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Posts from the ‘General Ceremony’ Category

Tips for involving kids

During the recent weeks of kicking off the busy fall wedding season in Tucson, I’ve enjoyed officiating ceremonies with young people involved. (By young I mean eight to 17 years old.) This happens more and more, as families blend with children of various ages. I must admit I’m not a Mom, yet I do aspire to be the coolest Aunt ever! I don’t have a reservoir of kid wisdom. Although, I’ve experienced a few successful ways to involve kids in ceremonies, be it weddings or memorials.

We’ve all seen adorable flower girls, ring bearers or candle lighters. Here are a few ideas beyond the ‘usual’ to consider:

  • Bring kids into the creative process. While planning a ceremony, the logistics may be overwhelming. Stepping back with a more childlike frame of mind to make it fun and really bring kids into the fray, might just help! I welcome this with families. For example, have a processional led by children
    and ask them what kind of happy noises they want to make! (e.g. bells? kazoos? rattles?)
  • Ask if they want to participate. If so, offer meaningful roles. Many times we see more formal roles for kids where they have to stand still and be cute for pictures. Not always easy to achieve! That is slowly changing though, as this article suggests. What if they were more actively participating, say by exchanging family vows or symbolic gifts? Or reading from a family’s favorite children’s book? Wouldn’t that be more fun?
  • Let them review the ceremony script and offer editorial suggestions. No, I’m not kidding. They might offer up surprising advice that helps the ceremony feel more real to them and everyone present. I just had this  happen last week, when two super-fly boys were helpers with the Ring Warming for their Dad’s wedding.

Hopefully, these quick ideas – plus the fun in-depth articles I’ve linked to – offer plenty of fresh ways to bring kids into whatever ceremony you might be planning!


Celebrating love in Tucson

A wedding can be really simple.

As a Wedding Celebrant who helps couples create just the ceremony they want, I am certain that simple really can quite powerfully = meaningful.

Here is a great example:

Taking Vows and Celebrating Love in Sabino Canyon

I married Hayley and Michael on a calm August weekday morning. We took the tram up to one of his favorite spots in Sabino Canyon. We waded into the creek and had a very simple, poignant and peaceful ceremony to honor their joining.

The witnesses, one triathlete in training and one elderly gentleman walking by, came to stand for endurance and longevity for the couple.

How fabulous is this???!

I am so thankful to be celebrating love in Tucson.

Looking toward Sabino Canyon, Arizona, on Febr...

Sabino Canyon ~ Image via Wikipedia

Ideas for Multi-Cultural Weddings

So last week I met with a couple who wants to pull Pagan and Buddhist elements into their wedding. How fun! They were relieved to find me. Plus, plain happy I would work with them to create the ceremony they envision. “This kind of non-traditional territory is where I love to be with couples,” I told them.

And yet, as I said those words, I wondered if we are emerging with new practices that stretch beyond ‘non-traditional’. When I say ‘we’ I mean: couples who want their ceremony to reflect their one-of-a-kind beliefs and a Celebrant like myself who helps guide them. Simply put: We are making ceremonies REAL. (Most definitely not rote and one size fits all!)

This story from CNN about interfaith and multicultural weddings supports this idea. I think this passage speaks to why:

Unlike prior generations, contemporary couples aren’t afraid to tinker with the order of a ceremony or the wedding traditions that have, in the past, seemed intractable. Also, many contemporary couples are older when they marry, so they’ve had more time to travel, work and become more educated.

These are the couples with whom I love to work: they are mature, they’ve traveled and they know themselves well. Whether or not two people come from different ethnic traditions, based upon various life experiences, they may hold vastly different beliefs. Judaism and Hinduism, for example. In these situations, another passage from the CNN article includes helpful ideas from Susanna Macomb, a widely known Officiant and Author:

Finding commonality between traditions can make a ceremony meaningful, but make sure to have someone explain the symbolism to the wedding guests, or most will be in the dark, says Macomb. Also, she advises intercultural weddings can seem more cohesive if an officiant and readers incorporate some native languages into the ceremony as a nod to family members who have traveled from another part of the world.

As a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® who leads weddings, this is one of the things I do best: finding commonality between traditions – beliefs – values to make a ceremony meaningful. In our training as Celebrants, we delve deeply into symbolism. We consider and enact ways to bring universal explanation into the script, so guests may resonate with the message delivered. This is especially helpful during multicultural ceremonies, where guests may be unfamiliar with certain elements!

