Bright Path Ceremonies

News and Insight on Wedding Officiants

Rites of Passages "how to move from one to the next"

Published 10/04/2016

As I write about "Rites of Passages", I will not refer to religion vs. spiritual since I believe "Rites of Passages" are moments in all our lives that brings us to the next stage as we mature. It's the natural progression of our human maturation.  It doesn't matter if you are religious or non religious, or if you are an atheist. Most ROP are obvious, such as births, birthdays, graduations, marriage, and death. Some are not as obvious such as starting pre-school, first relationship date, moving, first time being allowed to wear make-up, first date, first career job and even divorce. I don't understand how everyone is there for your wedding but no one is around when you get divorced. Divorce is a stage of life that shakes us to  our core. No one should be alone during that time and it should be celebrated for starting a new beginning with people who are close to us.

I have officiated over 200 weddings and only one couple that I married did not live with each other. It's a very open society and a lot of the rules have changed. I am not judging this at all and I do believe making the leap from dating to living with each other is one of those not so obvious ROP. For example: A very dear friend of mine in her 50's is dating a very wonderful man for the last year. They live several hours a part and the commute was starting to wear on them. They decided to make the relationship last, one of them had to move. My friend is the one who made the move and also changed jobs in the same area. She was exhausted not only from the move but also from the new job. She also was feeling off balance and over whelmed. Although the move is probably the right decision, she went from being single to living in a committed relationship similar to being married. There wasn't any engagement period. I think couples who decide to live with each other need to have some sort of ceremony to help with this transition. If there isn't an engagement towards marriage, what is it? Is it an engagement towards the engagement? Today people just call it-we live with each other. So what does that mean and what does that bring to that relationship? Living with someone should not be treated lightly. It's similar to being pregnant. I think the nine months being pregnant gives time to prepare for the birth. How would it be if one day we said I want a baby and the next day you had one. Even adoption takes time. We have baby showers to welcome in the new birth, we have engagement announcements to tell the world we are a couple planning on getting married. Maybe couples could have a "live in" party, making an announcement and celebrating with several friends/family members. A ritual could be added to the ceremony such as a "commitment box" where the couple writes their love for each other and what their hopes are for the co-habitating, etc. The box could be opened every 6 months or so to re-afirm their intentions. I know somewhere along the way one of them will want to marry.

Rituals such as this helps us stay on our paths. It gives direction of how we want to live and gives voice to our feelings. Ritual helps us check in, it can help bring clarity to a situation, it can also bring comfort and sometimes healing-which I will discuss in my next blog. 

Reimagining Rituals

Published 10/01/2016

As a officiant, I am not here to tell anyone what to practice or how to practice any religion or life path. However I can share what I am experiencing in today's global, fast moving, inclusive society as people celebrate life passages. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, Reimagining ritual can be threatening to religious institutions, since religion is suppose to be about the given. Since a large percentage of our population is moving away from organized religion we need to fill that void of feeling connected as a community. So instead of me referring to rituals, I will refer to Rites of Passages both traditional and invented. 

We undergo many passages in our life here on earth. Often times they can be unexpected, rough, confusing such in a loss of a loved one, sickness, destructive relationships-any situation that we don't see coming. We also see whats coming such as a birth, coming of age, marriage, growing old, going to school. We usually celebrate and gather as family and friends for the expected, such as birthdays, weddings, births, school graduations. When we celebrate with our tribe it highlights the individual and gives us validation that we are special. Without these rituals its just another day and after awhile if we don't highlight special moments in our life, we could feel alienated from others. I recently gave a birthday party to a very dear friend of mine who was turning 60. I invited a group of our friends and had a cake for her-we sang Happy Birthday. Typical birthday celebration, but she told me no one in her life ever gave her a birthday party, not even her parents. I was shocked and felt that there was a hole in her heart that has never been filled. Where did she get her validation as a person? 

I am sure in some way we all have felt alone, not noticed and there are ways to celebrate alone or with others. I will touch on this topic in my next blog. For now think of ways you have been validated especially thru a celebration. Think back to your childhood, did you have birthday celebrations, did you celebrate a school graduation. If you did how did you feel and if you didn't how did you feel?

 

Religion and rituals

Published 09/30/2016

I craft wedding ceremonies that are true to each couples beliefs and core values. One of the first questions I ask at my consultation is what tone do they want the ceremony to be focused on. 90% of the time couples reach out to me because I am a non-denominational minister outside of any  house of worship. They usually are not looking for a religious ceremony, but I have to ask and not assume. Most couples will tell me that they were raised a certain religion but are not practicing or attending a house of worship, and they are more spiritual in nature. With that being said what is the difference between Religion and Spirituality and why are people leaving their background of religion? My other question is if leaving the confines of a religion does this leave a void in our society-where do we go as a community to find connection? 

