Ceremonies / Weddings


For every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to the heavens.  When two souls who are destined for each other find one another, their streams of light flow together and a single, brighter light goes forth from their united being.

Ingrid and Elan were married at the Astoria World Manor in the beginning of December.  I worked closely with them to incorporate many different rituals and traditions within their ceremony – as Ingrid put it, a mixture of the traditional and the new.

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We included a unity candle ceremony, but with a twist – while a friend of the couple performed Shawn Colvin’s “When You Know,” I walked to the back of the chapel, and lit the candles of a guest on each side.  The guests passed the light up to the front of the room, until it reached the mothers.  The mothers came up and lit the individual tapers, that the bride and groom used those candles to light the central votive.  It was a beautiful and very physical demonstration of the love and support that the room was literally filled with.

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From our first correspondence, Ingrid and Elan were adamant about including a feet washing ritual in their ceremony.  They told me they had both decided it was the one thing they wanted to include in the ceremony, independent of each other.  I did a lot of research and prep to find a way to make this ritual egalitarian and about the ideals that Ingrid and Elan wanted to develop and keep important in their relationship.  This foot washing ritual was placed at the end of their wedding ceremony, just before the final reading and closing remarks.

Our couple’s relationship has been built upon their friendship, their open discourse and trade of knowledge, and their respect for one another.  To touch someone’s feet is a sign of respect – it is a way to say “I respect your knowledge, and look to you for guidance.”

Ingrid and Elan will now take part in a foot washing ritual.  The root of this rite is an act of love – to physically and symbolically wash the feet of their partner.  It is a purification, and cleansing of negative karma, obstructions, and the past – a way for our couple to have a new beginning with each other today.  And it is also a sign of humility – a sign that they will serve each other, and be open to their partner’s kindness in return – a sign that they will care for each other, and be cared for by the other.  Just like a marriage, it is  a flowing give and take of love and respect.

After the explanation, I performed a reading while they gently removed their shoes, and showed their devotion and their commitment to each other and to a life of service and love and caring for each other by washing their feet with wet cloths, and then dried them.

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We also had the traditional Jewish stepping on the glass at the end (but they both stepped on glasses, instead of just the groom!), and had some wonderful readings from the bridal party.

This was one of my final ceremonies for 2009, and was a wonderful way to end the year.  The devotion and love and respect that Ingrid and Elan had for each other was really inspiring, and I did my best to capture it in their ceremony.  Congratulations again!

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Nicole and Sinan were married at the Warwick, in Philadelphia, PA in mid-October.  Nicole found me through Weddingbee, and I was more than happy to make the trip down to Philly for her wedding ceremony.  Nicole is American and Jewish, and Sinan is Turkish and Muslim, so I worked with them to create a multi-cultural ceremony with a few elements that reflected each of their backgrounds – combined with their incredibly Love Story and lots of laughter.

A few days before the wedding, Nicole emailed me and said that there was a Turkish tradition they wanted to include – the bestowing of jewelry on the bride!  Just after being declared husband and wife, the groom’s family were invited up to the chuppah, where they SHOWERED Nicole in beautiful jewelry (gold is traditional).  Necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings were presented from her new in-laws.  It was a wonderful way to show their happiness and excitement to welcome Nicole into their family!

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The couple was married under a chuppah, the Jewish wedding canopy, and this was the explanation I gave:

Our bride and groom stand under the Jewish marriage canopy, the chuppah. This represents the home that they will create and share in their married life. Just as Sinan and Nicole are opening their hearts to each other today, so are the sides of the chuppah open, to let in the love of their beloved guests today. So will their home always be open to all of you. The heart of every home is the family the resides within – today, our couple will become each other’s family.

We included two other Jewish elements – the breaking of the glass at the end, and bestowing the couple with (non-religious) seven blessings at the end of the ceremony.  The Seven Blessings are a favorite of mine to include in an interfaith or non-religious wedding with Jewish elements, because, though the ones I have written capture the ideas of the original Seven Blessings, they are much more about seven ideals or thoughts that I hope my couples keep in their marriage together.  They don’t mention God, or a higher diety, but are still a nice Jewish touchstone to include in the ceremony – and a wonderful way to conclude it as well!

