UPDATE 2020! Mary has relocated to Toronto, Canada. You can find information about Canadian weddings at ElopeToronto.com I'm keeping this blog because I've been told it's very helpful for couples in New York! If you need a wedding officiant in New York or Toronto, email me at MaryBeaty (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll try to help. Best wishes!

Friday

Happy Swedish couple in Central Park wedding - with friends!

Here is a totally great couple at their wedding by Bow Bridge, with their 6 friends, all in complimentary attire!  Eileen conducted this wedding in a 'just beginning to bloom' spring day.  Cherry blossoms coming out!  Go visit Brooklyn Botanic for the Cherry Festival, too!  (you need a permit for a wedding in the BBG, but under 10 people in Prospect Park would work.  Just write to us and we'll answer questions about locations). 


Lovely Central Park wedding with a Narnia Lampost

Here's a delightful couple from Sweden - married by Eileen in Central Park. Sometimes the park is enough - and the skyline pix can come later.


Sunday

Happiness at the Ladies Pavilion

Eileen and an extremely happy couple in the shelter of the Ladies Pavilion in Central Park


Tuesday

Swedish Wedding - Central park!

Another lovely wedding by Eileen, in Central Park.  Handsome couple from Sweden!

Wedding couple, Central Park
Central park wedding group - Belvedere Terrace behind

High Line wedding!

Pink for all... This was a wedding conducted by Eileen.  Busy! Fun!

HighLine wedding

Sunday

Wintry Grand Central elopement

Grand Central! Eileen sent this in, saying 'what a lovely couple'!  This is about as big a wedding as it's possible to set up at Grand Central (10 people) but it's certainly fun on a winter day. Best to avoid the holiday commuting hordes, tho.

Friday

Winter's coming! Snowy rooftop wedding

This is possibly the prettiest winter wedding I ever remember seeing.  It was Eileen, last year,. who conducted this, I think on a rooftop in Brooklyn, (tho I will check, and of course I'll try to find the name of the fantastic photographer).  As we are talking to winter brides these days, I just thought I'd post this Narnia-like picture!


Saturday

Brooklyn Bridge Wedding - happy couple

Some couples are young, some couples are more seasoned.  All weddings are delightful, and the Brooklyn Bridge is always a great spot for a (very small) private wedding...  Eileen was the officiant, again.


Yes, the lake froze! Bethesda Fountain in the freeze....

Remember this year!  The ducks will!
Note the bride's bare arms!

Eileen in Central Park in the Freeze!

Should you dress casually for an elopement?


That's totally up to you! But it would be a GOOD IDEA to take your sunglasses off for the ceremony - it's only 10 minutes out of your entire life, after all. It might be nice to look into your partner's eyes for that split second of commitment.

Eloping vs 'the big wedding' ? What type of ceremony to choose?


This is a personal decision, of course - and the decision should be unanimous between the couple.

In ancient times, people got 'married' by the bride moving to the husband's house (or, of course, in some cultures, the reverse). Gifts were exchanged, cattle and clothing and bread and food. The community understood that this was a family unit.

Later, a civil or religious officiant would legalize/ solemnize/ bless the marriage, by conducting some sort of rite. In the middle ages, a traveling priest might come by the village and marry everyone in the spring, and baptize all the new babies, all at the same time.

In Celtic areas, the couple might be handfasted for a year and a day, and then decide to become legally married at the end of that time. The traditions of the Jewish ketubah, or the Quaker marriage certificate and other ceremonies which involve the guests and parents signing a ceremonial document are related the traditions of how the community views the moral and legal obligations of the couple toward each other.

In Jewish tradition, a couple usually signs the ketubah before the ceremony. The ketubah is written in Aramaic, and the bride and groom write their Hebrew names in the blanks in the marriage contract, then the rabbi signs the contract. Modern Ketubahs may have English decorations, and many are unique works of art. Some have spaces for the family and witnesses to sign at the reception.

In Quaker tradition, the bride and groom sign a large, beautiful Marriage Certificate, which is then also signed by all the family and guests. This involves the community, and makes the marriage binding to each of its witnesses as well as to the couple. The certificate is usually framed and placed in the home.

