. Jessie helped make that happen!”

A weekend of weddings!

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and the unofficial start of wedding season!  I had four weddings, each unique and different, and I get a lot of questions, from my couples and my colleagues, about what a multiple wedding weekend is like on my end, so I thought I’d take some shots and share my days!

My weekend started with a low-key Saturday morning and afternoon, where I caught up on some ceremony writing (finishing a wedding for July and a baby blessing for June!), and then got ready for my evening wedding!  It was a backyard wedding, and a very simple ceremony – which was good, because it wouldn’t stop drizzling!  We pushed through anyway, and just as the bride made her way to the front, the rain cleared up for the few minutes we needed for the ceremony.

Reading over the ceremony before hand.

Sunday was a two wedding day!  I headed into the city to celebrate with Lesley and Perry, who were married at 91 Horatio Street.  The space was so beautiful, awash in draped fabric and vintage-styled peach flowers.  I met Lesley at the Lovesick Expo in January, and was so happy I could be a part of her wedding – her smile and gregarious attitude are just so inviting!

There was NO traffic on the way into the city, so I took a little walk along the High Line before heading to the venue.

The couple were married in a Humanist-styled, Jewish-centric ceremony, under a chuppah made from the bride’s great grandma’s tablecloth.

We signed a ketubah, the Jewish marriage certificate, before the ceremony – we had the moms sign the Ketubah, and the dads sign the legal marriage license.

I headed home after the wedding, and snuck in some time for lunch, a short nap, and an outfit change!

And some kitty snuggling, of course!

Connie and Don, my second couple for the day, requested that I wear all black, so I swapped my grey blazer out for a soft black draped cardigan, and touched up my make-up before heading to Red Bank.  They were getting married at the Molly Pitcher Inn, overlooking the water, and I was keeping my fingers crossed that the rain would stay away!

Their beautiful ceremony arrangements!

The marina

We were lucky, and we got a beautiful, not too hot day on the water.  I didn’t get a photo, but the bride’s bouquet was studded with grape hyacinths, my favorite flower!

Connie and Don’s ceremony was light-hearted and fun, with two great readings (Sandol Stoddard Warburg’s I Like You and Dr. Seuss’ Oh! The Places You Will Go!), and had a fun little shout out to their dog, Zooey, too!  Their ceremony included two rituals: the wine ceremony, and the wine box ceremony.

Ceremony props, all ready to go!

On the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, we started off by having a very nice lunch with my parents, before heading down the Hamilton for my evening wedding at one of the most amazing venues I’ve ever worked at, the Grounds for Sculpture.  I asked my husband to tag along, as he had never been, and I thought he would love the sculpture and art exhibits that are there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to take any photos!  There was a small emergency situation before the ceremony, with a missing marriage license (don’t worry! it has been located!), and it was 95 degrees outside!  The ceremony took place at the Nine Muses, this beautiful sculpture surrounded by a moat, and it was a beautiful ceremony.  The couple had reconnected, twenty-eight years after they had originally met, via Facebook, so we thanked not only the mutual friend who introduced them, but also Mark Zuckerberg (also a newlywed himself!).  I hopefully will have a full blog post coming on this wedding, because it was really that awesome, as soon as I can wrangle some photos!

Lessons learned: bring a lot of water, band-aids, and double check the marriage license has made it to the venue.

Wedding: Kristen & Brian

Kristen and Brian had a ceremony that was so much fun – full of laughter and light-hearted moments, with a few personal readings and elements added in there, too.  I think my favorite were the notes that Brian wrote on the back of his cue cards for his vows, with little notes to Kristen!

Kristen and Brian chose a very special reading in honor of their beloved dog, Oakley…

Falling in love is like owning a dog
an epithalamion by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?
On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.
Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.
Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.
Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises here and there.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again!
Sometimes love just wants to go for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise.
It runs you around the block and leaves you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you
until you’re all wound up and can’t move.
But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Kristen said: “From the moment my husband and I met with Jessie, we knew we had found the perfect officiant for our wedding!! She was as much warm and personable as she was professional. Jessie was able to craft the most perfect ceremony for us, keeping it both light-hearted and moving, while really capturing who we are as a couple and why we love each other. So many of our guests raved about the ceremony, some stating that it was the nicest they had ever been to!”


Wedding Snapshot: Sharae & Matthew

Sharae and Matthew got one of those beautiful, early spring days that feels like summer!  They were married in Belmar, NJ, and really wanted a humanist-inspired, personal wedding that expressed their love for each other, as well as their love for the written word, too.

