Marriage: “A Momentous Act of Self-Definition”

As the United States Supreme Court prepares to hear two cases next week involving same-sex marriage laws, it seems fitting to reprint an excerpt from Goodridge vs. Department of Health, the landmark Massachusetts case which found that same-sex couples have the right to marry in that state. I first became aware of this excerpt when a couple told me that they wanted to use it as a reading for their civil union ceremony. Since then, both same-sex and hetero couples have requested this reading. Some consider it a political statement, others simply a good definition of marriage. Take a look and see what you think. Me? I think it is both!

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.

(Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall) 

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Winter 2013

So, I started January with a nasty cold, followed by a restful vacation in California with my husband. Once home and healthy again, I met with seven couples last month, and I am happy to report that all seven hired me! That’s a nice beginning for the new year, indeed! Now it’s all about more meetings and ceremony writing….

My first wedding of 2013 is scheduled for Valentine’s Day in the home of the couple, Stephanie and Jeff. I’m looking forward to celebrating an intimate ceremony with them and a few close family members and friends.

One of my goals for this winter includes finally mobilizing my website! The statistics on the soaring use of hand-held devices are too overwhelming to overlook, so I’m going to get to it in order to make it easier for people to find me and learn about my services.

Once again I am preparing for the only wedding show in which I participate: Off White Indie Wedding Show, March 9-10. This year it will be held at Mad Art Gallery in Soulard. If you want to connect with creative, eco-friendly, out-of-the-box, LGBT-friendly, handmade, small businesses from the St. Louis area to help you create the kind of wedding you really want to have, do yourself a favor and go to this show! The tickets are an incredibly reasonable price of $10 each. http://offwhiteweddingshow.com/

A Celebrant Wedding for Liz and Criss?

Last night on NBC’s 30 Rock, Tina Fey’s lead character Liz Lemon got married.  But this TV wedding had very little in common with most real weddings I’ve been to, and was unlike most TV weddings – period!  As I watched and laughed I couldn’t help but think, like the Celebrant that I am, “These people could use a Celebrant!”

As the episode began, Liz and her boyfriend Criss made a spontaneous decision to get married at the courthouse.  Liz is someone who abhors the whole wedding industry and she was determined to stay as far away from a traditional wedding as possible.  So they intentionally dressed down for the ceremony and grabbed a couple of homeless men to be their witnesses.  Yet, Liz could not escape the gnawing feeling that she did want their wedding day to be special, though definitely not traditional.  Finally, after lots of the craziness that 30 Rock does so well, Liz and Criss got married on their own terms: Liz wore her Princess Leia costume, while Criss gave her a wedding ring purchased at a police auction.  Tony Bennett sang “Just In Time” as the couple kissed, while the homeless men danced together.  A perfect 30 Rock wedding!

Besides the fact that I’m a 30 Rock fan, why mention this?  Well, if Liz and Criss were real people, and if they had contacted a Life-Cycle Celebrant® to officiate at their ceremony, then they would have been able to work with a ceremony expert who would have helped them plan their wedding in a way that was meaningful for them, but without all of the stress. And “drama.”  Or comedy.  Which is great for TV, but not nearly as much fun in real life!

So, congratulations to Liz and Criss!  And for you other, real life couples who want your own ceremony to be as unique as you are, check out your local Life-Cycle Celebrant® who will help you create your own memorable and meaningful ceremony!

Blessing for a Marriage

I have just finished my final drafts for this weekend’s ceremonies.  For Saturday’s ceremony, Madison and Steve chose one of my favorite blessings, written by poet and Unity Church minister, James Dillet Freeman.  He is sometimes referred to as the “poet laureate to the moon” because his poems were taken there on two different missions, Apollo 11 and Apollo 15.  This blessing is, however, both spiritual and very down to earth.  Enjoy!

 

Blessing for a Marriage, by James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.

May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.

May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.

May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.

May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.