The LEGAL part of a marriage ceremony does not require the community to be there - or the parents, or the friends. A witness will do - but that witness is 'representing' the community, and civil society. When couples choose to be legally married in an 'elopement', they often have a wedding ceremony or a wedding blessing or a family party later. Sometimes this is for practical reasons, such as visas running out, or travel, or scattered family members, so a couple will have two ceremonies on different continents - one legal, one ceremonial. Sometimes this is done on the same day in a second marriage, such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla, which was a civil ceremony followed by a service of blessing.

A couple may have a private wedding for personal reasons, with a marriage announcement at a later date. And some couples pledge their troth to each other in a commitment ceremony, without a legal component, just an ethical one. Some have handfasting (or betrothal) ceremonies which they consider binding. A vow renewal is an example of a wedding ceremony without a legal ceremony, as well.

If you are having two ceremonies, a legal, private wedding and a future wedding blessing with a larger group of friends or family, you can save your rings for the second ceremony, perhaps, and have a Wedding Blessing and a Blessing of Rings for your second ceremony. Your family might also like to participate in the second Wedding Blessing, offering readings or blessings or a candle-lighting or other appropriate rituals.

Some cultural traditions also have several separate ceremonies on several days. Some of these ceremonies are vestiges of earlier village rituals, where the bride or groom makes a journey to the house of the new relatives, and offers food or gifts (such as the Tea Ceremony, in some Asian cultures, and the large Wedding Banquet with the required special courses.) The modern wedding showers and rehearsal dinners are vestiges of these earlier rituals.

Our grandparents were often married at home, or went off to the registry office to be married in a bigger city, and returned home for the wedding reception, with pot luck food and the parlor decorated. Our modern elaborate weddings are not as old a tradition as they sometimes seem.

This is YOUR decision. You can combine the legal and the ceremonial events, or hold them separately,and at separate times, or hold only one part - the legal wedding or the wedding ceremony. Your officiant will always be happy to discuss these variations with you, and help you through the planning for each.

Tuesday

Should you change your name at marriage?

Think carefully about this question.The important points are:

1) Neither bride nor groom is required to change their surname to get married. (You may remain Jane Pepsi and John Cola). You may keep your original name for professional reasons, family reasons, or because that's who you are.

2) Either bride or groom or both MAY change their surname. (You may both become Mr and Mrs Pepsi-Cola, or Pepsico, or ColaPepsi, or many other variants. John Cola might become John Pepsi.
You might choose to become Mr and Mrs. Dr.Pepper. You might use your former last name as a middle name, aka Hilary Rodham Clinton: Jane Pepsi Cola). But note that only CLINTON or COLA will be the OFFICIAL last name, unless you hyphenate.

3) You do not have to decide to change your name at the time of the wedding. You may change your name(s) any time afterwards - for instance, if you have children.

4) You cannot go BACK and change your actual marriage license if you change your mind at a later date about a new surname: you will have to go through a legal process to make any changes in the future. (Mrs. Pepsi-Cola may not have her marriage license altered to change her name back to Jane Pepsi. But she may make a court petition to change her name back to Jane Pepsi. The marriage license will remain Pepsi-Cola, asthat's what she decided the day she applied for the license).

5) Once you change your legal names, you'll need to change: social security, drivers license, passport, voter registration, (IRS - address change only), vehicle title/ registration, workplace, financial institutions, insurance, medical, utilities, credit cards etc. There are a number of online kits that have forms and detailed instructions on where to send each form (or if you need to make a personal appearance) as well as what additional documentation you'll need.

Therefore, when in doubt, do nothing.

Goth wedding? Why not?

I wrote about Vampire-themed weddings (in a less than enthusiastic way) below. But we DID recently have a small Goth wedding - in a cemetery, at dusk, in the mausoleum, surrounded by flowers and evenings birds. The bride carried purple and black flowers, and the invitation said "black casual - because that's all we have". The couple were sweet and poetic, and the bride's JOB is working at a funeral planning company (of course it is!). She said that they like wandering around the cemetery thinking of the lives of the people there, and they believe death is a part of life.

Very Victorian (but not steampunk) and very delightful.

Here are the poems we used:

Ancient Chinese poem, translation #1:
Take a lump of clay, wet it, pat it,
And make an image of me, and an image of you.
Then smash them, crash them, and add a little water.
Break them and remake them into an image of you
And an image of me.
Then in my clay, there's a little of you.
And in your clay, there's a little of me.
And nothing ever shall us sever;
Living, we'll sleep in the same quilt,
And dead, we'll be buried together.