Dan and I had so much fun with our mini-road trip down to Philadelphia, and I was so happy that I got to meet Nicole and Sinan (one of the rare times I don’t meet the bride and the groom prior to the wedding!) and be a part of their incredible day.  Congratulations again!

Cathleen and Matt were married at the spectacular Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, NJ in late September.

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It was a beautiful, sunny day.  Their ceremony was sweet, funny, and meaningful, and included this reading, from Plato’s Symposium (a great non-religious reading!):

Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.

To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them.

It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind.

Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.

Cathleen and Matt, thanks for letting me be a part of your wedding!

There are so many things that I love about being a Celebrant, but I think my favorite is that I get to officiate my friend’s weddings.

Rachel is a college friend of mine – we worked together on many shows, drank a lot of wine, and basically had an awesome time.  Brian was kind of “the one that got away” for Rachel – they met in high school (where they had mutual crushes on each other!) and kept in touch afterwards.   But it took everyone being in the right place at the right time for them to actually make it work as couple – which they do amazingly.  Knowing Rachel pre-Brian – he just brings out the best in her, and I am so glad they found each other.

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They were married at the Nassau Inn, in Princeton, NJ on Halloween (yes, Halloween! Apple cider and cider donuts were served before the ceremony, and pumpkins were everywhere – but no costumes!)

Their ceremony was short, simple, sweet, and funny.  I opened with a journal entry Rachel wrote in high school, about how Brian was her new “love interest,” and shared the rest of the journey that had brought them to their wedding today.  They chose simple vows, saying “I do” and “I will” at the appropriate times, and broke a glass at the end, too.  It was a ceremony of laughter and happiness, and I tried to capture the joy and love that they have found in each other.

It was an emotional day, for everyone (even me!  I almost cried during the ceremony!), but I was so happy with their ceremony, and I think they were also.  Rachel and Brian, you guys have all of my love – have a safe trip home today!!

This was a rockstar wedding.

Robin and Anthony were married at the incredible Landmark Loew’s Jersey City Theatre – an old fashioned classic movie palace that first opened in 1929.  The inside is beautiful, ornate, and lush, and the perfect backdrop for a Grammy themed wedding.   The rock and roll details were incredible, and everywhere – the bride and groom posed for portraits on a grand piano, their guest book was a guitar that everyone signed, their card box was a guitar case, propped open with a cardboard sign of “Will Play for Gifts.”  The flower girls (sorry, the Rock Princesses!) threw custom guitar picks before the bride and groom made their grand entrance.  So freaking awesome.

The bride and groom wanted a simple ceremony, with their vows as the real centerpiece.  I shared their Love Story, which is truly one for the books:  they were acquaintances in high school, running in the same circles with mutual friends, but nothing more.  But, nearly twenty years later, they met up again, when a mutual friend put them in touch – and it was love at second sight.  From that moment, just a year before their wedding, Robin and Anthony knew they were going to spend the rest of their lives together!

Robin + Anthony by you.
Their guitar pick favors, that the Rock Princesses threw as they walked down the aisle from skull baskets!
Robin + Anthony by you.
The Rock Princesses!

Their processional was nothing short of awesome.  Each bridal party member had their own theme music, with the DJ announcing them as they walked in.  VIPs were seated to the side, with the rest of the guests cheering and standing behind a velvet rope.  Right before Anthony walked in with his parents, his friend walked and performed a guitar solo on a glittering electric guitar, to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.”

Robin + Anthony by you.
The Ring Man presents the ring on a drumstick.

And the vows?  Robin and Anthony each wrote their own vows, and Robin, who is a big crier, did a fabulous job holding it together for them (with her Best Chick and sister standing close by for support).  And Anthony – well his vows were in the form of a song, which he song, accompanied on acoustic guitar.  A surprise for everyone – an incredible emotional and powerful moment.