May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

 

Married in St. Louis: Forest Park

Covering  1,371 acres of prime city real estate,  Forest Park is known as the “heart of St. Louis.”   And how could it not be?  Opened in 1876 and host to both the 1904 World’s Fair and some 1904 Olympic events, this jewel of a park contains something for everyone, including  The Missouri History Museum, The St. Louis Art Museum, the world class St. Louis Zoo, the Muny Opera, the St. Louis Science Center, and so much more.  One could easily spend a week’s vacation there taking advantage of its many attractions.

Whitney & Scott, with World's Fair Pavilion in background
For couples getting married, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.  Lots of St. Louis couples go to the park to pose for engagement and wedding photos.  But have you considered actually having your ceremony in the park?  It seems that every year since I began officiating at weddings in 2007, I hear from couples who have selected yet another exciting location at which to be married in Forest Park: The Jewel Box, the Zoo, the Muny, the Grand Basin, the World’s Fair Pavilion, the Visitors’ Center, Cabanne House, the Golf Course, etc.  So if you want the heart of your wedding day to take place in the heart of St. Louis, head on out to Forest Park!
 
(Thanks, AMKAR Photography, for the great shot!) 

 

A Thanksgiving Wedding

Rock and I were married the day after Thanksgiving. It was a simple ceremony and church hall reception, but it was all that we needed it to be as we marked the official beginning of our marriage. This year we have the good fortune to be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary. We are counting our blessings, for sure.May this Thanksgiving find you and your family with too many blessings to count!

The Essentials

It was a small, simple gathering of family and friends. I stood on the porch of a lovely Illinois winery, wind at my back, with a spectacular view of the river. But it was the couple who held our attention. Their vows were straight from the heart, well-rehearsed but still spontaneous, celebrating the delight they have found in one another, the treasure they see standing before them, promising to love each other, come what may.

As I pronounced them “husband and wife,” the kiss was followed by a spur-of-the-moment dance to music carefully selected for its heart-felt lyrics. The essentials were there. The wedding was complete.

Graham Chapel Wedding: Allison & Christopher

They returned to where it all began. Allison and Chris chose to celebrate their marriage commitment to each other in the magnificent setting of Graham Chapel, on the Washington University campus where they met as undergrads.

Check it out: Allison is wearing a family heirloom wedding dress, originally created for her great-great Grandmother Nellie Campbell Shellito in 1884. She is the 5th bride in her family to wear Nellie’s wedding dress. May the good fortune and happiness of the preceding four marriages in which the dress was worn be bestowed upon Allison and Chris!

Butterfly House Wedding: Trisha & Justin

They found me on WeddingWire.com while looking for an officiant who would work with them in creating a ceremony that’s “…fun and represents who we are,” said Trisha when we first spoke. Her background is Catholic; his is Jewish, while both share an interest in Buddhist practices. I thoroughly enjoyed creating their ceremony with them and celebrating the joy they have found in one another with all who gathered yesterday morning outside the Butterfly House.

Congratulations, Justin and Trisha!

http://www.weddingwire.com/

“Catering to You” Wedding: Sara & Marlon

Each time I “pronounce” a couple, I am a bit in awe of what they have just agreed to do and to be for one another. But every once in a while I am surprised by the emotions that show up in me in that moment, as they did recently at the wedding ceremony of Sara and Marlon.

I suppose it has everything to do with the fact that Sara grew up across the street from me and my husband during the sixteen years we lived in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. Our families attended the same church for many years, she participated in the church youth group when I was an adult facilitator, and we carpooled together for a year or so to the high school she attended as a student while I worked there as a teacher.

And although she was absolutely stunning when she walked down the aisle toward Marlon as Etta James sang “At Last,” the tears didn’t catch up with me until that moment at the end:

“Sara and Marlon, by the love that has brought you here today, by the vows you have exchanged, and by the integrity of your commitment, in the presence of these witnesses here and in the presence of God, it is my pleasure and my honor to pronounce you husband and wife.”

Photo by Arsenia Tate
http://www.cateringtoyou.com/

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