From Adam Bede by George Eliot,

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life,
to strengthen each other in all labor,
to rest on each other in all sorrow,
to minister to each other in all pain
to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories
at the moment of the last parting?


And here's a little style for a wedding in the park ...
(this couple was married by Eileen)

Aren't they great?

The pix is by Kasia Grabek.

Monday

Should you elope or have 'the big wedding' ?


We often talk to brides who have 'downsized' and opted for a family wedding, instead of a 'corporate' sized event. For a variety of reasons (cost, travel, family situation, timing, or just unhappiness with the whirlwind of planning a giant wedding) they have decided to pass on the country club, penthouse, loft or wedding palace, and have cut their guest list down to immediate family and close friends (usually 20-80 people, depending upon second cousins).

This brings up a dilemma: should the couple elope? Should they have a small wedding in a chapel or restaurant? How do you find a space for two dozen people, when restaurants have a minimum of 50? What about the dress, the cake, the ceremony -- the presents?

The first decision is whether to elope or to hold a small family wedding. If you want to get away and have a private wedding, it's best to just make arrangements and go for it. If you start including close family members and friends, you've turned the corner to a private wedding. Either way, you can still arrange for a reception back home at a later date, or a second "Wedding Blessing", where the legally married couple can have a ring blessing, a spiritual blessing, a vow renewal, or any combination of rituals you wish, followed by a reception and 'welcome home'. This is becoming a common new/old trend, and we have seen the 'wedding blessing' parties evolve into real celebrations, sometimes a year later than the legal wedding. See our other post on this topic.

But if the point is to involve your parents, or young cousins, or elderly relatives, and you are willing to have a family ceremony, why not 'recreate' the weddings of your grandparents, and be married at home, in the parlour (aka livingroom), or in the backyard, or in a friend's home or someone else's big backyard (or the community park in the bandshell, or the park's recreation center, or even a national park, if it's close by) - and have fun decorating with dollar store tulle and paper lanterns and homemade flower arrangements and candles in jam jars and and pictures of you both as kids on a table with a guestbook, etc.. You could even have a theme (Fiesta, Victorian, Gaslight, Greate Gatsby, MusicMan, Tropical Island) to coordinate dresses and decorations and music.

Find a sympathetic Marriage Officiant who can design a family-friendly ceremony which is dignified but incorporates the family in some way, whether offering readings, or speaking about the couple. Gather the 'parlour' chairs and have most people stand up for the ceremony but seat the elderly in a few rows in the front. The bride (and the groom) can come down the stairs, enter from the bedroom, or drive up in an old fashioned car. After the ceremony (or if coming back from the park - even walking together -- finish with at "at home" reception of potluck dishes or a catered meal with some big centerpieces (a carving station) and lots of vegetarian options. Ask people to bring desserts or cupcakes like a church social, and build a communal cupcake tree. Set up a taverna or speakeasy bar (hire a bartender from the local community college hospitality program and get the proper liquor permit).  Live music would be the most fun, with IPOD backup for later in the night.  Be sure to invite the neighbours.

Unlike the giant corporate weddings, everyone will be able to talk, and mingle, and have a good time, and everyone will remember it -- and so will you.

an outdoor wedding can be a little messy. Most of the time...

We had a park wedding today, in a lovely setting in Central Park, New York City. It had just rained, and the ground was damp, and a few stray twigs were cluttering up the lawn. There were ducks, and birds, and a few squirrels, and kids running around. It was a lovely summer day.

The bride arrived, with her dress clutched up to her chin. For an outdoor park wedding, she wore a heavy satin gown, back laced, with a 5 foot train. We stopped to tie up the bustle, and the train still swept the ground (like a puddle train) at least 2 feet behind. The dress was. going. to. get. dampish. It was clear that the wind was blowing a bit -- disarranging her hair. Everyone fretted and tried to dry off the grass (!). The service was lovely, and eventually she appeared to forget about the wet ground - though an opportunistic bug got under her veil - causing a stage 3 meltdown.

