Engaging Thoughts

Once you’re engaged people will ask you all kinds of questions, even some inappropriate questions. Be prepared and keep a sense of humor.

There’s always some joker who just has to say something about the ‘old ball and chain,’ or how you finally hooked him, or locked it down, or nice job! Locking him down is directed at women, the assumption being we want to catch a man. And getting caught – well, sorry guys, your life is over (contrary to science and general happiness). They all imply that marriage means giving up freedom, again, especially for men. People act as though getting engaged was a chore, or a goal to be accomplished, instead of two people in love, coming together, and making the decision to commitment to marriage.

While many women still want a surprise proposal, it’s pretty clear they have either openly discussed marriage with their partner, or they have danced around the subject. A proposal rarely comes out of nowhere.

Same-sex couples are free to break the gender stereotypes (man proposes to woman, woman accepts, her life is now complete). And then there are women who propose to men – and this is more common than we realize, but not often talked about.

Next might come questions and comments about your looks, your weight, your dress, and other personal choices and details. Ok, it’s fun to look at dresses and talk about it all, but the pressure for a bride to simply glow, and be magnificent, can be just too much. Can’t she just be herself without sparkly eye shadow (if that’s not her thing) or false eyelashes, or a complete make-over? Why would someone want to make herself different? The person your partner fell in love with is the person who should show up at the altar. Not that you can’t dress up, do your hair, and all that good stuff, but should a woman complete re-do everything about herself?

Please don’t ask newly engaged couples if they are planning to have children. It’s really not your business.

How can you get through the gauntlet of questions?  If you or someone you know has recently become engaged, I hope this column brings awareness that will help prepare someone for the coming tide of inquiry. Then you can decide what information you are ready to share, and just plead the 5th for the rest of them.

Every couple should talk over how they envision their wedding, and then be ready to thank everyone for their suggestions and tell them ‘you appreciate their kindness, but you’ve got this’.

Or ‘it’s just too early, you’re not making plans yet’, or ‘no, you haven’t even set a date’, or ‘we’ll let you know soon’. Just have your sound bite ready.

And finally, sometimes a friend or family member will actually come up with an awesome idea. Don’t close yourself off from everyone’s input, just don’t let it overwhelm you. You can plan for your big day, but more importantly, you should plan for your marriage.

THANK YOU Lisa Rhinehart for all the gorgeous photos. Lisa was chosen as one of the top 50 wedding photographers world-wide.


Posted in Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going right to the source – a Russian wedding

I often write about different cultural and religious traditions, and many couples like to dive into their family roots for inspiration. Recently I created a ceremony that connected directly to the source. Here’s what happened:

I was fortunate to have a young Russia and the Ukrainian couple choose me as their celebrant. Politically Russia and the Ukraine have a complex and tumultuous relationship, but on the personal level, it was all love! Both recently graduated with advance degrees from universities, and had met through an International Student Association. And while there may be strain around the political boundaries, there is shared culture between these two countries.

The lovely couple.

As we discussed elements for their ceremony, I naturally thought of the ritual of the Bread and Salt which has origins in their home countries. I’ve found it’s not unusual to speak with younger people about the traditions of their family’s past, to discover they have no idea about these customs. But when they talk to parents or grandparents they are amazed to find out they know exactly what it is! Additionally, mothers or grandmothers are often thrilled to hear they are incorporating something from the homeland.

But for my Russian/Ukrainian couple – they were not first generation; they were immigrants themselves; additionally their mothers spoke no English. Now let me set the scene: We have the couple and just their two mothers and one sister attending. The trip here is long and expensive, visas harder to come by as well, and so they decided to combine the wedding with their graduation, so they could share both joyous occasions with family, however small.

I wasn’t sure exactly how it would all unfold, but trusted that it would work. I structured to ceremony with guidance from the couple to begin in a traditional way – the mothers would offer a prayer. Again, I didn’t know specifically what this would look – but what happened was the bride’s mother held up a photo of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which she wrapped it in a special traditional embroidered cloth and offered a blessing. The groom’s mother joined in with the words as well.

