Hearts Aflame, Minds Confused



Allison and Holly and baseball.

Following the Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage, my friends Allison and Holly have finally decided to get hitched, and asked me to perform the ceremony.

They’re both excited to be marrying each other, but more than a little conflicted about entering into the institution itself. As Holly said, “Let us know if you have any words of advice or things to keep in mind. We’re taking this very seriously yet we’re both ambivalent about marriage and not very sentimental, and I think that is bearing out in our approach.”

This is what I said in my reply:

I hear you about your conflicted feelings. I think the thing to remember is that this, first and foremost, is about the two of you. While you may not be very sentimental, you did happen to bump souls, and you’ve chosen, quite happily, to be together as lovers, friends, and life partners. You take joy in hanging out together. You have fun together. You adventure well together. You look awesome in tuxedos together. And you love each other in a way which gives you a universe of intimacy between you.

You’re both brilliant, powerful, seriously no bullshit women, and you have managed to entwine your lives in the same way that whole galaxies can interweave and pass through each other – with eddies of gravitational attraction and total transformation – while still remaining utterly intact. You have a Big Red Love, and that’s what really matters.

No, the government shouldn’t have Word One to say about the “legality” or “legitimacy” of relationships. Nor should any other kind of institution. No, our culture shouldn’t have its undies in a bunch about any kind of sexuality. It’s utterly absurd. But that’s just the way it is. Just like the fact that we have to pay taxes and allow ourselves to age and die with a modicum of grace, and accept the reality of Fox News and doofusy people like Scott Walker, Donald Trump, and the KKK.

Well, you know what? Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all. Play the game. As Robert Heinlein said, rub blue mud in your bellybutton if that’s what everyone else is doing, and then get on with your lives. You’re at the fulcrum of a remarkable moment in our cultural history. And not only that, you’re an intimate part of it. So, enjoy it. Love each other. Eat cake. Party hard. And then get up in the morning and go do more great things.

It’s truly how I feel. Marriage is what happens between two people as they’re living their lives together, and very little to do with what happens at the altar, or as a consequence of a piece of paper being signed.

However it’s also a part of our culture and legal system and that emotional part of our lizard brain which barely knows from rational.

So, we follow our hearts and make our peace with the contradictions. Some of us make it legal. Some of us could not begin to be bothered.

But life is a hard and challenging and frequently struggle-filled business. Finding someone you love, who makes your toes curl and your heart sing and your life a little happier…that’s something to be celebrated one way or another. It just is.

Slipper-Sliding Away…

IMG_3761Amy and Andrew met while taking a class at Johnson State College. The attraction was immediate. They started dating. Amy got pregnant. They decided to get married. Fairly straightforward trajectory. Or as they told me, “We’re pretty laid back people.”

They gathered a bunch of their closest family and friends at Nye’s Green Valley Farm Bed and Breakfast in Jeffersonville, and held the ceremony in a gorgeous refurbished barn on the property known as The Apartment

When I arrived, everyone was hanging around, eating food…


…Comparing Amy’s pregnant belly with her sister’s (who’s a month or so farther along) and gazing out at the gorgeous winter landscape.


I also noticed that this was a Shoes Off place and everyone was adhering to the rules – even Amy, who was decked out in a gorgeous dress, and bedroom slippers.


Seriously. Slippers.


I told her I’ve had brides in Crocs, Wellies, cowboy boots, and barefoot, but slippers were a first.

Well, actually, there were a couple people in shoes – most notably, another sister, for whom her heels mattered more than the refurbished pine floors:

IMG_3748Not me, though. I had my formal wool Darn Tough Socks on.

IMG_3767I swear, I wouldn’t have made it this far through the winter without them.

Anyway, ceremony pulled off with nary a hitch and I wish these two – and their soon-to-be little baboo – all the best!


Thousands Of Words

1000 words

In going through my files, records, archives, and phone pix, I realized that I have a lot of wedding shots from ceremonies which I never managed to post anything about. The Officiant’s Life can be a busy one!

So, I thought I’d share a little Gallery Of The Woefully Ignored. Ignored they are no longer!














Of What Cloth?


Most of the time, when clients contact me, my “spiritual, but not religious” emphasis seems to make a lot of sense. Other times, folks have questions about what I am or am not willing to do in the context of their ceremony – or if there are state-level rules around what has to be in a ceremony.

In that vein, I got an email this morning from a prospective bride named Tracy asking me: “As far as religious aspects of the ceremony are there restrictions? I probably would just do a bible verse etc, but didn’t know if you couldn’t mention certain things or give a blessing.”

It’s a great question – and a terrific opportunity for me to clarify a number of things about Vermont’s wedding laws:

  • Vermont has no waiting period, blood test, or witness requirements.
  • Vermont has no rules about what can or cannot be in a ceremony – or if an actual ceremony even needs to happen. As long as the license is signed, you’re legally married.

As for MY rules, I really don’t have any. My job is to help couples have the wedding they want, and to serve that cause. I’ve had folks want a fully Bible-based ceremony, I’ve had people who didn’t even want God in the same zip code. I’ve had Pagans, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Sci-Fi Nerds (which, in fact, DOES count as a religion), Tea Aficionados (also a religion), Dog Lovers (DEFINITELY a religion) and pretty much every shade of what I’d call Tolerant Christian.

I’m pretty happy to read whatever couples want and include whatever rituals (or musical numbers) they feel they need to call their ceremony complete. The only place I think I’d draw the line would be ritual animal sacrifice and blood-drinking. So go forth and be who you are! I’m happy to come along for the ride!

Donde Estas Yolanda

Yolanda and Dinora came out to my house to get married yesterday. Of course, as a huge Pink Martini fan, I can only think of this song when I hear the name Yolanda!

Well, in the past, that was the case. Now I’ll still be humming that song, but I’ll be thinking about these two as well.

Yolanda and Dinora

Yolanda and Dinora

Yolanda is from Spain, and Dinora’s family is from Mexico. They’ve been together almost 15 years, and have been through an enormous amount, including a transcontinental romance, reactions from the more conservative members of Dinora’s family, as well as Yolanda’s ongoing F2M Transition.

Fortunately, they’re still going strong. So much so, that while they came out to my house to get their marriage license signed, they didn’t really think they’d need a ceremony, just a pen.

To their surprise, in the moment, getting married actually felt like a Seriously Big Deal, and they wanted some kind of spontaneous ceremony after all. Which, of course, was fine by me. I’m up around the 250 mark these days, and if I can’t pull a wedding out of my ear at this point, then maybe I need to find another line of work.

Of course, the tricky part was that Yolanda only speaks Spanish – a language I only have dribs and drabs of, mostly thanks to Sesame Street and a few folk songs like Guantanamera. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do too much talking in English, and force Dinora to spend her time translating the ceremony for Yolanda.

So, I mostly repeated back the story they’d just told me about their lives, congratulated them for having gotten this far, asked them to speak their vows to each other, and pronounced them married! It was enough to get Dinora (who had been thinking about their wedding only in purely practical terms) crying her eyes out and seriously threatening the integrity of her non-waterproof mascara.

I take no credit, of course, for any of that. They’ve done all the hard work. But, honestly, these two lovely people are exactly the reason why I’m an Officiant. No relationship is easy. Everyone has to work at making love last. Everyone has to participate actively in the creation of a conscious, healthy, functional partnership.

And helping make that hard-won moment of Legal Union as easy, stress-free, and meaningful as I possibly can is a never-ending source of joy.


Buena suerte Yolanda y Dinora!

Seasick At The Boat House

This is a performer named Seasick Steve. I thought it'd be nicer than a shot of someone yerking off the side of a boat.

This is a performer named Seasick Steve.
I thought it’d be nicer than a shot of someone yerking off the side of a boat.

I just performed the wedding for Steve and Jennie (names changed to protect the innocent and/or embarrassed) at the Burlington Boathouse.

The rehearsal was a pretty smooth affair with plenty of loving, friendly people and the kickiest little flower girl named Madeline – a child considerably older and wiser than her 4 years might belie.

Because the bride and groom were also on the young side (early 20s), before I left, I made a point of reminding them NOT to party too hard that night. I’ve had pasty, hung-over couples approach me at the altar before. And I can tell you that whether or not YOU think it’s obvious that your parents are holding up your rode-hard-and-put-away-wet self as you stagger down the aisle, for the rest of us, it is, shall I say, rather…apparent.

Anyway, they assured me they’d be well behaved. However, when I got to the Boathouse the next afternoon, Steve was off in a corner with his head between his knees. His team of Fellas claimed that someone must have slipped Steve a roofie the night before, as they really hadn’t had that much to drink.

I went over to Steve, who also swore up and down (or rather left and right – up and down were more than he could manage) that he hadn’t been on a pre-show bender.

Whether or not that was entirely the case, what was abundantly clear was that poor Steve was a raging bundle of nerves, and could barely sit up straight, much less pull his shaky, tuxedoed bod to his shiny, black-clad feet.

Kai, the Best Man, did a heroic job of trying to keep Steve focused, but Our Groom had the Requisite Hurl into a garbage can anyway. Actually, it was a recycling bin. Something about which the staff at the Boathouse were none too pleased.

I immediately directed Kai to go get some gum or breath mints, as there was no way I’d have Steve kissing Jennie with that particular mouth! Kai wisely managed to come back with gum and a whole bottle of Listerine, which seemed a sage and prudent choice.

As the Bridal Party and guests started arriving, Steve and I moved to the space near the altar, with Steve leaning against the railing, only making a feeble attempt at complete verticality. Conscious of issues around post-modern gender equity and personal identity, I didn’t want to tell him to Man Up, though I was sorely – sorely – tempted.

Finally, searching for some inspirational narrative that would bring Steve firmly to his feet, I said, “Look! Michael Jordan won an entire playoff game with the flu and a 105 degree fever. YOU can stand tall for six minutes and get married. Do it for Jennie.”

To his credit, Steve did – quite literally – rise to the occasion, though his vows were spoken in a barely audible whisper. To be fair, though, so were Jennie’s.

Honestly, I think they were both just terrified. And I get it. When I got married I had all kinds of questions about what being married would mean. What would it mean to my career and my identity as a woman? What kind of choices would this most important choice lock me into making for years to come? I spent several weeks before my wedding completely flipping out. So, I have a great deal of sympathy for both of them. I really do.

All those nerves, all those doubts – they’re all completely normal and natural. Though I’d encourage anyone struggling with any level of premarital jitters – or concerns of any kind – to go get help. Don’t suffer through your fears alone. Find someone to talk to – preferably a counselor or other neutral party who doesn’t have a huge agenda about the outcome of this, or any other part of your life.

It’s really ok to be scared. But you don’t have to go it alone.

Polka Dots and Gardening Tips


photo by Karen Pike

I was contacted months ago by Nancy and Stacy from Kentucky. They’ve been together for over 20 years, and finally, after kids raised and homes bought and businesses run, decided to get married. They said they’d be bringing Stacy’s parents along, and might it be possible to get married at my place, given all the great photos they’d seen of the river, the covered bridge, and as my husband likes to call it, The Pretty.

As we were planning the specifics of their wedding (which included dressing up in 1940s swing style – to which I contributed my own sartorial effort) they sent me a message saying that not only were Stacy’s parents coming, but their friends Cherie and Lynn (pronounced Lee-yun, southern style), who have been together 20-something years as well, had decided to come along and get married too!

So on the appointed day, they all showed up! Stacy’s parents were lovely, and gave me a bunch of agricultural advice, including using a mixture of flour and sugar to keep the moths which produce giant green worms off my kale. Stacy’s father was also one of the most handsome 80-something men I’ve ever seen. As you can see, he just rocks a hat (as does his daughter).


Stacy and Nancy had met when their kids were all in band together. Cherie and Lynn, on the other hand, met at a gay bar where Lynn was a bouncer. Even though Lynn was 18 years older than Cherie, they hit it off so well that Cherie moved in with Lynn after the second date.  And BOY! do they still love (and have the hots for) each other! It was an inspiring thing to see.


The other thing which really moved me about meeting them all was an offhand comment Stacy’s mom made about who would have thought she’d ever be in Vermont celebrating her daughter’s lesbian wedding. She and her husband are pretty traditional southern folks, and I imagine they’ve had to do a little mental reorientation over the years. But their love for Stacy and Nancy is very real, and speaks, I think, to the infinite capacity of our hearts to expand and encompass everyone who needs to be loved.


Some people, of course, won’t get there. But many people will, and they’ll surprise you with their gentle acceptance and kindness. And great gardening tips.

Thanks to Karen Pike for once again providing kick-ass photography!


Seriously. Not Psychic. But…


As has been documented in these pages before, while I, in no way, consider myself psychic, I do happen to have a quirkily uncanny sartorial karma. It manifests in my ability to wear pretty much exactly the right thing to a wedding. Now, when I know what colors the Happy Couple have chosen, then wearing the right thing is essentially a gimme.

But when I’m meeting up with a couple of Elopers, you never know what threads they’re gonna be sporting, and whether I’ll be essentially ok, or a resident of Hard Clash City. Most of the time, though, from orange dresses to fishnet stockings, I manage to match like a champ. How? I dunno. Don’t ask. It’s a gift.

Today’s wedding of Jon and Julie was no exception.

Julie and Jon had driven up from Rhode Island at the last minute with their dog Maggie to find some sweet spot somewhere in Vermont to get hitched. They weren’t sure where they wanted to do the deed; perhaps Burlington or at my house in Charlotte. They finally settled on taking a hike up to a mountain lake outside of Brandon.

photo 4

That would have been fine, but for the fact that I’m suffering from a cold right now and my energy level is down around my ankles. My sinuses and I are NOT really in the mood for a hike.

