History, Symbolism and Using Wine in your Wedding Ceremony

Using wine as a symbol has deep roots, and I love incorporating a wine sharing into a wedding ceremony. But only if the couple actually likes wine, of course! There are countless ways to interpret the ritual and many reasons a couple may choose to ceremonially share wine.

When I’m officiating at a winery it’s just a natural fit. Weddings at vineyards are popular and here in the Poconos we have our own ‘wine trail,’ with eight vineyards (that I know of) and a few more in the extended region. Just recently a local vineyard added a new building and is offering weddings there: Mountain View Vineyard.

Love in the vines.

A little history is warranted! Going back to the Greeks we learn that Bacchus was the Roman God of wine, and Dionysus, the Greek God of wine. These two gave wine all the hallmarks of divinity, making it a drink of the Gods! Honey wine, or mead, is even called the ‘nectar of the gods.’

If we look to the bible we find lots to draw on as well. In the Christian tradition wine is a sacred rite, the Eucharist, which has its roots in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus shares bread and wine with his disciples. In Judaism wine is blessed during a Seder and is a used at regular Friday night dinner. So, whether it is Shabbat or Communion, wine is a strong spiritual symbol, a symbol of the earth’s bounty, of prosperity and joy, and an affirmation of life. That’s why I especially love using wine for an interfaith ceremony.

Interfaith symbols (Photo:Melissa Kelly)

Noah, you may recall, planted a vineyard as soon as the flood receded. Wise man! Psalms refers to wine saying it gladdens the heart.

The connection of wine to the earth is profound. Growing the grapes, harvesting, and thinking of all the places grapes are grown and fine wine is made. Putting aside religious references a lot has been written about wine in every place and time. Thomas Jefferson wrote that “good wine is a necessity of life for me.” And good old Ben Franklin said “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.” I’m giving wine the stamp of the USA, although we can also draw on Italian, French and many, many other cultures and countries for inspiration.

Wine at the center of things! (Rhinehart Photography)

One could also look at the science of wine making – thinking about how the variety of chemicals, ferments, and enzymes contained in the wine, work together. The process of grapes becoming wine is like life and love, in that it is based on complex chemical interaction.

Then there is the ‘wine box’ – which is another interesting way to incorporate wine into your ceremony. This ritual involves putting a bottle of wine (along with other items if you wish) into a box at your wedding – to save and open in the future. You can open it on an anniversary, or perhaps if your marriage hits a bump in the road. The idea is to open the wine and recall your wedding and the love that brought you together on that day. That’s why it’s good to put something else into the box – such as a copy of your vows, or letters to each other.

Whenever way I talk about wine, it is ultimately about sharing the ‘cup of life,’ with your future spouse, as you promise to share all that the future brings, sweet or bitter. I prefer the couple share and drink from one glass, but two is ok as well. I had a couple who poured white and red together, the meaning is clear, but I know aficionados would probably be dismayed at mixing wines. As always – whatever works for the couple, works for me!

Given the many ways to interpret wine, I’m surprised it’s not used more often! Ernest Hemingway once said that “wine is the most civilized thing in the world.”  That’s why you can’t go wrong using wine as a symbol in your wedding.




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Eight wedding rules it’s ok to skip!

 I’m a big fan of tradition and ritual, but only when it makes sense for the couple. There are many traditions that have faded away with time, and a few that perhaps should! After all, we no longer pay the groom’s family to take the woman, offering something like a cow or pile cloth, at least in this part of the world. On a lighter note, most couples do not leave for their honeymoon immediately from their reception, with shoes tied to the bumper, off to Niagara Falls, but you could…in fact, that would be very cool.

Here are a few customs that are still popular, that I think could easily be skipped. Could be skipped not should be skipped.

1. The bride’s father ‘gives her away.

Of course if you have a father and he’s an important part of your life – you may certainly want him to escort you down the aisle!  It can be beautiful, emotional and something both father and daughter have dreamed of all their lives.  However, calling it ‘giving away’ feels quite out dated; if you think of it as accompanying or escorting you down the aisle, and supporting you, it might be a better fit. As always, words do matter. It shapes how we think about things.

If you don’t have a loving father or father-figure in your life, consider having your mother escort you. And if you close with both parents, have the both escort you. Women: you do NOT need a man to walk you down the aisle, but you may want an arm to lean on.  For some couples, especially older ones – how about entering together? And many brides do walk in by themselves, and that is completely fine.