My part was next – and the ceremony was in English, but I’d asked the couple to give their family a heads-up by providing a translation in advance.

When I’ve incorporated the Bread and Salt ritual in the past, I included it within the ceremony, but the couple told me to do it after the pronouncement – at the end of the ceremony. So of course, I did. That was great, too. Again, the mothers knew what to do!

A word about this ritual – it is known in most of Eastern Europe – from Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, to Russia and elsewhere. It truly is quite ancient – dating back to the 15th century. The couple dips the bread into salt and they feed one another (reminds me of cake sharing) to symbolize that they should never be in want, always have enough to eat, literally, but also how they will care for one another, feeding not only body, but mind and soul. A special bread always adds to the flavor (pun intended) and they had a hardy looking dark bread for their ritual, with the salt placed right in the center in a little dish. I believe it was a Karavai bread – traditional in many areas – a round, braided style dark bread. Yummmm! It was hard not to ask for a bite.

The flow of the ceremony worked well – we opened with a Russian element, followed by some of their love story, a good Russian literary reference, their vows and ring exchange and then finished with another Russian element.

And that is any example of how much I love my job –  it is so interesting being a celebrant!


Posted in Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Expectations!

There are many reasons to marry… many good reasons. There are the legal and financial benefits, health care issues, and spiritual and emotional growth. Marriage has been scientifically proven to promote longer and healthier lives. And of course, love is at the root of it all. You love your partner and want to formalize your commitment.

Here is a partial list of the legal benefits:

  • visitation rights and can make medical decisions, unless otherwise specified in a living will.
  • benefits for federal employees – many of which are also offered by private employers – such as sick leave, bereavement leave, days off for the birth of a child, pension and retirement benefits, family health insurance plans
  • some property and inheritance rights, even in the absence of a will
  • the ability to create life insurance trusts
  • tax benefits, such as being able to give tax free gifts to a spouse and to file joint tax returns
  • the ability to receive Medicare and Social Security, disability and veteran’s benefits for a spouse
  • discount or family rates for insurance
  •  immigration and residency benefits, making it easier to bring a spouse to the U.S. from abroad

At its best, a healthy marriage provides a safe place to grow emotionally, as a human being, and it creates a loving environment to raise a family.

Many couples decide to tie-the-knot because they are expecting a child. Once upon a time this was shameful, but fortunately that is no longer true.  Having a baby is a splendid reason to get married, not something to hide. It is cause for celebration, double celebration, in fact.

There are many ways to address the pregnancy in a wedding, and I don’t recommend hiding the fact. People know. I hope you are very excited about the coming child and want to share that joy with the world.

With the couple’s full approval of course, I like to add a few words about it in the ceremony script. Not too much, though. Then there is ritual. A Sand Ceremony is great for this – the couple can each have a nice size jar of sand for themselves, and a smaller jar representing their future child. This they add along with their sand to the large container, pouring in all they are and hope to be – cementing their bond. Many other rituals work well. Writing letters to your child is another favorite of mine.

As always, balance and proportion matter. While I advocate mentioning the pregnancy, I also don’t want to over emphasis it. After all, you’re not marrying just because you’re having a child, you’re marrying because you love each other and are having a child. Important distinction.

To the future parents – prepare for the emotional rollercoaster – you’ve got a double whammy going on here. And be prepared for those relatives or others who may be uncomfortable with your status and can’t let go of old standards. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel shame or guilt. Women – go ahead get a gorgeous dress, one that will fit you on your wedding day of course! Wear comfortable shoes (every bride should anyway), drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. And enjoy your big day and the days ahead.



Thank you Katie Santmyer-  ksant photography  - website | blog | instagram | facebook

as seen in: borrowed & blue, seniorology, washingtion bride & groom, discover charlottesville, and more.

Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smooth Sailing for a Calm Wedding Day

I hereby issue a small storm warning, storms you can avoid on your wedding day!  Some storms are big, and some are small, but they all matter in their own way.

There is so much wedding advice floating around the internet, not to mention from your family and well-intentioned friends. Here are a few of my own tips to have smooth sailing for your wedding planning and the big day itself.

Don’t have a bachelor or bachelorette party the night before the wedding. Hangovers and weddings will make you sea-sick.

If you want the high-end stuff, but can’t afford it, consider cutting back on the number of guests. Also cut back the number of attendants (bridesmaids/groomsmen) because they create expenses, such as special parties or gifts. I’ve had many couple who had not attendants at all – there’s no law against it.

When considering your budget, thin about a brunch or luncheon instead of dinner. When quality matters find a way! You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a detail for women to think about – shoes! Brides: please don’t wear those giant high heels if you are not completely used to wearing them. I cannot stress enough how important it is to break in your shoes. Wear them around the house for a few hours over several days. Make sure you can walk in your dress with your shoes! And while we’re at it – make sure your dress isn’t too long to manage. I’ve seen a few brides step on her own gown. Ouch!

I recommend skipping an aisle running, especially outdoors. They often buckle and wrinkle and become problematic, even causing you to trip.


If the flowers are wrong, or a bouquet or boutonniere is missing – just go with the flow, make the best of it. I saw a brilliant wedding coordinator at Stroudsmoor who deftly solved such a problem. She simply plucked a flower from a table and pinned it on a family member who had no boutonniere (because none had been ordered for him). She handled it so effortlessly (as they always do there) and the problem was solved! A little creativity and a lot of calm go a long way! Don’t sweat the small stuff.

And speaking of professionalism: Hire the best professionals you can afford, the ones with the best reviews. There is a big difference in the services provided by vendors. Just because your uncle has an iPod doesn’t make him a DJ, nor does your cousin with camera make him a photographer. Carefully check out your vendors, especially reviews, to avoid being disappointed, and remember that adage: you get what you pay for – is often very true.

Never lose your sense of humor and always strive to remain flexible. Do not become a bridezilla! Act graciously no matter what happens and do no give into anxiety and negative emotions it can evoke. Make yourself proud, and your future partner and family, too.

When struggling over a decision ask yourself: would I care about this if I was the guest?

And finally, moving from metaphor to literal – have a great rain plan! Nothing is more important for an outdoor wedding.

Remember that weathering a storm is a measure of your strength as individuals and as a couple, and that whatever goes wrong in planning your big day, is nothing compared to the challenges of marriage!

There are countless other details, tips and ideas to help, but I’m out of space. Something may well go wrong, and the wedding you dreamed of may not be within your reach, but is that what really matters? You have found the right partner to spend your life with, remember that, and everything else will be in perspective.]


THANK YOU Lisa Rhinehart for all the gorgeous boat and water photos. Lisa was chosen as one of the top 50 wedding photographers world-wide.




Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free yourself from Family Drama and Dysfunction

Cabo Wedding Photography

When it comes to your wedding, it can be truly that – YOUR wedding. But how is this possible if there are complex family issues? Everyone has some family drama. I’m reminded of a cartoon depicting a large auditorium with a sign over the stage reading: Functional Family Convention, with one lonely person sitting in the audience.

Weddings can cause anxiety and bring up long buried problems. There are a variety of issues that could be in the mix: Parents or siblings with drug, alcohol or mental health issues. Estranged parents. A conflict of values – such as a conservative family versus the more liberal couple. What about a step-parent who is more of a parent than the actual parent? Adopted children who have made contact with birth parents and not sure about including them. Family members who don’t get along with other family members. Or disapproval of your choice of partner, especially around issues of race, religion and for LGBT couples. These and many more concerns are not uncommon.

So how do you negotiate your dysfunctional or disapproving family for your wedding?