Advice: It's OUTSIDE. There will be WEATHER. There will be DIRT. Maybe pigeon poop. Probably a few bugs. The wind will blow, your shoes will get spattered, your heels will sink into the ground, and your hair will fly away if not laquered. Strange buskers playing instruments and people on roller skates and all sorts of people will pass by and wave at you.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE and you are OUTSIDE.

 Outdoor weddings are full of sand and wind and twigs and butterflies (or bees). Go with the flow and you'll be happy. Otherwise - find a nice hotel, book a suite! you'll be alone!   -- and you'll keep your train and your wedding shoes clean. Happy Outdoors!

Alternative wedding locations - a little background discussion

A civil wedding service takes 12-23 minutes. Without the religious bits, but a few nice readings. That's 3 subway stops in New York (and 4 in Toronto). Don't know about Madrid and Boston and Rome.

So you need to be able to LISTEN and STAY WARM and DRY and seriously FOCUSED for half a television show minus the commercials.

Hard to do while sky-diving. But ice skates are OK - and you may already have cheesy organ music. Maybe you could sit on the Zamboni? Bridges and helicopters and boats are tricky. You need to SIGN the license somewhere with a real postal address. But you can have the CEREMONY anywhere non-Google-mapped, and just do the paperwork before or after.

Pick somewhere memorable, where you are either SURROUNDED by lots of people (Central Park, Battery Park, Grand Central, Top of the Rock, or fairly alone - a wilderness park! though the wedding party must be good paddlers). The middling bits are just annoying, as tourists and bystanders stop and make comments. And they take all those pictures of you on their cell phones.

Even in the biggest city, there are oases. There ARE secret places in Central Park. And quiet beaches can be nice at sunset and at dawn. But you might also consider -- YOUR LIVING ROOM! Just move the furniture! Your great-grandmother was probably married at home. It's an easy place to revisit for your anniversary. Get some flowers and new curtains and roll up the rugs. And you've already got your IPOD enhancement system.

Just remember to turn off the TV. I married someone in their Annie Hall like-apartment in NY, and we all stood and hummed the 'wedding march', and the bride came out of the bedroom - but we forgot to turn the TV. Regis showed up in all the pictures.

Or if you have friends who live in Condos, start asking about their party rooms - some are on the top floors and have smashing views. We had a lovely wedding in a borrowed penthouse party room, and catered the WHOLE THING with Fresh Direct, cake and all. More money for the wine, you see?

Men's suits - summer style for grooms


It. was. hot.
We had several lovely weddings this weekend, but I was quite worried about the grooms in the 95 degree heat. The brides were in summer chiffon, strapless linen, and even barefoot before and after the ceremony.

But what happened to summer suits? A lot of grooms were 'brick red' in the heat. It's true, you need your jacket for the frigid restaurant after a park wedding, but only one groom was in a light jacket. Lighten up, gentlemen! Though some people are afraid of summer suits:

"The most important rule is to not look like you work in an ice cream truck...For the most part, white suits should be avoided. They tend to be impractical— because they get dirty so easily.. Unless it is a beautifully tailored suit made of the finest linen or cotton, and you are a Southern trial lawyer, like Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, or a 19th century British colonial administrator, they should be strenuously avoided" Well. so says Business Week.

Or perhaps people are thinking of this poem, by Liam Rector

"Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,

Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer..."

But it seems inflexible: Weddings and Funerals - dark suits rule. It's SERIOUS stuff, requires gravitas.

Here's a great post about bygone Summer Whites - see the wonderful Great Gatsby wedding picture.

So, lighten up! Be brave. Be retro. Be ethnic. Be Graham Greene. Try the poplin, seersucker, linen, pintail, silk -- don't just buy a new TIE, have fun with the few options open to men, and be sure to coordinate with the bride - so your stripes don't overshadow her chiffon. And it's true, linen and rain and sweat aren't friends. But poplin is great, and nice Merchant Ivory style Indian Cotton Shirts. Hair is playing in Central Park this summer, after all.

Thursday

Surprise wedding trip, and Central Park Wedding















A lovely couple from Sweden, where the groom surprised his bride (who have been companions for 17 years) with a Central Park Wedding - (here is Bow Bridge again).  Eileen and Alison provided the wedding and the pix. Congratulations!

Rockefeller Center Wedding

Guess where? in the staircase at Rockefeller Center, under the Swarovski chandelier, on their way up to get married at Top of the Rock - nice pix from Eileen.

