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Posts tagged ‘Ceremony’

Spring Wedding at Stillwell House

Sometimes a wedding floods my heart with so much joy, I wish the whole world could feel it. This was one of those times. I do think everyone present had a fabulous time and surely did ‘feel the JOY!

Jen and Tyler held their wedding at the Stillwell House in downtown Tucson, last April. I was fortunate to be a part of their celebration and lead their ceremony. As you can see, they are quite a radiant couple. And their beauty goes much further than skin deep. When I work with young couples in love, often they are quite mature and have faced some hardships together. They appreciate their families beyond words. They savor life together. They frequently share a pretty wicked sense of humor, too. And naturally, they want me to impart their gratitude and love of laughter to their guests. With Jen and Tyler, I had the opportunity to do all of this. And man, did we ever have fun!

All Photos Generously from Amanda Rockafellow

Before we even walked into the ceremonial space, I had spent 20+ hours working with Jen and Tyler to create their wedding. So when I say we had fun, I am referencing our experience throughout the whole co-creative process. The ceremony itself is a big exclamation point, culminating our creative time together. After they completed their responses to my Sweetgrass Couple Reflections, the theme of their ceremony became clear: two hearts | one love. I opened their Love Story like this:

You may know this timeless saying from the I-Ching: “When two people are one in their innermost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or bronze.” And for this couple, they live with two hearts, one love. They are one in their deepest of hearts.

Jen & Tyler speak their hearts during their vows

After a good deal of laughter and some tears about their story, I concluded by saying, “May you surprise each other and grow together. And may you always be one in your innermost hearts, able to shatter any challenge that comes your way!”

Next, during their vows, we three stood closer for these most intimate of words to be spoken. As you can see, Jen has a bigger-than-life smile on her face, and Tyler has full-on adoration-beaming from his. For their last pledge they answered “We will” to my question, “Will you live together as one?”

After speaking their vows, they symbolized their joining with a Handfasting Ritual. With my guidance, Jen even made a beautiful handfasting-braid by way of her own creativity!

To introduce this portion of the ceremony I said, “To quote our groom, “Marriage is entering into a life with the one that has touched my soul. The one that I see myself with for the rest of my life.” Before I wrapped their hands and offered a blessing, I went on to say:

As this is a very transformational moment in your lives, Jennifer and Tyler, we will express your joining through a Unity Ritual, too. Together, you will bind your hands in a handfasting ritual. This is an ancient practice beginning in Celtic times and spans belief systems across many centuries. The cords you have made here are symbolic of how something within you, yet something greater than yourselves has joined you together.

Handfasting Ritual

After the Handfasting, the Ring Exchange was the final symbolic act of two hearts becoming one love. Next a closing blessing, a pronouncement as husband and wife – then HOORAY! – the moment everyone awaited: the Kiss. During the joyous celebration that is a recessional, everyone stood and cheered as “It’s a Beautiful Day” by U2 streamed into the air. Excellent choice on the music, Jen and Tyler. Because wow, was it ever!

Congratulations to a very Happy Couple!

P.S. My heartfelt thanks goes to Amanda Rockafellow, for contributing her gorgeous photos. I’ll soon be highlighting her here as a Tucson Wedding Gem. And my thanks also goes to Marc Summersett, Owner of CE Entertainment, who expertly managed the sound and music for this celebration.

Writing Vows You’ll Want to Repeat

Inevitably when I meet with couples, the ‘oh man, how do we do our vows?’ question surfaces. And it’s a good one. Would you agree wedding vows are pretty darn intimate words to share? The pressure of finding just the right promises – unique to who you are – can be daunting. Just today, I met with a mature couple who said they would be at a loss to write their own vows. “We really need your help there,” they said to me (cringing a bit).

And I’m happy to oblige! By using a couple’s very own words, in fact. I have a few keystone questions in my set of Sweetgrass Couple Reflections, which support me writing meaningful vows. When I work with couples, ceremony crafting is a co-creative process. They answer a good long set of questions individually. And I weave together the ceremony based on their stories, beliefs and values. (Yes, I do love reading heartfelt, emotional or even irreverent responses!)

Words

(Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

I also leave open the option of couples writing their own vows to each other. Or we do a combination of both – they write a few lines and I write a few lines – by weaving their words into a cohesive whole as I mentioned above. Some of the best tips I’ve read for DIY vows are in this post at a Practical Wedding.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, too: do you want to have your Celebrant say the vows in a question form whereby you answer “I do” or “I will”? Or would you rather repeat whole phrases? Or memorize the lines?