First, be clear about what you want, which, I know is easier said than done. And clarity is point, right? But you may not yet know what you want. Sit with your partner and think it through it all before discussing your choices with family. Be prepared with a kind and loving way to inform them of your decisions. Yes, your decisions.

For example, brides: you do NOT have to have your father escort you down the aisle if you don’t have a good relationship with him. Simply tell him as a modern woman you prefer to walk by yourself.  And entering without an escort is a perfectly good choice for anyone. If your dad is not in the picture and you have a healthy relationship with your mother, you might want to walk with her. Women do not NEED an escort, although they may want one.

A common problem during the planning process occurs when sharing your ideas with a family member who tells you your choice of venue (or dress, or food, or whatever – just fill in the blank) is not very ‘wedding-like,’ or is ‘tacky’ or ‘phony,’ or some other negative reaction. Be prepared. Understand that everyone may not like your choices, and present your choices by preparing them. Try something like: ‘this may seem unconventional, but I really like…’ Give them a heads-up.  Or try: ‘I don’t expect you’ll like this, but for us it feels right.’

Enter with the right person for you.

It’s easy to give advice about this, but when you’re in the thick of it, it’s very difficult. Acknowledging that helps. Not everyone responds to the honest, face-to-face chat. For some people, there is nothing you can say or do that is right. But acknowledge their feelings, telling them you understand how they feel, but inform them that many people do it this way, now, or this is what we’ve decided.

Old wounds sometimes don’t ever heal. Remember that you are not responsible for other’s behaviors, nor do you have to please everyone.

If you have to, resort to the white lie. The one that is kind. When asked about your plans, simply tell the problem person that you haven’t worked on it yet, and you’ll let them know as soon as you have definite information!

On the bright side, a wedding can be an opportunity to heal those old wounds. Perhaps your family will rise above it all, and if you lead the way in that, it will be truly wonderful. I’ve seen it happen. And as a couple this is another opportunity to support one another as you embark on your journey. Weddings can be quite miraculous!



Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vows among the bow-wows!!!

There’s a new puppy in my life. Louie is 12 weeks old now and a ton of fun, joy, and work. There’s no doubt about it, I’m a dog person. Louie brings our total to three fantastic English Springer Spaniels. So I figured this was a good time to talk about dogs in weddings.

I know it is sounds marvelous to have your pooch (or pooches) in your wedding, but before you take that leap there are several obstacles to consider. To state the obvious: first and foremost is the well-being of your dog. Is the task a good fit for your certainly perfect pet? A jumping dog, a nervous dog, a senior dog probably won’t work well, especially if you expect a little interaction with your guests. You need a well trained, socialized dog to participate in your wedding.

photo credit: Susie Forrester

And before you fall further in love with the idea, check with your venue to see if dogs are allowed on the property. Be prepared to ask and answer a few questions.  Will your dog will be allowed to stay with you – if it’s an on-site accommodation? Think about your time frame – will you have to leave her alone for too long when you go to your reception?  And to facilitate this dream it is very helpful to have a designated handler for the dog.

photo credit: Garth Woods

The most popular task for a dog is the walk down the aisle, sometimes as a ring bearer or flower dog, or she can just walk on in and be awesome. Obviously, someone has to escort the pooch down the aisle – a flower girl or ring bearer, Jr Bridesmaid or Jr Groomsmen are great choices, but really anyone can fill the bill.  Then, have your pup whisked away to the dog friendly pre-arranged location (or back home) after a nice walk and a cool drink of water, of course!

photo credit: Lisa Rhinehart

Having your dog stay throughout the ceremony could take the focus off of you! He had his moment, now it’s your turn. If you do you want him to hang around for some post-ceremony photos, have him exit the ceremony site until it’s time for the photos or social interaction. Either way, your pup will probably have to leave before the reception. This is why the dog handler should not be a guest, but someone specifically designated and paid to do this important job. Yes, hiring someone gives it importance and accountability – so please consider that.

photo credit: David Coulter

Including your dog in your photos is worthwhile. Engagement photos, wedding photos, or save-the dates, are all great opportunities for dogs to be their most adorable. The photos also provide a lifetime of memories.

