A Beer Themed Wedding

I often write about choosing rituals, readings and themes that resonate for couples in real ways. I recently officiated for a couple who loved craft beer and had bonded over beer tasting events. So naturally they wanted a beer theme for their wedding.

You may wonder if this is something best left for the reception, but we found a wonderful way to incorporate the beer into the ceremony itself.

Sharing the beer!

Wine sharing is a popular unity ritual for weddings, so I thought, why not do the same with beer? And the couple enthusiastically agreed. In fact, they had just the perfect beer in mind. It was a 2013 Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing – which was significant because it was the first beer they shared together when they became ‘official’ students of beer. It represented a turning point for them.  I was sure to say that it is rare and awesome beer, really, really good… just like the two of them!

So here’s how it worked: They poured the beer and shared it together, illustrating how they will share all of life’s flavor. I know it sounds a little crazy, but think about it: beer has a long and ancient tradition. It is made all over the world and actually promotes good health – if used in moderation, of course!

The details say a lot.

There is clear evidence that beer goes back over 6,000 years.  Plato is credited with saying: “He was a wise man who invented beer.” Monasteries across Europe have brewed beer for centuries.

Ben Franklin said that “beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” And Thomas Jefferson said it “softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

Because this wedding consisted of just a very small group guests – 6 couples who were very close with the bride and groom – they wanted to pass the glass of beer around to everyone – to sip and share in the joy of the day and be a part of the ritual. So that’s what we did! They even had a sign that read: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something brewed.

There are many ways to express your love of beer at a reception, of course. Besides serving excellent beers, consider naming your tables for your favorites, giving beer for favors, making your invitation look like a beer label, using hops for boutonnieres, creating a beer garden look for cocktail hour or the reception, create beer bottle centerpieces – so many possibilities!

Beer on the altar rock.

Craft beer is very popular today, and for good reason. As Americans are developing a taste for wonderful beers, brew pubs are popping up. I have wedding coming up soon up at Barley Creek Brewery here in the Poconos, and we also have The Gem and Keystone Pub, which would also be a great location for a wedding, serving ShawneeCraft Beer made next door.

What exactly is craft beer? Well, it must come from a small production facility, meaning 6 million barrels of beer or less annually (approximately 3% of U.S. annual sales). The brewery should be independently owned. And the flavor should be derived from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

Sharing the beer.


People used to use the term microbrewery, but the term craft beer replaced that, probably because large producers co-opted microbrew, with beers like Sam Adams. I’m not saying Sam Adams isn’t good, but it is mass produced.


Serving the best!

So if you love craft beer, imported beer, exotic beer, and just great beer, you can surely find many ways to include your passion for beer in your wedding.


Thank you Garth Woods for the fabulous photos!


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

Raising a Glass to the Happy Couple!

What’s a wedding celebration without a toast, most often with champagne? Where did this tradition come from? What does it mean? Why champagne?

The custom of honoring someone through offering or sharing drinks may go as far back as the ancient Greeks, who apparently invented everything. Evidence shows they used drinks in ritualistic ways. The concept of the toast itself can be traced to the 16thcentury. Shakespeare included references to toasts in his work, so we know it was already happening by then.

Over time toasting became so popular in English culture that by the 17th and 18th centuries and ultimately the Toastmasters were born. Toastmasters are a group that fosters public speaking and the art of the toast, and they still are active today. Amazing!

Pouring the bubbly (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)

As secular traditions became more acceptable, champagne became the libation of choice for toasting because it was associated with luxury, royal courts and aristocracy in Europe. It was, and remains, a status symbol.

By the late 19th century it had spread worldwide, used to commemorate any joyous occasion – not only drinking champagne, but traditions like smashing a bottle against a ship for its maiden voice, or throwing champagne glasses onto the floor, as was done in Russia. The things we humans do!

Strictly speaking – champagne is sparkling wine that only comes from the Champagne Region of France, but often, at least in most circles in the U.S. we refer to any sparking wine as champagne. I’m sure the French would beg to differ.

