Making the Most of Wedding Ceremony Readings

Including a reading or two in a wedding ceremony is quite a common practice. I explore this routinely with couples because it can be a wonderful way to honor a special friend or family member while imparting wisdom.  Often in a church ceremony, passages from scriptures are read by someone the couple chooses. It might even be a required as part of the liturgy (depending on the denomination) – and is always an honor to be asked to participate.

When outside of a specific religious orthodoxy, many people still want to include readings, and are free to choose from prose, poetry, and other inspirational sources, or even write something original. Readings can add content and meaning to any type of ceremony.

Photo: Garth Woods

But too often the reading is either not heard, or the meaning is not clear. Don’t squander this opportunity. Here are some helpful ideas for selecting and performing – yes, performing – a reading. Brides, grooms: please share this information with your readers.

  • Practice, practice, practice! Unless you are a professional actor or public speaker, in which case you already know this, practice (aka: rehearsing) makes all the difference. The piece should be practiced out loud. It is not the same as just reading it to yourself.
  • Typing or writing the piece (even if it’s been given to you) helps – you can put accents, or stress marks, as cues for the proper inflection. This also reminds you of a difficult word or phrase, so you don’t trip up. The process itself helps you internalize it.
  • As slow as you may try to read the piece, go even slower. Perhaps even jot a note to yourself to remind you of that. When we are anxious or excited we often go faster than we realize. Remember, the listener needs to absorb the meaning.
  • And with that one opportunity to hear the piece, unless you are providing ‘Cliff notes,’ go simple! Unless your guests are literature scholars, choose something easy to understand. Classics often require some analysis and are written in a style unfamiliar to most of us. A simple, straight forward piece, such as “The Art of Marriage” is not only beautiful and meaningful, but accessible for most of us.
  • Don’t put the text in your program booklet – it will shift people’s attention away from the reader.
  • Consider having several people read one piece. It can be very effective to have a group, such as siblings, read alternating lines or stanzas. Pauses tend to be longer between the readers, slowing it down, and each reader gains confidence from being with the other. This is also a great technique for children.
  • Volume, volume, volume. If there is a microphone, don’t shy away from it. If there is no microphone you will need to project your voice. Again, practice that.
  • When thinking about who will read, and why, pick something that fits both reader and the couple.

    Photo: Lisa Rhinehart

There are many places to look for ideas, including song lyrics, excerpts from novels, contemporary poets, and religious writings. From Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan, Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, or even children’s literature – I have found all of the above inspiring.We are free to borrow wisdom from other cultures. The writings of the Persian philosopher Rumi, or the Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran have works that are particularly appropriate for weddings.Gibran wrote that: “Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.”

Bob Dylan wrote: “… she opened up a book of poems and handed it to me. Written by an Italian poet from the thirteenth century. And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burnin’ coal, pourin’ off of every page like it was written in my soul from me to you.”

I hope your readings ring true for you, too.

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The Evolution of Tradition

Traditions and customs change and evolve over the years. It’s true for most things and for weddings as well. I recently wrote about how some ancient customs were connected to fertility and survival in the ‘rain on your wedding day’ column. But if we go back only a few hundred years ago, or less, we find lots of interesting wedding stories, and see a direct line to modern times.

Kidnapping the bride!

According to the New England Historical Societyweddings in the 1700s were a mix of homegrown ideas and practices brought from England. That kind of intertwining makes complete sense to me. Superstition reigned then, think: Salem Witch Trials, so we can easily imagine how their world-view impacted their weddings. For example, is was considered bad luck to get married on a Tuesday. That makes no sense to us, but in some places, it was even forbidden, and it was also bad luck to marry on Friday. Wednesday was seen as the best day, maybe because it sounds something like ‘wed day.’

Other superstitions have also faded away – such as it being unlucky for the bride to look in a mirror before the ceremony. That would never fly today!

Bee hives were used as decoration?  I can’t imagine that happening today either. But apparently bees had to be informed of the wedding and were even given a piece of cake. No one wanted bees getting angry we presume!

