Fresh Ideas for Creative Couples

Following wedding trends isn’t my passion. Mostly, I really like to focus on the meaning of the wedding and marriage. But I must admit it is fun to look at what different couples are doing from time to time, and I have found a few ideas to share.

Great touches for a barn wedding.

Here’s an easy and simple one: At the reception, instead of two chairs for the newlyweds why not use a love seat? How cozy and cute is that?

Have a Dixieland, Mardi Gras Brass Band, Mariachi band or other musicians who can be mobile, to lead you out of the ceremony or into the reception. Bagpipers do this all the time. I love this! Or how about entering (or exiting) on a motorcycle, tandem bike, horses, fire truck (yes, I had a couple do that one!) or other special mode of transportation.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – non-matching bridesmaids dresses are fabulous! I don’t know why I love it so much, but when the colors blend it just looks cool. Also it allows the women to choose what they truly want to wear. No small thing.

Fireworks! What a great ending to a special evening, or have them for the kiss at the conclusion of the ceremony. Confetti cannons are great for the kiss as well!

Unusual locations make fabulous photos.

Unusual venues. Weddings can take place in art galleries and museums, universities, libraries, parks (make sure there’s a back-up rain plan, though) conservatories or botanical gardens. I’ve officiated in a tree house and in a horse stable. I’ve also officiated weddings in theaters – at Penn’s Peak, the Civic Theatre of Allentown, the Mauch Chunk Opera House, the Shawnee Playhouse, and probably a few more I can’t remember.

And of course barns! The barn wedding is no longer unusual, but it is still terrific. Barns can mean many things, but if it means farm, you could consider an orchard for the ceremony location. To complete the barn wedding feel, plan a hayride and other outdoor activities; hire a bluegrass band to play through the day!

The barn wedding is always fabulous.

Party first, ceremony second. Yes, you can do this. Or perhaps just the cocktail hour first, then the ceremony followed by the reception or full meal. It’s a great way to relax before the nuptials, and not over eat, at least not all at once!

And for the ceremony itself – include rituals that reflect your theme and your worldview. Use elements from nature – pebbles, branches, water and trees; it is both beautiful and meaningful. I’ve written about rituals endlessly in Pocono Wedding Talk, but I can’t stress enough how much personalized ritualistic elements add to the ceremony experience.

Support a social cause, issue or anything meaningful to you. Couples can dedicate their wedding to a family member with a difficult diagnosis by asking for donations to finding the cure, rather than gifts for themselves. This is especially great for (somewhat) older couples who don’t really need more ‘stuff’. Think of it as “I give” along with “I do.”  Help the homeless by asking for a day’s wages from each guest for your local shelter. Or if you don’t want to your guests to give, you can give favors that support a cause.

Your wedding can be an exciting and fun expression of your values and love as you begin the journey of lifetime.

An amazing location for a wedding.


Thank you Mindy Lipcavage Photography and Lisa Rhinehart Photography

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Considering a Destination Wedding

Are you thinking of having a destination wedding? If so, here are some things to consider.

Make sure those closest to you, most often parents, are on board before going too far. And let’s not kid ourselves, this is an expensive undertaking – so don’t choose a pricey adventure your family and friends cannot afford. Your fantasy should not be another’s anguish.

So, if everyone’s ok and can afford it – let’s go!

There really is nothing quite like a wedding on the beach!

Check out your preferred locations ahead of time. If you’ve never been there, take a trip and scout it out. You may want to consider off-season for fewer crowds and better rates, but take the weather into consideration. It could be monsoon season.

A destination wedding doesn’t necessarily mean an exotic location. If you live here in Poconos you may just want to go to New York City or to the New Jersey shore. It’s a change of scenery and that what makes it fun! For families scattered around the country, the Poconos is indeed a great destination location. We have many great hotels and resorts in different price ranges. (Stroudsmoor, Mountain Springs Lake, Skytop, Shawnee Inn, Pocono Manor, all come to mind)

The bride overlooking the city of Baltimore

Longer lead times are a must, so be mindful of your time line. Guests need to prepare, sometimes by taking time off from work, getting their transportation figured out, perhaps finding babysitting or pet sitting. There are a lot of special arrangements people make to join you on this big day, and especially when it’s not exactly located around the corner. I hope you will deeply appreciate that.