Robin + Anthony by you.

Not many couples can say they get their names up in lights at their wedding, and Robin and Anthony’s rockstar wedding truly reflected who they were, in every single way.  Thank you so much for letting me be a part of it (and sharing these awesome photos with me!)

Robin + Anthony by you.
Robin + Anthony by you.
Their guestbook guitar, with a copy of their invite tickets!

Robin + Anthony by you.

Robin + Anthony by you.

Robin + Anthony by you.

Robin + Anthony by you.

Robin + Anthony by you.

Erica and Jeff were married at Jenkinson’s Inlet, near the boardwalk of Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.  It was a rainy weekend, but thankfully we got some beautiful clear weather, and though we couldn’t have the ceremony on the beach as planned, everyone was dry!

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Erica and Jeff chose to have the groomsmen standing at the altar at the beginning, holding up various signs – it was hysterical!  You can see a few of them here – some others read “That’s what she said!” and “Giggity, giggity, giggity.”  It created an atmosphere of laughter right from the beginning!

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Erica and Jeff have a fabulous sense of humor, and wanted the ceremony to be light and funny, as well as to really celebrate the family they have together.  One of the first things that Erica told me when we talked was that she and Jeff had met at a Halloween party – where Jeff was dressed as a girl… dressed as a bunny.  Of course, that went right into their love story!

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Their kids were the flower girl and ring bearer, and did a GREAT job!  We also included a sand ceremony that the whole family took part in, and poured some sand from the beach on top, too.  We also included a hand-fasting, using some boating twine to bring in the beach theme.

One of my favorite touches was when the bride was escorted down the aisle.  Erica’s brother’s walked her in, and half way down the aisle, where she was met by her dad, who escorted her the rest of the way, to the altar.

Check out more great shots from their wedding on their extended gallery!

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Setting up props before the ceremony.

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Emily and Nick were married along the shores of Lake Tahoe in August.  Now – you might be thinking – isn’t Lake Tahoe in California?  And, Jessie, don’t you officiate weddings in New Jersey and New York?

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Emily & Nick, married in Lake Tahoe - ceremony by Eclectic Unions, officiated by a friend of the couple

Emily contacted me a few weeks before her wedding regarding my wedding ceremony writing services – they were having a friend officiate, and were having some trouble putting together a ceremony that really reflected them and showcased their love and relationship.  So I worked with Emily and Nick, cross country (hurray for email!) to create a personal and special ceremony for them.  It was so lovely to be a part of their wedding, even if I wasn’t actually there!

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Some special elements of Emily & Nick’s wedding that I just loved:

  • It’s a Lake Tahoe tradition to throw a flower into the water, in honor of those who can’t be at the wedding, because of distance or those who have passed on.  So sweet!
  • They asked their family and friends to offer advice for a good marriage, and had Nick’s sisters read these during the ceremony – they were funny, touching, meaningful, and hysterical!  They ranged from: “If she cooks dinner, he better do the dishes!” to “Above all else – forget your head and listen to your heart!” (Both excellent advice, by the way).
  • Emily gave me a few prose pieces that she and Nick love, and I included this one from Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays With Morrie in their closing remarks:

There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage:
If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble.
If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble.
If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble.
And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble.
Your values must be alike.  And the biggest one of those values?  Your belief in the importance of your marriage.
Love each other or perish.

  • Their Love Story!  Emily & Nick were roommates and best friends before they started dating… and they both mentioned a specific moment, when they had attended one of Emily’s sorority formals as friends, while they danced to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” – they felt a slight tugging in their hearts, and they knew that they were going to take the next step in their relationship.

So, from New Jersey to California, I got to be a part of Emily and Nick’s special day, without ever leaving my own state (though I hear Lake Tahoe is beautiful!).  The bride and groom shared some photos with me as well – it looks like it was an incredible wedding (THAT LIGHT)!

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(love this shot!)

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