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 their 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 they’ve been facing.

One of their big concerns was how tired they get, and how they’d handle a whole day of celebration. A solution we came up with was to have them both 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 lovely people 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.

Money money money money money money money…

I just learned that most couples underestimate the cost of their wedding by 40%, and that the average wedding costs $28,000.

Seriously. This is not necessary. I mean, if you’ve got cash to burn, go ahead, knock yourself out. Let it be lobsters, Belgian lace, and ice sculptures all the way. Load up on monogrammed M&Ms for your guests, hire videographers to make a film-quality documentary of the day, and escape the party in a triple-decker tricked-out limo. But this is not necessary.

Celebrating your love and commitment with heart, beauty, and community doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You won’t be dishonoring yourselves or anyone else by not hiring gold-plated caterers.

I mean, I’ve been to those kinds of extravagant weddings, and they’re beautiful and impressive. But you can do just as well with a bunch of hay bales, a playlist, a potluck, and a cake baked by your best friend’s Mom. You won’t be any less married if you get your dress second hand and have it altered to fit. Heck, buy 3 wedding dresses at Goodwill for $150 and have a seamstress blend them together into an all-new creation!

Or make your own. This dress was made from plastic bags:
All I’m saying is what I say to high school writing students contemplating a career as a pen jockey. Don’t go into debt over this one. Get creative, ask for help, and remember that the most important thing is being lucky enough to find someone you want to spend your life with, and sharing that great fortune with the people you love the most.

The rest is just beautiful, fancy cake frosting.

But Can You Handle…

Photo by Majestic Lukas on Unsplash

I’m closing in on – or have recently just passed – the 400 ceremonies mark. Which allows me to speak with some degree of authority on a variety of wedding-related topics (though admittedly, I rarely confine myself there). It also means that when someone asks me a question which begins with, “But, can you handle…” I can usually answer, “Yes!” with confidence.

However, it might also leave the Curious Person wondering specifically what I’ve had to deal with in the past. What unexpected, untoward, or surprisingly entertaining experiences have I come across in my Official Officiant Tenure?

Well, I’ve seen just about everything from fainting brides to barfing dogs to barfing grooms. I’ve had someone lose the bride’s ring on the way to the ceremony (they found a stunt ring to stand in). I’ve zipped up too-tight dresses, flirted with needy Grandfathers, calmed panicking mothers, and fended off excessively curious cows.

Seriously. I have documentation:

Photo by Karen Pike

Now admittedly, some of the challenges have been all on me. Excessively organized as I try to be, in the long run, I can only (grudgingly) admit to being human. More than once, I’ve been the source of the problem needing to be solved. I have:

  • Brought the wrong ceremony with me (saved by the Best Man who had an extra copy).
  • Worn orange when everyone else was in blue (fortunately, they were complementary colors).
  • Forgot the wrap for the hand-fasting which was made from the bride’s mother’s veil (I made a new wrap by stealing some ribbons off the decor and braiding them together).

I’m also pretty terrible with names, and once, I forgot – in the middle of the ceremony – which groom was Dave and which groom was Chris. To my defense, we’d only just met. But still… Not. Professional!

I was able to fake it by not looking at them when I spoke their names. Then, when we got to the big moment, I said something like, “Dave, this is it. Time for your vows. Please step forward.”

Photo by Jennifer Kiewit – Chris on the left, Dave on the right.

Also, once, I had two brides named Rachel and Jennifer. I was terrified I’d mix them up. I told myself I could remember one particular woman’s name because she had hair like Jennifer Aniston’s on Friends. Kind of like this:

But then I got confused because I didn’t know if I was supposed to remember the actress Jennifer or her character Rachel. I gave up, and faked my way through again.

A Few Fun Facts

  • Shortest initial phone call to ceremony time: 20 minutes
  • Easiest replacement for non-existent rings: Matching temporary tattoos
  • Languages spoken by me in ceremonies: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew
  • Number of those languages I actually speak: 2
  • Number of weddings I’ve sung at (as an officiant): 3
  • Most unexpected moment: A giant dragonfly landed on the groom’s nose. He didn’t want to bother it, so we just left it there and continued on with the vows.
  • Number of outdoor ceremonies completely rained out: 1
  • Number of gently moist/slightly damp/excessively misty outdoor ceremonies: Too numerous to count.
  • Strangest location for a ceremony: Tossup between a big booth at a coffee shop and the back corner of a Bonsai tree expo.
  • Most urgent wedding: The bride was in active labor, and left for the hospital right after we finished.
  • Greatest size difference between me and the couple:

Biggest Resolvable Concern

“Has anyone ever broken down during a ceremony and not been able to continue because they were so emotional?”

Answer: Yes, it’s happened twice. Both times, it was a teenage girl reading “Oh The Places You’ll Go.” Fortunately, it’s an easy problem to avoid.

Naked Passion

George and Amanda

George and Amanda came out to my house to get married down by the riverside. Despite the ironic fact that Amanda is a divorce lawyer, they’re a classic example of young, hopeful, ambitious people psyched about each other and extremely happy to get married.