Once you’ve chosen a location make sure you have your specifics in writing, with all the details, in case you arrive and something is not as promised. Charge as much as possible – so you’ll have yet another way of holding vendors accountable in case of conflicts. And don’t forget to call your credit card company before departing – when they see unusual charges they might shut down your account. Give your credit card company a heads up!

Research local marriage requirements. I have had many couples coming to the Poconos for their destination wedding and I was able to help prepare them. In PA there is a three-day waiting period before your license is valid to use. Every state and every country is different. Our three-day waiting period doesn’t mean you physically have to be here, but you need to go together to apply for the license sometime between 60 days to 3 days before the ceremony date.

The ceremony set by the water.

Some countries have a residency requirement (for example, 24 hours in Turks and Caicos and 7 days in England), which means you must be in the country for a certain length of time before your ceremony. France requires you to arrive at least 40 days before you marry!

Provide your guests with lots of helpful information. If you can, try to obtain group discount rates. Help make it as easy and affordable as possible. A comprehensive travel package is a must, using either a packet to mail to them, or creating a website to explain all the details.

Upon their arrival have lots of activities for them, and backup activities for those activities. A great welcome basket is nice, including things like beach passes, tickets to events or vouchers for bicycles, beach equipment, tours, or other fun stuff. They’ve spent a lot of money to be with you, give them something substantial.

A destination wedding is the perfect scenario for a great wedding planner, someone who knows the ins and outs of this undertaking. There are several professional organizations, and the venue of your choice should have some local recommendations. Whoever you choose, make sure she has done this before – check out her experience.

Destination: New York City!

When I recently wrote about bridechillas versus bridezillas, I certainly wasn’t thinking of destination weddings. For a destination wedding you must be focused and not too laid back and you can’t be so high strung that you can’t go with the flow.

Planning a destination wedding isn’t for everyone, in fact it’s for very few people, but for some couples and their friends and families, it could fantastic. I’m hoping some cool couple invites me along to be come along and be their celebrant for their destination wedding some day!


Sky and sand and the couple.


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

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Changing your name has changed with the times

Upon marriage, many women in our modern world do not change their last name to their husbands’ name. It’s not only a lot of work, taking care of all those legal documents, but it’s a big adjustment – to think of yourself and tell everyone else your new name. I’ve been there and done that. It’s confusing for quite a while. This is an important topic and an important decision for many women.

Names are so core to our identity.

One of the main reasons women do choose to change their name is for the sake of children. Having one family name is so much easier and projects unity.

The hyphenated name solution is losing popularity – it’s just too unwieldy.  It was popular in the ’80s and early ’90s, but, as NPR put it, it became “less of a feminist statement and more of a bureaucratic nightmare.” Also, there’s the fact that, frankly, most people don’t want to use a cumbersome long name. And going forward it’s as if you’re pushing the name-change decisions to the next generation.

There are other reasons to change your name – and one that is obvious but people don’t like to talk about, is that you just don’t like your own last name. Maybe your name is long, difficult to spell or hard to pronounce. Perhaps it’s the name of an estranged father with unhappy connotations. Your spouse may have an easier or more likeable name. Which leads me to something that I think should be taking place more often, but doesn’t. Why don’t more men change their names to the woman’s last name? I know one man who did that. One. And he did it out of political conviction, solidarity with feminism.

I do like the idea of creating a totally new name, often a combination of the two names. I know of only a few couples that have done that.

Keeping your last name can be an important business or career decision. If you have already established your professional life you may cause confusion among clients and colleagues, supervisors, fans, followers and such.

The trend is shifting toward keeping one’s own name. The New York Times wedding announcements (which admittedly covers a select, less representative share of women) illustrated that. Last year they reported 29.5 percent of women in the wedding pages kept their name, up from 26 percent in 2000 and a recent low of 16.2 percent in 1990.

It is a big decision, and one that men never even ask themselves. But you may be surprised to learn this hasn’t been the custom everywhere.  Women in China and Taiwan do not legally change their names upon marriage. According to Wikipedia, women in Iran do not change their names. In Mexico women typically take their husband’s name, but only in addition to their maiden name (their father’s surname).

Will she or won't she... change her name?

Changing your name does have a history that connotates ownership. As recently as the 1960’s and 70’s there were still places in our country where women weren’t allowed to get their own credit cards or open their own bank account without their husbands’ permission.

Names have power. There’s no denying it. They can indicate your cultural background and place in society, and let’s never forget that slaves brought to our country were forced to give up their names, as one more way to control them.

On the flip side, taking a new name can signal a new beginning and be a harbinger of great things to come.

Fortunately in our open and pluralistic society women have the choice of whether or not, not only to change their name, but to have children and even to marry at all. And happily in American these decisions are left only to that person, herself. It’s a great discussion to have with your spouse and a decision that is more difficult than some might imagine.


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

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Bridezilla or Bridechilla? Can you be too laid back?

I was speaking with a bride recently who referred to herself as a Bridechilla, which I found both hilarious and wonderful.

According to the Urban Dictionary a Bridechilla is a bride that remains calm, cool, and collected during her entire wedding experience. Bridechillas never use phrases such as ‘my day, the most important day of my life, don’t ruin my day, etc.’ A Bridechilla is not defined by her wedding, rather she is likely taking part in the experience. Bridechilla is an antonym of Bridezilla.

A chilled out bride for sure.

Given the choice between the two, I’ll take Bridechilla every time – but there can be a happy medium. No rehearsal – you’ll get no argument from me! No wedding programs, no big deal. But you do have to take care of business. My Bridechilla told me she hadn’t made any plans for her guests who were coming for the entire weekend. That’s perhaps just a little too laid back. If you’re a Bridechilla you might want to hire a coordinator or choose a venue that takes care of all the details that you don’t wish to bother with.

Don’t chill out so much that you don’t offer some direction to your bridesmaids, groomsmen and families. By saying you don’t care what they wear, you’re actually making life a little more difficult for them. Please give them some parameters. Pick some colors or a theme that’s appealing. Suggest things like: ‘please wear a casual dress in some shade of green’, or ‘our wedding will have a laid-back country picnic feel’, or ‘it’s autumn, so fall colors are always great!’ Let them know what to expect. Perhaps it gets cool in the evening so inform your wedding party and guests what to expect weather-wise. Really, you’re just helping them out.

A relaxed couple.

If you think having bridesmaids and groomsmen is a hassle and doesn’t suit your style, makes reassure your friends and family that you love them but have chosen not to have attendants, not because you don’t want their support, but for simplicity’s sake. Your ‘chill’ should not become their angst.

Let’s all remember that a bride who is decisive, takes control is not necessarily a Bridezilla. Please don’t label women just because they have opinions. A Bridezilla is one who truly is a control freak, and expresses that with inappropriate behaviors, not a bride who sets boundaries and makes decisions. Bridezilla thinks the world revolves around her wedding.

Breathing in the moments.

But most importantly being a Bridechilla is about your frame of mind. It’s an attitude, a way of looking at life. What I sometimes call the ‘zen of weddings.’  It means remembering what’s important and letting go of the rest. Your wedding is the beginning of your marriage. It’s a party, too, but also a moment to stop and honor the love two people share.

Be chill, but take care of business, and it will be a beautiful thing!


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

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Some Traditions I Can Do Without

I try to be a positive person, but if I’m being completely honest, I’m not always that way. And while I love being a celebrant there are a few things about weddings I could do without.

Occasionally a couple will ask me to leave out the ‘obey’ part in the wedding vows, to which I reply, “I’ve never said that in my life, and never will.” We all laugh in relief, and are happy to be on the same page.

There a few other traditions I’m not particularly fond of. The other big one is what is known as the ‘objection statement’ – you know, that part you’ve heard (probably in the movies) that goes something like: ‘if anyone here knows any reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace.’ That’s another one I can guarantee you’ll never hear me say.

But those are easy. There are some other wedding traditions that are good for some couples, but don’t fit for others. Here are a few I wouldn’t mind letting go or changing.

All in white!

Your wedding dress has to be white. No, no it doesn’t. Queen Victoria started that tradition but we’re in the 21ste century. Speaking of white dresses, who made the rule that only the bride can wear white. That, too, is just silly. Wear whatever color or colors you wish!

Beautiful bride in black.

Aisle runners. Please don’t use them outdoors, it’s a recipe for disaster. If you use it indoors it can work, but is often very awkward to roll out. If not completely flat and preferably solidly attached to the floor, it can also trip anyone walking on it. On the grass I can almost guarantee it will trip someone.

Bridesmaids for the bride, groomsmen for the groom. I like the idea of having the people who mean the most to you stand by you. For many women it could be a brother or male friend, and for a man it could be a sister or female friend – why must your sibling stand with your partner and not with you? If you have a same-sex couple the point becomes ever more clear. Would two women only have women attendants or two men only have men – no! They will have whoever they wish standing by them. So should we all!

Bouquet toss. This can cause anxiety for your guests, because it makes a statement that single women are longing to be married and hope to be next. Many women don’t want to be married or aren’t ready.  There’s a lot of great things you can do with a bouquet – preserve it, remove the flowers and give them to people in token of appreciation, leave it on the grave of a loved one, or just take it home. Or throw it but give it new meaning – say whoever catches it has good luck for year! There, problem solved.

Having a great time with the garter tradition.

The garter ritual, complete with the stripper song, with all your guests watching, can be a little embarrassing, in fact, I’m embarrassed watching the performance but then again, I’m easily embarrassed. Some folks have a terrific time with it, and they’re probably better sports than I am.

The couple not seeing one another before the ceremony. Ok, I’m fine with this, too, but you can see each other if you want to, and the ‘first look’ photo is a nice moment. Beyond a photo op, seeing one another before the ceremony can help calm the nerves and take away at least some of the anxiety. Plus if you take some of your photos before the ceremony you might actually get to go to cocktail hour and enjoy being with your guests!

Spending more time with loved ones? Now that’s a great tradition to establish.


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

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Fathers, daughters and weddings.

If she is lucky enough to have her father in her life, and better yet, have a great relationship with him, for a bride nothing can be quite as moving as walking down the aisle with him on her wedding day.

There are many ways to honor dads and moms in a wedding! Along with the walk down the aisle, there’s that first dance with dad, toasts, and more. Mom certainly warrants lots of recognition, too, but today’s column is all about fathers and daughters.

Father/daughter dance is an emotional moment.

No matter how modern a woman is, she may still have a strong desire to have her dad escort her down the aisle. I don’t think there are many people left in our modern world who would view it as if she is his property to pass on to her husband (the true origins of this ritual and the term giving away the bride). But it is such a time-honored tradition, why not interpret it to be exactly what you want it to be, which is often simply a poignant moment with dad.

I have never said the words: ‘who gives this woman.’ It’s not something I advocate, but if asked to do it, I suppose I could. A better way to put it is: ‘who presents this woman in marriage?’ which is less about ownership and more about love.

Escorting daughter down the aisle.

What if dad can’t walk down the aisle? I’ve had that situation many times, and we simply had him waiting at the front for a kiss from his daughter. It’s that simple.
And let’s talk about step-dads and ‘father figures’. If your step-dad is the dad who raised you, simply honor him as your father. If he is your mother’s partner or husband, but didn’t raise you, include a thank-you for making your mother happy. If you have a good relationship with him you can expand on it, but don’t ignore him.

If there are two (or more) dads involved in your life, and everyone gets along  – have them share the fatherly duties. A common example of this is a father who didn’t have much to do in raising his daughter and a stepfather who did, but the biological father will be attending. Step dad is more of a dad, but biological father may need acknowledgement, too. While these situations can a tricky, but don’t let that deter you from saying and doing the things that should take place during a milestone as important as your wedding day. Explore what each of these men mean to you, consider their feelings and expectations and talk to your mother about it. Don’t make assumptions. If he was important in your life, take the time to honor him, if he was not, don’t feel guilty if you skip it.

That moment in time.

If your father is deceased I encourage you to honor him, and you can do this in many ways.

Write a tribute to your dad, an anecdote about him, a favorite poem, or anything about or for him in your program. Include a moment of silence in the ceremony to honor him or have a candle lit in his memory.

Ask your officiant to offer a remembrance during the ceremony.

Not my favorite symbol, but some people like to place a flower, either from your bouquet or just have something placed on an empty seat next to your mom. For me, that’s just a bit too sad.

Have someone read his favorite passage of Scripture, fiction, or poetry, or read a letter he sent to you as a child.

Carry or wear a memento from him (jewelry he gave you, his handkerchief, etc.).

Select his favorite song to be sung at the ceremony or played at the reception.

Talk about and toast him at the reception.

Visit his grave after the ceremony and leave your bouquet there.

As far as asking a brother or uncle to escort you, it’s perfectly fine, or you certainly could ask your mother, or simply walk alone. It’s completely your choice. Many brides have told me, especially if they are a little older, that they want to enter by themselves.

"giving away" the bride

Your wedding should be an honest reflection of your life and hit the notes that resonate for you. Here’s to the loving, supportive, tender and strong fathers who raised their daughters well.


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

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Be Prepared for Summer Weddings

Well, it happened again. A hot summer day, and outdoor wedding, no shade…and someone fainted. This time is was a bridesmaid, but I’ve also seen a groomsman faint.

Fortunately the women standing on either side of her caught her as she was falling down in what looked like slow-motion! She recovered quickly and the wedding went on. And, also fortunate – the groom was a doctor!

Stay cool this summer.

It was another good reminder that if you are having a summer wedding or going to a summer wedding – remember the Scout Motto: ‘be prepared.’  I am often amazed at just how unprepared brides, grooms and guests are for an outdoor wedding, and even the venues themselves.

Weather is always an important factor in how you will enjoy any outdoor celebration. Too hot, too cold, too much sun in your eyes… it all adds up to either a wonderful experience, or something to endure.

One more way to be prepared.

Here are some tips on how to be sure your outdoor summer wedding is fantastic.

One of the best things the couple can do is clearly inform their guests to dress appropriately. Include specific suggestions with your invitation.  Language such as: ‘Please know that our ceremony will be outdoors, so come prepared for the weather, from head to toe!’  Or perhaps: ‘don’t forget your hats and sunglasses for our outdoor ceremony.’ You get the idea.

If you’re going to be on a grassy area, advice on footwear is helpful, too. Women who wish to wear heels can bring a change of shoes if the reception moves indoors. Your note might say: “Our ceremony will be on grass – high-heels will sink in. Feel free to bring a change of shoes!” The same goes for beach weddings!

A basket of sunglasses and fans is fun and useful, or even visors, sun hats or parasols. I officiated several times this past year where the sun was glaring in the guests’ eyes. It was not comfortable. Most spent the entire time with their hands up over their eyes for shade and to see.

Having a few large fans to create a nice breeze would really make a big difference. Doesn’t seem too difficult to me, but I’ve yet to see anyone do that.

Sunshine is great, if you're prepared.

Suits can become extremely hot. Give men permission to take off their jackets! Again, alert guests ahead of time about dress code. Men, if you’re not sure, its always good to bring a jacket, but it’s so nice if you don’t have to wear it!

The most difficult decision a couple has to make at ‘go time’ is when weather is questionable. Do you go ahead outdoors if it might rain? It would be great to have a basket of umbrellas available in case of a light sprinkle, something not heavy enough to force you indoors. Unfortunately when it feels threatening, even if it doesn’t rain, I have found guests and the couple become very distracted and that takes away from the importance of the moment. So from my point of view, going indoors is the better choice.

These are just a few practical ideas. I encourage everyone to think through all scenarios for summer outdoor weddings – not just your ideal vision. At the end of the day, I like to remind my couples, no matter the weather, you will be married. And that’s a comfortable thought!


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

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The Power of Ritual

I often find myself discussing rituals, not only with couples I’m working with, but in this very column. Recently I read some excellent research by Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino and colleagues, confirming the multiple benefits of ritual.

Church rituals are traditional and powerful.

Yes, it is a scientific fact that ritual helps us through milestones, especially grief and loss. Norton, an associate professor in Marketing at Harvard Business School, says “we see in every culture, and throughout history, that people who perform rituals report feeling better.” Not a surprise, at least to me!

While this research specifically dealt with grief, I know the same power ritual has in times of joy such as weddings, the welcoming of a new child, even birthdays and anniversaries. Where would we be without rituals? A birthday feels less important without rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday.’

Sharing cake is ritualistic when you think about it.

It is not only in the observing of ritual, but participating in ritual that makes a difference. One experiment sited in this study showed that participants who prepared a glass of powdered lemonade in a ritualistic manner (stir for 30 seconds, wait for 30 seconds, and so on) enjoyed consuming it much more than those who merely watched someone else prepare the lemonade.

Celebrants such as myself are trained in the use of ritual, and of course religious leaders have rituals that pertain to their specific belief systems. We celebrants consider the full range or rituals – cultural, religious, and reach beyond barriers to create new and meaningful ones when needed.

I’ve written at length about some of my favorite rituals. A while back I wrote about a ‘Spice Ritual’ and got lots of positive feedback about it. I’ve created rituals using water, pebbles, wine, beer, champagne, chocolate, puzzles, plants, bells, and even fire! There are traditional rituals such as Breaking the Glass from the Jewish tradition, or The Thirteen Coins, or Arras, from the Hispanic tradition. The Japanese have a wonderful Tea Ceremony, and there are many Celtic rituals that I find especially inspiring!

The Unity Candle while not specifically religious is often done in church.

So what is the importance of performing these rituals in a wedding ceremony? Much of a wedding is already ritualistic, from walking down the aisle to speaking vows and exchanging rings. But by including a very specialized and specific ritualistic act we can enhance the experience. It moves us beyond words into another realm.

Like ‘music’, Leonard Bernstein tells us, ‘it can name the un-nameable and communicate the unknowable.’ Words only get us so far. And as the old adage says: Actions speak louder than words.

Ritual actions, often done in silence, do speak volumes. They help cement the moment in time, burning it deeper into our brain cells for future recollection.

Simple actions become ritualistic.

There are many times in life when we could really use some ritual, but we have nothing to fall back on. How about leaving a work situation or starting a new career? Although there are retirement parties, there are other times when that wouldn’t apply and some ritualistic event might be great. And what about divorce? It is such a huge life-changing event, one fraught with complex and often contradictory emotions. A divorce ceremony or ritual might really help people, yet we have no traditions in place.

Whether religion or science tells you or just listening to your ‘gut’ – remember the power of ritual when you are facing a big moment in your life. And call me – we’ll talk!

Cultural traditions add meaning.


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

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Is the role of usher still relevant?

Is it necessary to have ushers at your wedding ceremony? Of course not, but there are a few good reasons to consider having them, and not what you might expect. Such a small detail can have a big impact.

Traditionally ushers greet guests, distribute programs, and escort people to their seats.  An usher can be a groomsmen, or anyone else asked to fulfill this role. Sometimes it’s a great way to honor someone who wasn’t asked to stand as a groomsmen. By the way, an usher no longer has to be a man; any close family member or friend can take this role.

In a church it is often expected that there will be ushers, but even at an outdoor wedding having ushers can be helpful.

Ushers would be helpful getting guests down this long aisle.

The unexpected reason I like ushers is to insure that the seats at the front get filled up. Many couples today do not do ‘sides’ for the seating. That very popular sign says it well:  “As the two families are joining together – pick a seat, not a side.”

One thing I don’t like to see as I enter to begin the ceremony is a big empty space at the front. While the first row is usually reserved for parents and grandparents, the second row is available. Please sit there! Somebody! It reminds me of a classroom where the students are fearful of being too close to the front.  It’s not – it’s a joyful occasion and you can show your love and support for the couple by being there for them – up close and personal.

