Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Selecting a Reading for your Wedding Ceremony

In a personalized wedding ceremony, a reading is something that can create a lovely moment...inspiration, acknowledgement, good wishes, some humor, or sentiment.

The material for a reading may come from such varied sources...from Shakespeare to Springstien.  A reading may be poetry or prose.  It may be the lyrics to the song for your first dance.  It can be from a spiritual source...to acknowledge the faith tradition of your families.  Whatever you select, the words should have meaning to the two of you.

Wedding ceremony readings come in two major categories:

-  words that define love and/or marriage
-  words that convey good wishes or blessings on the couple

Either type of reading can add to the meaning and uniqueness of your ceremony.

Often a couple thinks of including a reading, and they get a cold sweat thinking their only options are boring and obscure chunks of words.  Not so.  Do an internet search and ask your officiant for suggestions. 

As important as the selection of the reading is the selection of the reader.  Your reader should be someone who is comfortable speaking before a group.  The reader needs to have command of the material...having read it and rehearsed it.   You might think of family or friends who are teachers, those who make presentations at work, performers, or community leaders.

It is an honor to be asked to participate in a couple's ceremony, so think of someone you wish to single out with your request they do a reading.  Your reader can be a respected family elder or godparent.  It can be someone you didn't ask to be in the wedding party but whom you want to be involved in a special way. 

Sometimes the reader has a better idea of what to select than the couple does...so solicit their input, but in the end, the couple should like the reading and make the decisions themselves.

Be sure to introduce the reader to the officiant before the ceremony.  The officiant will let the reader know how he or she will be introduced.  There may be an opportunity to do a sound check with the microphone.

A suggestions from an officiant who insists on back-up for everything related to the ceremony:  Have a printed copy of the reading available on the wedding day in case your reader leaves his or her copy at home.  If the reader is using an electronic device for the reading...that's fine, just make sure it's available on paper somewhere handy...you know why!  Dead batteries!

So don't wrinkle your brow when you think of a wedding reading...there is wonderful material out there just for your wedding.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Heartwarming Frozen Wedding

Deciding to have a themed wedding is a risk...it might be over the top, it might be seen as superflous, or it might just take over all common sense.  When Lisa Marie told me her wedding was going to have a Frozen theme, I admit I had my doubts.  It seemed like it could be appropriate however.  After all, it was winter, the film was full of beautiful things about love...and I did like Olaf.

As I created the ceremony, there was a minimum of Frozen "stuff."  I used the word to describe the dramatic outdoor view from the ceremony space at Nicotra's Ballroom...it was indeed frozen and beautiful.  I incorporated some lyrics from one of the movie's love songs to describe the couple's engagement moment.  But that was about it...just right.  Oh, I did use an Olaf sticker on the envelope containing a copy of their vows that they put in a box that had a bottle of champagne...a box to be opened on their first anniversary. 

The highlight of the ceremony was the duet sung by the bride's cousins.  They sang the song you'd know if you are a fan of Andrea Bocelli..."The Prayer."  It was a goose-bump-producing moment that set the tone for the serious exchange of vows.  This was not an amateur performance...they were pros.

Lisa Marie and Michael made promises to her son as well vows as to each other.  (After the ceremony, her 9 year old nephew came to me and asked for a copy of the promises.  He wanted his mother and step-father to make those promises to him.  Someone was listening!)

Ceremony Tip:
If you are using a theme in the wedding celebration, work with your officiant to get just the right balance between too cutesy and "just right" as you bring in the theme tino your ceremony.  I always like to connect the ceremony script with elements of the wedding...colors, words, the venue, etc.  It makes all that planning come together.  I can even wear something that gives a nod to the theme...like this icy blue silk top.

Julie Laudicina, Celebrant!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Holiday Wedding

A wedding during the holidays is a bonus bright moment among the festivities of the season.  Hillary and Vincent combined the colors and spirit of Christmas with their Dec. 26th wedding at Above where the ceremony space is breath-takingly beautiful. 

A major part of their ceremony was the involvement of children...their young sons and a couple other children of friends and family.  Children were a charming part of the procession with the infants entering in a decorated small carriage.  Some adult assistance was required as these children were quite young...but the image of the children making a ceremonial entrance made everyone smile.

The couple's older son held the rings and gave them to their parents when it came time for them to exchange rings. 

Toward the end of the ceremony, Hillary and Vincent did a sand ritual involving both their sons.  The ritual's symbolism was the melding of all four of them into a family as the sand from small vessels was poured into a single larger vessel. 

The son who is about six years old did a fine job...he's of an age when he could easily follow simple directions.  The infant son, held by his mother, had a natural curiosity about what was happening...so he reached for the small vessel of sand that represented him.  It was a chance happening...but it was beautiful.  He held the vessel with her as that sand was poured into a center "family " vessel.  I heard an "Ah!" from the guests.

Ceremony tip:  If you are involving children, what they do needs to be age appropriate as was the case in this ceremony.  You also have to be flexible in case the children are fussy or confused and don't want to participate.  Their presence and participation is lovely...especially when they are the children of the bride and groom.

So I wish Hillary and Vincent many happy holiday seasons to come...including the celebration of their wedding anniversary every Christmastime.

Julie Laudicina, Celebrant!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Evening Ceremony

JoAnn and Rocco began their wedding celebration with a straightforward ceremony...vows and ring exchange...their love story...and the pronouncement they were husband and wife. 

