Thursday, May 23, 2013

Baseball Lovers' Wedding

       As a wedding celebrant living near Cooperstown, New York, I am frequently asked to perform weddings for baseball lovers. This spring I had my first opportunity to perform a ceremony right in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The bride and groom came all the way from California so they could take their vows among the artifacts of the most famous baseball players in history. 

       The ceremony took place in the rotunda of the museum. Guests included several friends who live in New York City, and the owners of the Baseball Bed & Breakfast where Donn and Mari were staying. 

       Here Mari is promising Donn "a life of love, laughter, and baseball, especially to get us through whatever curve balls life may throw us."

       Here I am reading about the symbolism of their wedding rings: "A ring is a circle and the circle is sacred and absolute. It is the circle of the planets and their paths, of the sun and the moon, of time and timelessness. Of a round baseball that, in a game of catch, is always returned to the thrower."

Here's the happy couple with 5 of their friends!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fall Wedding on Lake George

       One of my favorite weddings last fall was held at Crest Haven Lodges on Lake George. Right off the bat I was happy getting there because I didn't have any trouble finding the venue! This is not always the case,  so arriving early at a wedding venue without the flustered nerves that accompany a difficult-to-find site is always a plus. Since I arrived early I got to catch some of  Andy and Melinda's photography session in this beautiful setting.

       I especially enjoyed Andy and Melinda's wedding ceremony because of its unique elements, such as a song written and sung by the bride's mother, and their romantic love story that included Andy's proposal idea to tuck Melinda’s engagement ring in a bed of rose petals inside an Easter egg. 

Melinda and Andy taking their vows

       Best of all was the chemical reaction ritual that these two scientists performed, combining two solutions, sodium bicarbonate and acetic acid, to represent the blending of their individual personalities. The combined elements created a bubbly reaction, symbolizing how their marriage will create a new and exciting relationship that can have a much greater influence on the world than they would have as separate individuals.

       For the grand finale, Andy stomped on a glass to signify that the bond of his and Melinda’s love will be as difficult to break as it would be to restore the shattered glass. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wedding Processional Options

bride escorted by her children
       There are so set rules for the processional in a modern wedding. Many couples like to follow the traditional scheme where the groomsmen line up with the groom at the front of the venue site and the bridesmaids process single file down the aisle, but there are other options. The groomsmen and bridesmaids can walk side-by-side down the aisle, or they can alternate. These days many couples are choosing groomswomen and bridesmen for their wedding parties in order to honor their close friends or brothers and sisters of the opposite sex. Again, they can process in single file or pairs. Some couples will ask their wedding party to dance down the aisle, as did my clients, Todd and Kristina. That got all the guests in the mood for a fun wedding before it had even started!

       Traditionally, the bride walks down the aisle with her father, but I've had brides who processed with their mothers or with both parents, with an uncle, a brother, or a son. (The funniest processional was the one where the bride's two-year old son practically dragged her up the aisle because he wanted to get it over with!) Some brides choose to walk alone, or with the groom. After one of my couples walked together to their ceremony site near a waterfall, I said: 

Patrick and Jeanette walked side by side to this spot, where they will take their wedding vows, because they are entering this marriage together, just as they have done everything together on this journey of life, for all the years they have been in love. Not only do they walk beside each other through life’s adversities and joys, but they travel together, hike and climb mountains, run, camp, kyack, and bike together! 

       When I was married in 1977 I also walked down the aisle with my husband-to-be, but now my favorite processional style is the Jewish tradition in which the groom walks down the aisle with both parents and the bride walks down the aisle with both of her parents. The Jewish tradition also includes both sets of grandparents. This is the complete processional order:

The Rabbi and/or cantor
Grandparents of the bride, who are then seated in the first row
Grandparents of the groom, who are then seated in the first row
Groomsmen, walking in pairs
Best man
The groom, who is escorted by his parents. 
Maid or Matron of Honor
Ring bearer and/or flower girl 
The bride, escorted by her parents

bride escorted by her parents

       Non-Jewish couples can follow this order if they like the idea of including all of their grandparents and parents. Some grooms just like to walk their mothers to their seat before they take their place at the ceremony spot. If the bride is going to process with her father only, it's always nice to have her mother escorted by a son or other family member. It's a good idea to decide who is going to walk with who when before the rehearsal to cut down on last minute confusion. Practice the processional a couple of times to ensure that everyone will know what to do on the wedding day!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Native American Wedding Vase Ceremony

       The traditional Native American wedding ritual in which the bride and groom share water from a two-spouted vase is gaining popularity with modern couples. The ritual fits nicely in an outdoor ceremony such as Pat and Julie's farm wedding that took place in front of a field of ripe corn.

       In this ceremony, the bride and groom take turns drinking from a single vase to symbolize the life they will share as husband and wife. The two separate spouts remind them that they will remain two separate and unique individuals even as their lives become one.

       As Pat and Julie drank from the vase, I said: "Pat and Julie, as you share this life-sustaining water from two spouts, so may each of you share contentment, comfort and happiness from the common cup of your marriage. May you find life's joys great, its bitterness sweetened, and all things enriched by your companionship and love."

