Each time I “pronounce” a couple, I am a bit in awe of what they have just agreed to do and to be for one another. But every once in a while I am surprised by the emotions that show up in me in that moment, as they did recently at the wedding ceremony of Sara and Marlon.
I suppose it has everything to do with the fact that Sara grew up across the street from me and my husband during the sixteen years we lived in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. Our families attended the same church for many years, she participated in the church youth group when I was an adult facilitator, and we carpooled together for a year or so to the high school she attended as a student while I worked there as a teacher.
And although she was absolutely stunning when she walked down the aisle toward Marlon as Etta James sang “At Last,” the tears didn’t catch up with me until that moment at the end:
“Sara and Marlon, by the love that has brought you here today, by the vows you have exchanged, and by the integrity of your commitment, in the presence of these witnesses here and in the presence of God, it is my pleasure and my honor to pronounce you husband and wife.”
Photo by Arsenia Tate
The other day a friend sent me a link to a video of a wedding ceremony in which the best man tripped as he was stepping forward to deliver the rings. It happened at that wonderful, tender moment, just after the bride and groom have exchanged marriage vows, and just before they offered their rings to one another. Not only did the trip and fall look painful for the best man, he took out the bride and the officiant on his way down. To make things worse, they were standing on what looked like small concrete platforms over a pool of water, much like you might find here in the Missouri Botanical Gardens. So not only did the bride and the officiant go down, but they fell backwards into the water. Yikes! Talk about an awkward moment…
Note to self: Never perform ceremonies standing with my back to water.
Today’s crazy winter weather reminds me of Jamie and Dan’s recent wedding at The Conservatory in St. Charles
http://www.gardenwedding.com/. We had freezing rain the night of the rehearsal, causing some members of the bridal party to take rooms nearby, rather than risk the slippery trip home. But on the night of their wedding, it was 20 something degrees outside, clear and cold. Inside the beautiful and heated tropical glass gardenhouse, all were warm and aglow with the joy and love of the newlyweds, captured so beautifully by Ryan Gladstone Photography
Congratulations, Jamie & Dan!
As another Thanksgiving rolls around, I find I have much for which to be grateful. As far as my Celebrant work is concerned, I am deeply appreciative of the fifty-two couples who entrusted their wedding ceremonies to me this year. Each one unique, each one a delight. Do I have an amazing job, or what?
And, speaking of weddings and Thanksgiving, my husband and I were married the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1983. Of course this means that our anniversary falls on Thanksgiving Day from time to time. So, this Thursday we will celebrate our twenty-seventh year of marriage. Time does fly, when you’re having fun!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
I met Emily and Edis in late August after their original church wedding plans had fallen through. They were a little concerned, with less than two months to go, that everything could still come together for their October 2 wedding. But with a lot of hard work on everyone’s part, their ceremony at Piper Palm House in Tower Grove Park was just beautiful.
As you check out the photo from that day, notice the most nontraditional aspect of their wedding: no bridesmaids!
Congratulations, Emily & Edis!
Every once in a while, a couple surprises and delights me with a reading selection for their wedding ceremony that is outside the traditional and even less traditional readings with which I have grown familiar. Will and Rachel did just that a few weeks ago with a selection from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book, Strength to Love, written in 1963. Enjoy!
“The meaning of love is not to be confused with some sentimental outpouring. Love is something much more than emotional bosh. An overflowing love which seeks nothing in return, is the love of God operating in the human heart. Love is the most durable power in the world . . . the most potent instrument available in mankind’s quest for peace and security. The strongest man-made empire has crumbled and burned to ashes. But the empire of God, built solidly and majestically on the foundation of love, is still growing.”
The Lourdes Grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois was just the right setting for Kim and David to say “I do!” On a warm late summer evening, surrounded by candles, flowers, family, and friends, the bride and groom glowed as they exchanged vows, rings, and kisses.
Congratulations, Kim and David!
Angela Pechenino Romo sent the following testimonial and photo:
“We used Ruth Ellen Hasser from St. Louis Ceremonies for our May 22, 2010 wedding at the St. Louis Zoo. Ruth Ellen was basically a pinch-hitter for us—our original officiant decided to take a sabbatical and kindly arranged for us to have Ruth Ellen stand in instead. Being as I was in California attempting to plan a wedding in Missouri, we didn’t meet right away, but corresponded by e-mail for a few months until I was next in town. We first met at a St Louis Bread about 2 months before the wedding, and the moment we did, it felt like we’d been friends for years. She was very kind and considerate and she certainly helped me turn my ‘I want a simple ceremony’ sentiment into a lovely and special celebration. We corresponded via e-mail, sending ideas and scripts back and forth about 3 times before we were both satisfied that my groom and I had what we wanted. The groom and I waffled about having a rehearsal the day before the wedding until a couple of weeks before the big day, and when we finally decided that we needed to have one, Ruth Ellen was nothing but understanding and gracious, and showed up with a smile to run our short but sweet rehearsal. The ceremony on the day of the wedding went off exactly as we had discussed, and she never veered from our agreed-upon script. Through the entire process, she was calm and helpful, and my groom and I never once had any doubt that she was the correct person to marry us. We would certainly still be married if another person had performed the ceremony, but Ruth Ellen really made the day a special one.”
They chose one of my favorite readings for their wedding: Robert Fulgham’s “Union.” I think it is a favorite of mine because, among other things, it shows an appreciation for the importance of both words and ceremony in our lives. The reading concludes with this thought:
Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.
Valerie and Jon, thank you for allowing me to witness your crossing of that threshold. Congratulations!
When planning an outdoor wedding there is always the concern that it might rain and ruin all of the dreaming and hard work that goes into having a good ceremony. Well, this was one wedding where the rain actually became a part of the ceremony in lovely and unpredictable ways.
Everyone was ready and in place for the 5:00 PM ceremony when, at 4:50 PM the skies opened up. It was a hard, driving rain so we scrambled and scrunched together on the bandstand hoping to wait it out. When, after twenty minutes the sky was as grey as ever and the rain had let up very little, we decided to have the ceremony right there on the bandstand.
Somehow the guests rearranged themselves to create a space and the processional began. The unplugged musicians played as the bridesmaids processed, umbrellas in one hand and flowers in the other. Rachel was escorted by her parents to where Chris, the groomsmen and I were all waiting. The intimate scene took on an almost mystical quality as we conducted the ceremony so carefully planned by the bride and groom, accompanied by the rain and the wind and the good wishes of all in attendance.
Donnell Probst Photography captured the romance and beauty of this couple and the amazing day in their stunning images. http://donnellprobst.com/
Congratulations, Rachel and Chris!