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.

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.

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.


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!


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.

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.

Party At The Pink Pig

Jules and Bree

Jules and Bree, the latest in a long line of ladies coming up from Florida to wed.

Our plan (after some unintended gender confusion on my part), was to meet in Essex, NY at the ferry dock for the ceremony.

However, in early November, it can be – and yesterday absolutely was – rather brisk at the ferry dock!  Not only was I concerned for these gals who’d just left 80 degrees and sunny behind them, but for ME.  Even with climate change, in my personal experience, the winters somehow just keep getting colder!

Fortunately, I’d arrived in Essex a little early and found myself getting tea at an adorable coffee shop and Cool Stuff Store called The Pink Pig.

Deb, the proprietress extraordinaire (and Manhattan expat), was incredibly friendly and welcoming.  When I told her I was in town for a wedding at the ferry dock, she said she wanted to come and take photos for her blog.  So, I suspected that if we showed up on her doorstep, she would welcome our little wedding party with open arms.

And so she did!

Bree and Jules

She rearranged some of her nifty antiques and other lifestyle ornaments to make room for us to do the ceremony, changed the music playing in the store, and took a heap of photos – including the entire wedding party with their friends Lee Ann and Courtney from Plattsburgh. Deb also gave them a couple of coffee mugs as impromptu wedding gifts!

The Whole Group

If you, dear reader, are ever in Essex, NY, go visit Deb at The Pink Pig.  She’s open year round. Be sure to show her some gleeful and abundant love!

I also got to learn more about Jules and Bree, who met playing pool.  Apparently, Bree’s parents didn’t like the woman she’d been seeing, and so suggested she get out more and join a lesbian pool league.  Definitely a guaranteed bastion of fine, upstanding citizens!

Apparently, Bree’s Dad is also THE biggest redneck in town, and approached Jules at one point, asking if she was dating his daughter.  Fearing getting her butt kicked, but determined to stand up for herself, she acknowledged that she was.  Dad gave a nod and a grunt and walked away.  And all their parents have been on board with the relationship ever since!

This morning, I got the most beautiful email from Jules and Bree which, though a little long for a blog post, I want to share in its entirety because it was so moving:

Bree and I just wanted to take a few moments to thank you so much for making today a very special day for us.  Bree and I have said for the last couple of years that if and or when getting married would have a legal effect on our lives we would jump at the opportunity.  When the federal government, namely the IRS, made the decision, to recognize same sex couples as married any where in the country as long as you were married in a State where it was legal we could not pass up the opportunity to get married.
Then the enormity of the task at hand began to take shape…what state, how do the laws work, who will marry us, will they marry us?  How long will we have to be gone.  As we had discussed today we have been together for almost 5 years we own a home, have a few pets.  Bree is self employed runs a very successful landscaping business and I am a classically and formally trained Chef who five years ago redirected my career and sought some more education in Clinical Nutrition and I now am a Regional Food Service Director for one of the largest Behavioral Healthcare Organizations in the United States and being away from our jobs is not easy for either of us.   Honestly, it was not until we found you on line that, marry each other became a realistic and reachable goal.
On the outside looking in today may have appeared to be a nice ceremony for two women in a quaint little café, called the Pink Pig, by the water in Essex. Please know, that for Bree, and I, today was a true commitment to each other, based on a culmination events in the last year, that reaffirmed our almost 5 year love affair.  Our Marriage today also provides Bree and I with some basic rights and privileges that without your help, and the State of New York, we would not have, and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
With Warmest Regards,
Jules and Bree Smith

I love my job!


Brain Gone Wrong


I recently got an email from a couple – Jules and Bree – who were coming to upstate New York from Florida to get married. Having just seen their names, I assumed that they were both men.

When we finally spoke on the phone, Jules, who came across as a totally regular, easygoing guy, kept referring to Bree as “her.” I assumed he was using that pronoun in kind of a campy way. I’ve spent most of my life in the theater, so in the moment that seemed like a reasonable assumption.

Then, I started wondering if maybe Bree was transsexual or transgender, and I wanted to be sure about exactly how she was identifying. So I asked what pronouns and other language they wanted to use in the ceremony.

Jules said, “Oh, yeah, wife and wife will be fine.”

At which point I realized that I was talking to two WOMEN, one of whom just happened to have a rather low voice and casual, dude-like demeanor!

Fortunately, when I confessed and apologized for my confusion, they were both incredibly good natured about it, and sent me a pic so I’d know who was who.

Jules and Bree

The plan was that they’d come drive from Plattsburgh, I’d take the ferry over from Charlotte, and we’d all meet in Essex, NY at the ferry dock.  We’d do the ceremony looking out over the water, and then roll along with our respective days.  An easy and relaxed Friday afternoon.

And how did it go?  Stay tuned for more information…

October Surprise

So the other day, I get this random text:


Alice and Terri are a couple of gals from Florida who’ve been together for years, and, like so many other women I’ve been working with of late, decided to take advantage of the demise of DOMA and come get married in Vermont.

Alice and Terri

Apparently, they’d been at the Avis counter at the airport, and when they mentioned that they were here to get married, another couple of women in line, Susan and Gwen, said that they were getting married too, and one thing led to another, and they discovered that they were all getting married by me, and that their cakes was being made by my friend, neighbor, and colleague Julie Almond of Caketopia Cakes.  Lucky gals.