Here are a few tips on toasting etiquette.

Giving a toast!

Someone needs to get the crowds attention, either by tapping on the glass with a utensil, and/or standing up when everyone is seated. Or just have someone announce it.

Be sure everyone’s glasses are filled before beginning your toast.

Water, juice or soft drink, or my favorite, sparking cider, are all totally permissible as a substitute. There should never be any pressure on people to drink alcohol. Encourage kids, too. Just lift up your glass everyone!

The person giving the toast should certainly stand (if able) but sometimes you may ask everyone to stand with you – it’s personal preference. Make it clear by saying ‘please stand and raise your glass.’

Toasts usually come very early in the celebration, definitely before the meal.

The art of toasting.

What do you say? Keep it short and to the point. A few personal remarks are ok, a relevant story, but always in good taste and in keeping with the occasion. No one wants to hold up their glass for ten minutes. Don’t get side-tracked or go off on tangents. A toast is not a roast!

Who gives the toast? At weddings, if you have a best man and woman of honor, make sure each one has the opportunity to add their voice. Sometimes the couple also makes a toast, thanking everyone, and finally, parents are encouraged to also add their voices to the ritual. See why it’s best to keep it on the shorter side?

For a great finish remember to say ‘cheers’ or ‘congratulations’ or something everyone can repeat.  Whatever the language or custom – Cin Cin, Salute, Skol, or Mazel Tov, it really adds to the effectiveness. Then everyone touches their glass with those around them – try to touch as many as possible within natural reach; its bad form to leave out someone near-by. This custom is a way we make contact with one another so be sure to look at the people your ‘clink’ with, as you share the good wishes.

When offering a toast, if you draw a blank, don’t panic – just simply say: ‘to the lovely couple, we all wish you all the happiness in the world! Cheers!’ or something of that nature. It could be the best toast anyone ever heard!

To the happy couple! (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)



Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio   and Lisa Rhinehart  for the use of the wonderful  photos!

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

Rainy Day Weddings

They say it brings luck when it rains on your wedding day. But who said this and why? It sounds like rationalization to me – making lemonade out of lemons, but, then again, there’s nothing wrong with lemonade, in fact, I love it.

Rain photos can be amazing! (Stroudsmoor Photography Studio)

Digging a little deeper there is a connection to rain and good luck. It’s fertility – which is often the connection with ancient wedding symbols; after all rain does lead to growth of crops. Other symbols connected to fertility are rice being showered on the couple, certain flowers included in a bouquet, especially orange blossoms and marigolds, and going back in time the bouquet itself. Specific herbs were held by the bride to enhance sexuality and fertility.

Then there is the symbolism of rain washing away sorry and cleansing the earth (and perhaps our souls).

A little more obvious is the connection of rain and tears and of course tears of joy are shed on a wedding day.

Another great rain shot (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)

I’ve officiated many weddings on rainy days, and the truth is, all my couples still got married. In fact, they made the most of it, embraced it and were determined not to let a little rain get in the way of their happiness. That’s the way to do it!

As I’ve written many times before: you must have a good back-up plan for outdoor weddings! Assuming you do, also bring some big, beautiful umbrellas along, and even rubber rain boots so you can go outside into the rain for some awesome photographs.

Rent a tent! You must arrange that in advance, and yes, you may be paying for something you don’t use, but it’s worth it for your peace of mind.

Remember when you are trying to decide whether you are going to move indoors or try to remain outdoors, when the forecast is unclear, or it is only slightly drizzling – its not just about you! Older guests may have an especially difficult time, and many will be unprepared to deal with the elements. You want everyone to have a great time and enjoy themselves, not wind up uncomfortable in wet clothes throughout the remainder of the party.

If you are outside and it starts drizzling, have a plan for that, too. Will your officiant skip directly to the ‘I dos?’ I do, but only sometimes. I let the bride make that call. But those buckets of umbrellas can get you through to the end. Occasionally it poured in the middle of a ceremony I was officiating – and when that happened I had the couple and the bridal party leave first – in the way they would for the recessional, followed by guests. We gathered indoors, and we continued with the ceremony. It was actually pretty sweet.

