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Ceremony Planning Advice

» Ceremony Planning Advice

Having a glorious time; wish you were here!

And they will be if you send your guests a “save the date” card before the invitations to your New Jersey Wedding ceremony go out. This is a great idea on many different levels. If your wedding is on a holiday weekend, or at destination location, you can help them plan their mini vacation and put reservations in place for their hotels. It can also give you an early heads up on just who can come and who absolutely cannot, so you may be able to add some guests you thought you might not be able to accomodate.

Your date save can set the tone of the wedding, depending on the type of stationary you decide to use; I got a wonderful antique postcard from one of my brides who is in a “destination” wedding spot in upstate New York. It reminded me how much fun I’m going to have with this couple, who have both an appreciation of historic sites and a real solid sense of humor. You can design your own at my favorite company, MOO!, who prints all kinds of neat stuff for very little $$$, or your invitation artist will be happy to help you with a Save the Date that is unconventional, fun, and a welcome spot of brightness in this cold, grey winter season!



Help, I need somebody! (A New Jersey Wedding Officiant!)

Not just anybody! No, you need a New Jersey wedding officiant, and a cool one at that. Someone who will listen to you, learn about you, and help you write a wedding ceremony that really expresses your relationship; the inspiring, the funny, the poignant. (The religious, non-religious, humanist or non-denominational.) How, how, how can I find someone great to do my wedding ceremony, you’re thinking. Where can these fabulous wedding ministers be hiding?

Funny you should ask; I have six colleagues (besides myself, of course), that are all wonderful, unique, professional and fun to work with. They come from such different backgrounds; a singer, a photographer, two teachers, two actors and a stage manager. They’re professional, creative and they are all wedding maniacs.

How can I find these people!!! Well, it’s easy. Go to NJ Vows Now and you can see all of us in our native habitats. We perform ceremonies in New Jersey (of course) New York City, New York State and Pennsylvania. (Five of us are registered as New York City wedding ministers, and at least two of us do wedding ceremonies in Pennsylvania.) We create weddings for every kind of space, from backyards to mansions, this week or net year. (If any of you would like to have us go to Aruba, on a whim I’m sure we’d manage that, but you might want to have your legal wedding ceremony here!)

Your wedding ceremony should be as much fun to create as it is to experience,and all of my colleagues and I will strive to make that happen. Congratulations! Now call us!



Repeat Roses; Spreading Joy One Bouquet at a Time

flowers
Your florist did a fabulous job; there are roses and peonies and trails of ivy everywhere. Now the wedding reception is over and those beautiful flowers have no where to go!

Actually, they do! A wonderful non-profit called Repeat Roses will connect you to a recently engaged couple who will come and collect all those posies, rearrange them and bring them to hospitals, elderly care facilities and other places where a little cheer goes a long way! It’s a wonderful way to share your joy!

Jennifer Grove, the founder, was gracious enough to invite me to be part of their mission, and contribute as an ‘expert’ You can read the interview here!

(And this beautiful image is from Melissa Kruse Photograph)



Something Old, Something New!

How about a wedding themed bar for your reception; something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue! (We can leave the sixpences and shoes out of this one….) Limiting your bar selections keeps the cost down (just add beer, wine and soda) and adds a quirky, personal touch. All that good luck wedding ceremony lore will be covered too! (I’d just open the bar AFTER the wedding ceremony!)

drink-2
A nice cooling Tom Collins (lemon juice, sugar, gin and lemon garnish) could cover your something old (or my personal fave, the Negroni with gin, vermouth and Campari with an orange slice). (A great resource for inspiration is “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails”) New? Cosmos (vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, lime juice) or any other designer martini that works with your color scheme. With the multitude of flavored vodkas and designer juices available, you’re sure to come up with something fantastic; and then name it after yourselves!

Borrowed can be covered by something from your family’s heritage; Russian Vodka, single malt Scotch, Tequila or maybe a classic Black and Tan, the classic British pub drink that floats a layer of pale ale atop a base of stout! It’s easy to make and a fun combination for your beer lovers to try. And for blue, of course, there are dozens of choices; Blue margueritas, Blue Hawaii’s, Blue Bays and any number of great concoctions, perfect for your beach or lakeside wedding.



To DIY or not to DIY……

like planning and paying for your starter home. The obvious similarities? It is a huge purchase. It is an expression, perhaps, the first, of your couple style. AND you will be spending a lot of money in a situation where you may not feel that you’re informed enough to feel totally comfortable.

So many factors can contribute to your decision, but perhaps the most important (or close) is your budget. Every couple has one, sparse or generous. While it may not be the only thing on your mind, it certainly looms large. No one wants to walk away from such an important purchase with buyers’ remorse, fearing that they have made an expensive purchase that wasn’t the right choice. In the case of your wedding, those multiple expensive purchases contribute to a day that cannot be done over; it truly is a “once in a lifetime” experience.

Decisions based solely on price can cause regrettable (and avoidable) disasters on your wedding day. Like the classic joke, “The food was terrible, and the portions were so small!”, five hours of an obnoxious DJ or an out of tune band will ruin your reception, no matter how many mirrored balls, inflatable guitars or ‘dance motivators’ they throw in for “free”. Five thousand photos that are carelessly shot, amateurishly lit or cropped and delivered late are not going to capture your wedding day in a better way than 500 artistically created pictures that really tell your story. (And there is just no way to know what great shots were missed.) A cake no one eats is well, a cake no one eats……and a ceremony everyone yawns through is a terrible way to start this precious moment in history; yours, your friends’ and your families’.

When you buy a house, a common phrase is, Location location location! Buy the most house you can afford in the best neighborhood, not the most expensive house in a less than desireable neighborhood. How does this translate to your wedding? Easily. Instead of finding the cheapest professional in any category, strive to put together a team of the people that you truly want to create your wedding, and then work with them to see just how that can happen.

Every wedding professional who truly is that, a professional, wants to work with the couples that want to work with us. We want you to understand why we charge what we do, how we are uniquely qualified to be a part of your wedding, and how we might work together to stay within your budget. Your photographer might suggest a shorter period of coverage (maybe just before the ceremony and then part of the reception, rather than spanning the entire day, from makeup to the last crumb of cake). Your invitation artist might deliver your wedding stationary in components, ready for your bridal party to assemble. Your officiant, (that would be me!!), might offer to do a quick run through of your processional before the wedding rather than on a separate day. (I also offer a printable, decorative copy of the ceremony readings that some of my couples have used instead of favors.) All of these are invisible ways to include the vendors who will truly enhance your days.

None of us want our couples leaving their reception thinking that their day was vastly more expensive than they hoped; that is not the memory we are striving to create. Great, experienced, enthusiastic wedding partners are worth every penny that you’ll spend on them, and they’ll help you spend it wisely. That is our wedding gift to you.



“Hold These Hands”

handfasting
A traditional Celtic handfasting can be one of the most visually stunning and spiritually meaningful elements of your ceremony. Many of my couples include this ritual; the juxtoposition of this ancient common law rite and our modern vows invites us to consider the different kinds of promises we make and how they illustrate our relationships. This ritual can also include people who are not part of your bridal party, your parents, or friends.

A wonderful resource for information about this romantic and evocative ritual is handfastings.org. There, you can find different ceremonies, read about the history of handfastings, and find officiants across the country who are legally ordained and available to help you create a memorable service for your wedding or civil union.



Gimme Shelter

No, it’s not going to rain on your wedding day. It’s going to be a beautiful, French Blue sky day with several floaty little clouds and a bird or two, flying in heart shaped formation over your New Jersey ceremony.

Or maybe not. It’s the “maybe not” factor that we’re need to address. The bottom line is this; if you’re planning your ceremony (with your New Jersey Wedding Officiant, damn, I’m smooth….) and/or your reception in a beloved backyard, a park, a field, or the parking lot of the Walmart where you met (yes, I’ve done at least one of each…), you need to be covered. Literally. And the tenting is going to be a significant chunk of your budget, so you want to get in touch with that vendor early in the game.

If you’re in Jersey, my favorite tenting mavens, Dave and Mike from Taylor, will come to your site and measure, and then let you know how they can cover you. Your florist (or your handy relatives) can decide to drape tent poles in greenery, hang lanterns from the crossbeams, and otherwise festoon this giant white (yes; white; let’s not be having any yellow and white car sale striped tenting for your wedding, okay?) with decor that fits your personality and your setting. Two or three days before the wedding, the structure will be set up and it will all, suddenly, become real~!



“Are you a wedding minister or what?”

My clients ask me this question all the time; “What are you? Are you a minister, a Justice of the Peace? A ship’s captain?” This is the answer; it’s not the quickest answer, but it’s the correct one.

I am a Life-Cycle Celebrant®, trained at the Celebrant Foundation and Institute in Montclair, NJ. I started my coursework their after my seminary and grad school. It offered me something that neither could; explicit training in creating and performing ceremonies.

My colleagues and I have each worked hard, making sacrifices of effort, time, and tuition to earn that title. That title matters, and it’s a title that differentiates us from the myriad of other officiants that you might be considering. It means we’re uniquely qualified to marry you; and then welcome your babies and the possibly guide you through the passing of a loved one or beloved pet. We offer—PERSONALIZED ceremonies for EVERYONE, regardless of their beliefs, heritage, gender, or the occasion. [*Of course, sign the paperwork according to your legal designation.]

We create beautiful, personalized ceremonies for people like [you, your son/daughter, grandchild, coworker, friend]. Life-Cycle Celebrants® believe everyone deserves the dignity of a ceremony that is personally meaningful and reflects who they are.

In New Jersey, most of us are also ministers, which makes us legal to marry you. The effort towards legal recognition of Celebrant status alone has started here, but the goal is for us to have it everywhere eventually—in every state and province and country where we practice.

For now, all you might need to know is that your officiant is legal and capable of marrying you in New Jersey; able to write and perform the perfect ceremony for you. And that’s fine. But the reason I can do that, and probably one of the reasons you’ll choose me for your wedding, is because I’m a Life-Cycle Celebrant. Congratulations!



Whoopie!!!! What a Great Wedding Dessert!

Easter-Egg-Cream-Sandwiches-OR
Are these the cutest things ever? I’ve always loved Mr. Food, the cheerful TV chef, but when I saw these I fell in love all over again. I instantly thought weddings (because I always think weddings). (You can get the recipe here.) I think they would be adorable for a dessert buffet or as a takeaway favor, or as a little snack before a morning wedding ceremony. Yum!!!! And wait until you see how EASY this recipe is!


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