Thursday, September 24, 2009

NEWS: The Knot website/magazine's networking event at Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA

The Knot website and magazine's annual event was held at the Aquarium of the Pacific last night. Hundreds of vendors were in attendance, as you could imagine. Many people were difficult to approach, but some people were very kind. Although i am usually reluctant to participate in networking events, i am grateful to have been there, and i had the pleasure of meeting:

i also met Macheline and Eva from Red Velvet Occasions, Shauna? from East West Productions and Wendy from Just Wenderful. DJ services were provided by DJ Nahchey of DASH Entertainment, and catering by Savor/SMG Long Beach.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

WEDDING: Outdoor Ceremony at Kellogg West, Cal Poly Pomona CA


One of the most touching points of this ceremony was the presentation of the bride. When asked "Who presents Tava to be married to Jon?", Tava's grandfather replied "I do, her grandfather, in honour of her father David." There was also a corsage left on the seat next to the bride's mother in her father's memory.

As an officiant, i am constantly learning new things, whether to engage the audience, comfourt the participants, or in this case, to scope out possible auditoury issues or environmental noise problems...!?

At the rehearsal, the onsite coordinator warned of the potential for cows to moo, since Kellogg West is surrounded by Cal Poly's agriculture fields. However, the ceremony itself was interrupted by the screeching of tires and revving of engines, as an apparent racetrack is laid out just behind the hill, down from where the ceremony took place. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done, and the couple and their families had a good sense of humour about things.

Many thanks to Cori and her team at Kellogg West. Photography by __________ .

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

INFO: Wedding Officiants Should Know the Law!

Recently, there was a half-heartedly written, poorly researched article on Eventective about 'How to Choose an Officiant'. There are many such guidelines online, in magazines and in books. Unfortunately, almost none of these how-to articles address or advise asking the question:
**Even if an officiant is indeed qualified to perform/solemnise wedding ceremonies, does he/she know the family code or law pertaining to marriage?**
In other words, are there certain things required by the state in order for a valid marriage ceremony to take place? In the state of California, PLEASE note the following about the contents of a ceremony itself:

Section 420. (a) No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife.
The above pertains to the vows, for example.

Regarding the question 'Can I have a friend do it?', be aware that ordination is NOT the only qualification in some states. i can only speak for myself, as i am a qualified officiant in the state of California:

Section 400. Marriage may be solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18 years or older:
(a) A priest, minister, rabbi, or authorized person of any religious denomination.

Et cetera.

(Such a list of what one state considers as 'qualified' officiants does NOT necessarily apply to all states in the U.S.! )

ANY reputable officiant (including all experienced clergypersons) should immediately be able to tell you, what the state law or code is. The bottom line is, do some research about your own state's requirements for those who are allowed to authorize or solemnize a marriage...or hire an officiant who has done the research for you.

One last thing: online ordination is not only accomplished via the Universal Life Church. There are many secular organizations available.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

READING: David Rakoff's 'Wedding Toast' Poem from This American Life

i first heard this poem on the Frenemies episode #389 of This American Life broadcast in September 2009.

by David Rakoff

Nathan, at one of the outlying tables,
his legs tangled up in the disc jockeys cables,
surveyed the room as unseen as a ghost,
while he mulled over what he might say for his toast.
Though the couple had asked him for his benediction,
seemed at odds with them parking him here by the kitchen.

That he'd shown up at all was still a surprise,
and not just to him,
it was there in the eyes of the guests
who had seen a mirage and drew near,
and then covered their shock with a 'Nathan, you're here?'.
And then silence, they'd nothing to say beyond that.
A few of the braver souls lingered to chat.
They all knew and it wasn't a mystery
that he and the couple had quite an odd history.
Their bonds were a tangle of friendship and sex,
Josh, his best pal once, and Patty, his ex.

For a while he couldnt go out in the city,
without being a punchline, or object of pity.
'Poor Nathan' had virtually become his new name,
So he showed up just to show he was game,
Though his invite was late, a forgotten addendum
For Nate there could be no more clear referendum,
That he need but endure through this evening and then
He would likely not see Josh and Patty again.

Josh's sister was speaking, a princess in peach.
Nathan dug in his pocket to study his speech.
He'd poured over Bartlets for couplets to filch,
He stayed up till three, still came up with zilch.
Except for instructions he'd underscored twice.
Just two words in length, and those words were: be nice.

Too often, he thought, our emotions betray us,
and reason departs once we're up on the dias.
He'd witnessed uncomfortable moments,
where others had lost their way quickly,
where sisters and brothers had gotten too prickly.
He'd heard their babbling with stories of benders,
Or lesbian dabbling, or spot-on impressions of mothers-in-law,
which true, Nathan thought, always garnered guffaws,
But the price seemed too high,
with the laughs seldom cloaking hostility, masquerading as joking.

No, he'd swallow his rage and he'd bank all his fire.
He knew that in his case, the bar was set higher.
Folks were just waiting for him to erupt,
they'd be hungry for blood even though they had supped.
They'd want tears, or some other unsightly reaction,
And Nathan would not give them that satisfaction.
Though Patty a harlot and Josh was a lout,
At least Nathan knew what he'd not talk about.
I won't wish them divorce, that they wither and sicken,
Or tonight that they choke on their salmon or chicken.
I won't mention that time when the cottage lost power,
In that storm on the cape and they left for an hour.
And they thought it was just the cleverest rouse,
to pretend it took that long to switch out the fuse.
Or that time Josh advised me with so much insistence,
that I should grant Patty a little more distance,
that the worst I could do was to hamper and crowd her,
that if Patty felt stifled, she'd just take a powder,
that a plant needs its space just as much as its water,
that I shouldn't give Patty that ring that I bought her,
That in retrospect only elicits a 'gosh,
I hardly deserved a friend like you, Josh'
No, I won't spill the beans, or make myself foolish,
To satisfy appetites venal and ghoulish.
I will not be the blot on this hellish affair.
And with that Nathan pushed out and rose from his chair.
And just by the tapping of knife against crystal,
All eyes turned his way, like he'd fired off a pistol.

'Hmm, Josh, well, Patricia, a few family and friends,
I'll say a few words, if you will, before everything ends.
You've promised to honor, to love and obey,
We've quaffed our champagne and been cleansed by sorbet,
All in endorsement of your hers and hisdom,
So now let me add my two sense worth of wisdom.
I was racking my brain, sitting here at this table,
Until I remembered this suitable fable,
That gets at a truth, though it may well distort us.
So here with the Tale of the Scorpion and Tortoise.
The Scorpion was hamstrung, his tail all aquiver,
Just how would he manage to get cross the river,
'Why, the water's so deep' he observed with a sigh,
Which pricked at the ears of a tortoise nearby.
'Well, why don't you swim?' asked the slow-moving fellow,
'Unless you're afraid, I mean what are you yellow?'
'It isn't a matter of fear or of whim', said the scorpion,
'But that I don't know how to swim'
'Ah, I didn't mean to be glib when I said that,
I figured you were an amphibian'
'No offense taken' the Scorpion replied,
'But how bout you help me to reach the far side?
You swim like a dream, and you have what I lack,
what's say you take me across on your back?'
'I'm really not sure that's the best thing to do' said the Tortoise,
'Now that I see that it's you. You've a less than ideal reputation preceding,
there's talk of your victims all poisoned and bleeding.
You're the Scorpion, and how can I say this, but well,
I just don't feel safe with you riding my shell.'
The Scorpion replied, 'What would killing you prove?
We'd both drown, so tell me, how would it behoove me,
to basically die at my very own hand,
when all I desire is to be on dry land.'
The Tortoise considered the Scorpions defense.
When he gave it some thought it made perfect sense.
The niggling voice in his mind he ignored,
And he swam to the bank and called out, 'Climb aboard'.
But just a few moments from when they set sail,
the Scorpion lashed out with his venomous tail.
The Tortoise too late, understood that he'd blundered,
when he felt his flesh stabbed and his carapace sundered.
As he fought for life he said, 'Tell me why you have done this,
For now we will surely both die?'
'I don't know!', cried the Scorpion,
'You never should trust a creature like me,
because poison I must. I'd claim some remorse or at least some compunction,
But I just can't help it, my form is my function!
You thought I'd behave like my cousin the crab,
But unlike him, it is but my nature to stab.
The Tortoise expired with one final quiver,
And then both of them sank, swallowed up by the river.

The Tortoise was wrong to ignore all his doubts,
because in the end friends, our natures will out.

Nathan paused, cleared his throat, took a sip of his drink,
He needed these extra few seconds to think.
The room had gone frosty, the tension was growing,
Folks wondered precisely where Nathan was going.
The prospects of skirting fiasco seemed dim,
But what he said next surprised even him.