Seeing each other before the ceremony

2, The Bride’s family pays for the wedding

If you have ever wondered how this tradition started – you won’t like the answer. It’s a hold-over from the days of the dowry, as I alluded to already. When women weren’t allowed to live on their own, work outside the home, or own property, an unmarried daughter was considered a burden, especially for families living at or near the subsistence level. To remove this burden, the family would pay a man to marry their daughter. The payment helped cover the expenses of setting up the new home and she was meant to help the man become more productive.

Today many couples pay for their own weddings, or they get help from whatever family is able, on either side or both.

3. The ‘plus one’.

Single people may be quite comfortable without a date. It’s not always necessary to have a ‘plus one,’ nor is it necessary to extend that in the invitation. Are single people less important than couples? No one should feel they must find someone to go with them to a wedding. A plus-one is relevant, however, for a short or long term significant others. But please – no pressure.

I still love the 'candy bar'

4. The groom shouldn’t see the bride before the ceremony.

The ‘first look’ photo has gained in popularity – and for good reason. It helps calm the nerves, and cuts down on all that time between the ceremony and reception, when the couple gets to greet their guests. The first look photo shoot can be fun, too!

If you do choose not to see each before the ceremony, and that is a great choice, just remember that your photographer may sweep you away for photos and your guests will be left waiting for your arrival. But they will probably be having a pretty good time without you, so don’t worry about it too much!

5. Bride’s side/Groom’s side seating.

There is a popular saying for those popular, cute wedding signs, that says: Pick a seat, not a side. This is especially important when one family has a greater number of people attending that the other. You’re all family now – so get together and fill up those seats. And while we’re talking about seats – don’t leave that second row open. The first row is for immediate family (sometimes two rows) but to other guests – you can start filling in the seating from behind the immediate family! This isn’t grade school so don’t be afraid to be in front. You are not going to get called upon. Please sit up close and show the love.

6.  Equal number of bridesmaids and groomsmen.

This is totally unnecessary. Have the people you love stand with you regardless of their numbers or gender. The processional and recessional can easily be worked out. Women – you don’t need to have only women stand with you; men – the same for you! Same-sex couples have shown the way on this one.

The 'first look' is exciting.

7. Favors.

Most people do not see any real value of a tiny little gift. They are sometimes even left behind. You are buying them a meal, drinks, cake and a party. Why do you have to also give them a trinket? However, guests are used to traditions. If you don’t want to give a tiny gift, but still want to fulfill this custom, consider donating to a charity in your guests’ honor. (I devoted an entire column to this subject). Put a note or symbol of the cause you support, in the place where the traditional favor would go.

My personal favorite alternative to the favor dilemma is the candy bar – where guests get to fill up a bag from a large array of candy on a table to take home. For me, it’s going to be a lot of licorice. I’m told this is no longer trendy, but hey, I love it!

8. Receiving line.

Especially for an outdoor ceremony, a receiving line slows everything down. If guests have been sitting in the sun, let them go and get a drink! Or they may even be chilly and need to warm up. If you do forgo the receiving line – just be sure to visit every single person at the reception.

Having said all this, if you want to keep these traditions, of course you should. My intent here isn’t to tell you what to do or not to do, but merely relieve you of any guilt you may have in forgoing some of these wedding protocols.



Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photos!


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Don’t sing the post wedding blues…

Planning a wedding? It will come and it will go and when the ‘big day’ is over – what then? There was so much leading up to it, so much to do, so much fun and so much stress.

Many couples have reported that after the engagement, wedding, or honeymoon, they walk into their home and break-down crying.  It may be tears of joy, or tears of relief, but it may also be tears of fear or depression. Some newlyweds report feeling let down. It’s a real thing. If you envision your wedding as walking off into the sunset, what is there to greet you? A new journey is beginning now. Scary stuff! You prepared for the wedding, but did you prepare for your marriage – and is that even possible, marriage being a complicated, lifelong challenge?

Walking into the sunset, but now what?

I could write a post-wedding to-do list, but it’s all been said before. You know, the stuff you must do after the wedding –  write the thank-you notes, save the cake or cake topper and/or bouquet if you’re into that. There are legal things to do as well, especially if you’re changing your name. But I’m not addressing those tasks today; I’m reflecting on the emotional impact, and the possibility of a case of post-wedding blues.

