Surprise Wedding Tips!

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

I just got an email from a woman named Jillian who is recently engaged. While she’s thrilled about getting married, she’s leery of all the stress which comes with wedding planning and event execution.

She’s been doing some research to avoid all the…my favorite word to describe this is the Yiddish word tsuris, which means woe or aggravation. In the process, she stumbled across my website, and wrote to mention how much she liked the Resources page, and to suggest a link about managing stress that she found helpful.

She also asked if I had any tips for her “regarding weddings and all of the emotions that come with it.” Of course, after 400+ ceremonies, I certainly do, and this is what I shared with her:

Hi Jillian,

Great to hear from you! So glad the site is helpful! Thanks for the link. Those are great tips – though honestly, I think eloping to avoid all the stress is a totally legit option. It also saves a lot of money that could be used for something else.

Honestly, the most important thing I can tell you is: Don’t get hung up on all the cultural baggage/traditions around weddings. You don’t have to do any of that. You don’t have to provide gifts for all the guests or matching jewelry for the bridal party or fancy signs in cursive saying whatever. 

I’ve done weddings that cost a gajillon dollars, weddings that were potlucks in parks, and weddings where the couple eloped at the last minute. All lovely, all deeply meaningful. Just do what’s important to you.

The bottom line is that you’re marrying someone you really love and want to build a life with, and that’s awesome. The rest – ALL the rest – is cake frosting.

The second most important thing is: Feel all the feels. All the excitement, stress, joy, doubt, optimism, fear, curiosity, anticipation… it’s all totally valid. Feel it. Share it. Accept it. Then let it go or take action, depending on what you need.

Finally: Don’t expect any relationship issues you two have to get resolved just because you’re married. They won’t. Work on your stuff now, and work on it for as long as the issues remain. But hopefully, your attitude is that you’re on the same team, so you can work on everything together, in collaboration.
Let me know if you need anything else – including premarital counseling. Always happy to help!

Good luck – and congratulations!


I Won An Award!

Heather and Robin – Photo by Karen Pike

To my great surprise, honor, and delight, I’ve been named Global Wedding Awards 2022 New England Officiant Of The Year!

Writing and performing wedding ceremonies is a non-stop delight. It’s such a treat to be able to participate in one of the more significant moments of a person’s life – all the while making sure it’s as fun, joyous, and LOW STRESS as possible!

Even when a herd of cows shows up uninvited.

Photo by the inimitable Karen Pike Photography.

High On The 14th Green

Courtesy of a global pandemic, Jonathan and Kendall had their Vermont wedding postponed more than once, and really didn’t know whether or not they’d be able to get married at all.

Eventually, they realized they didn’t want to wait any longer and decide to elope. Fortunately, the staff at Spruce Peak had plenty of time on their hands, and rolled out the red – er – green carpet for them.

With pretty much all of the resort to choose from, Kendall and Jonathan decided to get married on the golf course, which is unique, in that it’s built up the side of one of the mountains, and you gain serious elevation going from hole to hole.

I wish I had a photo of the rugged trail which takes you on your Golfer’s Journey, or of the turbo-charged cart which brought us up there. But every time I tried to take a photo, the cart would lurch and I kept almost dropping my phone.

Still, you get the picture.

Along with helping these two lovely folks have a glorious September afternoon wedding, I also got to fulfill a lifelong fantasy of going barefoot on a professionally groomed green.

My toes were as happy as toes can be! I’d have taken a photo of that as well, but my pedicure was TERRIBLE that day!

Small Wedding World!

Even with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, and many folks having to cancel or postpone their ceremonies, a few Vermont weddings still managed to prevail! Sometimes couples opted for a quick elopement, and sometimes they manage to carve out appropriate space for their guests and carry on. For example…

Angelo and Bruna had been dating long-distance, as Angelo lives in New York City, and Bruna is from Brazil. She’d come up to visit him on a temporary visa when the pandemic struck, and the whole world went into lockdown.

Their fear was that she’d have to leave when her visa ran out, and given the scope of the crisis, they had no idea when she’d be able to come back. The solution? Get married!

So, after a month of hiding out in Angelo’s apartment, they rented a car and drove like Love Bats Out Of Hell’s Kitchen to Vermont, where we had a quick ceremony in my backyard.

The Love Bat metaphor is more than apt, as they’re both biologists, and Angelo works for the Natural History Museum where he actually studies bats.

Bells started ringing when he told me about his job, as Maggie and Amanda – another couple I married a few year ago and became friends with – also lived in New York, where Maggie works at the Natural History Museum, and I knew they’d studied bats.

Turns out Angelo was their mentor! Small, small, small, small world!

I’d show you a picture of Maggie and Amanda, but they’ve since split up. However Maggie and Angelo are still friends, and it was fun to surprise them with a photo from the wedding!

The Loveliest Review

Elise and Joshua

Elise and Joshua were married at the beautiful Barrows House Inn in Dorset at the height of fall foliage season. It couldn’t have been a more relaxed or fun ceremony.

And today, I discovered that Elise had left a beautiful review on Wedding Wire:

Perfect Officiant!
Kathryn was just a pleasure! She has such an incredible air about here. She is kind a quirky and full of life! There was no better match in our eyes for our wedding officiant. We had an incredible ceremony and people were really impressed with it. I was asked on multiple occasions how I found Kathryn and told what a wonderful job she did. She was able to touch on emotions and keep things light-hearted and beautifully flowing. We chose a reading to include and wrote our own vows. Kathryn made a little book of our ceremony reading in it for us to keep which I thought was such a nice touch!

It’s always so profoundly gratifying to make people this happy!

And check out the mandala on Elise’s back! Gorgeous!


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) (or spouse) 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: