St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Winter 2018

Your Love Story

When I read articles about making a wedding unique and personal, most of them tend to emphasize the externals like colors, venues, apparel, flowers, food, music, lighting, décor, and more. And while there is nothing wrong with creating a memorable and unique wedding experience for you and your guests through something like a great meal, a key piece of the day is often overlooked: THE CEREMONY.

Of course, sometimes a couple may not have a lot of choices regarding the elements of their wedding ceremony due to religious, cultural, or family traditions. But if your wedding officiant is a Life-Cycle Celebrant® like me, your choices for customizing and personalizing your ceremony are very nearly boundless.

One of the key ways to personalize a wedding ceremony is for the officiant to tell your story as a couple: how you fell in love, what you love about each other, why you want to make this life commitment to each other, and anything else that you believe is key to who you are as a couple. This is the heart of your wedding day! This is what you have invited your families and friends to celebrate. And it is one of my favorite things about being a Celebrant: learning a couple’s unique love story and helping them to celebrate that story with the most important people in their lives.

Sometimes when first asking a couple about their story they will claim that there isn’t much to tell. They are under the mistaken assumption that if there is not a lot of excitement or drama in their story, it is not of interest to others. But each time I hear a couple’s story, I find there is plenty of amazement to be had in learning about how two people discovered the beautiful souls in each other. Based on hundreds of wedding ceremonies I have officiated, I would bet that most of your guests will feel the same. PaigeEric 102415B

There are common elements to many love stories, like the feeling that these two people can be themselves with each other, the sense of feeling at home with each other, and the joy of deciding to be together. And there are unique elements like how the couple met, first date stories, and hopes for the future.

In many cases, the more personal your wedding ceremony, the more your guests will feel like they have been given the opportunity to truly celebrate what makes your marriage uniquely yours. And isn’t that what you have invited them there to do?

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Spring 2017

500 Weddings

Amazing. Since becoming a Celebrant in 2007, I have now officiated at five hundred wedding ceremonies! OliviaWeston 101715B

Have I become cynical or jaded? No, absolutely not, because I keep my focus on the unique qualities and the true beauty of each couple whose love and best intentions have led them to a decision to marry. Whether the ceremony takes place in a park, a chapel, the couple’s backyard, or the hottest wedding venue in town, it does not matter to me. The wedding ceremony is always about celebrating the commitment to love each other as spouses for “as long as we both shall live.”

So, from Paula and Tom, the first couple to take a chance on me as a novice Celebrant, to Patrice and Melvin, who have just asked me to officiate at their elopement later this month: Thank you, one and all, for trusting me with your marriage ceremony, the heart of your wedding day!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Fall 2016

“Off Season” Weddings

My husband and I were sitting with our coffee over a leisurely breakfast this morning. About half way into it, he looked at me in disbelief. “What? No weddings today?” As I look back at my 2016 calendar, the last Saturday I was not officiating at a wedding, attending a family wedding, or out of town for travel was April 16. Yep, my 2016 “wedding season” is over. This does not mean that I will not be officiating at any more weddings this year. There are still a few more on my calendar. But it does mean that the pace has slowed down dramatically!

For most couples planning a wedding, “wedding season” is a new expression. I know it was for me, before I began officiating. It did not occur to me that there might be some times of the year that are more likely to interest couples than others. I had assumed that June would be my busiest month. It’s not!  But I have learned that, at least in the St. Louis area, many couples are leaning more and more toward Spring and Fall for their ceremonies.

Lauren and Tom, at their "off season" wedding ceremony, November 5, 2016, at Silver Oaks Chateau.
Lauren and Tom, at their “off season” wedding ceremony, November 5, 2016, at Silver Oaks Chateau.

Off course, the process of deciding when to have a wedding is distinct for each couple. Whether your determining factors include getting some great outdoor photos, your favorite time of year, the travel needs of family, the availability of your preferred venue, astrological data, or any other considerations, you may be more or less tied to having your ceremony at a particular time.

However, if you are not tied to a particular date and time, and if you would like more options for just about everything (from flowers to DJs to Officiants), you may want to look at some off season dates. Off season in the St. Louis area tends to run from November through March, with a few variations, depending on the wedding vendor. Since fewer people get married during these months, more of the excellent wedding professionals whom you may want for your wedding day are likely to be available.

So, make any season your wedding season! Text, email, or call me to see if I am available for your date. If it is November through March, chances are pretty good that I am!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Fall 2015

Who Needs a Professional Wedding Celebrant?

This year, three of my nieces have announced their engagements to be married in 2016. I am thoroughly delighted for each of them, and I look forward to getting to know their future spouses as the years go by.

Many people who know that I am a Professional Celebrant who officiates at over sixty weddings a year simply assume that I will be officiating at my nieces’ weddings. But, in fact, it looks like I’ll be officiating at just one. Two out of my three nieces are active participants in a house of worship and they prefer to have someone from their pastoral leadership officiate. This is no surprise to me. Couples who are part of a faith community usually want their wedding ceremony to be a clear articulation of their community’s beliefs about marriage, and they often look to their pastors to help them to do just that.

Ruth with her niece, Rachel, in October 2007

As a Professional Celebrant, my role is similar to that of a pastor in that I work with couples to create a ceremony which is a clear expression of their beliefs about their marriage. The biggest difference is that, because I do not represent any singular religious creed or faith tradition, I am free to focus exclusively on the couple and on how they see their relationship with each other, as well as their relationships with their families and with the world around them. They may choose to use symbols and rituals from the culture or religious traditions in which they were raised. Or not.

With other couples, the choice may be to have an exclusively secular ceremony. But in every case, the key is to personalize the ceremony in such a way that we tell the story of the couple as they see themselves at this significant moment in their lives. The question I return to again and again with couples as we prepare their ceremony is this: Does this ritual / symbol / reading / action hold meaning for you? If so, then we consider using it in the ceremony. If not, it usually gets put aside.

Why not just have a family member or friend get “ordained online” to be your officiant? Lots of people are doing it. If you are just needing to get legally married, and have only a few people involved, this might be a way to go.

But if you are inviting guests and planning for a twenty to thirty minute meaningful ceremony, and if you believe that the ceremony is truly at the heart of your wedding day, then you would benefit from hiring a Professional Wedding Celebrant. Look for one who has training, experience, good reviews and excellent references.

Yes, I am totally biased in favor of those of us who are certified Life-Cycle Celebrants®, graduates of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute!  Of course, I know that we are not the only good officiants out there. But the certification and training we have is exceptional, our reputation is growing, and we deliver for our couples, time and time again.

So, who needs a Professional Wedding Celebrant? In 2016, only one out of my three nieces. And what about you? If you do not already have an officiant through a house of worship; if you want someone you can count on, with training and experience; if you want your wedding ceremony to be something meaningful and positive that your guests will talk about long after your wedding day: CONTACT ME TODAY!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Valentine’s Day 2015

This time of year I always get questions from curious friends about how many weddings I am scheduled to officiate on or near Valentine’s Day. My answer usually surprises them: Not many, and some years, none! From what I have seen, Valentine’s Day is a much bigger day for engagements than it is for weddings.

Jeffrey & Stephanie, Valentine's Day 2013

I have had a few, though. My favorite was on Valentine’s Day, 2013. With lots of work and careful planning, the bride and groom had turned their home into a beautiful wedding chapel, decorated in red and white. Surrounded by the love of family and friends, Jeffrey and Stephanie pledged their love to one another. It could not have gone better.

The most unusual Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony  for me was in 2010 when I was asked to officiate at a group wedding, co-sponsored by a local radio station and Windows Off Washington. When I received the phone call asking me to officiate I thought it was a friend playing a joke, at first. Then I figured out that the request was legit, but I hesitated. I did not want to be a part of a ceremony that was more about laughs and less about a meaningful celebration of marriage. But the more I talked with the event coordinator, the more I became convinced that the sponsors wanted to create an opportunity for the couples to truly and joyfully celebrate their love on Valentine’s Day. So I agreed to officiate. Forty-seven couples pre-registered for the wedding, but only seven showed up that day. Why? At least one reason was the weather. St. Louis woke up to a couple of inches of snow that Sunday morning. And you know how we are about snow…

Why not more weddings on Valentine’s Day? Well, the most obvious reason would suggest that the dicey weather in our northern hemisphere this time of year makes planning for anything that involves travel (wedding party and guests to the venue, the couple to their honeymoon, etc.) a huge gamble.

Valentine’s Day 2015 St. Louis weather forecast: Windy, clouds, snow flurries, high of 34F, with the temperature dropping throughout the day. And so, as I plan my wardrobe for tomorrow’s outdoor “short and sweet” wedding, I think warm thoughts about the other couples whose weddings I’ve officiated on this day in years past. I wish for them a truly happy anniversary, and an even happier life together!

Open post
Ferguson, MO, August 2014

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Summer 2014

OK, now that we are past Labor Day, many consider summer to be over. Yet, with our recent heat and humidity surge, it still feels like summer here, and technically it can be considered summer until the autumnal equinox, right? Of course, during my years as a teacher, going back to work at this time of year meant that my summer was definitely over.