With all the energy that went into planning that one day, regular old everyday life may seem boring or empty. Accept that that it’s ok and even normal to feel this way, and begin the process of creating a good marriage by sharing those feelings with your partner. Guess what, he or she may be feeling the same.  Remember, there is no magical transformation that comes with signing the marriage license.

Now for some ideas! To replace the excitement of wedding planning with some new excitement, try creating a date night routine, where each partner can take a turn at surprising the other with a special evening out. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, use your imagination.

Find new things to do together.

It’s also a good time to start planning something new to look forward to. You and your spouse can take this time to work on your home, search for a new or future one, do a room make-over, or organization something you’ve been putting off forever.

What about a future vacation or trip? Create a bucket list of places to go and work on a plan to make it happen in the many years ahead.

You can break-in new gifts with a party. Did you receive new glassware? Have an after-wedding bash to inaugurate it, and hang out with your best pals. Sometimes the wedding reception is just so busy you really don’t get any quality time with family or friends. It’s quite the whirlwind. How about a quite get together with your attendants as a thank-you to them?

Dive into a local charity and start to give back. You just spent a lot of time on you, now refocus on helping others.

Keep you love alive.

Any notion that all your needs will now be met because you are married is just silly. No one is everything for someone else. Keep your friendships with others going, don’t ignore them just because you’re married now. You’re still the same human being, aren’t you? It takes work, dedication, patience and commitment, but go out and create the life you dreamed of.



Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photos!

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Let’s Call Them ‘Attendants’

-     Why a gender-neutral wedding party is a great idea

The people standing up there with you at your wedding ceremony are more than just statues.  There is a reason you ask your closest friends, siblings or others to be by your side as you exchange your vows.

So who are they?  How do you choose them?

They are there the people you want not only to witness, but to support you through this important life transition.

It can be tricky when you have a lot of siblings and friends. Some grooms even choose their father as their best man. But here’s the thing: there is no rule that the bride must have women stand with her and the groom, men.

Same-sex couples have taught us so much; think about this –  when you remove the ‘bride’s side/groom’s side’ from the equation a truth is revealed! Have those you mean the most to you stand with you!

Sometimes, to balance things, someone gets excluded. Again, there’s no rule here, folks. You do not have to have the same number of people standing on each side.

However, if the imbalance bothers you, consider having people participate in a different way, such as sharing a reading, ushering or other ceremony related task.

You can get your attendants more involved with your wedding right from the start by asking for their help, confiding in them, and sharing your feelings.

Have your 'best people' with you!

Today ceremonies are becoming more unique and personal, and that is great because we are all different and your wedding should be an honest reflection of your life. There are still, however, some classic duties worth knowing.

  • While the best man traditionally holds the rings, more and more frequently the best woman, or any best person (terms I prefer to Best Man, Maid or Matron of Honor) can hold a ring. If a woman doesn’t have pockets, just put it on the thumb!
  • A best man or woman should be there right from the start to assist with various responsibilities, especially researching accommodations, transportation, and getting information for the license – all traditional groomsmen jobs. Today most grooms are completely involved in the wedding process start to finish, so his best person might be helping with just about anything.
  • Other attendants can be asked to help leading up to and including the wedding day with chores like parking, ushering, and generally assisting wherever needed. Be sure to be recognize and thank them at the reception –  individually and publicly – explaining who they are, and what they mean to you.
  • A fun task for any attendant is to collect memorabilia from the wedding such as programs, favors, guest book, or cake topper, all great keepsakes.
  • Bridesmaids should check in frequently with the bride throughout the party, and help her with her dress, hair and makeup, changing her clothes later, and giving her all the support she needs.
  • Groomsmen can be sure the get-away car is ready, and possibly decorate it, transfer the couple’s luggage to the car, and keep track of things like airline tickets.
  • Attendants can also look after elderly guests who may need assistance.
  • And finally, everyone should keep an eye on each other and discourage too much drinking. Encourage each other and the couple to drink plenty of water, so the couple will feel good the following day and no one says or does anything embarrassing.

Your attendants are your support network – use them wisely.

Make it work for you!


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photos.



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Do you need a wedding program?

I’m away this week so I thought it would be a good idea to run this older piece.

Why? Because everyone planning a wedding eventually comes to this question: should I have a ceremony program?

