ruth ellen hasser wedding officiant

In 1868, Henry Shaw gifted land to the city of St. Louis which eventually became the 289 acre park we know as Tower Grove Park. Located on the near south side, it is home to over one million visitors a year who meet there for picnics, to play sports, to walk pets, to listen to concerts, and to shop at the Saturday farmers’ market. Oh yeah, you can get married there, too!

The favorite sites for weddings are The Music Stand, Piper Palm House, Stupp Center, and the Pool Pavilion. Occasionally, couples will use a smaller pavilion to have an informal ceremony and picnic reception. If you are looking for charm, history, character, and a unique setting for your wedding, check out the possibilities at one of my favorites, Tower Grove Park.

Thanks to Donnell Probst Photography for the great shot!

Rachel and Chris, wed on The Music Stand during a rainstorm

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Covering  1,371 acres of prime city real estate,  Forest Park is known as the “heart of St. Louis.”   And how could it not be?  Opened in 1876 and host to both the 1904 World’s Fair and some 1904 Olympic events, this jewel of a park contains something for everyone, including  The Missouri History Museum, The St. Louis Art Museum, the world class St. Louis Zoo, the Muny Opera, the St. Louis Science Center, and so much more.  One could easily spend a week’s vacation there taking advantage of its many attractions.

Whitney & Scott, with World's Fair Pavilion in background

For couples getting married, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.  Lots of St. Louis couples go to the park to pose for engagement and wedding photos.  But have you considered actually having your ceremony in the park?  It seems that every year since I began officiating at weddings in 2007, I hear from couples who have selected yet another exciting location at which to be married in Forest Park: The Jewel Box, the Zoo, the Muny, the Grand Basin, the World’s Fair Pavilion, the Visitors’ Center, Cabanne House, the Golf Course, etc.  So if you want the heart of your wedding day to take place in the heart of St. Louis, head on out to Forest Park!
(Thanks, AMKAR Photography, for the great shot!) 


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When it comes to performing wedding ceremonies, I will go almost anywhere in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. But I have to admit a certain ease with and even a preference for venues in the city. I suppose it has everything to do with the fact that, although I am not currently a resident of the city of St. Louis, I grew up in south city and I have spent most of my adult life as a resident. Today I want introduce you to Carondelet Park.
Located in the southernmost reaches of the city and containing nearly 180 acres, Carondelet Park is bound on the north by Holly Hills, south by Loughborough, east by I55, and west by Leona. The third largest park in the city of St. Louis, Carondelet Park has a long and rich history dating back to its founding in 1875. For those scouting for an outdoor wedding location, be sure to check out the Boathouse Pavilion overlooking Boat Lake. I have officiated at a number of ceremonies there and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience each time.

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Rock and I were married the day after Thanksgiving. It was a simple ceremony and church hall reception, but it was all that we needed it to be as we marked the official beginning of our marriage. This year we have the good fortune to be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary. We are counting our blessings, for sure.May this Thanksgiving find you and your family with too many blessings to count!

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We had agreed to meet at a coffee shop in Edwardsville last month. It was the simplest ceremony I’ve ever done. But they wanted it that way.

Jeff and Ivan had just celebrated their 14th anniversary as a couple, and now that civil unions are available in Illinois, they wanted legal recognition for their well-seasoned union. I asked them why not have a bigger ceremony and celebration? They smiled and replied, maybe next year for their fifteenth anniversary. We finished up the paperwork and they headed back home to celebrate their union with a few close friends.

It is a privilege and a blessing for me to officiate at ceremonies in which two people vow to love each other for a lifetime. Whenever someone takes a stand for love, whether in a wedding ceremony, civil union, or commitment ceremony, I find that my own commitments to loving relationships are strengthened. Ivan and Jeff, thank you for standing up and celebrating your love!

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Sep 20 2011

Wish Upon A Wedding

Wish Upon a Wedding is the world’s first nonprofit organization that provides weddings & vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and other serious life-altering situations, regardless of sexual orientation. With over 20 chapters across the country, the organization has granted 30 wishes since launching in January of 2010.

From September 15th til October 31st, auction doors will be open to bidders across the nation in the largest charity wedding event of its kind! Featuring hundreds of high-end and unique experiences from the industry’s finest, Bid Your Wish for Wedded Bliss has previously been hailed as a luxury shopping experience like no other, drawing thousands of savvy bidders from coast to coast.

With many items starting at just $50, hundreds of amazing wedding deals await the lucky couples who visit the auction.

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Aug 31 2011

The Essentials

It was a small, simple gathering of family and friends. I stood on the porch of a lovely Illinois winery, wind at my back, with a spectacular view of the river. But it was the couple who held our attention. Their vows were straight from the heart, well-rehearsed but still spontaneous, celebrating the delight they have found in one another, the treasure they see standing before them, promising to love each other, come what may.

As I pronounced them “husband and wife,” the kiss was followed by a spur-of-the-moment dance to music carefully selected for its heart-felt lyrics. The essentials were there. The wedding was complete.

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One of the more pleasant surprises for me in being a Celebrant is just how much I enjoy meeting with couples for a complimentary interview. This usually happens after a couple has contacted me, either by phone or email, expressing an interest in getting to know more about what I do and how I can help them to have a meaningful and personalized wedding ceremony. When the couple is ready to meet, we schedule a meeting at a mutually agreeable date and time, usually at a St. Louis Bread Company, Kaldi’s, or other café. Meeting together gives the couple a chance to ask me any questions they may have as we talk through an outline of options for their wedding ceremony. It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other a little, helping all of us to get a feel for how well we might work together, should the decision be made to hire me as their officiant.

After four years of working as a Celebrant, I find I still look forward to meeting each new couple, learning something about what makes them unique, and enjoying the delight of those times when I am asked to share in one of the most important days in their life together!

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They returned to where it all began. Allison and Chris chose to celebrate their marriage commitment to each other in the magnificent setting of Graham Chapel, on the Washington University campus where they met as undergrads.

Check it out: Allison is wearing a family heirloom wedding dress, originally created for her great-great Grandmother Nellie Campbell Shellito in 1884. She is the 5th bride in her family to wear Nellie’s wedding dress. May the good fortune and happiness of the preceding four marriages in which the dress was worn be bestowed upon Allison and Chris!

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They found me on while looking for an officiant who would work with them in creating a ceremony that’s “…fun and represents who we are,” said Trisha when we first spoke. Her background is Catholic; his is Jewish, while both share an interest in Buddhist practices. I thoroughly enjoyed creating their ceremony with them and celebrating the joy they have found in one another with all who gathered yesterday morning outside the Butterfly House.

Congratulations, Justin and Trisha!

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