Friday

Double wedding in Central park
















A double wedding, by Eileen!  Under the Minton Terrace in Central Park --  ( a bit fuzzy, but that's the Iphone, alas)

Thursday

Flashmob, Guerilla Weddings - Teh Rulz

Lots of people have been contacting us about this meme lately (NBC, WSJ, EMPIRE NEWS) . Some people even called this a "gorilla wedding". Hah!  We decided to write some RULES!

1) If you've invited over 20 people, ALWAYS try to get a permit for a location, or talk to Security IN ADVANCE. Check out the location on the same day of the week ahead of time, and see who you will be bothering. NEVER try to do a large wedding without a permit, or the poor security guards will have to act. It's their JOB, and your wedding will be ruined.  DO NOT SWARM museums, stores, monuments.
2) DO NOT BLOCK public thoroughfares - streets or pedestrian walkways, like the Brooklyn Bridge, The Highline, The Piers. Take your wed PIX on those places, but don't tell 50 people to crash it and be obnoxious. 
3) For a crowd, consider holding a "surprise" wedding, not a guerilla / flashmob. Invite people to a bar, club, your house, your condo party room, to a restaurant, for drinks, an engagement party, whatever. Then invite us in, we'll ask people to gather round the bar, and we'll have a lovely fun surprise wedding. BUT ALWAYS TELL YOUR MOTHER. You don't want her to faint, or go to the washroom crying because you didn't care enough to tell her.
4) If you're outside, it's NATURE. Don't bring chairs, high heels, gazebos, balloons, amps. It's not a theme park, it's real. Stand in a circle, be respectful, take nothing, leave nothing. remember Smokey the Bear.
5) Rent a double-decker bus, and you can take the wedding party with you, get married on the top, get off for pix. Don't swarm.
6) Just go have a picnic on Coney Island. Then, pop out the flowers, play some live guitar, whip out your wildflower bouquet, change into your polkadot party dress and get married. Then play badminton.
7) Black tie? Rent a private dining room in a restaurant. Tell them it's a 'private party' (don't say "wedding"), ask for champagne, ask everyone to stand, ask the Officiant to come to the front table and 'ta da' - "May I have your attention?  Would you all now rise for the -- wedding of Miles and Morris!"
8) Rent a tourboat. Or rent some rowboats in the park and row to the middle and watch from the boat.
9) Or rent roller skates or ice skates and do a deal with the rink people between the zambonis to have a little 10 minute centre ice event. Then, you'd better skate!
10) For a larger, surprise wedding, we do a lot of weddings at existing public events - holidays, birthday parties, festivals where people have already assembled to celebrate. Just ADD a wedding. We have married couples on public holidays before the fireworks, at halloween parties, at dawn on a holiday morning when the traffic is zero and the mist is rising on the Brooklyn bridge. Those are times when people are off work, and ready to GO somewhere for an event anyway. So make use of existing gatherings -- Getting the drift? Don't be a flashmob queen. You aren't IMPROV EVERYWHERE. This isn't a Youtube video. Think of others. Don't abuse public spaces. Don't make the poor security schmuck have to intervene. Don't impose your party on other people. If it's a crowd, then either RENT a space, outside or inside (be creative!) and you don't have to tell people the spot in advance, if you want to be mysterious.  And you can still be casual  and use card-tables and beach blankets and a pickup band and  sparklers and jam jars of flowers - but don't TAKE OVER public spaces with your mob.

And for a guerilla ELOPEMENT, be discreet and fun. Speak quietly. Stand in a circle, away from the rush.  Concentrate on each other and what you are saying. Choose your words and vows carefully. It's your wedding - not a punk'd prank. Enjoy, and be happy.

Saturday

Central Park, by Bow Bridge

And another nice picture from Eileen of a couple in Central Park) Summer suits are necessary now!   this is in the little Gazebo by Bow Bridge...    Happy wedding!
(Contact Eregan11218@aol.com).

Lovely view of Central Park (and boathouse) almost summer!

Extremely lovely picture Eileen took in Central Park this week after a wedding....

Tuesday

Ceremony length - can a ceremony be TOO short?

When we're planning a ceremony, we frequently encounter couples who insist on "bare bones" - they usually say "we're shy", or "we don't like fuss", or "we don't like public speaking". Of course we try and follow the couples wishes, and create a ceremony that they want.