Another important job for ushers is to have them remind guests to silence or turn off their phones. There is nothing more rude than a phone ringing during the ceremony and people playing with their mobile devices and taking photos. If the couple has hired a professional photographer, that is their job – your job as guests is to be ‘present’ in this most important moment in the couple’s lives. Save the photos and videos for the party unless you have been specifically asked to take them.

Front seats filled up. Perfect!

If you were asked to be an usher, here are some things to thing about. First of all, it’s an honor, take it seriously. Ask what the couple expects of you, but also be prepared to know what the role is all about. Be sure to attend the rehearsal, if there is one, to get the lay of the land. The way you greet the guests is their first interaction at the wedding, so make it a good one. Greet them warmly, and escort them in a comfortable manner to set the tone. Sure it’s a formal occasion and you will be acting properly, but don’t over do it either. It’s especially important when escorting an elderly person that you take time, go slowly yet not make them feel inept. When escorting a couple, take the woman’s arm and allow the man to follow behind you.

Any guests that arrive after the ceremony begins can be escorted to seats at the back, so as an usher you may want to sit in the back to jump up and assist with this. Late arrivals can be a bit disruptive and awkward and you can quickly and quietly make them feel welcome and get them seated.

Usually groomsmen are the ushers.

If there is anything further you can do to help things flow? Be sure to ask and step up. Guests may need instructions as to where to go after the ceremony, and an usher can be ready to inform them!

So, are ushers old school? Sure, but they can still do an awesome job of making a wedding day flow smoothly.


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart - as always – for your beautiful photography!

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Should you hire a wedding planner?

Pocono Wedding Talk is not sponsored by any company. I write whatever I wish because I am trusted for my expertise. I’m not here to promote anything, sell you anything, but simply to give you the best advice I can, based on what I’ve learned over the years. I’m coming from a place of honesty, and today I want to take an honest look at wedding planners. Is this a waste of money, what are the benefits of hiring someone to coordinate you wedding celebration?

All the details. (Rhinehart Photography)

First of all, if you are getting married at one of the local top shelf resorts, you will have a wedding coordinator at the venue who will take care of countless details there. One of the many reasons to choose such a venue, for sure!

But if your location doesn’t include this, (or very minimally provides this) a wedding coordinator can be worth her weight in gold! And even if your venue DOES provide a coordinator, there are other issues and tasks they don’t necessary cover. So if you can afford to, your very own wedding coordinator is the ultimate in getting it right.  A pro will work with the venue coordinator. They are both professionals and know how to work together! The venue coordinator is just that, but your over-all wedding coordinator can take care of things that are beyond their scope, so you can have a stress free wedding.

More details....

Why? Because she has one job, and that is to get it right for you. A coordinator will care about all the little details that free you to truly enjoy your big day. A bride or groom, parents or others, should not be running around looking for the cake or florist, or a needle and thread.

Someone needs to keep track of it all.

Coordinators can be hired for the entire process or just the day-of. There are many levels of service, they vary in the numbers of meetings you might need, and can cover specifics or a complete start to finish undertaking. A professional will also carry insurance, have great reviews and will, most importantly, listen to you.

These are just some of the tasks a coordinator takes on:

He or she will make sure everything arrives and is set up correctly, she will make sure everyone involved gets where they need to go. A wedding coordinator does a lot of work ahead of time, and works like crazy on the wedding day, using a timeline that has been determined ahead of time, so everything runs smoothly.  And if a problem arises she will know how to fix it.  Experience counts!

You should not have to put out any fires on your own wedding day! The coordinator will deal with emergencies, from a torn seam, to getting something from the hotel that was forgotten. Like Jackson Browne’s roadies in the song ‘Load Out / Stay a Little Bit Longer” – they are the first to come and the last to leave!

If you need a rehearsal, your coordinator can do that. And at the end of the night she will pack up your gifts and personal items for you.

Danielle Pasternak, of DPNAK, is a great example of an experienced and truly excellent wedding coordinator. I’ve worked with her many times. Danielle says: The venue coordinator is there for the venue – making sure everything regarding the venue is done right, where as we, wedding coordinators, are there for the couple – to be sure they have everything they need.

And that, dear couples, is priceless!

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart - as always – for your beautiful photography!

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