I officiated for this couple - she wore grandmothers dress!

With our present-day receptions, or parties, we see a straight line back to what was once called the ‘second-day wedding.’ Up until recently, couples were usually married at home, most often the home of the bride, so the following day the parents of the groom, or other close relatives, would throw a party for them. Today we combine the two into one big day.

Life existed before the internet, and even before every day postal service, so to let people know about the nuptials it was posted at their church or at the town hall.

The ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’ routine dates to the Victorian era when the ‘something old’ was worn to connect the bride to her past and her family and we see that today as well, usually with something small. I recently officiated for a bride who wore her grandmothers dress and it was so lovely. The ‘something new’ shows that she was ready to start her own family and journey forward. ‘Something borrowed’ was supposed to be taken from a happily married couple so that couple’s good fortune could be passed on to the bride. The ‘something blue’ was associated with faithfulness and loyalty, as in the phrase: ‘true blue.’ However, the part of the rhyme that most people leave off is ‘a sixpence in my shoe,’ which encouraged the bride to tuck in a sixpence coin for good luck.

All the little details have history

Bridal showers come from Holland where an old story explains how a bride’s father didn’t approve of the marriage and refused her dowry. So the brides friends ‘showered’ her with gifts, so she would have the dowry necessary to marry the man of her choice. Hurray for bridesmaids! After that, any woman who didn’t have a dowry was given a shower.

Some customs don’t go back very far at all. The diamond engagement ring only dates back to the 1920s. Good to remember if you want a different kind of ring.

A fascinating evolution is one that is traced from the literal abduction of the bride to what we now call the honeymoon. Vikings, who took the kidnapping less literal, ritualized it and it became a time for the couple to hide together after the wedding. During that period of about a month, the couple would spend that time alone, but friends would bring them honey wine and thus the name ‘honeymoon’ evolved. There is documentation from 1546 calling the first month of marriage the sweetest, add to that the honey mead and viola!

These are just a few examples of customs that have come and gone or changed. When it comes to weddings rituals, traditions, customs, beliefs and history all come together.

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!

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A Humanist Approach to Weddings

One of the most important subjects I explore for a wedding ceremony is religion. I want to know something about the couple’s faith traditions, if any. What is their thinking or practice at this time in their lives? What are the family traditions (if any) and how important is it to honor those, even if the couple themselves are not strongly tied to these beliefs?

It is not unusual in our modern world to find that young people are not as deeply religious as preceding generations. The Pew Research Center reports thatyoung adults are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated, especially in North America. Unaffiliated doesn’t necessarily mean non-believer, but clearly there is a shift.

Why there is a decline in religiosityis debatable, but one reason may be that with more education comes more questioning. The more data-driven and analytical we become the more likely we are to apply that to religion. Think of it, around 100 years ago, more than a quarter of children in America did not even attend school. Today 37% of Americans between the ages of 25 to 34 have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Another element that has turned people away from religion is the corruption and scandals within religious institutions. Feel free to speculate about other reasons, but for my purposes, it doesn’t matter why, just how to honestly express the couple’s views honestly.

Many couples I work with arebelievers, just not involved with religious institutions. I many people say they find their spirituality or connection to a High Power in their own way, along with others who are unsure (agnostic) and some who are non-believers.

When couples ‘come out’ to me as non-believers there is often an underlying fear of judgement. They will get none from me, but society does judge those who are not church-going, God-fearing individuals. And calling oneself an atheist does have a somewhat, negative connotation, because it means withoutGod, and lackof belief.  There seems to be an emptiness there, a void. But it doesn’t have to be.

I suggest instead: Humanist. This is a positive term, one that says, I believe in goodness and I don’t need God to be good. Humanism stresses the importance of humans rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanists believe in the potential value and goodness of people, emphasizing common human needs, and seeking rational ways of solving problems. That is a very positive approach.

