St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Autumn 2020

Mask ON!

One of the many factors couples have to consider in planning a wedding during this pandemic is the wearing of masks.  For some, wearing or not wearing a mask has become a political statement. The medical experts among us say that it is a proven way to reduce COVID-19 transmission rates. Since I accept this as a good health practice, I choose to go with the “abundance of caution” approach.

The bottom line for me? The safety of all the ceremony participants, as well as our loved ones at home.

The following is an edited copy of an email exchange with one of my couples from this past August.

Hi Ruth!

I just wanted to check-in and make sure that you would still be able to do our ceremony in October? We are planning to have it and have a backup plan just in case our venue has to close.


Autumn Couple 2020

Hi, A. Couple.

It is good to hear from you!  Thanks for checking-in.

Yes, I am still doing ceremonies, (and) I’m glad that you’ve got a back-up plan because the ground is going to keep shifting under our feet for a while and anyone planning an event these days needs to be flexible.

All the best,



So glad to hear that you will still be able to officiate for us. Are you comfortable with officiating the ceremony without a mask on? Just thinking ahead for pictures and whatnot. We are leaving the choice up to our guests as to what they feel comfortable with, but we would like our main ceremony pictures to not be filled with them.


Autumn Couple 2020

Hi, A. Couple.

I can appreciate your preference to not have a lot of people wearing masks in your ceremony pictures. But I have been wearing a mask for all ceremonies I’ve officiated since the beginning of the pandemic. I feel a responsibility to my husband, and to anyone else I’m in contact with, especially at weddings. Officiants do a lot of talking at ceremonies. Without the mask, if I am unknowingly carrying the virus, I could easily pass it on to you, your families, and friends. And that is one wedding present you do not want.

All the best,


St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Spring 2020

An Inconvenient Pandemic

Well, I had pretty much given up on blogging, but all of this upheaval of couples’ wedding plans due to the pandemic has me thinking about a family story I heard while I was growing up.

But first I want to say that I know that this is a profoundly difficult time for so many people in our country and in our world, especially those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, those who have lost jobs,  those on the front lines caring for the sick, and those working hard every day to provide the rest of us with the basics we all need to keep going. A disruption in wedding plans is a small inconvenience, by comparison.

Of course, this is not the first time in history that couples planning their weddings have had to adapt to circumstances beyond their control. And it could be considered a dress rehearsal for how you will cope with other things that will inevitably come along in your marriage, things that you do not feel prepared for, and yet they are a part of the life you have been given. 

The family story goes like this: It was the turn of the century, the last century, that is. John and Bessie met at a Methodist tent revival meeting in the “Indian Territory Central District,” now known as Oklahoma. They fell in love, decided to marry, and picked a date based on when the circuit-riding preacher would next be passing through town. Little did they know as they chose their date that there would be two postponements of their wedding day. No one remembers what caused the first postponement, but it was shortly before the second wedding date that her family’s home burned down. Talk about inconvenient! Thankfully, no one was hurt. But John and Bessie agreed to again postpone until the next time the preacher was due.

As the third date for their wedding approached, so did a wave of measles. This was many years before there was a measles vaccine available, so Bessie and her family were quarantined inside their home. Unwilling to let this third wedding date slip by, they held the ceremony with John and the preacher standing on the front porch while Bessie and her family stood inside the house on the other side of the screen door. The date was February 17, 1904. It wasn’t the wedding that my great grandparents had planned or hoped for, but it was finally the wedding that they needed and celebrated!

As a professional Wedding Officiant and Celebrant, I am well aware that there is a range of difficult feelings and experiences within couples who have been long planning their 2020 weddings and are now being required to change those plans. Yet, within every crisis, there is an opportunity. The good news is that you may choose to use this as a time to really look at what is most important to you as you adapt and revise your plans to celebrate your loving commitment to each other. Ask yourselves: When you cannot have the celebration you want, what is the celebration that you truly need?

Finally, if you are only inconvenienced and frustrated by this pandemic, you may count yourselves as among the lucky ones. With a little bit more luck, your wedding during this pandemic may become one of those cherished stories passed on to future generations of your family.

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Winter 2019


As a trained and certified Life-Cycle Celebrant®, I love the opportunity to create a ceremony in collaboration with a couple, to tell their story well, and to celebrate their love in ways that are unique to them. Most of the time this takes place in a twenty-thirty minute ceremony with the couple surrounded by their families and various groups of friends. It is usually part of a longer day or even a weekend of events that often requires a tremendous amount of planning and more than a few dollars to pull off.

And then, at the other end of the spectrum, there are the “elopements.” These are wedding ceremonies which are short, on average five to ten minutes, and usually involve a very small number of people. There are many reasons why a couple may choose such a ceremony. Money is often, but not always, a contributing factor. Many of the couples I’ve worked with are planning to have a larger ceremony later on, months or sometimes even years down the road. 1z1a0162

Meanwhile, life happens! There may be a need to get insurance coverage for an uninsured partner, one may be in a branch of the military and has received orders to deploy, a student visa is about to expire, or (surprise!) a baby is on the way. And so many more…

Whatever the reason, every couple deserves a good ceremony to celebrate their commitment to love each other for the rest of their lives! I start off with a short, basic ceremony, which I will adapt when I learn if they want their ceremony to be secular or spiritual. And then I encourage them to add their own vows and readings if they want. Some hire a photographer to document the occasion, while other times a family member or friend with a camera or good phone can capture the moment.

I have had the honor to officiate at elopements in homes, back yards, restaurants, city hall, and in our beautiful local parks. The Grand Basin in Forest Park seems to be most popular among couples I’ve known, but any place that feels special to the couple will do.

Whether large or small, what nearly every wedding ceremony has in common is the sincere desire of the couple to take this huge leap of faith in each other, in building a future together. It gets me every time.

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Fall 2018

Drinking on Your Wedding Day

Recently I have been reading posts that couples have made on a variety of wedding websites regarding drinking on their wedding day. Most refer to the amount of drinking they did at the reception. Looking back, some were embarrassed at how much they drank, others felt that they kept it under control. And then there are those who drank a whole lot and felt that everything went just fine, until it didn’t…

Drinking alcohol is considered a natural part of celebrations for many people. There are those who cannot imagine a party without a few of their favorite drinks. Unless someone chooses not to drink for religious, personal, or health reasons, it is common enough for drinking to be an integral part of a couple’s wedding day. Am I stating the obvious?  JessieShaun 031717G

So if you are someone who is planning to drink on your wedding day, I am asking you to give it some thought before the big day and to consider staying sober for your wedding ceremony. Now, if this is already a given for you, read no further. But if you find yourself saying, “Whaaaat?!” then please read on.

Your ceremony is the heart of your wedding day. In that special time, you have set aside a few brief moments out of your busy lives to thoughtfully and deliberately share your joy over the choice of your life partner with your families and friends. In choosing to be married, you are making one of the most significant commitments a person can make, with repercussions far beyond anything you can see at this time. You are taking a leap of faith in yourself and in this other human being that you will choose to love for the rest of your lives. Uh, that’s kind of a big deal, don’t you think? It’s a commitment that requires “sobriety” in all its best meanings.

Maybe you want a drink before the ceremony to calm your nerves. If you are someone who can stop at one drink, no problem. If you have trouble in that area, you may want to consider taking a pass on that “one” drink. Once the ceremony is over, then go enjoy the rest of the celebration, with all the wonderful food and drink that is usually a part of such a significant event.

As your Wedding Celebrant, I want you to have the best experience possible on your wedding day. With my focus being exclusively on your ceremony, I care about how you will experience this moment when you marry your best friend. The clearer your head, the more likely it is that you will be fully present to your partner on this significant day when you celebrate your love for each other. I cannot think of a better gift to give the one you love!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Winter 2018

Your Love Story

When I read articles about making a wedding unique and personal, most of them tend to emphasize the externals like colors, venues, apparel, flowers, food, music, lighting, décor, and more. And while there is nothing wrong with creating a memorable and unique wedding experience for you and your guests through something like a great meal, a key piece of the day is often overlooked: THE CEREMONY.

Of course, sometimes a couple may not have a lot of choices regarding the elements of their wedding ceremony due to religious, cultural, or family traditions. But if your wedding officiant is a Life-Cycle Celebrant® like me, your choices for customizing and personalizing your ceremony are very nearly boundless.

One of the key ways to personalize a wedding ceremony is for the officiant to tell your story as a couple: how you fell in love, what you love about each other, why you want to make this life commitment to each other, and anything else that you believe is key to who you are as a couple. This is the heart of your wedding day! This is what you have invited your families and friends to celebrate. And it is one of my favorite things about being a Celebrant: learning a couple’s unique love story and helping them to celebrate that story with the most important people in their lives.

Sometimes when first asking a couple about their story they will claim that there isn’t much to tell. They are under the mistaken assumption that if there is not a lot of excitement or drama in their story, it is not of interest to others. But each time I hear a couple’s story, I find there is plenty of amazement to be had in learning about how two people discovered the beautiful souls in each other. Based on hundreds of wedding ceremonies I have officiated, I would bet that most of your guests will feel the same. PaigeEric 102415B

There are common elements to many love stories, like the feeling that these two people can be themselves with each other, the sense of feeling at home with each other, and the joy of deciding to be together. And there are unique elements like how the couple met, first date stories, and hopes for the future.