Except…they had a thing. Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up. No, let me digress and contextualize.

Having performed close to 350 ceremonies at this point, I’ve married A LOT of couples. A lot. I’ve worked with people who care deeply about each other, people who are insanely hot for each other, people who are good friends, people who still can’t figure out how they manage to make a relationship work, people who can barely stand each other but are getting married anyway, people who, in finding each other, have clearly saved each other’s lives.

I’ve married teens and grandparents. I’ve married people who don’t speak English. I’ve married couples who’ve been together a few months and couples who’ve been together 35 years. Gay, straight, trans, and, interestingly enough, a whole lot of dog lovers (though they weren’t marrying the dog).

Ok. You get the picture. I’ve seen a lot of love.

What stood out for me about George and Amanda was Amanda’s complete lack of guardedness when it came to her love for George. She had a kind of unbridled, gazillion-kilowatt passion for him which beamed out of her face like an exploding sun. Nothing tempered or held back about it. It was full-on, shared-with-the-world capital LUV.

Of course, what also stood out for me was the fact that George, who’s a quieter, less demonstrative kind of guy, seemed completely unperturbed by the amount of affection coming towards him. In fact, quite the opposite. He drank it in like a lost desert traveler with his head plunged into the pool at the oasis.

A lot of folks might think it would be great to be loved that much. But, I know people who would be a little overwhelmed by that much energy laser-beamed directly at them. They wouldn’t know how to take it in or how to respond if they weren’t that kind of Beamer themselves. Some might not think they deserved that much affection.

Not George. He’s clearly given her the message that she can’t possibly dig him too much, so go for it, Amanda. Beam til your guts ache and your face falls off. Knock yourself out.

It’s a rather cynical, rambunctiously contentious age we live in. So their juicy, complementary love mojo was an utterly beautiful thing to see.

Hearts Aflame, Minds Confused, Hands Fasted…

You will note from my previous entry, that my friends Allison and Holly, though excited to be getting married from the love-each-other-very-much perspective, they were more than a little dubious about participating in an institution which, up until very recently, had excluded them from its hallowed halls.

So, we all approached this ceremony a little differently. We, I would say, sauntered thoughtfully towards it.

Rather than sitting down with them to have a big, deep chat about their relationship, and all the different elements of a ceremony from which they might choose, we had a couple of philosophical email exchanges, and then I just showed up at their house with some text that they’d found about the novelist Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, and a couple of props.

We hung out in their kitchen for about an hour just talking about their thoughts, issues, and desires to create a marriage which was reflective of them, and not any societal expectations for how anyone – gay or straight – should run a relationship.

Then we meditated for 10 minutes to ground ourselves, and wandered down a path through the woods behind their house to their Ceremony Tree. We lit a candle, shooed away a few mosquitoes, and began.


Because they’d said they weren’t exchanging rings, I brought a beautiful strip of beaded leather that my best friend Jeannette made for my wedding lo, these many years ago, and turned the heart of the ceremony into a hand-fasting.


Since Allison is a cartoonist and graphic novelist and Holly is a painter who also makes incredible compost bins, it seemed appropriate to focus some attention on their hands – tools with which they make manifest all manner of remarkable creations.

The dance of their partnership also made me think of (and remark upon) what we’ve learned this week about Pluto and Charon.

Pluto, it turns out, isn’t a planet with a moon named Charon. Pluto and Charon are actually a binary planet, as the focal point of their revolutions is between them. So rather than Charon orbiting around Pluto, they orbit around each other.

This seemed like a more than appropriate metaphor for an egalitarian partnership. Plus, you know, space.

Fortunately, everything seems to have worked according to our non-plan, as we made it through the ceremony with senses of both humor and honor intact


It’s a remarkable moment for a person to find herself going from Outsider to Insider status – due to the long arc of history as much as personal development. And I know both these gals gave their choices as much compassion and conscious thought and deep discussion as they could, so that nothing would ever be taken for granted.

I have great faith in their ability to remain wholly themselves. And while in a certain sense they’re now Total Insiders, they still have hard-beating Rebel Hearts. And that – along with their deep regard for each other – is something which will never change.

just married

Strange Dream


Ben, not knowing what’s coming.

This is my friend Ben. Great guy. Looks a little like Matt Damon.

I had a dream last night that I was heading up to northern Vermont to get married. It was somewhere kinda nowhere near the Canadian border.

When I got there, I found out that the person I was marrying was Ben (I didn’t know ahead of time), but he couldn’t be there for the ceremony.

So, the officiant agreed to let him call in.

What’s interesting (and a little more relevant than the prospect of us getting married near the Canadian border) is that while I’ve had friends and family Skype in for the occasion, I’ve never had that situation where someone wanted to wed via some form of telephony. But, I can imagine that, much like my Dream Officiant, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

But I’d never actually thought about it before. Most people do like to be there in person.

Anyway, on with my day! Just thought I’d share.