Wedding Celebrant & Interfaith Minister
**PLEASE NOTE: I AM NOT PERFORMING CEREMONIES RIGHT NOW**
While I am not performing ceremonies right now, there are many wonderful Celebrants in the New England area for your wedding. Visit the Celebrant Institute (www.celebrantinstitute.org) for bios and contact information by region.
Also, one of my most favorite colleagues, Dr. Dennis Geller, is here (www.humanist-rites.com), who performs very moving secular, interfaith, same-sex, Jewish and other personal ceremonies. He was a kind and generous mentor to me when I first began my work. |
When you find the right person to marry you, you will be excited. You both will feel comfortable and open with him or her, and you will trust that what you create together will be just what you hoped for, and that it will all go as best as it can (within reason - smile!) on the day of the wedding.
"We were looking for someone who would be able to help my partner and I develop a beautiful, heartfelt and warm ceremony based on the aspects that we value in our relationship. It was important to us to have someone who really wanted to understand the experience that we wanted to have on our wedding day, and who was excited herself about our ceremony. We're so glad we found her!" - Meaningful Weddings clients
The Responsibility of The Officiant
The person who marries you has several functions: one is to lead the event smoothly and seamlessly, another is to possibly to help you create the ceremony itself, and another - the most recognized privilege - is to proclaim you married.
Outside of the traditional religious institutions, the role of officiant is a unique one: someone who respects your story, who can lead a public event with grace and confidence, a person you trust and feel close to, yet has the authority of the state or community to "recognize" the new status of the relationship.
You may hope this person brings a spiritual dimension to the event, perhaps an acknowledgement of a higher power, or you may insist that he or she is completely secular, focusing on the here and now.
You probably wish this person felt like a close friend or family member, yet want to be sure that she or he has the skill to make the ceremony significant and transformative, as well as be able to manage logistics and tend to all the tiny details.
You may have important values that you would like to see reflected: straight couples here in Massachusetts used tell me frequently, for example, that they didn't want to be married by someone who wouldn't also perform same-sex marriages.
(See an interesting article related to this in the Boston Globe on wedding readings from the Goodridge decision of 2004.)
There are numerous ceremony options available today, which can be freeing - and maybe overwhelming! Give yourselves some time to explore this together. It is a process, and you will probably learn a lot about yourselves and your concepts of faith, spirituality and marriage as you go!
For Interfaith Couples -
Some questions to ask interfaith clergy as you are doing your research:
1) If it is possible, do you wish to be married in one faith or the other? With some searching, you can find an interfaith Jewish rabbi who will perform your ceremony, or a Congregationalist Christian minister, for example.
2) Are there any requirements for working with a single person of faith, such as joining his or her congregation, attending some counseling or training, or raising children in the faith? Do these requirements feel ok to both of you?
3) If you want to, will you be able to participate in the writing of the ceremony, and be able to choose language, vows and rituals? Can you incorporate some of your own? Would you be able to see the ceremony script ahead of time if you wish?
4) Some couples choose to be married by two co-officiants. Are the two officiants willing to work in this manner? Have they done this before? Do they work and prepare collaboratively, or will they each deliver their own sections side by side?
5) If you choose one person to perform a ceremony celebrating the blending of your two faiths, what is her or his experience with this specifically? What does the term "interfaith" mean to her or him, and does this match your own philosophy?
6) Is this person familiar with both your traditions to the level you feel comfortable?
"Spiritual But Not Religious"
Often a couple will describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious." They believe in "something bigger" than them that guides and informs their lives - which they may or may not call God - but they do not currently feel at home in a particular religious institution.
These couples hope their wedding ceremony will feel sacred and reverent and moving. Sometimes they do wish to acknowledge God by name and prayer, and sometimes simply choose to use more universal language of gratitude and awe.
Places to look for a spiritual officiant like this would include Unitarian Universalist churches, the Celebrant Institute, and people who are legally recognized as non-denominational ministers, officiates, or reverends through organizations like the Universal Brotherhood Movement, or the Universal Life Church.
You can find them on The Knot, the Celebrant Institute webpage, My Boston Wedding, Purple Unions, Rainbow Wedding Network and other such directories.
Some questions to ask a spiritual officiant as you are doing your research:
1) What are the officant's personal spiritual beliefs? Does she or he bring these beliefs to ceremonies? What religious or faith organizations does he or she belong to?
2) What tone does he or she use when referencing matters of the spirit? Do you feel comfortable with that language?
3) Though it is a personalized ceremony, does this person have respect for spiritual tradition if this is something you are looking for?
4) Have they had training in ritual, and experience in leading public ceremonies? What is the extent of that training and experience?
5) Is this person settled in the business of marriage officiant, or is this a part-time practice? Does that matter to you? Have past clients been happy working with this person?
6) Does this person use templates or existing wording for the ceremony? Do you have some choice in what is selected? Will he or she incorporate some of your own words too, if you wish? Will the officiant interview you or your family members for stories and language to include? Will you see the script before the ceremony and be able to give feedback and edits? Do you want to?
7) If you hope to have specific rituals, such as prayers or a blessing over wine, for example, does this person feel comfortable performing these roles?
"Words can't begin to describe the memories you brought to our special day. Your voice, your demeanor, and most importantly, the special words and blessings you chose for us, brought forth a day of peace and love, not just for us, but also amongst our guests. Our day was filled with with visions of joy and beauty which will never be forgotten. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts." - Meaningful Weddings clients
"Cindy! I can't believe the ceremony we came up with. It is still resonating in my heart. For years, I couldn't figure out why we were to get married in the public eye when we already had made our commitment known to each other. With your guidance and permission to think about it in a meaningful way, it was a truly momentous occasion. Not only for us but, as our intention, for our family and friends. Many have let us know it was the best wedding they have been to and thanked us. I feel it was a gift to our community and especially for my immediate family. We wanted to paint a picture of the depth of our relationship. You painted a picture of our relationship and intent with words and ceremony. Perhaps it is your calm and joyous demeanor which made the ceremony so organic. You just gave us the space to do what we needed to do. I wished I had spent the time at our wedding to thank you in person. But, as you intended, I was focused on the moment, on my husband and on my family - thank you." - Meaningful Weddings clients
"Dear Cindy, we are so lucky to have found your services to officiate our wedding, and your cheerful and pleasant personality made our experience with you a joy. You did an excellent job customizing our vows to include appreciation for our different backgrounds and the topics that were most important for us as a couple. Our guests were very moved by the words and content of the ceremony; it is now months later and guests are still talking about how much they loved it. The ceremony is what we wanted people to remember most of all. Cindy! Because of you we were able to have the type of meaningful ceremony we wanted" - Meaningful Weddings clients
You can feel like this too!
Please download my FREE e-book for suggestions on how to make your wedding ceremony personal and meaningful - the ceremony you deserve and can most certainly have!
Congratulations and I wish you all the best,