Personal


This year, I’m thankful for a lot of things.

I’m thankful for my kitties, who bring so much love and joy and cuddles into my life every single day.

https://i1.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2664/4131818848_1c3334fe4e.jpg

Maeby and Friday, the cutest kitties around

I’m thankful for my awesome fiance, who listens to me, supports me, and always brings me cold glasses of water when I’m working.

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3497/3910405041_6f1257947c.jpg

Dan and I

I’m thankful for my family and friends, especially my mom, who is the most giving and generous person I’ve ever met (and it’s her birthday tomorrow, too!), and my best friend Lindsey, who helps me to find my way through the world.

https://i0.wp.com/farm1.static.flickr.com/185/437869272_8b3da7c318.jpg

My mom and I at her wedding.

https://i2.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2164/2568661679_69bcb0c48d.jpg

Lindsey and I on her wedding day

I’m thankful for every couple who emails me, calls me up to chat about their wedding, meets with me, and those with invite me to be a part of their wedding day.  Because of you, I get to follow my dreams, which is just about the coolest thing ever.  Thanks for choosing me as your wedding officiant!

https://i2.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2549/4131104903_b0d3809fde.jpg

Giant Wedding Collage! Click to take a better look!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving (I’m so excited to make the stuffing this year – my favorite!), and take a moment to think of the moments this year that have taken your breathe away – and the reasons you are thankful, too.

Advertisements

As I’ve mentioned, my fiance Dan and I are so excited to be getting married in October of 2010.  Now that it’s less than a year (we’ve been planning since early 2008!), I’m starting to think through some details and elements that I want to include.

Our venue is a beautiful estate house, and once we visited, we decided the design theme for the wedding would be “Modern Vintage” – elegant and timeless touches combined with a modern twist.  This is the board I’ve put together with my dress and some of my accessories, along with some inspiration photos that capture the elegant feel we’re going for.

Credits, from top right and going clockwise:
Oleg Cassini dress by David’s Bridal; Inspiration Bouquet by Fleurspermail (love the grape hyacinths!); Dress Detail shot by me; Oleg Cassini dress by David’s Bridal; Monogram by Lindsey Rose Weisman; My faux engagement ring (Mystic Topaz in a setting by GreenKarat.com); Bridal Shot via Ruffled Blog; Shoes by John Fluevog; Shot of the venue via Flickr; Bouquet Detail Shot (saved without remembering where it came from! Do you know?  I’ll credit!)

I’ve had my dress in my possession for nearly a year now, and I just adore it.  I’m removing the taupe sash and adding in a metallic mint green one (how could I not throw as much green as possible into my bridal look?).  I have both a birdcage veil and my friend Lindsey’s veil to wear, too – I think I’ll wear the more traditional veil (a two tier fingertip veil with beautiful beading on it) for the ceremony, and the birdcage for the reception.  I have my hair trial in a few weeks, so maybe I’ll have more wedding inspiration to share!  It’s so interesting being on the other side of the wedding planning!

As of today, I am officially self-employed, and am proud to say that Eclectic Unions is my full time gig.

Since its inception in 2008, I have been dividing my time, working at a full time day job and running my Celebrant business.  It has been very busy, but very rewarding.

Earlier this month, I decided it was time.  I never expected my Celebrancy practice to get off the ground so quickly, and I feel so lucky, every single day, that I get to do what I do.  I am so happy that I get to share these amazing, incredible, and inspired moments in my couple’s lives, and truly feel blessed.

I couldn’t have done it without the near endless support I’ve received from so many people in my life, especially my mom, my best friend Lindsey, and my fiance Dan.  They have each helped to get me started in more ways than one, and I am lucky to have such a fabulous support system.

But most of all, I need to thank you – my amazing couples (past, current, and future), and my blog readers.  Because of you, I get to wake up with a smile on my face every morning, and I get to follow my passion and my dreams.

It means the world to me.

Blogging is going to be light through the end of August, but there are big changes going on over here at Eclectic Unions, and one of them is kicking my blogging into gear in September!  So please don’t mind the next few weeks light posting!

My wedding is slowly approaching (October 2010!), and while Dan and I were vacationing at the Jersey Shore last weekend, the awesome Sarah Schulte came down to take our engagement photos!  As I’ve mentioned, I contacted Sarah to discuss my wedding photography earlier this year… and then she asked me to officiate at her wedding, this past July!

She just posted some teaser photos on her blog, and I love them.  Who knew Dan and I were so cute?

JD_Eng_5

JD_Eng_4

JD_Eng_3

JD_Eng_2

JD_Eng_1
(Blumbriel is our made up last name combo – Blum + Gabriel)

I’ve seen this video pop up on the blogs I read, but haven’t had a chance to watch it – and I just did, and it made me cry.  If you’re the same way (not that you have to cry, but with the seeing it around but not watching..), please take a minute to go to this website, watch the video, and sign the letter – you only have till March 2.

Have you heard that Ken Starr — and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund — filed legal briefs defending the constitutionality of Prop 8 and attempting to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples that were married in California last year? The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days.

The Courage Campaign has created a video called “Fidelity” — with the permission of musician Regina Spektor — that puts a face to those 18,000 couples and all loving, committed couples seeking full equality under the law.

Please watch this heartbreaking video now. If you have the same reaction that I did, please help me spread the word by sharing it with your friends ASAP:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/Divorce

Over 1 million people have watched “Fidelity.” The more people who see this video, the more people will understand the pain caused by Prop 8 and Ken Starr’s shameful legal proceeding.

After you watch the video, please join me and over 300,000 people who have signed a letter to the state Supreme Court, asking them to invalidate Prop 8 and reject Starr’s case.

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.