Add some rain songs to your play list. How about Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, Singin’ in the Rain, or the Eric Clapton song: Let It Rain. There are many, many titles out there.

But above all – keep your sense of perspective and remember this is the day you are marrying the person you love – come rain or come shine!


A creative rain photo for sure! (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)



Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio   and Lisa Rhinehart  for the use of the wonderful  photos!

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

Embracing the Nerdy

It continues to surprise and delight me how many couples identify themselves as nerds. This can mean many different things, but I just love how they embrace it.

Nerdy fun with Photo Shop

First of all let’s get down to the contemporary meaning of nerd, because back when I was a kid it was much more negative, and meant someone awkward and without social skills. But it has evolved to mean people with specific interests and passions, especially computer skills and gamers (World of Warcraft is often mentioned) as well as a love of books, and kitschy pop culture from movies and TV including super heroes, sci-fi, and comic books. It’s very broad and has transformed into something positive. Nerds are smart! This is good. The term geek is used interchangeably with nerd, but I’m afraid I can’t expound on the nuanced differences.

Great details ...

From a Star Wars Themed Wedding

I had a couple that introduced me to the TARDIS – which stands for Time And Relative Dimension In Space– it’s a time machine and spacecraft featured in the British sci-fi TV show Doctor Who. This was important to them because the engagement ring was presented inside a little TARIS replica (not having access to a real one, I presume).

So I have grown to understand these are specific passions, just like any other passion, be it tennis or reggae zumba; nerds have specific interests as well.

So how do you incorporate your nerdy side into your wedding? Well certainly some choice quotes and references in the ceremony – especially if I’m your celebrant.

For example – from Game of Thrones: “You’re mine,” Ygritte whispered. “Mine, as I’m yours. And if we die, we die. All men must die, Jon Snow. But first, we’ll live.” Or from Veronica Mars: “True love stories never have endings.”

If you can’t infuse that flavor in the ceremony itself – you can use it in a program booklet or save the date if you’re doing either of those.

Here are a few more ideas …

Books, books books – easy to get a hold of and fun to use in décor. Used books are cheap and readily available and can be used as part of centerpieces, and I’ve even seen an arch created out of books.

Action figures can be put to creative use as well – anything from boutonnières to holding the ‘escort cards’ – those name cards that tell people where they are to sit for the reception. Speaking of where people sit, how about some nerd references for table names – the Star Wars table or perhaps Hogwarts School?

The wedding cake can be totally decked out in your specific nerdy theme.

For those who want to take it a bit farther – light sabers! Give them out, use them!

And then there is fun with photography and photoshop!

A word of caution, thought: a little bit does go a long way. One or two references should do it. Like any other theme, adding references to the things that brought you together always makes for a more meaningful, and in this case, fun wedding.

How cute is this???


Thank you Stroudsmoor Photography Studio for the use of these adorable photos!

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

Readings and readers can soar or flop

Weddings that take place in the church often include scriptural passages, often read by someone chosen especially for that honor. But what if your wedding isn’t in a church or house of worship? Readings can still be included, either from your faith tradition or taken from many other places.  It is a great way to express the meaning of this big day, sharing your beliefs, your world-view, your passions, and to add content and variety to your ceremony.

But before jumping into it, there are a few things to consider.

Should you let a reader choose his or her own reading? I always advocate that the couple have final approval. Sometimes the reader wants to surprise the couple. I don’t recommend it. If this comes up, simply tell them you’d be less nervous if you see the reading in advance, or your officiant needs to see it first. (I never mind being the fall-guy). I always want copies of readings in my book anyway, in case the reader forgets to bring it.