If you can’t arrange to have your dog with you at your wedding, consider including a few words about her in the ceremony, in the program book, or at the reception. How about using photos of your pups incorporated into your table markers? This is, in fact, probably the only way you could involve cats! Take your pet’s photo, add a graphic, such as the table numbers, frame it, and place on the tables. Voilà!

How about a big cardboard cutout of your dog for photos or as photo-booth material?

You don’t have to dress up your dog, some people do like that. Maybe just a special collar. You certainly want a freshly bathed and groomed dog for the big day. Schedule a spa day for your four legged friends as well as your two legged ones.

If you think this is all ridiculous, you’re probably not a dog person. And please give me a hand (or paw?) for not including all those silly dog puns! It was a ruff, ruff effort. And it wasn’t too much of a fluff piece, was it? It was pawsitively off the leash!

photo credit: Lisa Rhinehart

 Thanks to all my photographer friends for the photos!! Too many wonderful images to choose from, I had to include quite a few!



Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Guests Will Thank You

More bliss, less bugs: Some tips for a sweet summer ceremony.

Summer’s here, in all its glory, and it’s a beautiful time for weddings. But it is a good idea to be prepared for all the season brings, including extreme heat. Be sure to let your guests know what to expect as well.

I’ll only just mention the importance of having a good rain plan, as I have written about this so much, I’m tired of hearing myself!

But how about have a sun plan? Prepare for heat and direct sun that might beat down upon you, your attendants, or your guests during your ceremony or party.

  • Here are a few tips:
    Have water and non-alcoholic drinks readily available for an outdoor ceremony.
  • Find or create shady areas. You can use market umbrellas or hang fabric in some way to create a sun screen. It is definitely worth investing in parasols to have at the ready!
  • Stock your restrooms with mini deodorants, sunscreen, blotters, bug spray and baby wipes.
  • Let folks know its ok to kick off their shoes! Maybe even have a basket of flip-flops for people to take.
  • Set your ceremony time a little later in the day to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, but beware of bugs at dusk.
  • Have lots of citronella candles or torches and bug spray (the natural kind, I hope!)
  • Please support the groom and groomsmen in the choice to go without jackets! Suits and tuxes can be unbearably hot in the summer. I have seen more than one groomsman faint during a ceremony in the sun. A vest or suspenders and tie can create an awesome summer look for guys. The Guayabera, or Mexican Wedding Shirt is another summer look I love.
  • Take advantage of seasonal flowers and foods!
  • If it’s a DIY backyard wedding be careful about food temperatures to avoid any spoilage.
  • Create an outdoor lounge by bringing indoor furniture outside for folks to relax and lounge in shady spots.

By following these few simple tips, you will have a relaxed and comfortable summer wedding experience!

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the use of your beautiful photography!


Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s all in the tea…

Around the world couples are exploring their cultural traditions and blending elements of East and West in new ways, and the Chinese Tea Ceremony is both ancient and important. I have only had an opportunity to work with a few Chinese-American brides or grooms, and of those only two have ever chosen to have a Tea Ceremony.

All the way back in the 5th century Lu Yu, a Chinese poet wrote: “Tea tempers the spirit and harmonizes the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue; awakens thought and prevents drowsiness.” I’d have to agree completely!

I must mention that there is also a Japanese Tea Ceremony, one of the biggest differences being in how the tea is brewed; the ‘high art’ of tea culture is very complicated. Japanese tea practitioners focus on high grade sencha/gyokuro (steamed tea and jade-dew tea) and matcha (ground tea). Chinese tea practitioners focus on yancha (rock cliff tea), tieguanyin (iron Bodhisattva tea) and dancong (lonely bush tea). Seriously, I have no idea about any of that, but perhaps, if you love tea, you’ll understand. And there is a Japanese Sake Ceremony as well.

