Cannabliss!

Photo by Monica Donovan

Now that Vermont has legalized recreational cannabis use (starting July 1), I’ve no doubt that a number of folks will consider Vermont as a destination wedding locale of a very different kind!

Hemp touches adorn a sweetheart table at CynEvan Farm in Addison, VT. Photo by Monica Donovan

Certainly Vermont’s long agricultural history, our numerous artisans, and our deep commitment to social justice will likely make our canna-wedding options as beautiful, luscious, and personable as as the wedding pros of our Brave Little State can muster!

Already we have herbalists like Lauren Andrews of AroMed creating cannabis-based skin care products, food vendors like ZenBarn and Monarch and the Milkweed cooking up CBD-infused delicacies, a number of cannabis-friendly wedding venues, and a wide range of massage therapists and yoga studios that include CBD in their offerings.

Once legalization is official on July 1, no doubt recreational cannabis will enter the nuptial picture in full force.

Photos by Jewels Gray, Photography by Jewels

Still, rules are always changing and as Culture Magazine reported recently, vendors are going to have to bone up on the most current legislation to make sure they’re operating within the scope of the law.

In fact, the challenge in Vermont right now is that while we’ve legalized for personal and medical use, we haven’t yet created a commercial market with a complete system of taxation and regulation.

So, if you’re interested in a cannabis-themed wedding, want a little bud to smooth some jittery pre-wedding nerves, or hope to have smokables and edibles be part of your reception, it’s best to ask your vendors up front about what it will take to responsibly and legally incorporate cannabis products into your day.

As it happens, I have a day job with a cannabis advocacy and news organization called Heady Vermont, and am fairly well connected in the industry. Plus, there’s a growing overlap between wedding folks and the ganja world, and Vermont is already a pretty small place to begin with.

Which is all to say, if you questions, please ask! If I don’t know the answers, I’m probably one degree away from someone who does!

Jewels Gray, Photography by Jewels

Tips for Planning the Perfect Honeymoon

A fantastic guest post from the marvelous Aimee Lyons from DIYDarlin:

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a bride (or groom) to be. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! Wedding planning can be one of the most beloved and special times of your life, even if it does get a little hectic at times.

Even with all the excitement of planning your upcoming wedding, there’s another event you’ll also want to consider: your honeymoon. After your big wedding day, you’ll undoubtedly want a chance to relax and unwind as a couple. The last thing you want is to experience any unexpected stress while honeymooning with your new spouse.

Luckily, there are several time-tested tips for planning the ultimate, stress-free honeymoon:

Plan in Advance

I know you’ve already got a lot on your plate while planning your wedding. That’s completely understandable. However, it’s still important to put some thought into your honeymoon.

Pre-planning will help make your trip stress-free. Be sure to actually schedule some time for making honeymoon plans. Start planning as soon as possible and set realistic deadlines to keep yourself on track.

Talk to your spouse about what’s important to each of you. Do you want an island getaway or a cabin in the mountains? Do you want to fly to the other side of the world or is something closer to home more your style?

If you’re planning a destination wedding, you might want to have your honeymoon in the same location. Either way, your honeymoon is one of the first major decisions you’ll make together as a newlywed couple so it’s important to discuss it together.

Don’t Break the Bank

Once you have an idea of what you want in a honeymoon, it’s time to start budgeting. What can you afford? Do you have any loved ones who are gifting you money towards your honeymoon? If not, are there any unnecessary “extras” you could cut from your wedding budget to help afford the honeymoon?

You can plan a beautiful honeymoon on a budget. For instance, you could DIY some of your decor to help save money towards your getaway. If you have credit card points or frequent flier miles, you could put those towards the cost of flights and hotels. You might also check budget travel sites for great deals.

Take Care of Your Pets

If you have pets, make sure they are properly taken care of before you leave. For instance, you might ask a friend or relative to watch your dog or cat. If you can’t find anyone, you could always go with a reputable dog boarding facility.

Hire a Travel Agent

If planning a wedding and honeymoon simultaneously is just causing you entirely too much stress, it might be worth it to leave the planning to the experts. Even if you can’t afford a wedding planner, you could still hire a travel agent to assist you with the details of your honeymoon.