Picking the right reading is important (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)

It’s best to avoid that situation from the start by giving the chosen reader a few selections you like, or at least some direction, right from the start. Why? It can go terribly wrong. The reader may choose something that doesn’t reflect your views, or pick something too long, something meant to be funny, but it doesn’t fit the tone of your ceremony. I’ve seen it soar and I’ve seen in fall flat.

When you think about who you’d like to read, consider their personality. The person you may want to honor the most may be shy. You want someone who enjoys being in front of a crowd. It is no honor to burden someone with a task they fear. It’s said that public speaking is one of the greatest fears, second only to death. Wow. Keep that in mind.

Here are some helpful ideas for selecting and performing – yes, performing – a reading.

First and most important, the reader should practice, practice, practice! Unless you are a professional actor or public speaker, in which case you already know this, it really makes all the difference. The piece should be practiced out loud. It is not the same to read it to oneself.

Choosing the right reader is equally important (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)

Typing or writing the piece out (even if it’s been given to you) helps – you can put accents, or stress marks, as cues for the proper inflection.

As slow as you may try to read the piece, go even slower. Make a note to yourself to remember that. When we are anxious or excited we often go faster than we realize. Remember, the listener needs to absorb the meaning.

With only one opportunity to hear it unless you are providing the ‘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.

Readings can add beauty to the ceremony (Garth Woods Photography)

Don’t put the text in your program booklet – it will shift attention away from the reader.  However if there are different languages involved, please offer a translation.

Try 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.

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.

There are many places to look for ideas, including song lyrics, excerpts from novels, contemporary poets, and religious writings. And remember, we are free to borrow wisdom from other cultures. The writings of the Persian philosopher Rumi, or the Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran are particularly appropriate for weddings. It’s a big world out there.

Sharing the Reading (Garth Woods Photography)



Thank you to my friends Lisa Rhinehart and Garth Woods for the use of their gorgeous photography

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

Please Don’t Say This to the Newly Engaged

Congratulations! That’s what we say when we hear the big news that someone is engaged to be married. It is the proper and right thing to say. It means we are acknowledging joy and wishing them happiness.

Newly engaged couples get bombarded with questions. Let them have some time to simply enjoy this special time. For some of us, myself included, it’s hard to keep our mouths shut! So here are some suggestions for things not to say to the newly engaged.

If they haven’t known one another long, please don’t ask them ‘what’s the rush’ or ‘are you pregnant?’ This is none of your business. Neither are their future childbearing plans.

Less obvious however is don’t ask if they’ve picked a date yet. If they have, they’ll tell you, but their family is probably already hounding them on this one.

Do not inquire about their wedding budget. Because the cost of weddings is discussed so often in the media, it begins to feel ok to ask. But it’s not. Don’t tell them what they should do for their wedding. Don’t suggest venues, themes or anything at all, unless asked. Don’t start talking about your own wedding experiences, especially anything that went wrong. Weddings are not a competition.

And don’t ask about the size or cost of the ring.

Am I invited? You’ll have to wait to find out, won’t you?

If they are a same-sex couple don’t start telling them how much you support ‘their’ rights, and try to engage them in a discussion about their ‘gay’ marriage. At this point in time, it is no longer ‘gay’ marriage, its just marriage.

Don’t ask if they are sure their fiancé is ‘the one’? Unless there are abusive or controlling behaviors you are picking up on (aka: domestic violence) don’t question their decision. Please know that in relationship abuse, most partners will come to the defense of the abuser any way, usually out of shame or as a means of self-protection. If you do feel that could be happening, simply make a positive statement in support of equality in relationships, sharing of decision-making and the hope that the person’s future spouse will treat them well. It could get them thinking about what a good relationship should actually look like.  But this is another discussion entirely!

It is completely normal for engaged couples to feel nervous, don’t add to that stress. Emotions are running high  – joy, anxiety, happiness, confusion, its all part of this big moment in life. A newly engaged person may not be quite clear themselves about how they feel. Cut them a break!

Let's toast to that! (Garth Woods Photography)

Don’t tell them they are lucky – luck is winning the lottery. People work hard to make relationships work.

