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Posts from the ‘Ceremonial Elements’ Category

A Blended Family Unity Ritual

“How do we include our children in the wedding?”

This is a question I hear from couples who are choosing to marry a second or third time and blend their families from prior marriages. It’s a simple question that can be handled mindfully and respectfully to children of any and all ages, from young ones to adults.

This colorful handfasting cord is an example of an answer I co-created with a merging family this spring:

Six colors represent each family member.

Six colors represent each family member.

After the ring exchange, I introduced the family unity ritual by saying:

“Before we close with the highly anticipated kiss, we are going to witness a Family Unity Ritual. This ritual further and symbolically affirms your pledges and the ring exchange, along with the participation of your whole family, who stands beside you during this ceremony. This is an adaptation of a handfasting, an ancient Celtic ritual wherefrom the saying “to tie the knot” came.

 

For this family version, each of you have chosen a color of ribbon to symbolize who you are, with six ribbons total. You will keep this handfasting cord in a visible place in your home, getting it out to renew vows or just fondly recall this day. The colors represent you as follows:

 

Kayla – yellow; Gracie – pink; Sydney – blue; Nick – green; Andy – red; and Michelle – white.

 

Please place your hands together now, Michelle and Andy. Each of your children will make a loop around your hands with the ribbons, saying a wish to you as they do. Please come forward and step in one at a time to place the ribbon gently . . . (Each child, from youngest to oldest, stepped in to gently wrap the ribbons one time around couples’ interwoven hands and speak their gratitude or good wishes to them. . .)

IMG_3272 Celebrant: Thank you, good work! Now that you are ‘tied’ together in love, I will say a closing blessing on behalf of all your guests present, based upon your hopes for your future:

 

“Andy and Michelle, now that you have chosen to live in marriage as a family,

may you continue to enjoy the foundation of unconditional love you have built.

May you put each other first, finding time to laugh and cry with one another;

May you continue raising your children in a healthy and nurturing environment;

May you realize a life full of love, fun, travel and exploration!

And we wish that some day far, far into the future

You feel the contentment of looking into each other’s eyes,

Knowing fully the pure joy of living your dreams together!”   

And with that, as the guests all rose to share a community pronouncement declaring the couple as “Mr. & Mrs”, the music played and all the kids processed out of the chapel with their Mom and Dad, plus helped them ring the chapel bells. It was a ceremony I will always hold dear in my heart, where everyone felt connected and SO joyful! 

Love wine? You’ll love this wedding.

Sometimes, by way of a Couple’s Reflection process, a custom unity ritual will emerge through stories or shared passions they describe to me. Other times, it is clear from the beginning what kind of unity ritual will add depth to the ceremony. And this was the case with an entirely wine-themed wedding I had the joy to be a part of last fall.

0200Ryan and Kylee chose the warm and inviting atmosphere of Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch and Resort for their wedding. It is one of those special places in Tucson, where upon arriving you feel a relaxing sense of “ahhhh, I’m home.” The people are so welcoming and the outdoor and indoor spaces are all comfortable, with just the right presence of southwestern touches. Nothing feels ostentatious or over done.

Because this travel loving and adventurous couple enjoys learning about and sharing wines together, they chose to have a wine motif throughout their celebration. Naturally, their unity ritual involved drinking wine, too! Here is a fun glimpse into what it looked like (thanks to Chris Richards Photography), along with a little excerpt from their ceremony included below.

 

Blending Wine in a Unity Ritual

Blending Wine in a Unity Ritual

Here’s how I worded the passage that went with this ritual:

“One facet of marriage is to achieve a blending of hearts and lives, while still recognizing and nurturing the individual growth of the other. Through this awareness, you build a robust marriage while you respect the life and spirit of each individual. A wine sharing ritual represents this blending in a symbolic way.

 Kylee, you’ve chosen a white sweet wine, to symbolize the bright and lightly joyful experiences in life; tempered with the humility and honesty of knowing life isn’t always perfect. Ryan, you’ve chosen a full-bodied red wine, to symbolize the care and deep work of marriage; tempered with the reality of the hardships that may occur when living life to the fullest. Your glasses are full and ready for you to enjoy, just as your hearts are full on this day. Go ahead and sip individually from your glass. After you’ve done this, please pour your wines into this third glass – to make a symbolic blend.

 (They sip from their own glass, before pouring into third glass to make a blend.) Before you drink your blended wine, let’s look at what you’ve created!