In many cases, the more personal your wedding ceremony, the more your guests will feel like they have been given the opportunity to truly celebrate what makes your marriage uniquely yours. And isn’t that what you have invited them there to do?

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Spring 2017

500 Weddings

Amazing. Since becoming a Celebrant in 2007, I have now officiated at five hundred wedding ceremonies! OliviaWeston 101715B

Have I become cynical or jaded? No, absolutely not, because I keep my focus on the unique qualities and the true beauty of each couple whose love and best intentions have led them to a decision to marry. Whether the ceremony takes place in a park, a chapel, the couple’s backyard, or the hottest wedding venue in town, it does not matter to me. The wedding ceremony is always about celebrating the commitment to love each other as spouses for “as long as we both shall live.”

So, from Paula and Tom, the first couple to take a chance on me as a novice Celebrant, to Patrice and Melvin, who have just asked me to officiate at their elopement later this month: Thank you, one and all, for trusting me with your marriage ceremony, the heart of your wedding day!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Fall 2016

“Off Season” Weddings

My husband and I were sitting with our coffee over a leisurely breakfast this morning. About half way into it, he looked at me in disbelief. “What? No weddings today?” As I look back at my 2016 calendar, the last Saturday I was not officiating at a wedding, attending a family wedding, or out of town for travel was April 16. Yep, my 2016 “wedding season” is over. This does not mean that I will not be officiating at any more weddings this year. There are still a few more on my calendar. But it does mean that the pace has slowed down dramatically!

For most couples planning a wedding, “wedding season” is a new expression. I know it was for me, before I began officiating. It did not occur to me that there might be some times of the year that are more likely to interest couples than others. I had assumed that June would be my busiest month. It’s not!  But I have learned that, at least in the St. Louis area, many couples are leaning more and more toward Spring and Fall for their ceremonies.

Lauren and Tom, at their "off season" wedding ceremony, November 5, 2016, at Silver Oaks Chateau.
Lauren and Tom, at their “off season” wedding ceremony, November 5, 2016, at Silver Oaks Chateau.

Off course, the process of deciding when to have a wedding is distinct for each couple. Whether your determining factors include getting some great outdoor photos, your favorite time of year, the travel needs of family, the availability of your preferred venue, astrological data, or any other considerations, you may be more or less tied to having your ceremony at a particular time.

However, if you are not tied to a particular date and time, and if you would like more options for just about everything (from flowers to DJs to Officiants), you may want to look at some off season dates. Off season in the St. Louis area tends to run from November through March, with a few variations, depending on the wedding vendor. Since fewer people get married during these months, more of the excellent wedding professionals whom you may want for your wedding day are likely to be available.

So, make any season your wedding season! Text, email, or call me to see if I am available for your date. If it is November through March, chances are pretty good that I am!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Fall 2015

Who Needs a Professional Wedding Celebrant?

This year, three of my nieces have announced their engagements to be married in 2016. I am thoroughly delighted for each of them, and I look forward to getting to know their future spouses as the years go by.

Many people who know that I am a Professional Celebrant who officiates at over sixty weddings a year simply assume that I will be officiating at my nieces’ weddings. But, in fact, it looks like I’ll be officiating at just one. Two out of my three nieces are active participants in a house of worship and they prefer to have someone from their pastoral leadership officiate. This is no surprise to me. Couples who are part of a faith community usually want their wedding ceremony to be a clear articulation of their community’s beliefs about marriage, and they often look to their pastors to help them to do just that.

Ruth with her niece, Rachel, in October 2007

As a Professional Celebrant, my role is similar to that of a pastor in that I work with couples to create a ceremony which is a clear expression of their beliefs about their marriage. The biggest difference is that, because I do not represent any singular religious creed or faith tradition, I am free to focus exclusively on the couple and on how they see their relationship with each other, as well as their relationships with their families and with the world around them. They may choose to use symbols and rituals from the culture or religious traditions in which they were raised. Or not.

With other couples, the choice may be to have an exclusively secular ceremony. But in every case, the key is to personalize the ceremony in such a way that we tell the story of the couple as they see themselves at this significant moment in their lives. The question I return to again and again with couples as we prepare their ceremony is this: Does this ritual / symbol / reading / action hold meaning for you? If so, then we consider using it in the ceremony. If not, it usually gets put aside.

Why not just have a family member or friend get “ordained online” to be your officiant? Lots of people are doing it. If you are just needing to get legally married, and have only a few people involved, this might be a way to go.

But if you are inviting guests and planning for a twenty to thirty minute meaningful ceremony, and if you believe that the ceremony is truly at the heart of your wedding day, then you would benefit from hiring a Professional Wedding Celebrant. Look for one who has training, experience, good reviews and excellent references.