       Indian Wedding Vases come in a wide variety of designs and make a beautiful memento of your special day. Vases can be purchased from My Spiritual Wedding

       Here are a couple of examples:

       After your Indian Wedding Vase ritual a Native American blessing would be appropriate. There are several of these that are used in modern wedding ceremonies. This one is a Navajo Wedding Blessing: 

Be swift like the wind in loving each other.
Be brave like the sea in loving each other.
Be gentle like the breeze in loving each other.
Be patient like the sun who waits and watches
the four changes of the earth in loving each other.
Be shining like the morning dawn in loving each other.
Be proud like the tree who stands without bending in loving each other.
Be brilliant like the rainbow colors in loving each other.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oneonta Wedding Venues

       The most popular venue for Oneonta weddings is probably the Holiday Inn where I have performed several weddings, both indoors and out. A gazebo can be rented for outdoor weddings, while an arbor can define the ceremony space in one of the banquet rooms. The photographs below all feature weddings I performed at the Oneonta Holiday Inn.

        My daughter's wedding reception took place at the Holiday Inn, 
and rooms were provided for the bride and groom and their attendants  to get ready in before the ceremony, even though it took place at a church. We were very pleased with the beautiful table settings and service provided by the staff. Below are photos of my daughter and her husband on the Holiday Inn dance floor, and two of their guests enjoying the appetizers.

       Another venue choice for Oneonta weddings is the Brooks Roost Banquet Room at the famous Brooks House of Barbecue. This log cabin style building behind the main restaurant features a stone fireplace which makes a lovely backdrop for the ceremony. Guests can gather on the large deck in nice weather. Gary and Meredith were married on a rainy day, but the sun came out after the ceremony so they could have their picture taken on the deck. 

       Not far from Oneonta, in East Meredith, is the West Kortright Center where couples can have an old-fashioned country church wedding even if the ceremony is non-religious. I have enjoyed performing several weddings at this beautiful site. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Finger Lakes Wedding Venues

       Central New York offers many elegant venues for weddings, both indoors and out. Each wedding season that I spend as a celebrant I get to perform ceremonies at some I haven't seen before! In addition to the farm and park venues mentioned in previous posts, and those in Cooperstown, some other favorites have been:

       Ventosa Vineyards, on Seneca Lake in Geneva. Yvonne and Noah were married here beneath a huge oak tree near the vineyards. Afterward they celebrated in the beautifully decorated banquet room.

       The wedding I performed at La Tourelle Resort & Spa was an interfaith Jewish-Christian ceremony. This venue, located just outside Ithaca, features a breathtaking vista behind the gazebo where weddings take place, and a mammoth chess game for a unique photographic opportunity!

       I have had the pleasure of performing two weddings in the garden at John Joseph Inn, also near Ithaca. This gorgeous venue provides 13 acres of gardens, lawns, and orchards to stroll around and pose for pictures. The ceremony I performed there for Jon and Tais bespoke an international flavor with guests attending from all over the world.

Tais and Jon
       At Aurora Inn in Aurora, couples can wed right on the banks of Cayuga Lake. Pat and Jessica's wedding took place under a tent, so guests were shaded from the searing sun, but the lake sparkled like a million jewels behind us. 

            Springside Inn is a spectacular wedding venue in Auburn, close to Owasco Lake. Greg and Mandy's wedding took place in front of the gazebo on the sprawling lawn in front of the inn.

       These are just a few of the wedding venue options in the Finger Lakes region of New York, an area rich in natural beauty, historic inns, and cultural sites. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New York State Park Weddings

Adrienne and Brian

       Central New York is a great place to have an outdoor park wedding, and I have had the honor to perform ceremonies at several of the prettiest parks in the state. My first park wedding was held at Chenango Valley State Park  where Brian and Adrienne were married on a grassy meadow surrounded by trees in a tree-themed ceremony. The portable arbor lent a ceremonial feel to the otherwise natural surroundings. 

       Hilary and Connor had planned to marry near the waterfall at Robert H.Treman State Park near Ithaca. These plans were foiled by rain, but the park pavilion served as a beautiful ceremony site with the round window above the flower-laden ledge behind us. The guests were happy to be warm and dry, and later the rain let up so the newly-weds could still have photographs taken at the waterfall. 

       Ithaca is home to numerous parks and waterfalls. A beautiful site for an outdoor wedding is Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, just a ten minute drive from Ithaca. You can have a small, intimate ceremony like Yana and Igor did at the upper level of the park.

Yana and Igor
        Jeanette and Patrick were able to have more guests at the lower level of the park, but we had about a 20-minute walk to this spot below the falls. After the ceremony we walked back to the reception under a pavilion near Cayuga Lake. Like many of my couples, Jeanette and Patrick wanted their ceremony to reflect their love of nature, and they had spent many happy hours hiking in this park while getting to know one another. 

       You can't even see the waterfall in this picture because New York had been suffering a drought before this wedding. So the rain was truly a blessing and a fortunate sign for this bride and groom!
Jeanette and Patrick