January 2009

I’m blog obsessed. I used Bloglines to keep track of  the blogs that I read, and it helps when I’m looking for some knitting, cooking, crafting, or wedding inspiration – there seriously is a blog for EVERYTHING out there now!

Here are a few of my favorite wedding blogs.

Planning your wedding on a budget? Sara of 2000 dollar wedding made it happen, and continues to update with ideas and ways to fit your dream wedding into a the money you have in your pocket. She also wrote a really fabulous, in depth post about how she created her ceremony – one of the most unique ceremonies I’ve ever seen!

OffBeat Bride is another one of my favorites – just when I think I’m beginning to think outside the box, Ariel takes it another step.  If you haven’t read OffBeat Bride – you really have to – it’s a fabulous resource on really making your entire wedding your own (and not going broke doing it!).


WeddingBee is updated by a number of woman currently planning their weddings, and afterwards as well – one of my favorite reads are the incredibly detailed, multi-post wedding recaps – they keep me tuned to the page to see the newest installment of my favorite Bee Bloggers!

Real Wedding Vendor Blogs

WeddingBee PRO is a new site, launched in December, where a variety of vendors come together to blog their own special kind of wedding inspiration – beautiful invitations, floral arrangements, photographers.


BridalBuds is a new website with a similar structure of WeddingBee – a number of brides blog their wedding updates.

WeddingAces is vendor and expert wedding advice – wonderful inspiration and ideas for your wedding!

I just LOVE looking at the cakes from Pink Cake Box!  And they’re in NJ, too!

snippet & ink is inspiration galore, with tons of inspiration boards – and once you’re there, go ahead and make your own with Polyvore!

What’s your favorite wedding blog?

photo from Flickr

photo from Flickr

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love.  The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation.  To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

— Anne Morriss, Starbucks customer from New York City.  She describes herself as an “organization builder, restless American citizen, optimist.”

Don’t you just love finding inspiration on the back of your coffee cup?

Layla & Lewis were married recently at the Valley Brook Golf Club in River Vale, NJ.  I had so much fun getting to know them and learning their story.  They also introduced me to a GREAT Greek  restaurant – After Athens in Rutherford – two blocks from my apartment that I hadn’t been to – it has the most fabulous chai!

They really wanted a sentimental, touching, and funny ceremony, without getting too mushy.  I think their Love Story really captured the wonderful love they have between them, and celebrated who they were.  Layla gave me a special “checklist” that a friend had given her, as potential ways to check out a new guy’s history, and I opened with it:

Many years ago, a friend of Layla’s wrote a special screening checklist for her potential dates.  This list included many gems of advice, including:

Number 1: Check guy’s psych history.
Number 4: Check his walls/photo albums for signs of obsessiveness.

But, the most important, was number 7:  Above all, settle for nothing.  Layla took this very important advice to heart, and it led her to her soul mate, as you see them before you today.

You will always and forever be new to ME, you will forever be my REAL LOVE.

"You will always and forever be new to ME, you will forever be my REAL LOVE."

Layla & Lewis chose to write their own vows.  It was their moment to really have fun and open up to each other, in front of their family and friends, and they did a fabulous job.  Layla used a reading from the Velveteen Rabbit in her vows – telling Lewis that his love is what makes her REAL.  Lewis said that one of his favorite activities is making Layla smile – and requested that she let him do that forever.

Lewis getting his vows!

Lewis getting his vows!

Matron of Honor Jamie reads e.e. cummings

Matron of Honor Jamie reads e.e. cummings

Their ceremony also included a reading by the Matron of Honor (e.e. cumming’s “i carry your heart”) and a handfasting.

The couple during their handfasting

The couple during their handfasting

Wrapping Layla & Lewis hands with the handfasting cord

Wrapping Layla & Lewis hands with the handfasting cord

Layla & Lewis are expecting their first child in March, and got engaged in November, putting their wedding together in just two months!  I couldn’t believe it!

You guys rock.  I had SO much fun.  Congratulations again!

Please click here to see more photos from Layla & Lewis’ ceremony


Married To The Sea

Wedding Tradition by Married to the Sea

Is there a wedding typical wedding tradition that you just can’t understand?  Personally, I don’t understand the garter toss.. I’ve seen modern wedding dresses.. it is SWEATY under there! Not the best place for your new husband to go!  How about you?

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.

My boyfriend’s an atheist.  That’s the beginning of the story.

He’s not just an atheist – he’s an Atheist, with a capital A.  He’s practically a fanatic, if you can be a religious fanatic in your lack of beliefs.  Before I met him, I always considered myself agnostic – but through his vast knowledge of atheism, I’ve discovered that my beliefs align more closely with agnostic atheist (which means that I, personally, do not believe in God or a higher power, but do not deny their potential for existence).  As Hugh Laurie so eloquently put it – “I admire the music, buildings and ethics of religion, but I come unstuck on the God thing.”*

Whenever we discussed getting married, we always got a little stuck on the ceremony.  Neither of us had been to many non-religious weddings, and weren’t even sure where to start. It was really important to me to have a wedding ceremony – not to elope or get married in the court or anything like that.  Our wedding is something I really wanted to be able to share with the important people in our lives.  I knew that I also had very specific restrictions and ideas of what I wanted in a wedding ceremony, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to find someone who could accommodate.