Yes, I am totally biased in favor of those of us who are certified Life-Cycle Celebrants®, graduates of the Celebrant Foundation and Institute!  Of course, I know that we are not the only good officiants out there. But the certification and training we have is exceptional, our reputation is growing, and we deliver for our couples, time and time again.

So, who needs a Professional Wedding Celebrant? In 2016, only one out of my three nieces. And what about you? If you do not already have an officiant through a house of worship; if you want someone you can count on, with training and experience; if you want your wedding ceremony to be something meaningful and positive that your guests will talk about long after your wedding day: CONTACT ME TODAY!

St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Valentine’s Day 2015

This time of year I always get questions from curious friends about how many weddings I am scheduled to officiate on or near Valentine’s Day. My answer usually surprises them: Not many, and some years, none! From what I have seen, Valentine’s Day is a much bigger day for engagements than it is for weddings.

Jeffrey & Stephanie, Valentine's Day 2013

I have had a few, though. My favorite was on Valentine’s Day, 2013. With lots of work and careful planning, the bride and groom had turned their home into a beautiful wedding chapel, decorated in red and white. Surrounded by the love of family and friends, Jeffrey and Stephanie pledged their love to one another. It could not have gone better.

The most unusual Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony  for me was in 2010 when I was asked to officiate at a group wedding, co-sponsored by a local radio station and Windows Off Washington. When I received the phone call asking me to officiate I thought it was a friend playing a joke, at first. Then I figured out that the request was legit, but I hesitated. I did not want to be a part of a ceremony that was more about laughs and less about a meaningful celebration of marriage. But the more I talked with the event coordinator, the more I became convinced that the sponsors wanted to create an opportunity for the couples to truly and joyfully celebrate their love on Valentine’s Day. So I agreed to officiate. Forty-seven couples pre-registered for the wedding, but only seven showed up that day. Why? At least one reason was the weather. St. Louis woke up to a couple of inches of snow that Sunday morning. And you know how we are about snow…

Why not more weddings on Valentine’s Day? Well, the most obvious reason would suggest that the dicey weather in our northern hemisphere this time of year makes planning for anything that involves travel (wedding party and guests to the venue, the couple to their honeymoon, etc.) a huge gamble.

Valentine’s Day 2015 St. Louis weather forecast: Windy, clouds, snow flurries, high of 34F, with the temperature dropping throughout the day. And so, as I plan my wardrobe for tomorrow’s outdoor “short and sweet” wedding, I think warm thoughts about the other couples whose weddings I’ve officiated on this day in years past. I wish for them a truly happy anniversary, and an even happier life together!

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St. Louis Wedding Celebrant: Summer 2014

OK, now that we are past Labor Day, many consider summer to be over. Yet, with our recent heat and humidity surge, it still feels like summer here, and technically it can be considered summer until the autumnal equinox, right? Of course, during my years as a teacher, going back to work at this time of year meant that my summer was definitely over.

As a wedding professional, summer is my busy time of year and here in the St. Louis area, fall is even busier. Amazingly, I’m still getting inquiries about officiating in September and October of this year! Most of these requests are for days and times for which I’m already scheduled, so I pass them on to other local officiants, knowing that their schedules are nearly full as well, but hoping that the desperate couples can get lucky. Meanwhile, while officiating current weddings, I’m working on second and third drafts for my fall weddings, fine-tuning those ceremonies for which I am scheduled to officiate. It is good to have work, and I am grateful!

But I have been mightily distracted by the events in Ferguson these past several weeks since the death of Michael Brown. I have no answers, but I do have lots and lots of questions and concerns. I do not personally know any of the people involved, but I do believe that I am connected to all of them, because we are all part of the same human family. I pray for the family of Michael Brown, as well as for Darren Wilson and his family.

As a white woman, I do not know firsthand what it is like to be pulled over for “driving while black,” or any of the other indignities and dangers so many people are subjected to in my city/state/country because of their race. But when people are expressing their outrage and pain, I can listen and learn and look for opportunities to show support for those with the courage and tenacity to work toward changing those structures which seem to be making things worse for people, rather than better. The path is not a straight one, nor is it always clear, but I know that we can do better. 

I am encouraged by people all over the world for whom the events in Ferguson have been a wake-up call. Can things really be different this time? Yes, if we allow ourselves to be changed for the better. It won’t happen easily or quickly, but it can happen. How does it happen? One heart, one soul at a time. Mohandas Gandhi reminded us that we must “be the change” we wish to see in the world. Alright then, let’s get to it!

photo credit: <a href=””>theglobalpanorama</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

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