So back to weddings! In a ceremony without any strict religious dogma, without prayers or scriptural readings, blessings or pronouncements about God, a Humanist approach can help express the couple’s values. Through their wedding ceremony they can declare to family and friends that they, too, are good people, who share values such as kindness, caring for others, and doing good in the world, just like their religious fellow humans.

And it’s not difficult to do. It is easily accomplished by simply including statements about those values. And of course, there are those readings we hear so much about!  You’ll find great content everywhere, from literary sources, poems, prose, and even scientific sources such as Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, when he concludes that ‘for small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.’ There are countless possibilities.

In our modern world, not only can we say: ‘love is love,’ we can say: ‘good is good.’

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!


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Rain Again!?

…Is it lucky on your wedding day?

It’s been a rainy summer and I recently wrote about that all-important rain plan for your outdoor ceremony. Now I have something else to say about rain and weddings.

I have found myself, far too often this year, telling the story of why it is lucky to have rain on your wedding day. I once thought this was simply a silly rationalization. After all, you’re unhappy it rained on your big day, and people keep telling you it’s lucky. Right! Sounds bogus, or so I thought.

But upon further examination there is quite a bit of logic and history involved. And like so many ancient wedding rituals and customs it involves fertility.  Long ago (how long? I’m not really sure) people were dependent upon rain for their very survival. If it didn’t rain, food didn’t grow, and they might starve. Any gardener or farmer will tell you the same – rain equals growth. We humans also needed to grow children for the community to survive; children help with those crops, as well as hunt or care for elders. So, rain equals fertility for both crops and people!

And not surprisingly, other rituals such as throwing rice or grains, or carrying a bouquet of herbs also speak to fertility. It is all connected to the earth and the basics of survival. I like how ritual connects us to our history and place on this earth. Yes, these classic customs have deep roots. Even wedding cakes, a part of weddings since medieval times, were a symbol of fertility and prosperity because they were made from wheat. A relic of fertility rites, ancient wedding cakes were literally thrown at the bride, and that could be the origin of today’s cake smashing tradition.

Ritual washing in the Ganges River

Another way to think about rain is that it is cleansing. The idea of washing away sorrow or sadness is a meaningful way to look at it. Think of how a rainstorm will wash away dirt or dust, even off of your car, and how wonderful the air smells afterward a rainstorm. You might even see a rainbow before it’s all over.

Water in itself is a strong symbol. Civilizations began around water – from the fertile Nile delta, and by rivers, streams, lakes and oceans everywhere. Water plays a prominent part in religions as well. Holy Water. Think of Baptism for Christians or the Hindu ritual of wading into the Ganges river to wash away sins. Muslims ritually cleanse themselves before prayer, and not surprisingly ritual washing is common in Judaism. (I’m always amazedat the commonalities between Judaism and Islam).

Water symbolizes healing, which can be literal as well. There are even modern fertility rituals for women wishing to become pregnant, and many of them involve water.

I, too, love using water ritualistically. However, I must admit that having that water come down from the sky on your wedding day isn’t exactly great.

But, if it rains on YOUR wedding day it may help to remember the connection between our ancestors and the very moment you are experiencing. A couple somewhere, so long ago, whether on the plains of North America, or some medieval farmer, was rejoicing that the rain came! And if you attend a wedding and it rains you can share the story behind the good luck and help make the day a little brighter.

thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!

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Partners in Planning

 Getting your significant other on board…

It’s not uncommon today for couples, not parents, to pay for their own wedding. This can translate into said couple doing all the work as well. When this is the case it is important that both partners are on board. Wedding planning can be fun or a nightmare, but most often it’s somewhere in between.

I’ve seen all the extremes. One person doing absolutely everything and becoming exhausted, or an over-zealous mother taking control of her daughter or son’s wedding plans. A controlling parent can be a real problem, but I’ll leave it for another day, another column. Today let’s focus on the couple themselves.

One good solution is, if you can, hire a wedding planner. It is well worth the investment.  A great venue with a top-notch coordinator on staff will also ease the burden. But that’s not always the case either, so read on…

And even with help, there are still countless decisions to be made, and simply recognizing that is important. Don’t underestimate it – there is always more to do than you anticipated.