The procession was managed very well by the staff at the Grand Oaks Country Club on Staten Island.  This newly renovated venue lends itself to a dramatic and beautiful ceremony with it's garden-like setting and charming gazebo.

As I prepared for this ceremony I was thinking it was quite minimal, and I expected that it might just fall flat.  But to my surprise, and I should have realized this, when it's a wedding, even the most simple words that speak the truth with feeling are meaningful.  This couple, their families, and their guests were listening carefully, finding moments of sentiment, and delighting in the intensity of this moment for JoAnn and Rocco.

So the lesson that I have learned over and over...yet again...is that "short and simple" ceremony doesn't mean the ceremony is not worth the time it takes or that the couple doesn't care about their vows or that the guests and family won't take it seriously.

Rocco and JoAnn...you are lovingly married, ceremoniously linked forever, and truly celebrated for all you have pledged to one another.

And who could resist that wonderful golden color just before a summer sunset...!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Great Day for the Irish!

Brian and Lauryn compliment each other...they balance each other...they make each other a better person.  And they both have an Irish background.  So their wedding ceremony had many components that had Celtic roots.  Their reading came from the rich written word from Ireland.  The handfasting ritual, which is probably from Celtic origins, honored their heritages, their hopes, and their vows.  I used the colors from the flowers to symbolize elements of their marriage that meant something to Brian and Lauryn.  The Maid of Honor and the Best Man "tied the knot."

In an unusual ceremony gesture, Lauryn moved her engagement ring to her right hand just before she received her wedding ring.  This honors her German heritage...and the ring on her right hand is where it will be for the rest of her life.  (She broke that finger just a few weeks ago...but the swelling was down enough so she could wear the ring as she planned.)

Their wedding location, F.E.A.S.T at Round Hill was a perfect setting for bringing family together from across the US.  A nearby hotel...transportation by bus...and a cozy space for reunion, conversation and partying. 

CEREMONY TIP:  Lauryn and Brian had a rehearsal without me the day before the ceremony.  I provided a rehearsal guide...and they executed it perfectly.  All those participating in the ceremony knew where to stand, what do to, how to assist with rings and handfasting...so that the ceremony came together very well on the day.  If you are having a rehearsal without your officiant, ask for a guide so that all the necessary elements are covered.  It really pays off!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Time's A Charm

“Three time's a charm,”  said one of the grooms.  That will probably only be said for one couple I have married…Lerrick and Oliver.

I created and officiated at their commitment ceremony, their civil union ceremony, and finally their legal marriage ceremony.  Fortunately, no other couple I work with will have to have three ceremonies.  Marriage equality is on the near horizon, and one ceremony will make it legal.

Working with Oliver and Lerrick has been a joy in large measure because they wanted meaningful and ritual-filled ceremonies.  And also because they are truly warm and totally charming people.

Lerrick and Oliver asked me to create their commitment ceremony in 2006.  It was a major, large wedding event…rich in ritual and family participation.  We worked together to incorporate three traditional Philippine wedding traditions in that ceremony.  Honored sponsors completed rituals incorporating coins, a cord, and a veil pinned to their shoulders.   The music was stunning, selected by the musician Lerrick.  The setting at Oakside Mansion in Bloomfield, NJ, was beautiful.  Lerrick and Oliver were emotional and serious.  They were surrounded by three generations of loving family.  It was an amazing magical day.

Two years later, NJ made civil unions legal, so Lerrick and Oliver had their second ceremony back at Oakside Mansion.  This time is was the two of them and two witnesses.  They said the same vows again…holding their wedding rings over their hearts.  The ritual for this ceremony was informal.  Everyone present picked sayings out of a bowl…sayings about what makes for a good marriage.  We read them in turn as we stood in a circle.  The civil union license was signed, and they were officially in a legally recognized relationship.  But it was not marriage.
With the legalization of same sex marriage in NJ,  Lerrick and Oliver once again stood before witnesses and family on March 16, 2014.  They said the same vows a third time as they held their rings over their hearts again.   The ritual for this ceremony was handfasting.  They picked four colors that had meaning for them, and two siblings and two in-laws “tied the knot.”   I said some of the same words for the third time and some words for the first time.    The words I said for the first time were the ones they had wanted to hear all along.  "By the power vested in me by the State Of New Jersey, you are now married - each as husband to the other."  With cheers and applause…and some tears…Lerrick and Oliver now enjoy the full legal rights of a married couple.

For each of their ceremonies, Lerrick and Oliver wore their traditional Philippine ceremonial shirts, barong tagalong, as you can see in the pictures.  They gave me a preserved orchid after their original commitment ceremony day which I kept and wore it at each of their successive ceremonies.  Now I can retire the orchid…their ceremonies are complete.  “Three time's a charm”...indeed.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Right in the Middle of Grand Central Terminal

Pete and Alessandra came from Toronto for a weekend in NYC that included an intimate wedding ceremony...just the two of them...in the middle of Grand Central Terminal.  You might not think they had as private moment with all the hub-bub around them...but it was intensely private.

Their short ceremony included a few words about what they love about each other, how their professional friendship turned to romance and then love, and then they spoke very traditional vows that were quite emotional for both of them.

When they kissed at the end of their ceremony...everyone around them applauded.  This seemed to surprise Alessandra and Pete, because for a few minutes in one of the busiest spots in the world, they were alone...just the two of them...unaware of the crowd that stopped to quietly watch a wonderful moment.

Pete send me a short thank you a few days later...describing their wedding as simply "magical."

Julie Laudicina, Celebant!