As the big day approaches I sometimes hear from ‘my’ couples, asking for the ‘order of service.’ I know immediately why. They are creating a program and want to include an outline of what will take place.

This is a common practice, and in a religious ceremony it can help people get ready to find the page for a scriptural passage or which hymn will be up next. That’s ok – to a point. But a program for your ceremony it isn’t always necessary or even desirable. Do I really need to read ‘lighting of candles’ to know that the candles are being lit?

A few cute example!

When you think about it, the ‘order of service’ simply encourages people to anticipate what is happening next, distracting them from what is happening in the present. It becomes a checklist to be completed. I believe it is more enjoyable to allow the words and actions to unfold.

Instead, why not approach the booklet as a chance to expand and enhance the ceremony experience for your guests, rather than distract them?

If you have the time and inclination, a wedding program can provide ‘added value.’ For more creative couples it can even become quite the artistic project!  And it can serve multiple functions.

This couple gave their guests something fun.

Here are some suggestions to add content and value to a program:

When listing the bridal party – explain who they are, your relationship with them, or even where they live. People travel far to attend weddings. You can show your appreciation of their time and effort by making mention of it.

Use photos – of yourself, your family and friends. Even your pet who unfortunately, was unable to attend, but sends best wishes!

Get creative – the program can be made to look like a theater playbill, a menu, a newspaper, a fan, a passport, a map, a chalkboard, anything goes!

Explain rituals that are being performed. Give historical, cultural or religious background, and why it is being used. This is true for religious or secular ceremonies. Remember not everyone is versed in your traditions and will appreciate learning about them.

Give music credits – details on what songs or selections were played and what they mean to you.

A musical couple I officiated for!

If your ceremony is in a unique location – explain why you chose it.

Readings, poems, lyrics – just as with rituals – explain why you are using them in your ceremony, especially if there is particular story to accompany it. Or, include a poem, song lyric, or other writing that you could not fit into the ceremony. But don’t include the work itself if someone is reading it.

Honor family members with a tribute to them by using a meaningful quote with their name – especially poignant for those who couldn’t attend or those deceased.

For multicultural or multilingual families, have translations of some or the entire ceremony.

If children are involved in the wedding party, they can create the cover or write something special. They might also help by assembling or distributing the booklet. Don’t forget to credit children for any role they play in the wedding, and thank them for their support of the marriage. They will appreciate the sentiment, and love seeing their names in print.

If you do decide to create program booklet, I hope you’ll make it special, but if you are stressed, too busy, or simply cannot take on one more task – don’t do it! While your guests may be delighted to find a program full of surprises, truly, no one will be disappointed that there is none at all.


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Tales of Moroccan Weddings

My annual January trip is on, and we’re visiting Morocco, so naturally I wanted to learn more about the wedding traditions of this fascinating country.

The days when marriages were arranged are, for the most part, past. Today young people in Morocco choose their own partners, although parents still may have veto power. But no matter how modern the couple, the wedding is usually traditional, and when you read about their customs you will understand why.

Some brides will wear western dresses but most still choose a caftan or a takchita (a two-layer dress) made of silks, satins, and other rich materials, which are beautifully constructed and detailed. Jewelry is a must, and it, too is extremely extravagant. Hope I can find something wonderful to bring home!

Just one of the many beautiful looks of a Moroccan bride. (Caftanluxe)

The entire celebration can last up to seven days, with several pre-wedding ceremonies. Like our wedding shower, gifts are sent to the bride ahead of time. Two days before the wedding the bride has a tradition hamam (sometimes called a ‘Turkish bath’) – the ritual sauna – with girlfriends and women relatives. It is an act of symbolic purification and might even include songs performed by her friends.

Next comes the henna, a well-known tradition, and the henna from Morocco produces yellows and reds when painted on the body in beautiful designs. This too, has a ceremony element and represents a sort of ‘lucky charm’ for her new life. For the henna ‘party’ everyone enjoys tea, cookies and traditional Moroccan music. Older, married women share the “secrets” of marriage life with the bride-to-be. A custom says that the bride does not have to do any house works until her henna fades. I hope it’s a very long-lasting henna.

Henna hands from one of my brides!

On the day of the ceremony it all begins with more singing and dancing. Verses from the Koran are read, assuming it is a Muslim wedding. Islam is the majority and established state religion, but there are Christians, Jews and people of the Baha’i Faith in Morocco, and Moroccans are known to be a more tolerant country than many of their neighbors.