However, I often get a comment that "the ceremony went by just too fast". I'm not surprised. When you're trying to AVOID those long weddings you've been at where the talking is interminable, it seems like a good idea to cut everything but the essentials - 'do you?, yep,I do', then 'take this ring, I pronounce, kiss, hello new couple, and let's open the wine...'

However, here is a post from other bridal blog, where the bride discusses her surprise that wedding may have been 'too short', and it lacked the involvement of the people who had been invited:

Something that really surprised me about our wedding, is that the ceremony went by waaaaay too fast. This is because it was short-short-short. Intentionally. Ben and I are not terribly sentimental people. We find that our love and commitment is expressed on a daily basis, and while it was important to us to make this commitment in the eyes of our community of friends and family, we did not want it to be a big production. Short and sweet and on to the party pu-lease. BUT, I found that because it went by so fast, it was hard to take it in. I did not have time to look out at the faces of my guests, of our families and take in these little joys. [I was too busy crying like a baby and trying to get through my vows!] I suppose some sort of audience [is that the right word?] interaction part of the ceremony might have helped that."

We often suggest that the ideal length for an informal, stand-up small wedding is about 16-18 minutes. That includes the introduction and welcome, a reading or two (lighthearted and simple), a mention of those present and those who could not be there, and usually, an offer for the guests to support the couple and wish them well. In fact, this sequence often takes the place of giving away (sic) which is an antiquated tradition.

Even if your wedding is small and informal, it's still your MARRIAGE ceremony. Take a moment, and think about what you would like. Your officiant will be able to take care of the writing and speaking, so you really don't have to memorize anything or do any public talking that is difficult. But consider what you would like to say or have said, who you would like to mention, how to include any friends or family in your brief ceremony (presenting the rings? reading a short passage or letter from an absent guest? holding your rings to 'warm them with their love' before presenting them? offering a short musical piece, either a cappella singing or instrumental, signing the license and marriage certificate as part of the ceremony, etc.). You can always edit the ceremony BACK, but you can't extend it once you're set - and give yourself time to breathe and focus and enjoy the ceremony and make it meaningful to YOU as well as to your guests. That's what it's all about.

Licensed Officiant? We get letters...

Dear ladies at ElopeNewYork:
".....My husband and I got married on the beach back in September with all of our friends and family in attendance. After mailing in our license, we learned that our officiant was not registered in the State of New York and so our marriage was not legally recognized. Now we need to get married legally and are looking for a registered officiant to perform the required ceremony and sign the paper work.
Please let me know if you can help us...." Thank you for your time, [Name removed]

Please note - you need a license from New York, and you need an OFFICIANT who is LEGALLY REGISTERED with the City of New York.  You can't come over from Pennsylvania with an out of state license, and an out of town officiant and get LEGALLY married in NY/NYS.

All the wedding grannies are registered officiants in New York City AND New York State, and we're happy to confirm this -

Saturday

"Giving away" the bride - the times have changed...

Well, I actually haven't seen an actual instance of 'giving away' for years. But the question still arises from time to time. People also confuse the procession (walking down the aisle) with 'giving away'. Of course modern brides often walk down the aisle by themselves, or with both parents, or their mom, or sometimes even enter with the groom. Regardless, you can give the person you are walking with a kiss and hug and proceed to the ceremony space yourself, of course.

But it is still nice to ask the family/friends for their support for your marriage, as you invited them to the ceremony because you presumably wanted their participation in this important event. So if you want to formalized their support, here's a bit of ceremony to add:

FAMILY/FRIENDS CEREMONY of SUPPORT
[takes the place of 'giving away the bride', a remnant of dowries and arranged marriages. In some cultures, there are actually 'sponsors' of the bride and groom, who are expected to act as a kind of 'godparent' through their married lives, offering support and assistance. In some other cultures, the family expresses their happiness that the bride and groom are leaving their family homes and establishing their own home together. Regardless, this is a way to 'break the fourth wall' (in theatrespeak) and ask your guests to participate in your ceremony. If you're holding a public ceremony, as opposed to eloping, it's assumed you'd like your guests to feel involved - so go for it. It's a nice alternative to the "who gives this woman to be married to this man?" question.