Lindsey, Ben, & I at their wedding

Lindsey, Ben, & I at their wedding

Oh, sorry, I need to back up a little – I guess that’s not the beginning of the story.  When I was in college, before she was even discussing getting married with her then boyfriend now husband, my best friend Lindsey asked me to officiate at her wedding.  Neither of us remember why or how this came up, or why it became such a steadfast decision.  But, sure enough, we discussed it many times over the next few years, and it was official when she got engaged in 2006.  At one point, I told Lindsey that I would rather be her maid of honor instead of perform her wedding ceremony – and she told me how she really wanted me to perform the ceremony.  And it made sense – Lindsey was raised Lutheran, tended towards Pagan in college, and these days leans a little more towards Judaism.  Her husband is culturally Jewish.

So let’s go back to the “my boyfriend’s an atheist” part.  It’s October of 2007 – Lindsey and Ben have been engaged for over a year, and I had just begun to research and write their ceremony.  Dan [the boyfriend] and I were sitting in a theatre, talking before the show started.  I had recently reached what I had always thought was my ultimate goal of a job – and was incredibly miserable.  But the problem, when you reach your job goals and discover that you’re unhappy, was that I had no idea what I was supposed to go from there, career-wise.

I turned to Dan and said, “What do I want to do with my life?” And he was quiet for a moment, and thought about it.  And then he said, “You want to perform agnostic and atheist weddings.”  And it was a fabulous idea.

I knew there had to be other people, like Dan and I or Lindsey and Ben, who were looking for wedding ceremonies taken without the context of religion.  Full of traditions and ceremonies and elements and love.  But I really wanted to offer this to people who consider themselves atheist or agnostic – to show that you don’t have to have religion to have tradition (something that I think atheists lose the tradition that religion tends to lend to your lives).

The next day, I did some online research, and found the Celebrant Foundation, and the courses and support they offer for lay people who want to officiate at all kinds of ceremonies – funerals, weddings, coming of age, baby blessings, divorce ceremonies.  And, as luck would have it, the semester started that week.  And (this is the crazy part) – this is the only place in the US that offers these classes.  And where were they located?  Literally two blocks away from my former home in Montclair – now about 20 minutes from my current apartment in East Rutherford (how awesome would it have been if I could have walked to my class?).

My Wedding Class at our ordination, April 2008

My Wedding Class at our ordination, April 2008

It felt like it was meant to be.  I graduated in May of 2008, and immediately began performing wedding ceremonies.  In my first six months as a Celebrant, I had the honor of performing sixteen wedding ceremonies – including Lindsey and Ben’s.

I made a good choice.  I love what I do so much – it’s so amazing to be able to do this service for my couples.

Dan and I are in the beginning stages of planning our October 2010 wedding.  And it’s still a very tough decision for me to choose a someone to officiate my ceremony – but for the opposite reason.  Now, I have so many wonderful Celebrant colleagues and connections that choosing the person to officiate at my wedding isn’t an issue of being able to find someone – it’s simply who I should choose!

*I’d like to note that, as a Celebrant, my religious beliefs (or lack there of) are completely irrelevant – I love wedding ceremonies.  I work with my couples to develop fabulous wedding ceremonies that reflect them, and have a great respect for all spiritual backgrounds and religions.  One of my favorite things to do in wedding ceremonies is to reimagine and reinterpret more traditional religous elements and ceremonies in a secular way – Jewish-style ceremonies with Chuppahs, wine, and glass breaking – Christian-style ceremonies with hymns, unity candles, and traditional vows.  Your ceremony should reflect you and your relationship, and that is my ultimate goal.

Here in New Jersey, weddings have a season – most people get married late spring to early fall – May to October.  As soon as it gets a little cold and there’s that whisper of snow in the area – people just put their poofy white dresses away to hibernate until May.

But there’s always wedding planning going on!  And I think the winter and early spring is an ideal time to begin communicating and contacting your vendors for your summer and fall weddings – for a variety of reasons!

We’ve all heard that the holiday season is the time to get engaged, so the New Year always starts out with a bunch of new brides, ready to start planning their perfect days.  On the other hand, as the new year begins, all of the brides who have been planning their 2009 weddings can finally say – I’m getting married this year! – and fully dive in to their planning (this works for next year brides too – I’m currently planning my 2010 wedding, and have felt so much better about emailing and contacting vendors now that I can say “I’m getting married NEXT year!”)

As I said, this is a great time to start planning because if you have the time, you won’t begin to feel the pressure or crunch of wedding planning.  And when wedding planning becomes stressful.. well, then it’s not fun, and planning the wedding is almost as much fun as the wedding itself.

So if you’re a new bride, or super excited to be getting married this year or NEXT year, here’s a great tip to get you thinking about planning your wedding ceremony:

What do you absolutely WANT to have? And what do you absolutely NOT want to have?

  • Is it very important to have your mom or dad walk you down the aisle?  Do you want to make sure you can write your own vows, or use special ring vows or a reading?  Is there a special ritual or tradition that your parents used that you just have to be able to fit in?
  • Alternatively, have you been to weddings and thought – I don’t know what I DO want, but I can tell you what I don’t want!  Are there certain stories or anecdotes you don’t want your officiant to use?  Certain terms or vows that you are just dead set against?  Rituals or traditions that you’re just not that into and don’t want?
  • It’s a great idea to brainstorm these together before you meet with your officiant, so that you can make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes time to put your ceremony together.  Sometimes, the key is to knowing what you DON’T want!