'Soooo, what can we learn from their watery ends?
Is there some lesson on how to be friends?
I think what it means is that central to living a life that is good, is a life that's forgiving.
We're creatures of contact. Regardless of whether we kiss or we wound,
Still we must come together.
Though it may spell destruction, we still ask for more,
Since it beats staying dry, but So Lonely on shore.
So, we make ourselves open,
while knowing full well its essentially saying,
'Please, come pierce my shell'

Silence doesn't paint the depth of quiet in that room.
There was no clinking stemwear toasting to the bride and groom.
You could have heard a pedal as it landed on the floor.
And in that stillness Nathan turned, and walked right out the door. 

(from A READER's discussion posted on . Thank you!)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WEDDING: Outdoor Ceremony at Serra Cross Park near Grant Park in Ventura, CA

CONGRATULATIONS: Kelly and Brandon!

The ceremony was held high atop Grant Park, overlooking the entire town, at SERRA CROSS PARK in Ventura, CA. These two surfers had their own take on the blending or unity ceremony by combining water and sand to represent the ocean they both love. There was also a reading of the Apache Blessing and a prayer led by an aunt.

Booking this venue seems easy and the view is absolutely stunning.

The rehearsal dinner and reception site also served as headquarters for the couple and wedding party. They rented a beautiful home in Ojai for this purpose. The family also chipped in and cooked/served the food for the entire occasion. What a great way to save money, and guarantee a very special, unforgettable time! Photography provided by JIMMY CALLIAN PHOTOGRAPHY.

View Unique Southern California Wedding Venues in a larger map

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

INFO: Real Answers to Real Simple Questions

Recently on Twitter, an article from the Real Simple magazine website was floating around. The topic was WHAT TO ASK YOUR WEDDING OFFICIANT. Usually, i dislike writing in the first person, but in this case, it is here are my answers to the Real Simple :

1. Can you give us the ceremony we want?
YES, you MAY write your own vows, and i encourage you to design your own ceremony. i have an extensive collection of resources and research materials to assist you in the process. i have NO restrictions or requirements (with the exception of performing a wedding which would result in the harming of human beings or animals).

Do you want to "Get a feel for the officiant's manner, tone of voice, and spiritual nature"? Whenever possible i meet with all potential couples to see if we 'click'. If you are planning a ceremony from outside the area, a phone call and many emails usually does the trick.

2. What's your experience?
Easy answer: i have been performing weddings and other ceremonies for other people for the past three years. i average two to three a month, because this is not my full-time occupation. i am happy to supply you with as many references as you need!

3. Are you flexible?
Easier answer. YES, i travel. YES, i have a backup network of officiants in case of emergency.
i am very adaptable and open to any changes from the usual. In fact, anything deviating from the norm is encouraged! And, i can do backbends and touch my toes without bending my knees.

4. What are your credentials?
i am ordained to solemnize marriages in the state of California. i am also a certified Celebrant and i am a member of NAWO . i am familiar with California Family Code and completely qualified according to the requirements of the state of California, to perform your marriage ceremony and 'make it legal'.

5. How often will we meet?
As mentioned above, i meet with each couple for a no-obligation consultation to see if i am the right officiant for them. i am always available by phone, chat/AIM, sometimes via Twitter and ESPECIALLY by email. <--- Please note, this email link is spam-proofed; please change the [AT] to @. If schedule and geography permit, i sometimes meet with a couple one more time, to go over final details. i do run rehearsals. i perform pre-marital counseling but it is not a requirement. In fact, due to conflicts of interest, i do not tend to counsel couples who have hired me to marry them.

6. How much do you charge?
Fees vary, usually between $249 and $699 and INCLUDE the following: ALL travel and mileage; rehearsal; script writing; ceremony performance; filing of marriage license (less any fees to expedite shipping or processing); and a keepsake copy of the wedding ceremony text. A contract containing charges and services will be gone over in detail at the time of our meeting or phone call.

7.Will you be joining us at the reception?
Thank you, i would love to! :)

As the article says: "The officiant sets the tone for your wedding so do your homework to make sure it’s a ceremony you’ll love." More than anything, this is my absolute goal, to make sure you have YOUR Ceremony, YOUR Way. For more information, please contact me at A NON-DENOMINATIONAL CEREMONY.