CELEBRANT:
[May ask family members to stand, or join in a circle, or may simply address the guests together. You may use your own words]
As we gather here to join ___ and ___ in marriage. It is fitting that you, the families [and/or] friends of ___ and ___ be here to witness and to participate in their wedding, for the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which they bring to their marriage have their roots in the love, friendship, support [and guidance] you have given them.

or, to parents:

As our sons and daughters (and/or friends) find partners and found homes for the next generation, each family (each group of friends) is enriched and enlarged.

To all:
This couple, ____ and _____, will need your love and support in the future, not only on this special day. Do you now offer your support and best wishes for this couple, wishing them the best of lives together? [If so, please answer "We do"]

I especially like this Irish wedding vow:

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night.
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite from my meat.
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living, and my dying, equally in your care.
And tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is a marriage of equals.

and this one:

I [Name] take you,[Name],
to be no other than yourself
loving what I know of you
trusting what I do not yet know
with respect for your integrity
and faith in your love for me
through all our years
and in all that life may bring us.

Friday

Same-sex marriage passes in New York Senate

Same-sex marriage passes in New York Senate

Breaking: Shortly before 10 pm on June 24, 2011, the New York State Senate voted 36-26 to approve same-sex marriage. The bill had already passed in the heavily Democratic state assembly by a lopsided vote of 82-47, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign it.

Earlier on Friday, the bill had 31 votes in favor, one short of a majority. When Republican Stephen Saland, who voted against a similar bill two years ago, told the Associated Press that he intended to vote in favor this time, passage of the measure appeared to be assured.
Hurrah! And here is Mary officiating at a couple of same sex weddings when up in  Toronto, and we can finally say that same sex marriage will soon to be coming to your neighbourhood in New York!

Best man, and Maid of Honour - wedding attendants, what is their role?

Why have a best man? What does the maid of honor do? Why all those bridesmaids? Why BOTHER with it all?

The traditional role of the 'best man' was to be the groom's supporter and legal witness -- and in some cases, to bravely fight off the bride's father and male relatives while the groom (Romeo) rushed out of side exit of the wedding chapel with the bride (Juliet). Obviously, the Maid of Honor was needed to pull her veil down over her head and stand-in for the bride, as Father Lawrence confuses everyone and gains time for the newlyweds.

But I digress. The maid of honor and the best man are the 'mini-me' mirror image of the bridal couple. They are often married (to each other) and represent married love. Or they're not married and represent "the next marriage". But they are not really necessary. Their 'traditional' role is to hold the rings, hold the bouquets, help the bride with her dress, and make speeches at the reception. But anyone over 18 can be your witness (your mom, the photographer, the waiter in the restaurant where you elope) and you don't really need rings at all.

So unless you want matching rows of brown tuxedos with chocolate-tipped ruffles (on the boys?), or those wine-coloured taffeta bridesmaids dresses, consider being un-traditional about your attendants. Have none. Or have odd numbers. Or mix and match the sexes (dress the girls in tuxes and the men in kilts). Or just have a couple of good friends or siblings stand up with you and hold things and then sign your license.

Ask your male friends to dress nicely -- and identify them with a buttonhole flower, bought at a deli. Ask your girl friends to pick a nice dress and just let you know what they have in mind (theme? black and white?). Give them some flowers from the deli as well, that you can simply wrap in ribbon and let the ties hang down.

And, of course, the couple can have witnesses and attendants of ANY sex - boys on the bride's side, girls on the groom's side - or both, if the couple  is same sex,  SO - any combination of relatives or friends or family can be your wedding party.  They are there as your friends and supporters - however they dress, and whatever they wear.  Thank them!

Or just have your friends sit or stand near you, and come forward at the appropriate time to help. No procession, no dyed shoes -- but a clearer idea of their role: to act as the representatives of the community, supporting you in your decision to form a new family unit. It's a good enough role without the matching shoes...

Wednesday

Winter Formal Wedding on Bow Bridge

The Storm can't keep romance away. Here is a lovely couple from the UK on Bow Bridge, just after the big storm. The officiant was Chaplain Eileen, who took this great pix. Top hat! White Wrap! Snow! (I would had added white faux fur earmuffs)

Friday

HiLine in winter - a brief glimpse at the snow

Notice the absence of people, too - a great place for a quick winter elopement.