Where do you start? First pick a venue and date, not necessarily in that order. After that come all the details; from clothing to cake, music to photography, flowers, décor, and of course, choosing the right officiant – there are so many decisions. You must prioritize. What really matters to you?

Here’s the important part: a wedding is not the sole purview of a bride. These are modern times, people! Examine your gender biases. Women – are you thinking this is your exclusive domain? Is this something you’ve planned and dreamed about for years? Or maybe you are a bit of a control freak. If so, you maybe be shutting out your partner.

And men, examine your biases as well – perhaps you see it as a woman’s territory and think you shouldn’t be involved. But a wedding, like a marriage, is about two people joining together as a team.

And even same-sex couples fall into these same traps – one partner doing everything!

All the details need to be decided

I love this much-used, adorable wedding quote: “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.” To which I might add – we join up with them and plan a wedding.

When interviewing couples, I have sometimes found one partner less engaged in the process than the other. Then something wonderful happens. Once they realize that a ceremony can be real, honest and yes, interesting, curiosity is peaked! It’s the same with the other wedding plans. It really doesn’t have to be the ‘same old, same old.’

So, what does spark someone’s interest? That’s your starting point; from there keep encouraging (not nagging) your partner to be involved and then you must be truly open to his or her ideas, even the ones you don’t like. There may be a way to work with those ideas, remembering that (as in marriage) compromises should be made.

Some areas that might get a disinterested manly-man type groom more involved might include: choosing a play list, selecting beverages, wine, beer, mixed drinks, or food.  A hobby or passion in life can become a theme. Ask your partner questions and clearly express that you need help.

Together on the journey? Start with the wedding planning.

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A Short and Sweet Request

From time to time I get an inquiry from a couple who say they are looking for a ‘short and sweet’ wedding ceremony. This raises a few questions, along with a few answers.

First of all, I’m thinking perhaps they have never attended a good ceremony, so they are looking to avoid something long, or something that seems long because it is so boring. And on the flip side, they may not fully realize the importance of taking the time to recognize this milestone.

I’m certainly down with the ‘sweet’ part, but short is a relative term. If you are getting married in some unusual way, let’s say, sky diving or snorkeling, then just a quick ‘I do’ is probably what is needed.  Other than that, I don’t believe 10 minutes is enough. I’m also not a fan of a ceremony that would take morethan 30 – 45 minutes is way too long for people to stay interested, and that includes the couple themselves. If you can’t say all the important things that need to be said in about a ½ hour, the officiant needs an editor.

Every guest should understand what this day means to you -  emphasis on ‘you,’ because it’s your wedding. You should not have to settle for something that doesn’t express who you truly are and what your commitment means. When you and/or your guests neither understand nor care about what’s going on, it certainly isn’t a positive experience. If you’ve ever attended a long ceremony in any context where you didn’t know what the heck was happening, you know what I mean.

In most houses of worship, you really are there for that: to worship – and however long that takes, is what it takes. The wedding part is sometimes simply added in, or there could be a specific litany for weddings, but it will always include lots of praying, which definitely takes some time. I’m not against praying, not at all, and everyone is free to pray or not to pray, whenever they want to. In America we still have freedom of – and from – religion, and this has actually allowed religion to flourish.  We are free to worship as we choose, when we choose, or not. But is a wedding the time for this? Yes and no – it doesn’t have to be. Obviously if a couple is religious, they may well choose a worship service, but for many people, even people of faith, they prefer a celebration of their marriage.

When I explain all this to couples they are often very excited. It’s a good feeling to be able to have a ceremony that recognizes who you are and where you are going. It is especially important for couples of different traditions or world views. Many officiants of all types, understand this. Talk to the person you are thinking about having perform your marriage ceremony and see if they are open to expressing all of that. For me, as a Celebrant, that’s what it’s all about, but I certainly don’t have a monopoly on it.