So what’s left besides ‘congratulations?’ Just that you are happy for them and wish the all the best. Offer to take them out for a drink or dinner, enjoy time together and do something that is NOT wedding planning. That may not seem like a lot, but it is!

Thank you Garth Woods for the beautiful photos


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

With This Ring Comes a Lot of Legend

Exchanging rings is a beautiful element in the wedding ceremony. After a couple has spoken their vows, giving each other a ring ‘seals the deal.’ It’s a visual representation of the promises spoken.

There are many stories and myths about the ‘ring finger.’ No one really knows for sure, but lots of expensive jewelry gets put on that third finger of the left hand.

The ring finger.

One long held belief is that there is a vein in that finger, on the left hand, that runs directly to the heart and placing the ring there makes a strong connection. But any study of anatomy will quickly show us this isn’t true. But let’s not mess up a good story; tradition rules and we can’t simply place the ring on just any old finger, so we are staying with that. The left hand, third finger (some call it the fourth, counting the thumb) is even called the ‘ring finger.’

Interestingly, some countries such as Spain, Venezuela, Peru, India, Norway and Denmark wear wedding bands on the right hand, although still on the third finger. Their choice of the right hand is because it is the more dominant of the two, symbolizing the strength of the marriage.


Putting the ring on.

Wedding rings were exclusively for women up until the early 20th century. I’m sure the reason is obvious – property and ownership. But it is also a visual mark of status.  One way to think about the mark of possession is simply the man’s dominance, aka: ownership of the woman. But a slightly different way to look at it is the woman possessing something valuable given by the man, especially because precious metals are used for rings. Today we really don’t think of either of these reasons to wear rings. We wear them to express the pride of our commitment.

She gets one to add to her engagement ring and he gets one.

In our modern world, both partners usually give and receive rings, and we used to call that the ‘double-ring ceremony,’ but it is now so standard here in the United States, we don’t even point that out anymore. With all the hundreds of wedding I have officiated I have never once had a man not put on a wedding band. I did have one couple chose tattoos instead of rings. However, outside of our country it is still fairly common to find just the woman wearing a wedding ring.

For the ceremony it’s a simple ritual. Place the ring on the tip of the partner’s finger, say the ‘ring vow’ and slide the ring on. Something as simple and classic as ‘with this ring, I thee wed,’ works perfectly, but one can also get quite elaborate with the ring vow. Sliding that ring on, however, is not as simple. If you are outdoors and fingers are swollen with the heat, the few extra seconds of wiggling that ring on can feel like an eternity. Brides, grooms – don’t be embarrassed by this sticky moment. It’s totally normal. When do you ever put a ring on someone else’s hand?

The Irish and Celtic culture, so rich with symbols naturally have a special ring. The Claddagh is interesting in that can be used as an engagement ring, wedding ring, or friendship ring. Wearing it on the right or left hand, and which direction it faces, tells people it’s function. The design, featuring a pair of clasped hands, a heart and a crown, represents friendship, love and loyalty. The Claddagh ring was first seen in Ireland in the 17th century, and there are many legends about its protective powers. There are other Celtic designs as well.

Saying the Ring Vow.

People love to talk about the ring being a circle and how it symbolizes endless love. Circles are symbolic in most cultures over thousands of years. That’s fine – any symbolism one can impart in a ceremony is great as far as I’m concerned. Rings are often blessed – by clergy, family, or celebrants like myself. I had a groom who lost his wedding ring on his honeymoon. When they returned they bought a new ring and asked me to re-dedicate it for them, which I was more than happy to do. We had a private ceremony and it was lovely. It’s pretty awesome to think about the ring being something you will wear pretty much forever!

Ultimately all that matters is what it means to you. I hope you wear your ring with pride, indicating your gratitude at having found a loving and supportive spouse.


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography



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

One little rule for your wedding ceremony

I don’t have a lot of rules about wedding ceremonies. I don’t tell couples what they should believe or what their ceremony should include. I’m fond of saying my one rule is ‘no candles outdoors,’ but in reality I do have another rule, and I’ll get it in a minute. But first I want to talk about what a wedding ceremony is supposed to include. Are there rules, written and unwritten, about what must be said in a marriage ceremony?

Reading her vows. (Photo: Garth Woods)

Collective wisdom tells us there are a several elements that really should be in the ceremony, however these are not legally required in most places. They are as follows…

The officiant should state the names of the couple. Seems obvious, right?

The monitum, also known as the ‘statement of intention’, or as I like to call it, ‘the asking,’ is the part where the officiant asks the couple if they want to go forward and they reply with the ‘I do’ (or something in the affirmative). It’s considered a legal warning, but again, there is no specific part in the law here in Pennsylvania that actually requires it.  Still, it’s a good thing to include.

There is the declaration of marriage, or pronouncement, such as I now pronounce you husband and wife, or I now declare you to be married. I consider this essential.

Signing the marriage license is perhaps the most important part in making a marriage legal, and no officiant should ever be pronouncing a couple married if there is no license.

Written, not memorized.

None of these elements (except the license) are required in Pennsylvania, but that varies from state to state and country to country. I do like to include all of them. I feel each has a very meaningful place in a wedding ceremony. But when it comes to one other element, the vows, things can get tricky.

People often confuse the vow and the monitum. They are not the same thing. The vow is your promise – each partner promising, out loud, to be a best friend, companion, faithful partner, etc. More traditionally people say ‘until death do us part’, but I like the word ‘forevermore’ a little better. There are endless variations on vows and they don’t have to take that tradition form at all, but a promise should be said.

So, a vow is not the ‘I do’ – however I have had a few couples request that we they only say the ‘I do.’ I try to encourage them to exchange vows, explaining the difference and the importance of making their promise to one another, but I haven’t always been able to do that. And since there is no legal requirement they do that, I don’t push too hard.

Signing the license! (photo: Garth Woods)

A few times couples sent me their idea of vows, that turned out to be in the form of the statement of intent, and I was able to rearrange them into both the asking and a vow exchange in a way that made them happy.

Ok, so here it is, my one little rule on this topic: NO MEMORIZING VOWS! You can state your vow in the repeat after me method, or read them to one another. Trying to memorize your vows at such an emotionally charged time in your life is just too difficult. But if you are set on doing it – please have a written copy at the ready!

Reading her vow. (Photo: Garth Woods)

I once had a groom who was an actor and was absolutely certain he could memorize his vows. When we came to that moment in the ceremony I saw a look of panic on his face, and I smoothly pulled out his printed vows and handed them to him. A look of relief flooded his face and since then I always remind people of my little rule: do not assume you can memorize your vows. It’s just too much pressure, and you don’t need that.



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

Wine Rituals – one of my all time favorites

One of my favorite rituals, and one I consider to be a classic is one involving wine. There are many good reasons to love it. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote: Good wine is a necessity of life for me. And good old Ben Franklin wrote: Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.

Photo: Rhinehart Photography

If you enjoy wine, sharing wine as a symbol of unity in your wedding ceremony could be perfect. Love of wine alone is a good enough reason to incorporate this, but there are many more levels of meaning that can be folded into this act. Culture, history, religion and even science all play a part.

There really is so much to say about wine! We find references to wine in the Bible, and Noah, you may recall, planted a vineyard as soon as the flood receded. Wise man! Psalms refers to wine saying it ‘gladdens the heart’, but most profoundly wine is the very the presence of the Divine Spirit on earth through the Holy Eucharist.

Photo: Melissa Kelly

Wine is also part of Jewish tradition and ritual. So whether it is Shabbat or Communion, wine is certainly a strong spiritual symbol, a symbol of the earth’s bounty, a symbol of prosperity and joy, an affirmation of life. This makes it a wonderful ritual for interfaith couples.