This is Julie.  She's a genius.  No, really.  She's a member of MENSA.

This is Julie. She’s a genius. No, really.
She’s a member of MENSA.

So, I go up to the Comstock Inn in Plainfield to marry Alice and Terri first.  I’d spent the morning helping Julie get their cake ready, and boy is it exquisite.  Spice cake with maple buttercream frosting, and then bedecked with this totally gorgeous sugar art!  I painted some of the flowers.  But really, mostly, I washed Julie’s dishes.  It’s still an honor.


The gals dress up, we do the ceremony, and they’re happily hitched:

All 3

And THEN they tell me they’re planning to come to my house a few days later for Susan and Gwen’s wedding.  And so they do.

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack

Susan and Gwen are from Tennessee, and are also having a Dumping DOMA Elopement. And what might have been a quiet little wedding at my house did, in fact, turn into a party. A Tea Party! The good kind.

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack

Of course no wedding around here is complete without a Julie Almond Cake Bomb of Gustatory Bliss.  This one was a brownie cake with buttercream frosting.  Good God!  Or as Frank Zappa might say, “Great googly moogly!”  The thing was TO DIE FOR!!!!

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack.  Cake by Caketopia Cakes.

Photo by Lindsay Raymondjack.
Cake by Caketopia Cakes.

It had so much buttery, chocolately goodness that…well… Honestly, this cake could bring about world peace.  Seriously.  If people ate enough of this stuff, they’d be in too much of a happy sugar coma to ever fight with anyone again.  That is, of course, until the cake ran out…

Anyway, welcome to Vermont, where this kind of thing happens all the time.

A Wedding Of Unusual Coincidences

Today was a wedding I was looking forward to: Angela and James from Rhode Island.  They decided to get married in Vermont because they both grew up here and fell in love here; and as much as they enjoy living in Providence, it felt special to come back to the Green Mountains to say The Dos.

When they first contacted me, they said they’d be making a film in an apple orchard for their ceremony.  This sounded nothing but intriguing.  I couldn’t wait.  However, it proved a little too complex for their schedule, so they decided to get married at a coffee shop instead – specifically Muddy Waters, a dark, cozy place with a very handmade feel.  In fact, from the inside, it kind of looks like it grew there, rather than got built.

When I drove into town, I was a little unsure about where I might find parking, even on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  But, much to my surprise, there was one spot available on a very coveted, and usually packed, block of Main Street – right in front of Muddy Waters!

View from car

View Of Surprise From My Car

I walked in and immediately picked out Angela and James, who looked just like they were ready for a funky coffeeshop wedding.  And they really wanted it right there.  In the booth.

James and Angela

James, Sculptor and Angela, Bar Manager

I sat down and we started chatting while waiting for the photographer.  They were hilarious.  I’d love to move to Providence and hang out with them all the time.  Then, another Happy Coincidence occurred.

I am not psychic.  I do not claim to be psychic.  However, when it comes to weddings I do have inexplicably good sartorial karma. While I ask most couples what their wedding colors are, and work hard to wear something that goes with the color scheme, sometimes I don’t ask – and end up picking exactly the right thing anyway.  I showed up once for a wedding of two women at Shelburne Farms.  For no particular reason, I wore a bright orange dress, and it turned out one of the brides was wearing a dress EXACTLY the same color.  This happens a lot.

Today, I did something I would never normally do for a wedding.  I threw on a pair of fishnets.  Over orange tights, no less.  I didn’t even know I had this pair of fishnets until I started digging through my basket of tights.  But I knew that Angela and James were probably pretty non-traditional, and it would likely work well with whatever they had going on.

Turns out Angela was also wearing fishnets.



SO!  Then the photographers show up – Monica and Judd from Eve Event Photography.  I worked with them a few years ago at the wedding of Amber and Kara, and the petals banner at the top of this website is a detail from a photo they took of that ceremony:

Petals.  Lots and lots of petals.

Petals. Lots and lots of petals.

It also happens that I use the petals banner at the top of the page when I print out a copy of the ceremony to give to my couples. Monica saw the text of the ceremony and said, “Hey!  I recognize that photo!” I’d completely forgotten the connection until she said it. Thankfully, she was fine with (and kind of tickled by) my using the detail that way.

Judd and Monica

Hey! I recognize that photo!

Finally, after a great deal of beer, we launched into the ceremony. Right there at the table. Hopefully Monica and Judd got some good shots that they’ll pass along.  We used my standard ceremony, with just one little tweak.  They weren’t exchanging rings.  Right after the ceremony, they were going over to Yankee Tattoo to get rings inked onto their fingers instead. Most people intend to get married for life, but I have to say that an ink tattoo is definitely a serious commitment!

The Holy Booth of Matrimony

“It really is a small world! I’m still going to buy lotto tickets…
Thank you so much, yesterday was pretty much perfect.”

Anyway, a memorable afternoon with two really fun couples.  I’d make weddings with these folks any old time!

P.S. I posted about this little event on my Facebook page and a friend wrote in immediately:

fb post

And then I found the original post:

FB status

I love Vermont.