Telling your personal story in your vows is the only way some people get that customization they are looking for into their ceremony, but I caution you to remember that the vow is really your promise to one another, not your life story. Don’t talk about all how you met as part of your vows.  However, a few little additives can add a lot of flavor.

With a very short ceremony you miss out on some important opportunities. Will you be able to thank family and friends for supporting you, or honor parents, children, siblings or others who have helped you along in your journey? How about remembering those who are deceased? Mentioning a grandparent or grandparents who have passed may not be at the top of your list, it could mean a lot to your parents.  Remembering your own parents is profound. What about including personal details about your personalities, your love story or just simply what you love about one another? These are all things I explore when creating ceremonies. Having charming details about the couple and their community adds so much depth, and is even, sometimes, fun! How about a shout-out to your dog?

Short and sweet is a relative term, and I hope you get all the sweetness you deserve but don’t give it the short shrift.

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Navigating Social Media for Your Wedding

Many of us are addicted to social media. I recognize that in many ways I am as well. How do we draw the line between using it and abusing it? How do we decide how much social media to use for a wedding?  Some? None? Tons? Here are some thoughts on the subject.


Unplugging for the ceremony is a must! As a celebrant I am keenly aware of how people look at or play with their phones when they should be ‘in the moment.’ I get it, it is truly an addiction. And that is exactly why you should, in no uncertain terms, ask everyone to turn them off and put them away. If you have a professional photographer (and I hope you do, it’s one of the best investments you can make) let them capture the ceremony visually. If you do not have a professional photographer simply designate one or two people to take the pictures. But please, please, do not allow everyone to use their phones during the ceremony. Afterwards – have a blast taking those selfies and other videos and photos.

Cassie Cook Photography


Many couples create their own hashtag so all the photos on any platform, tagged with their unique tag, can be gathered together. If you choose to do a hashtag, don’t forget to check to be sure someone else isn’t using the same one. A unique hashtag is the way to go.


Social media is great for sharing information about any event. Many couples have wedding websites that can be very helpful … but not everyone is media savvy. Do not expect all of your guests to have all the information if you ONLY send it via social media or even email. They are your guests, I’m assuming you know them pretty well, so be sure those who are not as ‘connected’ get a piece of paper or phone call with all the details, such directions, places to stay, or anything else they might need.

I’ve seen lots of wedding websites with almost nothing of value. Make sure you have meaningful content if you are going to bother having a website. Directions, things to do, places to stay, how to dress, what to expect, times, locations, photos and other tidbits will make it worthwhile. Otherwise, skip it. You don’t have to have a wedding website!

Please do NOT post any photos of the couple before they have had the opportunity. This is bad form. Sure, put up a photo of yourself looking amazing in your best clothes, but don’t spoil the chance for the couple to share their imagines first. I know it’s frustrating to wait for the professional photos (which sometimes take quite a while) but it will be worth it. Besides, you may not have captured their best side, again, that’s where the professionals come in.

Photo: Allure Productions


If possible, encourage your guests even at the receptionto try to stay off of social media. It’s so much better to be talking to one another, listening to the toasts, enjoying the music, the food, the dancing, the fun, rather than to have your head in your phone. I know it’s hard to say this, but you might ask your DJ or band-leader to mention it a few times and you will be off the hook.


I have had several weddings with family members living far, far away. Live streaming the ceremony made it wonderful for them. They got to see and hear their loved ones getting married even though they were unable to be there in person. Keep this in mind for those who can’t travel, and let your officiant know it’s happening so she or he won’t think something strange is going on.

Overusing social media makes your special day less special. A wedding is many things, but it is not a show. Although there are many great ‘visuals’ involved – the flowers, the clothing, the décor, and so much planning goes into it, it is still an important milestone in life. Keep the meaning of the day foremost in your mind.

Oh, and please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest –  hashtag #LoisHeckmanCelebrant and tag @LoisHeckmanCelebrant.

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When it rains… it pours!