Fortunately, they were very accommodating and found an Interfaith Nature Path outside of Ripton, complete with a small stone labyrinth. Flat, short walk, shady in the trees…easy peasy.

photo 3

The labyrinth was lovely and heartful, and even had a stone in the center with a basket on it where people make offerings in thanks. It was really perfect. They loved it, the photographer loved it, Maggie the Dog loved it.

photo 2

So it was pretty cosmically perfect anyway, but this is where I also feel the need to note the fact that, with nary a hint of preparation or coordination, I managed to match them pretty darn well.

photo 1 Like I said, it’s a gift.

Snake Wedding On Snake Mountain

Laura and Brendan contacted me about performing their wedding up atop beautiful Snake Mountain in Weybridge. I’d been there to visit friends who live on the East side of the mountain before, but never wandered up the West side, which looks out over Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.


I met Laura and Brendan in the parking lot, and along with Laura’s brother Tom and Tom’s friend Jerry.

NOTE: Tom and Jerry are not their real names. As has been remarked upon before in these pages, I have a swiss cheese brain and have just forgotten who they really are. But I figure Tom goes well with Laura, as those are the names of the brother and sister in “The Glass Menagerie.” And Tom and Jerry…


Not to mention that was the original name for a little duo which later became known as Simon and Garfunkel:


Anyway, we all set out up the trail.


And to our great surprise, one of the first things we encountered on Snake Mountain was…a snake! A lovely Eastern Garter Snake taking advantage, I’m sure, of the first truly warm day of spring.


This is not the Actual Snake Mountain Snake. I didn’t get my camera out fast enough. But it’s basically what Snake Mountain Snake looked like. I’m sure there are individual differences, but there wasn’t time to check for piercings or tattoos.

While Snake Mountain is hardly an arduous hike, not only was it the first truly warm day of spring, it was also the first truly HUMID day of spring, and despite the filmy dress, poor Laura was wearing her hair long and her leggings wooly. There were many stops to adjust:


For which I was grateful, being a non-humidity-loving gal myself (not to mention a little out of shape from the long, cold winter).

One of the things I discovered along the way is that Laura just completed her master’s degree in Library Science, and that while still looking for a library job, she’s currently working on an organic farm – which she loves. And Brendan is an arborist, who used to work with my friend John Swepston. Which means that, like John, Brendan can do this:


John Swepston, being truly hot and macho. John’s wife, by the way, is the amazing wedding photographer Jennifer Kiewit, whose work has oft been profiled in these pages as well! Small world.

Tom, it turns out, is a photographer, so it was handy to have him along. And Jerry does PR for a New York State Senatorial candidate. Said candidate used to be a TV news guy, and apparently has better name recognition than the incumbent. Let this be a lesson to all political contenders…

After about an hour of mid-grade sweating, we made it to the top, and paused for a while to admire the view:


I also felt the need to admire Laura’s pretty pink pedicure, which just looked fantastic with both the rocks and her bouquet!


I performed the ceremony while Tom and Jerry took pictures. Then we toasted the happy couple with a bit-o-bubbly:


As you can see from Laura’s jacket, it didn’t stay steamy and sweaty for long, spring weather in VT being the ever-mercurial animal that it is.

We got in one last shot for posterity’s sake:


In which I am, for once, NOT the shortest person in the photo!

Again and again, I find myself so grateful for the opportunity to do something which gets me to visit places I might never have seen and meet folks I’d never have encountered.

The news is so often full of bad things and bad people or good people doing bad things or having bad things happen to them. It’s just an emotional relief sometimes to get to be a part of something which is nothing but positive. Nothing but hope and love.

Spotlit by Thumbtack!

If you’re not familiar with Thumbtack, it’s a website where one can find local resources and services of almost any kind.  And if you’re a resource provider, like, oh, say, a Wedding Officiant, it can hook you up with potential clients.

Every once in a while, they will do a profile of a particular service provide from a selected geographic region, and in the realm of Wedding Officiants Near Rutland, Vermont, they have most kindly chosen to profile me!

They picked one of my all-time favorite photos to display – taken by the inimitable Karen Pike:

And their representative Ashley Brown wrote up a lovely profile of me and my business.

They’ve been nothing but supportive and encouraging, and I deeply appreciate the level of respect and detail they brought to the table as we were putting this profile together.

Hopefully, they can help provide you with a valuable service as well!