I know for myself, I was raised in a Catholic church, went to Catholic schools and most of my family and friends were Catholic. What I enjoyed most about being involved with the church was the community and the rituals that helped me feel connected. I loved the holiday traditions, the prayers, the rituals of baptism welcoming in a new member, Holy communion a sacrament that initiated me into the holy eucharist, confirmation was really a coming of age sacrament and then marriage where my husband and I receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. These rituals helped me feel accepted and safe. I had a place to pray and ask for forgiveness. As an adult I started to find these rituals slow to change with the times. The old rituals started to make me feel dis-connected and they made no sense to me especially with our society becoming global and mixed. Reimagining ritual can be threatening to religious institutions. Although I treat ritual traditions with respect, I challenge them and as an officiant I need to be able to create ceremony that a couple feels engaged in and relates to in our changing society. What I see happening is we have a void of what helps us feel connected as a community. Without a house of worship where do we go? In my upcoming blogs I will be addressing this issue and giving insight to what we can do to keep tradition, rituals and ceremonies current and meaningful.

Set Sail Wedding Ceremony

Published 06/01/2016

 

Wedding date: May 24, 2016

Venue: Adirondack II, Newport, RI

Photographer: Robinson Wedding Photography

Sailing on the Adirondack II, out of the Newport Harbor, was magnificent, but having the opportunity to perform a wedding ceremony on this Schooner, was an extra special opportunity. It was my first Set Sail Ceremony and the couple I married, couldn't have been nicer. It was the perfect backdrop since sailing has always been part of the brides and grooms life. The schooner is traditional in its appearance but modern in its design and construction. It represents antiquity meeting up with a modern day story.

They intentionally chose the Adrondack II for several reasons. The history of this schooner has all the elements of a turn of the century pilot schooner and would have looked right at home in the Narragansett Bay 100 years ago. Built for speed, pilot schooners were the coastal guide and rescue boats in the bygone era of sail. The primary purpose of the pilot schooner was to deliver a pilot (a seaman with knowledge of local waterways) to the incoming ships to guide them into safe port. This history is reflective of the job the brides' grandfather pursued in Germany.

As a writer and ceremony designer, I always look for metaphor that would relate to each couples theme. Of course there is so much to work with this theme. The ocean is this couples natural habitat where they feel most connected and at peace. Like water, as in life, and in love, it is ever changing, always inventing and re-inventing itself. Over the years their relationship has ebbed and flowed like the tide. Can you see where I'm going with this?

After spending time getting to know this couple, it was evident that they wanted a ceremony that was rich and full of ritual and included their families. They had only invited their immediate family, so I was able to include most of their guests so it was inclusive with everyone present. I suggested to honor their parents, and add readings that represented both heritages. 

Since part of their courtship was long distance, they wrote letters to each other. To continue this gesture, my suggestion was for them to do a love letter box Unity Ritual. They each wrote love letters to each other, sealed in individual envelopes and they did not read what the other had written. They created their own "love" time capsule. They sealed the box with a fisherman's knot, which is one of the simplest to tie, it is also one of the sturdiest. Every anniversary they will open the box, read the love letters and then add a new letter and reseal the box. 

It was the perfect touch to this theme. The ceremony was filled with their personality and it was a moment in time they will always remember.

 

Elegant Historic Mansions for a Wedding Ceremony

Published 05/31/2016

LYMAN ESTATE, WALTHAM, MA

Living in New England, there are so many Mansions that are now open to the public as venues for weddings. They make such elegant backdrops for couples to have their wedding, especially the ceremony. The highlight of having a wedding at a mansion, is you get to have the entire place to yourself, so the couple feels like a king or queen for the day. 

My recent ceremony was at the Lyman Estate, in Waltham, MA. The Mansion is one of the finest examples in the United States of a country estate following the principle design of 18th century English Naturalistic design. In the 18th and 19th centuries, large expansion of land and proximity to Boston made Waltham a popular location for country estates such as Lyman.

The couple I married also met and live in Waltham. This is the town they are building their life together-so to have this Estate, literally in their back yard is so perfect for them. The mansion is surrounded by acres of land, so you feel you are miles away from civilization but to realize that only steps away is the down town, bustling with people and stores. This couple is so cute and met each other at a scheduled "meet up", which is an organization that brings people together with common interests. The common interest for them was running. They not only got to be introduced to new people but also participated in something they both enjoyed-running. This community of like minded people have become all great friends and were all there at their wedding.

Of course I told their love story which was so sweet and they added the Hand Fast for their vows, added readings, etc. The one piece I had suggested was to add a Sand Ceremony. The groom had two children from a previous marriage and were not able to attend. I know this was a tender situation so I suggested to add a Sand Ceremony representing them at the ceremony. This is the wording I used;

"In the words of Mother Teresa, "Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do..but how much love we put in that action. For K and D, they promise not only to love and support each other through all the joys and trials of life, they also pledge their love, support and guidance to O and S, to serve them as parents and as friends through each day of their youth and far into the years of maturity. 

At this time K and D recognize O and S, and acknowledge that even though they couldn't be here , that they have a great significance on their wedding day in sharing in a Family Ritual.'

I then had them each have a bottle with different colored sand to represent the children and themselves. As they poured each child's sand into the main vessel, I talked about each child's personality. It was a lovely way to include the children without them being present and feel their energy. When they come to visit this couple, they will have the vessel on display to show them, that they are important and loved and were surely missed.