The bride is carried around on a large chair called the ‘Amariya’ as people get to see her and wish the couple good luck. The couple then sits in two comfy chairs in the center of the room for the actual nuptials. She can change her clothes up to seven times throughout the long day and night of celebrating. Wow! There are many women here who might get behind that idea.

All of these interesting customs apply to more populated areas. But Morocco is diverse and I also learned of this fantastic story about the Berber people who live high in the Atlas Mountains. I must share this story.

Potential brides at the Imilchil fair (From Sahara Discovery)

Berbers are a separate ethnic group indigenous to North Africa, going back thousands of years. There they hold the Imilchil fair, or moussem (which simply means festival) which commemorates an ancient, Shakespearian-like story of a son and daughter of warring tribes who, forbidden to marry, chose suicide rather than to be parted. The story continues with the tribal elders, heartsick from this tragedy, vowing to permit their children to choose their own spouses from then on. And that is how this festival came to be. It is a way for members of the isolated communities to meet and perhaps find a spouse.

Today, young women arrive at the fair dressed ready to be wed, usually in white but often covered by a traditional striped woolen cape in their tribal colors. Young men roam the crowd, looking for suitable wives, and a woman, if chosen, has the right to accept or refuse. An engagement ceremony is a critical element of the festival. However, a quick decision is expected, and at the end of the fair, a mass wedding is performed, or couples might just sign a marriage contract and save the big ceremony until all family members and friends can gather later. While some of the couples may have just met, many have a passing acquaintance with one another but follow the tradition by marrying during the fair. Now that is a story worth knowing!

I’m sure I won’t have an opportunity to attend a wedding on my visit, but I look forward to soaking in all the culture I can. I’ll be back soon with my own tales of Morocco.


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Will the new year bring marriage?

 If so, here are some basics to think about right from the start.

Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and maybe this year you, or someone you care about, will get married. If so, congratulations. Marriage is one of the big milestones in life, one with a deep, long history. Not that the institution has remained stagnant. After all, in ancient times and Biblical stories, multiple wives were common. The role of women in marriage and family has evolved over time.  Weddings, too, have changed. For example, fathers no longer give a dowry to get rid of their daughters. This we generally call progress.

So, if a wedding is coming up in your world this year, here are a few ideas you may find helpful.

Fireworks for the New Year!!!

You’ve probably already figured out that a wedding is about more than just the two partners. There are countless decisions to be made and everyone in your life has an opinion on them. Even an elopement says something about you and the other people in your lives. If you elope you must reassure your loved ones that you didn’t do this because or despite them, but that you chose to do it for the two of you. Easier said than done! Being true to yourself while you plan your wedding is difficult.

Ask yourself: What would you choose to do if you didn’t have to please others? What choices would you make if you didn’t care what others thought about it? The answers reveal what you want, but compromise is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about finding the right balance. This applies to everything from the type of ceremony you will have, to the bridesmaids’ dresses.

Is a casual wedding your style?

Budget, of course, is important. While you can’t always accurately assess what you can afford or how far you want to stretch your budget, we can assess your style. What would you most enjoy: a luncheon, dinner, buffet or formal sit-down meal?  A casual, relaxed party, a black-tie affair, or something in between? It’s good to feel like yourself at the very moment you are taking this big step in life without anxiety or feeling out-of-place. Bottom line: don’t let others talk you into something that isn’t ‘you.’

Games can be great at a casual wedding.

Sometimes I get inquiries about my services as an officiant saying they are looking for a ‘short and sweet’ ceremony. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because many people have never experienced a truly great ceremony. The wedding ceremony should not be something simply to endure. Even within the tight strictures of some denominations you can still bring in elements of yourself, especially through readings, music and your choice or creation of vows. Don’t be afraid to ask and advocate for yourself.

A program booklet that explains what and why something is happening rather than just gives the guests a check-list to mark-off will also add value to your ceremony. It can contain stories, thank you messages, and other personal touches, such as details about your attendants, parents, or even pets.

Many couples tell me that wedding planning was more difficult than they expected. That is why it’s so important to get your priorities clear right from the start. You need to know what to expect when you’re expecting a wedding. Happy new year and happy wedding planning.

Happy New Year - fireworks any time!!

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photos.