This ought to be entirely up to you. And if you really want to remember and repeat these pledges of love to each other sometime in the future (anniversary? Valentine’s? vow renewal?) then the words are best spoken comfortably, reflecting who you truly are.

It is this delivery of vows that I encourage couples feeling really familiar with and comfortable  about. Whatever you write, or someone writes for you – make sure you read it aloud to each other before the ceremony! (Unless of course you plan to surprise each other.) See how the words feel while speaking them aloud individually at least, if not together.

And hopefully, you’ll have vows that well, you’ll love saying to each other again and again.

Wedding Blog Intentions for 2012

Yes! I’m sharing my intentions for posts in the year ahead. Why? Because I’d love to hear your feedback: would these topics be useful and inspiring to you? What else would you like to hear and read about?

Admittedly, I’ve gotten a slow blogging start on the year. (Hey – it’s still January though, right?) Due to a big-fun-flurry of client meetings the past few weeks, I’m already sensing this will be a most fulfilling year, serving couples and families who want a ceremony beyond the ordinary.

Here is some of the good stuff I aim to bring you in the months ahead:

  • Meg & Joe's Arizona Botanical Garden Ceremony ~ Fabulous!

    Tucson’s Wedding Talent Interviews: hearing from super creative wedding professionals in the wide network of folks working in Tucson (eg: florists, musicians, DJs or Directors of Entertainent, etc).

  •  Tips for Ceremonies ‘Beyond the Ordinary’: ideas that enliven your stories and beliefs, plus invite your guests into the experience.
  • Ideas for Vow Renewals and Commitment: while working with couples celebrating anniversaries and various commitment celebrations beyond weddings, I’ll be sure to share examples and resources.

 

  • Windows into Real Sweetgrass Weddings: whenever couples are willing to share photos and ceremony excerpts, I’ll give you a peek into what we experience during heart-crafted ceremonies!
  • Southern Arizona Venue Highlights: seeing into unique venues and meeting the on-site coordinators.

So many resources, contacts and ideas to share . . .

I’m excited to be doing what I love and look forward to posting good materials you can share or really put to use for your own ceremony!

 

Two Weddings to Remember

Every once in awhile, I connect with a couple who immediately feels like we’ve already known each other for eons. That happened last year with Carolyn and John.

Their sense of ease with one another and complete adoration for each other melted me. I’ve told a bit of their story already this year. Here’s Part One:

We met in December 2010, when John called me early Christmas Eve morning to see if I could do their elopement ceremony after Christmas. (He was waiting for Carolyn to try on wedding dresses when he called!) They were in the desert visiting from chilly Iowa.

Part One: John & Carolyn’s winter Elopement in Tucson

Fortunately, I was in town and available. I think the Universe had grand plans for us, so everything worked absolutely perfect. We met on Sunday afternoon, they answered a few couple reflections for me, and ‘voila’! After a very early morning ceremony writing session, I sent their customized script to them for review by 9AM.

They cried big happy tears upon receiving it and said “This is so truly US. We are thrilled!” We had a blast during their ceremony, with two dear friends as witnesses being present to celebrate. It was a bit surreal how smoothly everything unfolded.

And Part Two:

As is often the case for couples, they elope with a satisfying sense of simplicity. And then there are circles of family and friends ‘back home’ who really want an excuse to celebrate their union, too! Carolyn and John saw their great opportunity in celebrating with their extended circle of loved ones back in Iowa. And they chose to repeat their ceremony, with me leading it.

Needless to say, I was completely moved. And eager to fulfill their wish!

Part Two: Celebration in Iowa

We added a few very meaningful flourishes the second time. First, Carolyn’s two sons participated as the bearer’s of the wedding rings. Second, I asked all the guests for their blessings and support upon John and Carolyn’s union. (Of course they enthusiastically responded with “WE DO!”)  And third, John wrote and performed a song just for his Bride. I’m not sure there were any dry eyes in the house!

They had this Icelandic saying engraved into each of their custom made rings:

“Gued, laeder oaker aast ae-lift.” / “God guide our love always.”

And I said this on behalf of everyone before the pronouncement – more happy tears!

Thank you, dearest Carolyn and John, for this opportunity to serve you and your family as your Wedding Celebrant. I cherish our connection. And I can’t wait to see you again this winter in the desert!

John singing to Carolyn to close their Ceremony