Enjoy the journey, if you are planning a multicultural or interfaith wedding! Feel free to leave comments or questions, too . . .


Personalized or Heart-crafted Ceremonies?

I am curious: any difference to you? Hmmm, the question may well be splitting hairs in a world with much bigger topics. Yet this idea is very close to my core. I assist my clients in creating and leading one-of-a-kind, never seen before or to be seen again ceremonies. So my services are beyond personalized, but what is just the right descriptor?

This week I tried the nifty ‘Question’ feature on my Sweetgrass Facebook page. I asked what the phrase ‘personalized ceremony’ means to friends. I was hoping they’d help me dig a little deeper. (And I’ve now found my favorite FB feature!) So far I’ve heard back with an honest and fabulous range of thoughts:

“For me, words are not enough to make something personalized. Honestly, I don’t find that human vocabulary can truly bring something to the realm of touching or personal. I find that seeing the emotions/faces/gestures of my close friends and family truly make any experience personal.” ~ Ashley

“My (our) story, beliefs, values, culture and aspirations are reflected throughout the whole ceremony.” ~ Monica

“Created with heart – with and for me – with understanding of my story.” ~ So far, this captures the winning number of votes!


I find this pleasantly revealing, because I’ve been leaning toward the phrase ‘heart-crafted’ to describe my ceremonies more clearly. Why? Well, personalized makes me cringe a wee bit. I’ve employed it before and not felt quite right with it. The ceremonies I co-create with people are more than personalized, more than custom-tailored; more than these familiar adjectives, because my ceremonies genuinely arise from my heart.

Whether a Baby Blessing, Wedding or Memorial – it is a real, relevant and meaningful experience for my clients and their guests.

The ways that I imagine, compose and lead a ceremony all reflect my lifetime of curiosity, observations, reading, listening and emotional learning . . . all of which somehow mixes in a magical alchemy with the stories of the unique people I serve.

So for now at least, I’ll happily be heart-crafting ceremonies in the Old Pueblo.

Ideas for DIY Weddings

Are you going down the wedding aisle in DIY style? Fearless. Creative. Fantastic! And absolutely doable. I see quite a few do-it-yourself couples in Southern Arizona, planning and preparing their own weddings with verve. I love to work beside creatives who live and play with gusto, as their officiant who does the same.

During my ceremony services, I find myself in a wide range of settings: from hike-in weddings atop Mount Lemmon to intimate home garden weddings to lavish all-out parties with 200 guests at high-profile venues. I enjoy every kind, because I get to see my clients manifest their own visions for their celebration.

I'm under the chuppah, clapping for Ali & Kevin!

The DIY clients with whom I work often place a high priority on the ceremony itself. As Ali (see left), suggests in a recent thank you note, it is literally the threshold into wedded life. She wrote, “We had so many people come to us and tell us how unique our ceremony was. I can’t imagine a better ceremony to enter into marriage with.”

A straight up DIY wedding may mean a couple does the whole ceremony and celebration themselves, potluck style. A more multi-faceted approach is what I’m eluding to here: a couple leads and plans the effort and enlists the help of a few vendors along the way. In that spirit, I offer some fab contacts for DIYers out there – or for anyone planning an event!

Here are a few folks with whom I’ve worked recently . . .

In the realm of photography, there are so many talented people, it is tough to name one! A lady I truly admire though, is Sarah Neyhart. Her goal is “to bring fresh, fun and modern photography to Southern Arizona.” And does she ever! I love her style and presence.

In the sound department, if you want tunes beyond what your ipod offers, PLUS desire a great flow to the whole event, contact Marc at CE Entertainment. His energy, enthusiasm and professionalism as a DJ/MC are tough to beat around Tucson. (He and I have this in common: we each spend around 30-40 hours working on your event before the big day!)

You can find a huge array of decor goodies for your special day at Arizona Party Rental. Ask for Mollee, she’ll be an excellent guide for finding whatever-you-need on your list. And to wrap it up for now, my most fave online repository for DIY ideas lives at Offbeat Bride. Seriously. Where else can you find directions for making your own undies, vintage banner or lightsaber cake knife – all on the same page?!