The all-important rain plan

It’s been a very rainy summer here in the Poconos. Some days its rained three or four times, on and off, and other days non-stop. One minute it’s sunny and the next it’s pouring. I wrote about all this years ago, and it was, for the most part, theory, but this summer has brought many a situation, or as I think of it – ‘calls to action.’  Here’s some examples.

While at a location that was not ready for it, a huge storm was coming. It was already sprinkling that morning, and ceremony time was set for exactly when it would hit big-time. What to do? Even the out-door gazebo was not a good option. Ok for the couple but not all the guests. So, bring it inside, right? Fortunately, there was an indoor space, but it was hardly ceremony-ready.

Here’s the ‘call to action.’  I asked one of the bridesmaids to quickly go and pick up  lots and lots of white candles of various sizes. We found some side tables and a small, pretty area rug – and voila! An altar area to stage the ceremony was quickly created. It actually looked quite beautiful, thanks mostly to the candles. Most important, however, was that the couple was happy; and even more happy where their guests, especially older folks who didn’t want to brave the extreme elements.

After the ceremony, with a few umbrellas, an energetic bridal party went outside for photos.

This was exactly as I always imaged it. And it worked! Naturally when I am officiating at a resort, they already have a backup plan, and a very good one indeed. But if you are planning a backyard wedding or any outdoor ceremony without a really good plan for rain, you must think this through.

While a covered space, like a tent or pavilion will definitely work in a light rain, what about a storm? Here’s another story. A few years ago, I officiated at a farm venue. They had a good plan – a tent with roll-down sides at their ceremony site, but a storm rolled in, and it was a big one! The sides of the tent were blowing, and it became impossible to keep the sides tied down, letting in the howling wind and rain. The sound of the storm was also a problem. It got cold. We made the best of it, of course, and in a small way, it was kind of fun, or at least memorable. Stuff happens and even to the most prepared. You just have to roll with it.

When I get calls from couples asking me to officiate at locations such as state parks, waterfalls and other outdoor locales, I always ask: what’s your rain plan? Many people have not given this any thought.

At an outdoor ceremony, when weather threatens, I always give everyone a heads-up on how we’ll proceed – just in case. Knowing there’s a plan definitely helps their stress level. A few weeks ago, we had to make a dash from outside to inside right in the middle of the ceremony. As we made our way inside to resume I spoke to the distraught couple, suggesting they think of this was their first challenge in marriage. How they handle this – with humor and grace – will set a good tone for all their guests and for themselves. There will be much bigger challenges in marriage than rain.

As I have advocated many times, over the years – HAVE A RAIN PLAN! And remember that you are planning for more than a wedding, you are planning a marriage. And buy a nice big umbrella.


thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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The Goldilocks Wedding

If you remember the childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, she had to find the bed that wasn’t too soft or too hard, but just right, and the porridge that wasn’t too hot or too cold, but just right, and the same can be said for weddings. How do you figure out the Goldilocks wedding for you!

I’ve been hearing the term ‘micro-wedding’ lately and started using it because it’s a way to distinguish between a small wedding, which could include 40, 50 or even 75 guests, and an even smaller one with, let’s say, 10 or 20 guests, give or take. Another term I hear is ‘intimate’ wedding, although that doesn’t necessarily always coordinate to the number of guests. I don’t think size is the only element that makes a wedding intimate.

It’s important that couples have the wedding they want to have – the wedding that expresses who they are, and without undue stress, not to mention the wedding they can afford.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a big, beautiful wedding, and I officiate them often. I enjoy getting dressed up, sharing the couple’s story with so many guests! A big wedding is often a dream come true.  You may have a big family or even two big families coming together. A large wedding, meaning well over 100 guests – and I’ve officiated some that have as many as 200 or 250 or more -  is full of pomp-and-circumstance – lots of traditions. It can fit your style and doesn’t necessarily have to be formal when it’s a big crowd. Maybe you just enjoy a party, and great, big party! Many people find a larger wedding very glamorous.