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The Strange Story of Krampus – a Christmas Tradition

I couldn’t help but notice recently that Krampus is getting some attention. I wrote a little bit about the horrible Christmas demon quite a few years ago, but now I’m going to go a little deeper into it, because, well… it’s just so weird. I know, I know – this is supposed to be a wedding column, but I’m sneaking it in under my fascination with rituals and tradition. Just go with it.

We know that Santa Claus, or Saint Nick, goes by many names and takes many forms around the world. Perhaps the strangest connection to Mr. Claus is not Mrs. Claus, or elves, but the anti-Santa – Krampus!

How weird is this?

Krampus is a beast-like creature who punishes or rewards children at Christmas time (he obviously knows if you’ve been bad or good). He’s ‘bad Santa,’ kind of an alter-ego for our beloved Jolly Kris Kringle. He literally beats people into being nice, although I don’t think that really works. He has horns that curl up from his head, fangs, and comes complete with a chain and bells, along with his bundle of sticks for hitting the naughty. Oh, did I mention he might be half-goat?


This demon-like creature has roots in Germanic folklore and is still somewhat popular in that region. While this is a German tradition, the roots go all the way back to Norse mythology, with a dash of Greek thrown in there. It’s not uncommon for people to dress up as Krampas on Krampusnacht (Krampus Night) which is December 6th, or St. Nicolas Day. The name Krampus comes from the German word ‘krampen’ which means claw. So he’s part man, part goat, part demon – he’s an all-around scary guy.

A modern spin on this tradition in not only in Germany, but Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic where drunken men dress up as the devil (Krampus style) and take to the streets in ‘Krampus Run.’ Imagine being chased down the street by that!!

An old illustration of Krampus.

What is the fascination with demonic traditions and rituals? Like Halloween, and all things scary, psychologists say it is a way for people to get in touch with our most animalist nature, and to confront fears. It is mysterious and frightening, but not too frightening. Some people find fear exhilarating, and get a dopamine rush from it. But apparently it depends on your brain’s make up.

The Krampus character has been suppressed over the years by different groups, especially the Catholic Church and during WWII fascist governments also outlawed Krampus, but I’m not sure why. I guess since they liked scapegoats and Krampus is part goat … ??

Now Krampus is having a comeback. He’s been seen lately in comic books, television and movies. Philadelphia has been having a Krampuslauf (Krampus parade) since 2010, and regional variations are popping up everywhere these days. Expect a more toned down version of it, though, as commercialism is apt to do.

If you’re intrigued by Krampus – go all in – this demon has to be bad to the bone – or why bother? Krampus wedding anyone?


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2017 Wedding Trends - for better or for worse

A new year is dawning, and because I am clearly obsessed with weddings I always try to discern what the coming trends will be – good or bad, for better or worse.

Last week I wrote about the so-called colors of the year. Today I offer a few general trends that you may find interesting; some I’ve seen with my own eyes and some I’ve simply read about.

Interesting locations will continue to matter.

Drones – While preparing to officiate a ceremony in a gorgeous outdoor venue this past season, I noticed a drone flying overhead. It turned out to belong to the videographer. He assured me it would not fly by during the actual ceremony itself (thank you very much). He was recording amazing panoramic shots from above, and I was duly impressed, and even more so when he explained the footage would be shown at the reception. You can expect to see more of this.

All things social media will continue to rule! Wedding hashtags, of course, but we’ll see Instagram-ready short videos that look and feel like a movie trailer. I’ve seen amazing longer version videos, and I can easily imagine that with some clever editing it wouldn’t be too difficult to create shorter pieces as well.

The wine cellar made an amazing photo.

Taking photo booth to the next level by providing slo-mo effects and GIFs will keep your guests entertained….perhaps a bit too much. Be careful that your guests are not continuously visiting the effects booth all night long. Perhaps it’s better that we return to good old fashioned socializing, at least for weddings. There is a delicate balance with social media, which tends to take us into our own private world, isolated from each other, and from real human interaction. I worry this could have that very effect.

Trendy Drinks: The return of the Pimm’s Cup and the Side-Car – retro style mixed drinks. Pimms is a brand of fruit liqueur, first produced in 1828 by James Pimm.  It’s served in a variety of recipes. The’ Old-Fashioned’ comes from around the same era, 1862 to be exact, when it was called a ‘whiskey cocktail.’ Later, when a bartender somewhere served it this way, the whisky, sugar, bitters and water – he called it ‘old-fashioned’ and hence the term was coined. Today some people use gin instead of whiskey, but you’ll want to be authentic I’m sure.