In a traditional Chinese ceremony, the couple kneels in front of their parents and serves them tea, thanking them. It is an expression of the deep gratitude in Chinese culture for elders; parents are held in the highest regard. Some versions of the traditional tea ceremony include the bride serving tea to the groom’s family. This feels very servant-like, putting the woman in a role many modern women would prefer to forget.

But the ceremony remains significant, even in modern times, and there are three traditional prayers that accompany the ritual. The officiant directs the bride and groom to pray to heaven and earth first, then to the groom’s parents or family elders, and lastly to bow to each other.

Here’s an important detail – the ceremony is not done within what we would think of as the regular wedding ceremony – it is conducted as a separate ritual, sometimes after the ceremony but before the reception, sometimes in the morning, but whenever it is done, it is a more private event for immediate family. It reminded me of how signing the ketubah in a Jewish wedding takes place before the actual ceremony, usually in a private area with just immediate family. There are many customs that are part of the big day, or many days of celebrating and ceremony in diverse wedding traditions.

When serving the tea, the order of service is usually

  • parents
  • grandparents
  • grand-uncles and grand-aunties
  • uncles and aunties
  • elder brothers and sisters
  • elder cousins

However, you need not include all of these people, and not always in this order – there are families that prefer to serve the grandparents tea before the parents. Within each generation, dad’s relatives are served before mom’s relatives. It is indeed a very patriarchal society.

For my thoroughly modern couples, as I often do, I created hybrids, an updated version of the ritual, with their full approval of course.

For example, for one couple, I transformed it into a ‘unity ritual,’ using it like candles, sand, or other symbols of joining together. We simply had the parents come forward (no kneeling) and the couple offered them tea to sip along with some words of gratitude, then the couple shared tea as well. Pretty simple, but lovely. I was sure to incorporate some Chinese poetry and a few other cultural details, and voilà! A tea ritual made new.


Photos by Brooke and Bryan 


Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Weddings, Big Ideas

There’s a lot of talk lately about small weddings, or as some like to call them, micro-weddings, or tiny weddings, or my favorite: intimate weddings. And there are many reasons couples are choosing to go small, and they mirror the reasons couples choose to elope. Now, that’s a small wedding!

One motive is simply to avoid all the fuss. Weddings put you front and center. The spotlight is on you and conversely the wedding requires a lot of your attention. When the time, money or energy required for a big wedding just isn’t there, be open to a tiny wedding.  I’ve officiate these lovely little nuptials for couples finishing up college degrees, starting a family, or in the process of buying a home.

A surprising and wonderful aspect of a small wedding is how you get to spend more time with your guests. Like a dinner party, it can truly be called an intimate wedding. One big shared table is a great way to go.

A micro-wedding is kind of ‘out of the box,’ as the saying goes. Maybe that’s your style. You can now incorporate ideas that might not fly with a more traditional style celebration. What am I talking about here? Have a pot-luck, or hire a food truck. Chose an alternative and unlikely venue. Anything from a campground (be sure to have a big tent) to an art museum, a mountain top or an airplane hangar.

Go completely high end; it may be in reach, given the size of the guest list. You can have the very best of everything because you are now serving 10 not 100, or 20 and not 200. Imagine choosing the best menu, the one you really wish you could have, not the one you’re settling for. Well, with a small number of guests, why not have it?

How small is small? I would say anything under 50 people is a small wedding, but I have officiated weddings with 5, 10, or 20 guests.

Second marriage or blending a family? A small wedding is great for this, too. You can put more focus on the children. Get the kids truly involved. Have games, or maybe a hay ride for everyone. If you walked down the aisle the first time with a full-blown event, you may not want to do that for a second marriage. Been there, done that. Time for something different.

One of my favorite tiny weddings was the one where we created a beer ritual for their ceremony, based on their passion for excellent micro-brews. I talked about the characteristics and complexity as a metaphor. After they both drank from the glass, we passed the beer around (take one down, pass it around?) – everyone sharing in their ‘cup of life’ moment. How’s that for ‘out of the box?’ For their cocktail hour, they had a beer tasting, with lots of unusual varieties, and with nice selection of cheese.

It’s good to remember that many beautiful venues here in the Poconos, and most likely everywhere, have alternative, smaller banquet rooms. Don’t rule out the big resorts and hotels.

There is no reason you can’t have all the beautiful details, the bouquet, the dress, the veil, or anything you want, but the cool part is you are also free not to have them.

One note of caution – you may hurt the feelings of some of your family and friends who are not invited. Tread carefully, explain clearly. They love you – take the time to let them know you love them too, and why you made the decision to have a small wedding.

Whatever you decide for your wedding, it’s important not to allow family and friends to pressure you into something you don’t want. Small is beautiful. Micro is the new black.



Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Meaning to the Moment

Don’t be afraid to tweak or omit ceremonial traditions.

Wedding traditions come and go, evolve and change. There are some staples most  would probably never want to forgo – in both ceremony and celebration. I would never advocate leaving out the “I do” part of the ceremony (and in some states, it’s a legal requirement). The idea of the couple voicing their agreement to marry is essential to the entire meaning of this milestone; the exchange of vows as well.

A toast to the couple is another age-old tradition that is fantastic, and not to be skipped. And there are countless more traditions that just feel so right. Traditions and rituals connect us to the past and give meaning to the moment.

Remember, that’s ‘just how it’s done’ is never a good reason in my book. Maybe there’s another way. Or you can simply skip it, if it’s not for you.

Here are a few of my personal pet peeves and suggested alternatives.

Long Receiving Lines – It can go many ways, but receiving lines sometimes feel like they take forever, especially after sitting for the ceremony, no matter how wonderful it may have been. Please know it’s ok to forgo a receiving line, and Instead make sure the newlyweds visit every single table at the reception and share a few words of thanks with absolutely every single person. Remember the receiving line gives each guest a chance to personally interact with the couple.

Cutting the Cake Late – As someone getting a little older (ha!) I’m not always up for staying late. But it’s bad form to leave a reception before the couple cuts the cake. Regardless of this fuddy-duddy, if the party is already rocking and everyone’s on the dance floor, it breaks the mood to stop and cut the cake, so please try to do this immediately after the meal.

Long Readings and Mumblers  – Readings can add a lot to a wedding ceremony. I like that there is so much wisdom to draw from in the world, it is powerful to bring in ideas and inspiration from different sources. Whether religious, spiritual, literary, poetic, or even movies and pop culture, we can find great words to inspire and share. But if your reader is not comfortable performing the reading, or the reading itself is too long, it can fall flat. You can always include a reading in a program, or just be sure to choose the right person to read. It’s find to skip readings when there is no one appropriate.

The ceremony/reception gap – Have you ever been all dressed up with nowhere to go? I recall a family wedding a few years back when my husband and I attended the ceremony in the church, about an hour from our home. The reception was yet further and wasn’t scheduled for a few hours after that. We would have had time to go home, turn around, and go back to the reception, or just kill some time. Obviously, we didn’t want to go for a meal, so what to do? This is why many couples are choosing to have their ceremony and reception in the same location. But if this isn’t possible, take a long and hard look at your time line.

The Wedding Program – I’m not against a program, but please try to give it some ‘added value.’ To simply outline the service does not really add to your guests experience, but rather encourages them to simply follow along and check-off each section. Let the ceremony unfold, and give them something good to read in a program booklet. Or, again, it’s ok to skip the program booklet all together.

When you plan your wedding, besides your own vision, try to see it through the eyes of your guests. And remember what you liked and disliked about weddings you have attended. These insights will guide you in creating your big day, in the best way!



Once more thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your awesome photography!




Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives