Thursday, April 30, 2009

Commitment Ceremonies -- They're Not Just for Same Sex Couples

I have presided at many commitment ceremonies where couples celebrated love and dedication. A number of them were held on behalf of same sex couples, who are prevented from marrying legally in our state. However, quite a few involved men and women who were moved to make public proclamations of their intent to remain together. One couple was engaged, and wanted a private observance of their promises to each other. Another couple was elderly, and could not afford the financial hit that marrying legally would deal them in terms of Social Security. One woman was quickly losing her father to cancer, and he wanted to hear with his ears that his future son-in-law planned to sign on for the duration with his daughter.

Whatever the reason, commitment ceremonies are intensely personal -- sometimes seemingly more so than many weddings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Paper Trail

Many of the weddings I officiate are held outdoors. The very nature of an outdoor wedding is, well, nature.

I do not understand why a bride in the outback (or on the golf course, in the garden, or by the ocean), tries to put down a white paper aisle runner. These runners are all doomed to either fly up in the air like a roll of Charmin gone wild, or worse yet, wrap around the shoes of every bridesmaid trying to make her way to the front. I have had little flower girls lifting their feet high like ponies in the snow, trying to keep from tripping.

Please, brides, save yourself some trouble and just say no to paper aisle runners. They are at best a source of comic relief, but they can actually pose a hazard.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Nerves Know No Gender

Plenty is said about bride's nerves, bridezillas, and wedding jitters. It has been my experience that many grooms are just as susceptible to stress as brides.

I have had several weddings with a cool as a cucumber bride, and a completely torqued groom. Recently, one young man was so certain that it was going to rain on his garden wedding (it didn't) that he hyperventilated. Another worried about the color of the linens for the reception until I finally reminded him that the entire affair would be by lowered light, and if there was a faint discrepancy, nobody would notice.

I do whatever I can to get both halves of a couple delivered into marital bliss. As one groom-to-be told me, "I have no doubts about marriage. It's the wedding that's scaring me."

An hour later, he was the proud owner of a new ring, and he was fine. However, I was ready for a nap.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Outdoor Wedding Alcohol Etiquette

I officiate many outdoor weddings, and the level of formality ranges from none at all, to "cathedral under the stars." In general, I leave the tone and environmental attitude of the occasion up to the couple. As long as everybody is comfortable, then I'm happy.

However, it is imperative that the bride and groom not be sabatoged by their own vendors -- particularly their bartenders. At a recent garden wedding, the professional bartender plied the waiting wedding guests with mixed drinks and alcohol before the ceremony began, and within seconds of it actually starting. The groom, who was nervous anyway, wasn't happy that so many of the guests were feeling little pain by the time the bride made her way to the gazebo. Fortunately, everybody in attendance was relatively well-behaved, and we got through the wedding ceremony without serious incident.

If you are planning an outdoor wedding but want to prevent the time before the ceremony from becoming a tailgate party, instruct the bartender to serve only water and non-alcoholic beverages until after the ceremony. You have the right to establish some ground rules. It's your day. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

eBay is Okay

Times are tough, but the tough are shopping eBay for wedding necessities.

As an officiant, I have made good use of eBay's offerings for such items as stoles, robes, and supplies for booklets. During my shopping forays, I have also taken the opportunity to see what other wedding-related items are available. What I found is that almost anything and everything you can imagine is available on eBay.

In my opinion, the best bargains are frequently found with non-professional sellers, or individuals who are selling personal items are not running an online store, per se.

However, rings, dresses, centerpieces, arches, decorations, beauty supplies -- EVERYTHING -- is there. So make a shopping list, set a budget, and give yourself enough time to hunt down what you need.

Outdoor Weddings -- Expect the Unexpected

I love outdoor weddings. They are almost always more personal and relaxed, less intimidating, and good natured -- unless nature isn't good.

Some brides and grooms can't handle rain, wayward birds, golfers who have been to the drink cart too many times and insist on playing through, and curious bees. Depending on the venue, there may be a number of factors over which you have no control if your wedding is under the open skies. Weather is the obvious bugaboo. And so is ambient noise. It's not always man-made, either. I officiated at one wedding where the birds were so excited about the music being played that they joined in and nearly drowned out all other sounds. I also had to delay a wedding for almost a half hour when an enormous flock of birds landed in a tree under which the ceremony was to be held. The birds weren't moving, so we had to.

However, I will repeat my first statement: I love outdoor weddings. I would just urge you to consider your own likes and dislikes before you opt for the great outdoors instead of the relative safety of a hotel, chapel, or large living room. If you need every detail to be perfect, get married inside. If you don't, you may feel like you are on a camping trip wearing prom clothes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Etiquette -- It's Not the Law

My mother wrote etiquette books and was considered a true expert on the subject. Believe me, I know the proscribed manner for doing almost anything -- including when to set the book aside.

Etiquette came into being to help make interaction between people less stressful, and to give everybody a sense of security in knowing that as long as certain dos and don'ts were followed, everybody could be more comfortable.

Or, that was the general idea...

I have seen fistfights almost break out over what should and shouldn't go on at a wedding. Please take my word for it, no rulebook or tradition is as important as preserving the J-O-Y that is supposed to be the centerpiece of the occasion. If a bride wants her mother and stepmother to walk her down the aisle and all are in agreement, then that is what should happen. If a groom wants to walk his bride up the aisle, with the bride's father on the other side, then just be quiet and take in the smiles.

The bottom line is this: whatever is meaningful to the couple, short of a live sacrifice, should be absorbed with grace and good humor by everybody else. Moms, I'm looking right at you now, and I want you to repeat this mantra: "It's not my wedding, it's not my wedding, it's not my wedding."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Candle In the Wind

The unity candle has become an integral part of weddings. It has assumed a ritual action of its own, and is most frequently lit after the exchange of vows and the exchange of rings.

Outdoor weddings are also immensely popular, and becoming more so as couples being married look for ways to trim their budgets. Therefore, the trusty unity candle is being called into service in settings that are not completely stable in terms of wind velocity.

How can you be more certain that your flame doesn't flicker and die right there in front of your family and friends?

Replace the wick with one of those trick birthday candles that won't blow out. You may need to drill out the old wick of your candle, and please practice on an old generic candle before you wield either power or hand tools. But once you have replaced the wick, you are almost assured a constant flame, even if conditions are on the breezy side. If a full force gale or tornado arises, you've got more problems that a lit candle can help and you need to seek shelter -- where the candle will burn quite nicely.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Wedding Rose

If white surrounds us on this day,
then let the rose be red.
It speaks the truth:
Pure love from passion’s heart.
Petals soft and folded 'round
beauty left inside,
a miracle tomorrow.

May this day bloom as roses do,
when sun is
free of ice and fire.
And let the rose be red.
Sweet perfection in your hand,
flower holding flower.

© 2007, Jody Serey

Prayer for New Angel

Loving God, into Your tender hands we place one tiny child.

Her spirit has been Yours since the day she left the dark,
glimpsed the light, and knew the dark once more.

We honor her with what is ours to offer,
and remember that Your son was laid to rest in a borrowed place.

We look now to You to raise her up beyond all anger and despair.

Keep her ever in Your sight, a treasure for all times. She is Your pearl above price.

Surround her with love that never ends. Keep her in beauty and in peace, away from pain and fear. Be her guardian, her guide, and the comfort denied her on this earth.

Cherish her as we could not. Let her find in You a mother’s love and father’s joy.

Innocent and perfect, she is Your angel now.


copyright 2005, Jody Serey

A Prayer for Miss Pokey

If the last is first,
And peacemakers are blessed,
Then your place is at the foot
Of whatever angel meets us all
When we climb the stairs to
Where you’ll be.

Cherubims aside,
There is no heaven without friends
Whose four legs have walked
The rocky roads
That we have known, and
Stumbled on.

Let the saints
Do their work as well
As you have done yours.
Rest deep in the hearts
Of the ones who knew
Your soul.

copyright 2005, Jody Serey