You can easily tie in countries or places of origin; for example, for families with French or Italian heritage, why not mention how fine wines have been made in those regions for hundreds of years, or for Californians or upstate New Yorkers where there are wine regions as well. Even here in Poconos we have lots of wineries, and when I officiate at many of them I’ll always suggest a wine sharing ritual – its just such a natural thing to do.

If religion or culture doesn’t resonate, remember science, too, plays a part. After all chemistry is involved in making wine as it is in love. It takes a unique and complex mixture to create the right results. A poet once said ‘The whole universe is in a glass of wine.’ Perhaps this means that in wine we see a microcosm, in that all life is like fermentation because it is based on interaction.

Photo: Garth Woods

Among the many ancient stories – one legend I love to tell comes from Persia, and says that wine was invented when a woman, plagued by a headache, drank fermented juice from a jar of grapes. After drinking it, she became relaxed and at ease, eventually falling asleep and woke up cured.

Greek Mythology, however, says that wine was invented by Dionysus, who was appropriately named the God of Wine, Intoxication, and Fertility. I think we can assume that probably explains the Greek’s booming population at that time.

So while the Persians and Greeks disagree on who invented wine, chances are they both were happy that it was invented by someone! And so are we.

So share the cup of wine, representing the cup of life, as a meaningful wedding ritual. And with it you share all the future holds for you, both sweet and bitter, because wine and marriage, are complex. As Pliny The Elder [A.D.23-79] wrote: In wine there is truth.



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

When Old Flames Burn Anew

I love it when science and research back up what I already suspect. More often than you might guess, I’ve officiated for couples who were sweethearts at a young age, went their separate ways, and then reunited much later in life. The CBS Sunday Morning show recently did a story on this and it reminded me of many of the couples I have known.

The research behind this began when Dr. Nancy Kalish was teaching psychology at the University of California1993, and she began wondering about her college boyfriend. She assumed that in reconnecting, the troubles of their past would still exist. But she was wrong. When they reconnected, to her surprise she found quite the opposite. This led her to study what she calls the Lost-Love Project. It confirmed that re-found love relationships are extremely successful. This is because of what she calls the Romeo and Juliet effect – that young love imprints itself on our impressionable brains in a profound way. This makes complete sense to me! If your first love was a deep one, it will certainly stay with you in many ways. Old flames burn bright!

When two adults are free to reconnect it can be a most wonderful thing. However, let’s be honest – sometimes one person is not yet ready, perhaps still in another relationship – and this can cause problems. But people often risk a lot to be together, especially when this kind of rekindled connection is so strong.

I have heard many stories from couples I officiated for, and I have noticed how quickly they fell back in love. But now, with the growth and wisdom that age brings, the couple can go forward in ways they couldn’t in their youth. It’s quite beautiful, really.

One of my brides recently shared with me that she wouldn’t trade one moment of her life, and was grateful for her first marriage and her children, as she now entered this second marriage with her childhood sweetheart. She felt that her path was the way it needed to be, and she has no regrets.

The groom told me he’d been in love with the bride all his life. He never forgot her and even though he had married and raised a family with another woman, who he loved and respected, this first love was always somehow still on his mind.

Many things can lead people back together. Sometimes it’s the death of a spouse that leads one to search out a long-lost love.The internet is certainly responsible for many long-lost lovers finding one another. Facebook alone has probably re-united more couples than we can imagine, and of course school reunions, and just plain old google.

A study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley, where Jennifer Beer, then a graduate student, analyzed the first-love stories of 303 Berkeley students, back in 1997, found that when past lovers married each other, their divorce rate after four years was no more than 1.5 percent.  And while second marriages are relatively fragile in general, with nearly one-quarter of all couples who remarry getting divorced again within five years, these re-found relationships are the exception.

It really is an amazing phenomenon, one that glows with romance. A heart broken in high school can become a heart mended in mid-life. While it all sounds like a chick-flick, it’s just true. These couples feel they have been given a second chance and are deeply grateful for it. As a celebrant I adore telling their stories and helping them express their joy and gratitude.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography


Posted in Wedding Ceremonies | 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