Another drink trend is the Moscow Mule, which has nothing to do with Moscow or mules, but does contain vodka, ginger beer and lime. It goes into special cooper mugs with some ice. Copper cups are great in the summer, keeping drinks icy cool, and if you live in New Orleans this never went out of fashion! Buy them for your wedding and then have them for your home.

How to make a Moscow Mule.

A cocktail hour that evokes a wine tasting by pairing up local wines and cheeses is gaining popularity. Perhaps your first date or another memorable experience together was to a wine or beer tasting – why not recreate that experience for your guests. It gives your cocktail hour a theme and is really fun. The pairing aspect is the key here.

Depending on your location try to think local, especially with farm-to-table style food. This will continue to be a wonderful trend; in fact I hope it’s not a trend but a way of life. It can play out a million ways, but do think of your local vendors, farmers and craft people when wedding planning. Whether it’s a favor to give your guests, flowers, or the very food on the table, fresh and local makes it better.

Unusual locations. Barns are still popular but couples are looking for more and more unique settings, as well. Think: industrial, factory, loft, art gallery, farms. Vineyards will also continue to be popular, and for good reason. I’ve done some wonderful barn and vineyard weddings, and have a ceremony coming up that will take place in an art museum. I’m looking forward to that.

Modern couples want their wedding to express something unique about them, their individuality, taste and world view. There are many ways to do that with new ideas popping up all the time. However, please don’t put pressure on yourself to be cutting edge. Classic is never out-of-style, and always plays well.

The Barn Wedding - if you're lucky enough to find one.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the gorgeous photos.




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

See your true colors…

- Pantone’s 2017 colors of the year

Every season has a color pallet and it can bring inspiration to any wedding. But did you know that colors themselves have specific meanings? And while you can pretty much make up anything about any color, there are real historic and deep connections.

For example, we know that purple is the color of royalty, whether kings, queens or the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. This is because the dye originally used to produce it was rare and therefore expensive – signifying wealth and status.

The red, white and blue of out flag are clearly defined symbols. White signifies purity and innocence, red, hardiness & valor, and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice, according to USFlag.org. But we also know red as the color of passion and love.

The Church has specific meanings for colors as well, especially blue, which symbolizes Mary, Mother of Christ. Examples go on and on.

Pantone Kale

Pantone, the self-appointed expert on all things color, picks top colors every year, and for this spring, 2017, they have chosen Kale and Hazelnut. Pantone reminds us that color impacts everything from furniture to wall paint and of course fashion as in your bridesmaids’ dresses or your table linens.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says the choices invoke “a renewed sense of imagination in which color was appearing in a context that was different than the traditional,” and that the hues “surround us in nature,” and “evoke a spectrum of emotion and feeling.”  Ok then!

Pantone Hazelnut

To me this year’s colors look a bit dull on the swatch, but I realize they might look great in reality. Plus, Pantone recommends popping them with brighter colors like Lapin Blue and Primrose Yellow. That sounds better already.

Last year’s colors, Rose Quartz and Serenity were a little too pastel for my taste, but then again 90% of my clothes are black.

Black, by the way, is associated with power, elegance, formality, and mystery, but also evil and death. For me it’s just a way to be dressed up without clashing with the bridal party.  It’s a pretty safe choice; it is classic and formal and I like the way it looks with my hair. But then there is that whole ‘back death’ thing, there’s ‘black humor,’ and all things ‘Goth’. And why are they called ‘black holes’ and not ‘red holes’? I’m just asking.

Kale is looking good here.

Who isn’t awestruck upon seeing a rainbow? You may remember that a rainbow was a sign from God to Noah in the bible. When you display an entire spectrum of colors you are showing something broad and expansive. It’s not only the LGBT community who embraced the rainbow, although it does seem the perfect symbol of inclusiveness. Did you know that in the Revolutionary War Thomas Paine proposed the rainbow flag as a maritime flag to signal neutrality. No of course you didn’t, I didn’t either.

Cyndi Lauper put it beautifully in her famous song ‘True Colors’

I see your true colors

And that’s why I love you

So don’t be afraid to let them show

Your true colors

True colors are beautiful

Like a rainbow

So when you consider colors for your wedding, you may want to consider their symbolism and history, which will add to the beauty and meaning of your big day.


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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