 (Groom holds up the blend for guests to see while Kristine explains . . .)

 You’ve combined your wines into a beautiful Rose, an emblematic blending of your hearts and lives; the joy and the work, into a delicious combination. Please each take a long sip from this blended glass now, knowing as you do, we wish for your joys to become more intense and your burdens lighter, because you will experience all of these together.

 (Couple takes turn sipping the blend they made.)

I’ll always remember the way the light came through the Palo Verde trees and made the wine glow, along with Ryan and Kylee’s faces. They totally beamed love to each other! These kind of moments are definitely what make life worth living. So vivid, true and heartfelt! Congratulations to you Mr. and Mrs. Blue. I hope you continue to enjoy sharing wines and the adventures of marriage for many, many years to come! Thanks for having me be a part of your meaningful autumn celebration.

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With gratitude,

Kristine

Custom Sand Blending Ritual Ideas

Have you seen the unadorned and not terribly relevant Sand Blending Ritual happen one too many times during weddings? This is something I hear from couples often. It’s no wonder, because it is a fairly simple ritual to put into a ceremony. Plus, there are countless spiffy sand blending kits out there for sale!

Despite any sand blending ennui I hear, options for truly customizing the ritual and creating an experience suited to who you are as a couple do exist. A wedding I just led in May lends a good example of this. The Bride and Groom enjoy being outdoors, including two activities in particular: hiking and beaching. They also LOVE and appreciate their families big time. These values all surfaced repeatedly throughout both of their responses to my Sweetgrass Ceremonies Couple Reflections.

So what did we co-create for a Unity Ritual?

You guessed it! A custom sand blending to reflect their love of meaningful outdoor places in their love story and appreciation for family.

Here is what it looked like before the ceremony:

Leah and Robert's Sand Blending Ingredients

Leah and Robert’s Sand Blending Ingredients

And AFTERWARD:

All six symbolic sands in a beautiful pattern.

All six symbolic sands in a beautiful pattern.

And so how, are you wondering, did we come up with this fun version of the ritual?

Here is a ceremony excerpt to explain what you see:

“You’ve chosen to blend sand because of how it represents the entwining of your families and your souls. As you pour each grain of sand into this shadow box, you symbolize how your lives become transformed today: forever combined.

Additionally, because your families are very close to your hearts, your parents will pour sand as well. The display they create illustrates how together, your families will create new patterns of family life in the days and years ahead. Lori and Greg, Donna and Bob, would you please come forward?

 First you will pour your sands as parents, the people who have set the foundation for Robert and Leah’s lives and what they know to be valuable in their own relationship. Lori and Greg, the sand you will pour comes from your home in Flagstaff. Donna and Bob, your sand comes from your home in Fontana, California. Go ahead and begin pouring now . . .

 {Music begins by Harpist: “One Hand, One Heart” by Bernstein and parents pour their sands. . .} 

Wonderful! And now our couple of honor each has sand from places dear to them: Mt. Lemmon where the first hiked and fell in love, as well as Hawaii, where they went on their first vacation together. They have green and purple sand mixed in there, too, for keeping it all lively and colorful like the wedding colors! Go ahead and begin pouring now . . .

 (Couple pours sands. . .)

 What a beautiful work of art you’ve created together! Thanks parents, you may take your seats again. Robert and Leah, keep this blending of sands in your home and enjoy it as a reminder of experiencing this ritual with your parents, plus the new and exciting patterns of living you have ahead of you!”

Do you have examples or stories of how you have customized this kind of ritual to suit your interests and values? If so, please share. I’d love to hear from you and I’m sure others would enjoy finding creative ideas.

A Persian Wedding in the Sonoran Desert

In April, I witnessed a family’s Persian wedding customs . . . immediately following the American style wedding I co-created with the Bride and Groom. We celebrated with these two ceremonies at the scenic Quail Creek Country Club in Green Valley, Arizona. Being the ceremony enthusiast I am, you might guess I was pretty over the moon about this! And you are correct.

First I must plainly say wow! There is some raise-the-roof NOISE generated by folks during the Persian ceremony and I LOVED IT. I want to figure out more alternatives to couples for bringing their guests the chance to get on their feet and enjoy themselves with their whole beings.

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I’ll set my enthusiasm into some context with this statement: I think guest participation is VITAL to an uplifting ceremony experience. (I’ll try not to digress, though.)