As a wedding professional, summer is my busy time of year and here in the St. Louis area, fall is even busier. Amazingly, I’m still getting inquiries about officiating in September and October of this year! Most of these requests are for days and times for which I’m already scheduled, so I pass them on to other local officiants, knowing that their schedules are nearly full as well, but hoping that the desperate couples can get lucky. Meanwhile, while officiating current weddings, I’m working on second and third drafts for my fall weddings, fine-tuning those ceremonies for which I am scheduled to officiate. It is good to have work, and I am grateful!

But I have been mightily distracted by the events in Ferguson these past several weeks since the death of Michael Brown. I have no answers, but I do have lots and lots of questions and concerns. I do not personally know any of the people involved, but I do believe that I am connected to all of them, because we are all part of the same human family. I pray for the family of Michael Brown, as well as for Darren Wilson and his family.

As a white woman, I do not know firsthand what it is like to be pulled over for “driving while black,” or any of the other indignities and dangers so many people are subjected to in my city/state/country because of their race. But when people are expressing their outrage and pain, I can listen and learn and look for opportunities to show support for those with the courage and tenacity to work toward changing those structures which seem to be making things worse for people, rather than better. The path is not a straight one, nor is it always clear, but I know that we can do better. 

I am encouraged by people all over the world for whom the events in Ferguson have been a wake-up call. Can things really be different this time? Yes, if we allow ourselves to be changed for the better. It won’t happen easily or quickly, but it can happen. How does it happen? One heart, one soul at a time. Mohandas Gandhi reminded us that we must “be the change” we wish to see in the world. Alright then, let’s get to it!

http://www.handsupunited.org/

https://www.facebook.com/dsnstl

 
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/121483302@N02/14799964240/”>theglobalpanorama</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Winter 2014

This is considered “off season” for folks in the wedding business. I don’t know what other wedding professionals do during these cold winter months, but for me there is more time to begin writing the ceremonies I’ve already committed to officiating in 2014. Actually, I write ceremonies year round, but at this time of year I can write with a little less pressure because I am performing so few ceremonies right now. It’s also a good time to take a look at my website to see what needs updating, as well as to update the photos and info I have on my online ads.

During the winter, there is also more time available to meet with couples who are considering me as a Celebrant for their ceremonies in 2014 and 2015. Before I got into this Celebrant work, if you had told me that I would be meeting at least sixty couples a year to talk with them about their weddings, I would have assumed that I would eventually get bored or at least a little bit goofy with so many meetings at which to have, more or less, the same conversation. But, honestly, although I may be covering the same general topic (weddings), with a lot of the same basic questions being discussed, I never get bored because each couple is different and possesses a unique perspective on what they want to communicate in their ceremony.

And that is what I find to be one of the delightful rewards about this work. Each couple has their own story. Although many couples have common elements in their stories, each is still unique and lovely. And when they choose me to be their Celebrant, they entrust me with the privilege of helping them to tell their story and to celebrate the meaning they find in their story; sometimes with words, sometimes with rituals, often times with both. Now, that’s my idea of a good day’s work.

The Complimentary Interview

One of the more pleasant surprises for me in being a Celebrant is just how much I enjoy meeting with couples for a complimentary interview. This usually happens after a couple has contacted me, either by phone or email, expressing an interest in getting to know more about what I do and how I can help them to have a meaningful and personalized wedding ceremony. When the couple is ready to meet, we schedule a meeting at a mutually agreeable date and time, usually at a St. Louis Bread Company, Kaldi’s, or other café. Meeting together gives the couple a chance to ask me any questions they may have as we talk through an outline of options for their wedding ceremony. It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other a little, helping all of us to get a feel for how well we might work together, should the decision be made to hire me as their officiant.

After four years of working as a Celebrant, I find I still look forward to meeting each new couple, learning something about what makes them unique, and enjoying the delight of those times when I am asked to share in one of the most important days in their life together!

Support Among Catholics for Same-sex Couples

From a recent PRRI press release:

“New research by the Public Religion Research Institute has found that American Catholics are in fact more supportive than any other Christian tradition when it comes to favoring legal recognition for same-sex couples, and while there’s still some division over whether that recognition should be civil marriage (43%) or civil unions (31%), only 22% are categorically opposed to any form of recognition. This is just one among many findings that show Catholics favor gay rights much more than perhaps thought.”

I am a trained Life-Cycle Celebrant and Wedding Officiant. I perform wedding and commitment ceremonies for couples who are committed to loving each other. And I am also a person whose spiritual family of origin is the Roman Catholic Church. Until reading the results of this research, I thought my support of same-sex couples put me in a minority among American Catholics. Apparently, I am not in the minority. And I couldn’t be more pleased!

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