We started off with a little Pablo Neruda (Sonnet 17):

Today is today, with the burdens of time flown,
with the wings of all that will be tomorrow,
today is the Southern sea, the old age of water
and the day that composes its own breaking morning.

On your mouth, held up to the light or the moon,
gather the petals of the day that’s consumed
while yesterday sprints down a shadowy alley
as we recall your face as it used to be.

Today, yesterday, and tomorrow are burning,
one day’s conflagration, a sacrificial offering.
Our livestock wait, too, their remaining days counted,

but in your heart time has sown its wheat
and my love has built a Temuco clay oven:
you are the daily bread of my soul.

And ended with a little Zora Neale Hurston.

“Love ain’t something like a grindstone that’s the same thing everywhere and does the same thing to everything it touches. Love is like the sea. It’s a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it’s different for every shore.”

Their personal vows were heart-felt and lovely, well-written, elegant, and funny! And perfect combination that hit on all of the right notes.  Bonus: their ceremony decoration were pillars topped with books topped with flowers.  How perfect!

From Sharae:

“Jessie Blum was an amazing officiant who didn’t blink an eye when I asked if she could possibly work a Doctor Who joke into the ceremony. She is open to and understanding of any suggestions and wants of the bride or groom.

I picked Jessie because of the special requests that I and my husband had for our ceremony. He wanted a nontraditional, nonreligious ceremony that spoke about us a couple but still had an emotional resonance. I wanted to have a ceremony that spoke about our love of the literary and how essential our love for each other made our relationship unique. We both wanted the words of our ceremony to have meaning. It was a very tall order but Jessie went above and beyond with her emails and phone calls, wedding homework, vow worksheets and reading suggestions.

The ceremony was the only part of the wedding I knew I did not have to be worried, concerned, or fussed about. Jessie was calm and in control even when my mother asked less then twenty four hours before the ceremony if we could add in an additional part (jumping the broom) to the ceremony. Not only was Jessie cool with adding it, she offered to add an explanation. I cannot stress enough how wonderful Jessie is as a person and an officiant. I’ve been to weddings where the officiant was just there to say the words as listlessly as possible, and then breezed out the door once they’d paid their part, but Jessie evoked the playful and loving nature of our relationship in the wedding ceremony. She was a pleasure to know throughout these last few months.”

Wedding Snapshot: Cari & Jay

Cari and Jay laugh a lot.  Their wedding day was no exception.  I love how this shot from Fidelio Photography captures Cari’s exuberance, and the light-hearted tone that was in the room.

They were married at the amazing  Landmark Loew’s Theatre in Jersey City, an old palace-style movie theatre that is nothing short of epic.  Their ceremony was fun and sweet and light, and included personalize vows that had everyone laughing and crying, and a special family certificate signing to include each of their daughters in the ceremony.  I included this little poem in the explanation:

Family ties are precious threads
No matter where we roam.
They draw us close to those we love
And pull our hearts back home.

Psst.. looking for an amazing  hair and make-up artist for your wedding day? You probably want to call Cari!

Cari said: “I am so thankful that I found Jessie’s info on a wedding blog last year! Jessie was SO easy to work with and such a pleasure to be around! She really is one of those people you want to be bff’s with after your wedding is over!

I helped my best friend plan her own wedding 3 years ago and she really wanted us to go with her officiant. A wonderful and very sweet woman but she just wasn’t right for us. We(myself and my hubby) are not religious. We’ve both been married before and are quite quirky. We didn’t want to be married by someone that just filled in names into a generic ceremony. We didn’t want to include religious readings or do an all out performance of the wedding ceremony from “The Princess Bride” either.

When I read Jessie’s reviews, and looked at her website, I felt like she was the perfect fit for us. The one thing that stuck in my mind were the photos of her performing ceremonies and the pure joy you could feel just by looking at them. THAT was what I wanted for our ceremony. I wanted it to speak about us, to be something that made sense for us, but also wasn’t completely off the wall because it still is a really serious thing we were doing by getting married. Jessie met with us and got to know us. It was great! Once we decided to book her she had us both answer questions about each other, our relationship, our families. She even helped me come up with a different way of including our daughters(both from previous marriages) into our ceremony without doing the same ol’ sand/unity ceremony.

We received SO many compliments on the ceremony that night. Everyone cried, laughed and felt the love! THANK YOU Jessie!”