The music, the singing and chanting, the clapping, the wedding party entrance with sheer exuberance . . . if that’s not enough then get ready for the symbolism. There is a whole array to feast upon. I got a tour of the altar from the Bride’s Mom, who assembled it with love. She positively beamed in her floor length sparkling dress as she explained everything to me. I’ll attempt a recap in a very brief way here.

As you can see in the photo, the Bride and Groom sit facing the altar and all the goodies upon it during the ceremony. The important women relatives and bridal party rub together fabric covered sugar cones and sprinkle this on the couple’s heads, to bring them sweetness and happiness.

The couple faces into a large mirror so they can see how well they are surrounded with love and enjoy the images of light reflected by the candles, to symbolically light their way into the future. Once the Bride removes her veil, this image is ritually ‘the first time the Groom sees his Bride’. Obviously, there exists deeper symbolism than I can begin to fully explain. Here are a few highlights:

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Fertility: Represented in the bejeweled eggs, golden walnuts and greens.

Joyous Future: Represented by the apples, the connection to Divine.

Wealth: Represented by the jewels.

Sustenance: Represented by the flat bread and the milk.

Lighting way into Future: Represented in the candlelight, near the mirror.

Sweetness in Life: Although you can’t see it here, there was a glass vessel full of honey, into which the Bride and Groom both dipped their pinky fingers and put into each other’s mouths. (This caused a big joyous uproar amongst the guests!)

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My favorite part of this whole experience happened when the man who led this portion of the ceremony came up to me SO excitedly after the ‘American’ ceremony and before the part he led and said, “I totally enjoyed your ceremony. You said everything I will say in Farsi during this version of a wedding. You see? It is all the same, isn’t? For it is only about LOVE!”

Thank you, Kevin and Nassim. I loved being a part of your very special celebration.

Vow Renewals in Tucson

Will you celebrate a significant anniversary anytime soon? Have you thought about a vow renewal ceremony? Well maybe this couple will inspire you: meet Meredith and Justin. They celebrated their Ten Year Anniversary with a surprise Vow Renewal late this summer. They planned a relaxed getaway weekend (sans kids) to celebrate, at the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain, located northwest of Tucson. Meredith added the surprise element of a Vow Renewal Ceremony by enlisting me and some other supporting characters. Did we ever have a BLAST! So many little surprises happened along the way. I love it when the simplest ceremonies hold the most whimsical moments. This is a celebration I will always remember.

Prior to the big day, Meredith answered a few questions for me via phone and email. I composed a brief and poignantly custom ceremony to honor their ten years of marriage in chapters, acknowledging how their marriage already involved living on a few different continents and creating a family. I arrived the day of to be greeted by the ever professional and pleasant Ritz staff, ready to set up the outdoor space and make it special. I helped sprinkle a rose petal pathway to a grassy area where the couple’s last initial was set out in rose petals. While we set up, a woman sitting on a patio nearby asked if we were holding a ceremony. I half-jokingly responded, “Yes – how would you like to participate?” And to my huge delight she said, “Well I can sing!” And man, she really meant it. Meredith’s close friend and photographer concurred this would be a great surprise for BOTH Meredith and Justin. Keep in mind, Meredith planned what was happening yet Justin had no clue. He just thought they were getting a tour of the spa and facilities!

Once the couple of honor came through the gate into the area where we all waited, a staff member entered the scene with a tray carrying champagne flutes and a bouquet (the flutes were engraved with their names and the date). At this moment, Justin got the drift. Then came the tears and laughter! Just when he began to figure out what was happening, our jazz vocalist Julianne began singing, “Love makes me treat you the way I do, gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” — presenting Meredith with her chance to be totally surprised. More happy tears . . .

With the song complete, we all moved to the intimate ceremony area with lush desert surrounding us. It was a quiet evening after a summer storm. So delicious! During the ceremony I spoke a few words about their ongoing Love Story and the chapters they had already written together. The couple spoke promises of renewal to each other privately, then I came back to stand with them and lead their ring exchange, while they repeated these phrases after me and placed their rings upon each others’ fingers anew:

With this ring,

I choose you again Justin/Meredith,

And renew my commitment to you,

For all the days

we are gifted to share.

Just after the ring exchange, a Javelina went running right behind us through the desert! (Another totally unscripted and way fun surprise.) And then they kissed to renew their promises of love! Congratulations, Meredith and Justin. Thank you for inviting me into this special occasion in your lives. I’d love to be with you when you celebrate your 20th Anniversary!