The average size guest list today is 150. When planning your numbers, whatever size, remember between 10 and 20% will not be able to attend.

I just spoke with someone who told me about his daughter’s big beautiful wedding. They chose to do cocktail stations instead of a sit-down meal, so everyone could mix and mingle. I love this idea. It is sometimes uncomfortable to be placed at a table with people you don’t know or with whom you can’t seem to connect. The story continued with how they, the parents, had high school friends, college friends, relatives, and the couple themselves had the same – friends and family from far and wide – all connecting and catching up, and it was fantastic.  A big wedding is one of those rare opportunities to check in with all kinds of people who live far away or with whom you may have lost touch but still hold a place in your heart.

And that is exactly how guest lists get so large, and it can be very difficult to cut that back. That is why some couples choose notthe middle ground, of maybe 50 or 75 people, but to keep it extremely tiny, or micro. If you can’t go huge, go tiny! A wedding with very few guests might include parents and siblings only, or just a few friends – the micro-wedding – solves the ‘who to cut’ problem. Anther choice for couples with children is to just have the kids be a part of the nuptials – and that’s it!

And then there is elopement – the ultimate in not dealing with who to invite and who not to invite. There are so many good reasons to elope and I’ve written about it before, but just briefly those reasons include: avoiding stress, personal style, financial choices, intimacy and expediency. But in today’s article, it’s definitely about who to invite and who note to invite.

Whatever you decide for your wedding I hope you find the perfect Goldilocks size that is ‘just right!’



thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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Why Get Married?

I write a lot about weddings, but a wedding is merely the first step and symbolic transition in something bigger: marriage.  And while I love weddings and creating wedding ceremonies rich with meaning, it is the lifetime that follows that matters most.

There’s a beautiful poem by Marge Piercy, an author I’ve always enjoyed, called Why Marry at All?  The piece addresses overcoming old constraints of marriage that limited a woman’s role in life, and celebrating the more modern idea of standing together through life’s challenges as equals. It’s a point of view I agree with completely. Because marriage, like all societal constructs, has evolved and grown. And this is a good thing.

The institution of marriage probably predates recorded history. Most ancient cultures valued a wife only as property, an idea that held on far too long. Over time, however, both religious organizations and governments began to set out rights and obligations between the spouses. Different religions and cultures have different interpretations of this, but all agreed that intimate relations and procreation were an expected part of the union. Lovebetween the couple came to be valued much later, really only in modern times.

Today most people choose whether or not to have children, and couples that do not want, or cannot have children, are not shunned, but live a happily married life. Over-population of the planet should figure into this equation as well, although that discussion seems to have disappeared.

When women no longer have to depend on marriage for survival, why would a woman want to get married? In the 1970’s feminists began asking this very question and many rejected the institution. But ultimately the bond of love between two people is more powerful than social forces left or right. And so, feminists, too, chose marriage. People just naturally want to pair-up; most people do not want to be alone.

I believe in marriage because, at its healthiest and best, it creates a place of safety, where two people can grow, as individuals and as a couple. It has proven to promote longevity, stability, health and wellbeing. It also provides legal benefits including tax, social security, employment, medical, family, housing and other types of legal rights that vary from state to state. I’ve officiated quick elopements for many a military couple, needing the legal status so their partner could live on the base, and marriages for people dealing with immigration issues. There are couples who need health insurance of their partner, or the right to make medical decisions. And I’ve officiated for countless love-struck young couples who are yearning for a lifetime of happiness.

I’ve officiated for gay couples who have spent over 20 or 30 years together and finally got to make it official. I support marriage equality because it’s obvious to me that gay and lesbian couples deserve all the same legal, spiritual, social, and emotional benefits of marriage, and I’m so happy they got that. Let’s hope we don’t lose those rights.

Today, marriage is better than ever! Couples I speak with are very committed to equality and see their relationships as true partnerships.

When I am creating a wedding ceremony I am celebrating not only the love of the two people who brought us all together for that purpose, but the institution itself.



thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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    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
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