Speak with your agent about flying with an airline that offers a program to help offset your carbon footprint. Flying contributes to approximately 2% of the world’s emissions so your transportation options matter when it comes to global warming. The Smithsonian reports that the cost of offsetting is usually less than $25, meaning you can stay green and within your budget!

Plan for Emergencies

One last tip for planning a stress-free honeymoon: be sure to plan for emergencies, just in case. Have a backup plan in the event that something unexpected might happen. Print off a copy of your honeymoon itinerary and give it to a trusted loved one in case of emergency. If you need additional resources, this free planning checklist may help.

Your wedding and honeymoon are a very special time. You’ll be bonding with your new spouse, creating memories together as a couple that will last the rest of your lives. By following the advice listed above, you can craft a honeymoon that suits your personalities, has all of the relaxation, and none of the stress. That way, when looking back on your honeymoon photos in the years to come, you’ll be sure to remember what was really important during this time in your lives: all of the beauty, the laughter, and the love.

 

Very Wintery Wedding

I just got the sweetest review from Heather and Patrick. They got married in December in the mountains of Southern Vermont, and, as you can see, are immune to weather – so strong is their love:

We are so happy we chose Kathryn to be our officiant. We are both non-religious and wanted our wedding ceremony to be beautiful without being religious, which can be hard to find. We chose Kathryn’s pre-written ceremony which we loved so much we didn’t decide to do anything customized.

It was beautiful and short which we needed as our ceremony was outside in December. Many of our guests commented on how moving her words were and how wonderfully she delivered them. She has a very warm presence, and Patrick was grateful for her company to help calm his nerves as he waited at the alter when there was a bit of a delay getting things started. She also gave us a nicely printed personalized copy of the ceremony to keep, which we absolutely love. We couldn’t be happier we chose Kathryn to officiate our wedding.

I honestly don’t know how she did it.

Lids, Part 2

In my last post I talked about how there’s a much broader capacity for love and romantic engagement and deep partnership than the mainstream commercial cultural narratives would have us believe. After all, marketing is often about making us feel bad about ourselves so we go out and buy something that we think will solve the problem.

In this marvelous TEDX talk, the brilliant Gaelynn Lea absolutely dismantles that whole narrative:

Also check out her gorgeous Tiny Desk Concert appearance:

A Lid For Every Pot

I know that for many people, one of Life’s Great Fears is the notion that you might not ever find anyone to love. Either you’re afraid that you’re just so picky that you won’t meet anyone who lives up to your standards, or you suspect that you’re somehow so inherently unloveable that nobody is going to want to spend their life with you.

One of the benefits of being a wedding officiant, is that I get to meet LOTS of couples. Sometimes the people are folks I happen to find personally attractive and I completely understand how they could be so into each other. Sometimes, I meet people and think, “Well, not my cup of tea, but clearly they’ve got something going on.” And, sometimes, I’ve met folks and thought, “Wow. Do not get that. At all. But bully for them that they found each other!”

If you think about it, that’s generally how life works. Of course there are the people we run across who we think are paragons of perfection, and that’s fun for a bit. But more often, we have strange and surprising connections with people we never would have expected to meet or know or love. And those connections tend to be more honest and enduring.

When I ask couples what they love about each other, what intrigues me the most is that they rarely spend much time talking about things we think we’re supposed to care about: physical attractiveness, popularity, worldly success, power.

Instead, mostly what they talk about is how they feel when they’re with the other person. I can’t tell you how often someone has said, “I’ve never met anyone more generous and giving” or “I feel so safe and understood when we’re together” or “We communicate really well with each other.”

Qualities of personhood and how the couple interacts and moves through life together are the traits that inevitably win the day.

I’ve also met couples who’ve loved each other as much through transformations of gender as changes in career.

Which says to me that if we’re looking for love, focusing on who you are as a human being – a giving, loving, flawed, curious, compassionate, growing, quirky human being – is far more important than living up to impossible standards of perfection.

So revel in who you are. Be unabashedly, unashamedly who you are. Give, listen, care, feel, and show up fully in your life. Of course there are no guarantees, but with that much unfettered being of yourself, you’re likely to find someone with whom you share just the right amount of everything.

Special Guest Party Tips!