Sunset over the Desert, after the Vow Renewal

 

 

 

 

 

Unity Ritual for Couples & Families

One of the most fun endeavors in my work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant© is revisiting and reinventing rituals to make them relevant today. I often witness couples desiring a Unity Ritual in their ceremony, yet not one they’ve seen too many times. Here is an example of a fresh idea: Love Padlocks. (Well, perhaps it’s an oldie resurfacing again!) The stories and derivations vary widely – from an old Chinese custom to present day love-locks occurring at special sites around the world – all combining to make this ritual reinvention pretty fun! You can fit the ritual to reflect who you are as a couple or a blended family upon entering marriage.

The essence of the idea is simple: you feel so safe and committed to each other as a couple or family, that your love is joining your hearts and souls together forever. You need not ever undo this joining of your hearts and the lock symbolizes this. Once the locks are joined, releasing the keys to the elements represents no need to undo the bond. The keys may fly up into the air while tied to a bunch of helium balloons, thrown into a body of water, buried in the earth at a special place after the ceremony; or to complete the element possibilities, I can imagine keys being tossed into a bonfire where the setting is safe and appropriate.

On Saturday, I led a romantic red and black wedding at the scenic JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort, wherein we included the Love Padlock ritual. The Bride and Groom ordered their customized locks from Lock-itz, an online provider with great resources for many occasions. This photo gives you an idea of how customized the locks can be:

You can see the keys tied with ribbons before the ceremony, ready to be tied into a bunch of helium balloons by the Bride and Groom after closing the locks together. My Celebrant colleagues in Australia have been practicing this ritual for awhile, as you can see in a video here. The most critical piece of releasing the keys to the sky is ensuring the keys are tied to a loop of ribbon holding the whole bunch of balloons. This way physics can do the work necessary to carry both keys up into the sky, with a dramatic release! I’ll admit we had a minor snafu during this ritual, albeit with a great outcome. The theme of the couple’s love story was ‘adventures in everyday patience’ and was it ever relevant right then and there! One balloon didn’t travel into the sky. I hid it under the ceremony table for the adorable ring bearer to have later. He was aching for one of these balloons before the ceremony. The parents happily tied the balloon to his wrist, so they could see where he went during the reception. And was he ever overjoyed to get his own balloon! The errant key is gone forever. I’m not telling what I did with it! 🙂

Stay tuned, I’ll share another story soon about an October wedding with love padlocks for a blended family . . . and hopefully have more photos to share.

 

 

A Spicy Unity Ritual Alternative

Do you want to include a unity ritual in your wedding, yet feel like you’ve seen sand blending or candle lighting happen enough already? Universally and personally, an active ritual to symbolize your union adds depth and interest to the ceremony. (And sometimes, blending sand or lighting candles does fit well.)

Here is a fun alternative to consider: Blending Spices. For this wedding I led between Katherine and Matt, who share a passion for cooking together, we called it their ‘Spice of Life Ritual’. They also share a faith in God, so we incorporated symbolism from the Bible, based on their beliefs. This is an excerpt from the ceremony we co-created:

A Custom Spice Blending Ritual for Matt & Katherine

Making a commitment to each other through marriage means you combine your gifts and together, you make a greater difference in the world than you would as individuals. Just as spices complete a recipe, you complete each other. You have chosen a few spices to layer in this glass vessel one at a time, signifying your own personalities and talents. In this way, you symbolically combine who you are forever.

Just as the spices become intermingled and will never be the same again, so do your lives as you join in marriage. You will begin and end by pouring in salt, for it is pure and essential. Go ahead and pour the first layer of salt . . . (Couple pours first layer of salt together . . .)

This salt symbolizes love – God’s love for you – and your love for each other. This love will be the foundation upon which you build your life together. In the Bible, covenants of salt were made to insure lasting and permanent pacts, as salt symbolized the eternal nature of the covenant. Your marriage is such a covenant, perpetual and everlasting.

As you pour the following spices, which you will layer between the salt, I will name each and its symbolism:

(Couple begins to pour one spice at a time . . . )

As they held a single glass to pour the spices in one at a time, I read the symbolic meaning of each spice or herb, as follows:

Sage ~ for wisdom and long life;

Rosemary ~ freshly collected from your yard, to symbolize remembrance, love and fidelity;

Paprika ~ for passion;

Poppy seeds ~ for prosperity;

Lavender ~ for calm in the face of difficulties and seeing the opportunities in life;

Thyme  ~ for courage and strength.