I recently got a surprise email from Aimee Lyons of Diydarlin.com asking if she could write a guest blog entry offering up some tips, advice, and resources for planning and attending bachelorette and bachelor parties on a budget. Who am I to look gift words in the mouth? So here, from MIz Aimee Lyons, are some lovely pearls of pre-wedding wisdom:

Photo via Pixabay

6 Tips for Planning a Bachelorette Party Without Breaking the Budget

It’s always an honor to be asked to stand up for a friend on her wedding day. But between buying a bridesmaid dress, paying for travel, and springing for a gift, supporting a friend can quickly become an expensive, albeit important, endeavor–often costing upwards of $1,000.  Add planning a bachelorette party, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But with a little planning and organization, you can throw an unforgettable party without the hefty price tag. Here are six ways to cut down on cost without sacrificing quality.

1. Prioritize

What’s important to your bride? A scenic location? Great food? A unique experience? Determine her number one priority. Next, send out a text or email to guests and discuss budget. What is everyone willing to contribute? (No one should break the bank in order to celebrate their friend.)

After you’ve created a budget, decide where to delegate most of the funds. For example, you might be able to spring for an Airbnb in a scenic location, but compensate by cooking most of your meals in your rental. Alternatively, if visiting a five-star restaurant is important to your foodie bride to be, opt for upscale cuisine in town, but share a cab, and grab drinks at a less expensive bar afterterward.

2. DIY as much as possible

If you’re hosting a soiree yourself, invest in inexpensive, high-impact decorations like metallic balloons or tissue paper flowers. (You can re-create a variety of styles here.) The key here is to make the space seem meticulously dressed by creating a wall of color and texture.

For food, delegate a different dish to each bridesmaid. If you don’t have time to make something from scratch (-or spend a lot of time in the kitchen) pick up side dishes and pastries from a local grocery store and re-plate them on nicer china. No one will know the difference.  If you’re opting for a less formal affair, host a backyard potluck and have everyone bring their favorite dish along with the recipe. Arrange the recipes in a booklet and give it as a bridal gift.

3. Hunt for deals

Sign up for services that alert you of special deals, and be on the lookout for fun outings, like inexpensive spa packages and wine tastings.

Consider talking to those in charge of booking about group deals. If you’re bringing a company a lot of business, they might be willing to cut you a deal.

4. Plan a Low-Key Destination Party

A celebratory ladies’ weekend is the perfect excuse to take time off and relax from the daily hustle. And the more participants, the less expensive the trip. Take a poll and determine how many friends would be willing to invest in a destination soiree. If you have enough advanced notice, you can find flights for relatively cheap or book tickets on a charter bus.

In order to cut down on stress, make sure you’ve sorted out passports and hotel reservations well in advance. And make sure you, other bridesmaids, and the bride to be take care of home security measures before you leave, especially if you’re posting about your trip on social media.

5. Opt for Cheap and Cheerful 

There are plenty of activities to explore that are inexpensive, fun, and outside the box. Roller disco, paintball, and karaoke are all relatively budget-friendly crowd pleasers. Or if you’re throwing a party for a crowd of introverts or homebodies, suggest a Netflix marathon. You’ll finally have an excuse to watch every season of The West Wing while sipping specialty martinis.

6. Consider a Boozy, Fancy Brunch

Late-night events can seem vastly overrated when compared to mimosas, doughnuts, and hash browns. Gather your fellow bridesmaids and head out to your favorite breakfast spot. Dress up for the occasion in your favorite sundresses and see if the restaurant will allow you to bring your own cake. Or better yet, order a mountain of pancakes or waffles to share! You could do a similar thing at home and host an elegant brunch.

Expensive doesn’t always = meaningful

With some imagination, teamwork, and a few trips to your local craft store, your bride to be will feel like an absolute queen! Do you have any tips for planning a party on a budget? Sound off in the comments.

Officiant Rules To Live By

Paula and Jon got married at The Old Lantern in Charlotte. It was a beautiful breezy day in early June and the grounds couldn’t have been prettier. Not to mention the couple couldn’t have been any cuter!

Given that it was one of the first weddings of the season, I forgot my cardinal rule of outdoor weddings: Don’t wear lip gloss. It’s very thick and sticky and if a breeze blows, you’re gonna be left with large amounts of hair stuck to your mouth. And it’s not polite to do a back-of-the-hand-wipe in the middle of a ceremony.