Now finish with pouring the final layer of salt. What a beautiful work of art you have created! Please keep this in your home as a remind of this special day. Let these spices symbolize the blessings of your joining and how you have combined the essences of who you are, forever.”

During their ceremony and in the preparation for it, this Bride and Groom had a super fun time participating in this spicy unity ritual together. The Groom collected the rosemary himself, from their yard. The Bride and I shopped together for the bulk herbs/spices and had so much fun! The Bride and her now Mother-in-law shopped for the glass vessels. While I set up the ritual prior to the ceremony, the guitarist even enjoyed smelling the lavender. I carried the finished product over to the reception (displayed next to the sign-in book created by Sarah Neyhart) so guests could enjoy the  couple’s creation up-close. All in all, we immensely enjoyed co-creating this custom ritual!

Inside the Chapel at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa ~ ritual table front & center.

A peek of the TGR Chapel from the outside ~ so beautiful!

This wedding occurred at the lush and inviting Tubac Golf Resort and Spa in Tubac, Arizona. Everyone enjoyed the setting on a monsoon afternoon in June. Other vendors (with whom I love to work!) included:

Colleen LaFleur of La Fleur Plantscapes

Sarah Neyhart Photography

Mark Wilsey on Guitar from Reno del Mar

Guest Participation at Weddings

YES! Participation is possible, whether you have four guests present or 100+. Your guests can be part of your wedding and really, truly — ENJOY themselves — during the ceremony! Guest participation is a ceremonial element that I routinely emphasize and offer to couples while we co-create their ceremony. Just yesterday, a Bride said to me:

“I want our guests to share in our wedding experience, not just witness it.”

I love hearing this sentiment. And I hear it often. She inspired me to write this post. It is becoming more and more common for couples to feel this way. How to achieve creative and coherent participation is the question. This photo shows how much people can really open up to laughing and enjoying themselves. (Sometimes I see joyful tears, too.)

A row of elders who said to me after the wedding, “That was the MOST fun I’ve ever had at a ceremony!”

Here are a few tips for including guest participation in your ceremony:

  • Ask Families for Support ~ rather than the formal ‘Presentation’ with a solo father-figure giving away the Bride, consider asking each individual’s respective families to stand. Ask them for their blessings or support, early on in the ceremony. This can be more comfortable for blended families, because everyone has an opportunity for recognition.
  • Reach out with Appreciation ~ to whomsoever you love and feel grateful toward. Actually walk over to them as a couple, or have them come forward. Parents, siblings, adult children – you get the idea! Offer words of thanks or even gifts. (One couple I’m working with is considering trophies!)
  • Encourage Exchanges in the Audience ~ simple phrases between guests near the welcome can really ‘open their hearts’ to what is about to happen. This can be simply saying “Peace be with You” in more formal settings, or in more relaxed spaces, “I’m so dang glad you’re here!”
  • Seek a Community Vow of Support ~ after the couple’s vow exchange, I enjoy asking everyone to stand. I remind them how they are the couple’s ongoing circle of steadiness and support, then ask if they pledge to continue their role in the couple’s married lives. Folks love to respond enthusiastically, “We do!”
  • Recite a Blessing – All Together ~ Tomorrow everyone will stand at the end of a ceremony I’m leading, hold hands and recite a Blessing for the couple all together. When the couple is pronounced married and the big kiss occurs, everyone will already be standing for the music and celebration to begin!

This will get the ideas swirling for you, hopefully. Weddings are a series of special moments for everyone gathered to share in and enjoy. When I work with couples and families to achieve an actively memorable collective experience, I’m thankful to be the catalyst!

A Vision of Your Wedding

Phew, April! What a creatively full month. I shared enormous happiness working with nine couples to compose and lead their weddings. Through my attentive process as a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, we brought their uniquely personal ceremony visions into reality. These couples chose spaces ranging from a sweet living room with pooches and babies (plus east coast folks joining via ichat!) to a 100+ celebration perched at the Skyline Country Club lower terrace to an internationally live-streamed ceremony held at Tohono Chul Park, to an exquisitely intimate ceremony at the historic Arizona Inn.

I’m excited to receive photos and post more details soon! For now, I’m putting my creative energy into May and June weddings. Plus, meeting with couples about their upcoming fall and winter weddings. (Summer slows down just a tad here in Tucson, with our crispy-hot summer temps!)

Throughout the joy of this work, I assist couples in making authentic and fun expressions about themselves during a wedding celebration. This definitely keeps me on my toes! (Just as no two couples are the same, no two of my ceremonies are ever the same, either.)  Choosing just the right venue and sense of place play a role in expression. Creating a real and relevant ceremony takes it a step further and amplifies the power of collective experience between a couple and their guests. To create a timelessly memorable experience, a ceremony you and your guests cannot stop talking about because you LOVED it so much, it helps to set intentions at the outset.

It is in this ‘setting intentions’ realm where I’ve noticed something interesting lately. During an initial meeting with a couple, if I say “What is your vision for your ceremony?” — some “ums” likely ensue, followed by explanation of small familiar elements or “well, we haven’t gotten concrete about that yet.” Sometimes, descriptions of what they don’t want arise. (Read: boring, too long, overly religious, or wrong names. Yikes!)

Instead, when I ask, “What four words best describe your ceremony?” — light bulbs seem to flash on!  This is a fun exchange I’ve borrowed from my savvy Celebrant colleague based in Canada. (Thank you, Barbara Densmore!) I’ve noticed how this brainstorm helps clear through cobwebs amidst the clutter, you know? Couples seem to cut through the overload of ideas, familial ‘shoulds’ or mass wedding media. I witness them revealing what really matters – for them as individuals and a couple. The folks with whom I work often offer up these clues:

Arizona Inn garden, Tucson

Arizona Inn garden, Tucson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Warm and celebratory
  • Lighthearted (not too casual though)
  • Meaningful and intimate
  • Real
  • Grateful
  • Playful
  • Authentic
  • Fun!

Words readily jump out onto a fairly blank canvas. And those four simple words become helpful guideposts for me and a couple when we co-create their ceremony. The four words turn into a ‘vision snapshot’, if you will. To take it a step further, into setting a foundational vision for a whole wedding celebration, this article is super helpful. I love the author’s formula for ‘seven words’. How easy is that to remember and carry with you everywhere as you plan your special day?!

A Romantic Winter Wedding

In Tucson, we are fortunate to hold outdoor winter weddings. And as a Celebrant writing custom ceremonies, I am blessed to work with couples who really know themselves, completely dig each other and fearlessly express themselves during their ceremony. This peek into a romantic wedding I led last month involves a hearty combination of all these happinesses!

Meet Colin and Stephanie: a couple so totally in love as you can see, they positively glow. We had a fabulous time co-creating their ceremony. Plus, we shared the great surprise of a snowy-mountain morning and a gentle rain the day of their wedding. (Rare in the desert!) They both have a playful sense of humor and ease about them, so nobody seemed concerned about the unanticipated chilly temps. (Not even Colin and his groomsmen, as they sported kilts!) It was a magical day.

What I completely enjoyed about writing this ceremony was how passionately Colin and Stephanie responded to my Couple Reflections. (As a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, the way I craft ceremony is based upon a couple’s stories, beliefs and values.) The love, playfulness and humor they shared nearly jumped off the screen when I read through their thoughts and feelings about each other. So, how could I not be inspired to write a fun and meaningful ceremony? And what made it even better, was the Bride offering a poem she hoped to include, which she wrote. It is titled Thoughts on Growing Old with You. I wove it throughout the ceremony and her words became the soul of the whole experience.

As the author of the poem, Stephanie naturally knew the words from her heart. So as a result, a spontaneous surprise happened during the ceremony. She was saying the words along with me as I read the prose — while looking directly into her Groom’s eyes, just beaming him love. I absolutely loved it!

After they repeated their custom vows to each other, and then shared pledges of love and support with their adult children who stood beside them, they exchanged rings. It was a heartfelt and giddy romanticism I could feel! (We say boo to the stuffy or hollow romantic material out there!) To complete the ceremony, I shared a blessing on behalf of everyone present, based on Colin and Stephanie’s hopes for their shared future:


Happy Newlyweds after the Ceremony!

“May every second count. May you not take a single moment for granted. May your love be a journey of discovery that never becomes dull. May you have all the time in the world to discover each other and always share laughter at bedtime. May you value and validate each other, sharing in the small joys as well as the BIG ones! And may you find great contentment in growing old and loving life side-by-side.”

After the pronouncement and kiss, they danced to Louis Armstrong singing ‘We Have All the Time in the World“. (Yes, I got choked up!) And I think maybe the intimate circle of family and friends surrounding them did, too.

Congratulations to you, Mr. and Mrs. Conlee. I wish you many many years of happiness and laughter together!