This is also a good rule for brides, bridesmaids, makeup-loving grooms, flashy wedding attendants of various genders, and anyone whose hair runs the risk of adhering to their kisser!

It also reminded me of the value of microphones at a wedding. It’s certainly a conundrum for the budget-conscious couple, as renting a mic and audio equipment – even from your DJ – could cost you several hundred dollars.

But sound gets swallowed up by wind and trees and sky – or water, if you’re doing it ocean/lake/river-front. Even a big room can suck up sound more than you might expect, and basically, there’s no getting around the fact that folks are going to hear things much more easily with a mic than without one – particularly any guests older than 45 or so.

You might have noticed how a lot of people start using reading glasses in their 40s. Turns out the same thing happens with your hearing. While that happens naturally, most modern adults also have tinnitus and other forms of hearing loss related to ambient or recorded noise.

While I’m a trained actor, I have a naturally light and high voice, which doesn’t carry outdoors over great distances. So much for Shakespeare in the Park…

If you want a mic on the cheap, and find out that you have a friend who’s got some audio equipment you can borrow, you’ll need to make sure to have all the necessary cordage and/or batteries, and someone who can trouble-shoot if anything goes wrong at the last minute. This stuff is notoriously finicky, and while I’ve worked with sound equipment a lot, it’s been as someone with a mic attached to her, not as a tech.

By the way, when I googled “giant ear horn” for the image above, I also came up with this very creative guy:

EXCLUSIVE: Kala Kaiwi from Hawaii just returned from Milan, Italy where he was awarded a Guinness World Record for the largest non-surgically flesh tunnels or earlobes. At 109 mm, his earlobes are so large that one could fit a hand through. Kala was born in Hawaii and trained in Las Vegas in 1999 he moved back to Hawaii to open Sin City Body Modification and Tattoo shop.

Picture by: Tim Wright / Splash News

 

 

Sitting At The Altar

Maggie and Amanda went to the same college but didn’t meet until Amanda graduated and stayed during the summer to do research. They met through mutual friends, stayed up late talking at Amanda’s apartment on her balcony, and then a few weeks later decided to hang out and go to the highline together. It happened to be on June 26, 2013 – the day the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down. They ended up going to the Stonewall Inn to celebrate later that night and, coincidentally, were told by a friend of a friend that they would get married.

The wedding they eventually decided on was a small gathering of friends and family at a rented house in Stowe. The only wrinkle was that a few months ago, Amanda got hit with a strange virus, spent several weeks in the hospital, and has been on a slow arc of recovery ever since.

Having spent the last year dealing with a huge health event myself (exploding appendix/sepsis), I completely understood the challenges she’s been facing.

One of their big concerns was how tired she gets, and how she’d handle a whole day of celebration. A solution we came up with was to have them sit for the ceremony. Easy enough! They settled themselves in facing Adirondack chairs, and we carried on as usual.

An upside to this arrangement was that it made their extremely decorative socks all that much more visible!

Maggie is a biologist, so the African savannah socks were absolutely perfect!

It also turned out Maggie’s brother works at Dobra Tea – one of my fave Burlington haunts. And he was at a wedding I did for another of their Devoteas. This was a legendary ceremony in which one of the attenants – the couple’s dog – threw up just before the vows in a spectacular display of Canine Projectile Hurling.

At any rate, these gals were chill, smart, funny, extremely charming, and I wish them all the absolute best!

Need A Wedding, Stat!

I got a call last week from my friend, the kicky wedding photographer Karen Pike. Her mom’s caretaker, Michelle, needed to get married, like, NOW, and could I do the wedding?

Karen said that her mom has Alzheimer’s and that Michelle goes out of her way to keep her calm and happy.

As I cannot imagine a job much harder than Michelle’s, I was more than willing to do whatever Karen wanted to make Michelle’s day!

We rolled out to a secret corner of Shelburne Farms. Michelle, her guy Tim, and their kids were all suited up in matching white, tan, and peach.

We had to make the ceremony quick because the boys were DYING to go flinging themselves up and down the hillside. Which, of course, they did.
All the best to two people who clearly work very hard, and are also (very clearly) such an immense blessing on each other’s lives!

All photos, of course, by Karen Pike.